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Qantas, Virgin pilots to train to recover from mid-air stalls

written by Isabella Richards | October 18, 2021
UPRT to be mandated for large aircraft operators by the end of 2021. (UPRT Australia)

Pilots in Australia will soon be mandated to complete specialist training on how to recover from potentially fatal scenarios where they lose control of the aircraft, such as stalling.

Australian Aviation can reveal CASA has greenlit ‘Upset Prevention and Recovery Training’ (UPRT) to commence from 2 December, but it will initially only apply to those flying larger aircraft seating 30 or more people. UPRT was looked into more closely in the US and Europe following two significant crashes in 2009 that killed nearly 300 people.

The new Australian rules mean that by 31 March 2022, all large aircraft operators, including Qantas and Virgin, must have UPRT in their training programs.

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The landmark change follows a decade of research and development by Australia’s safety authority, which sent representatives to the US to meet with FAA and visit training centres.

CASA told Australian Aviation it has worked with all relevant operators on the development and implementation of the regulations.

“We will be soon having ‘catch up’ sessions for relevant air operators whose operations ceased or were downsized during the COVID period,” CASA said.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) first amended regulations in 2014 to include UPRT as a requirement, with the US then mandating UPRT programs in their Part 121 regulations in 2019. It came after 49 people onboard a Continental Connection flight from New Jersey to New York died when a Bombardier Q400 stalled in February 2009, and a further 228 were killed in similar circumstances on an Air France A330 flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris months later.

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Now Australia is making its first step to implementing a thorough UPRT regime within aviation training.

A type rating UPRT program would include emphasis on causes, contributing factors, safety reviews, demonstrations, upsets and energy management, CASA said.

CASA said Australia has been largely influenced by ICAO and FAA guidelines in establishing its own model of UPRT, despite COVID being a “major impediment” to its implementation.

Numerous reasons such as logistics issues and a significant number of pilots being stood down plagued rapid progression – which were largely impacted by border closures and lockdowns.

“Delays in getting upgrades to simulators, for example, came from difficulties in travel for engineers and there have been logistics delays in obtaining simulator upgrade packages,” CASA said.

Shane Tobin, an industry veteran who co-founded UPRT Australia, said while he welcomes the news, there remains “major issues still outstanding” in the regulatory change.

He said one of the primary holes is that it only applies to high capacity aircraft and excludes general aviation training.

Tobin also said it will only be effective for companies with access to simulators, which still lacks in addressing the “negative psychological and physiological effects an upset will have on a pilot”.

“It needs to be taken outside the simulated world and into the real aircraft,” Tobin said.

“Simulated upsets do not help the thousands of private pilots and operators of smaller commercial aircraft that do not have access to simulators.”

Tobin said he sees this as a “step in the right direction”, but ultimately believes more needs to be done for a safer system.

Australian Aviation will take a further look into UPRT in its upcoming magazine edition.

14 Comments

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    This is good news but I can’t help asking how the heck a trained pilot managed to stall an A330, given the stall warnings and stick shudders.

    • Adrian P

      says:

      Easy
      First the pitot tubes iced up.
      Then the autopilot gave up. (basically I can not cope let the pilots sort it out).
      The crew went from a passive flying situation to a what the hell is happening situation.
      Google Flight AF447 and the read the full story.

    • Mark Ellis

      says:

      Have you read the report?

    • Jon

      says:

      Watch the ‘Aircraft Investigations’ episode on AF447.

      It’s very interesting, & very scary at the same time.

      • Jon

        says:

        Oops!
        Meant ‘AirCRASH Investigations’….my bad……

  • John LeMarquand

    says:

    Qantas have been training all pilots in UPRT for a few years now and are already complying with CASA’s AC 121.
    UPRT is incorporated in type rating training and all recurrent training.
    All our TRIs and TREs do a multi-day train the trainer qualification and regular refresher training.

  • Peter Tomkinson

    says:

    The aviation industry did UPRT for airline aircrews in the 1980’s. As so often happens with time and cost pressures impacting there is a relentless pressure to remove training ‘deemed’ no longer needed.
    A comprehensive training program would see each pilot experiencing the full certification limits in simulator training spread over several years after type conversion. In 43 years professionally I never experienced such a program. My learning was necessarily mostly theoretical, self directed and resourced, which this should not be. I have never experienced an airline with a library of technical material beyond the minimum type relevant manuals available to all employed pilots. There is no commitment, and no sense of responsibility to provide further learning to employees.
    So much for the endlessly repeated ‘Safety is out first priority’. Clearly it is not.

    • Adrian P

      says:

      In the 1970s the College of Air Training (Hamble) retained 4 Chipmunks to teach British Airways’ cadets recovery from unusual attitudes.
      They also taught practice false landings (engine failure after takeoff ) and glide approaches from downwind in their Cherokees.
      The training was rounded up flying asymmetric night circuits in Beech Barons from a grass airstrip lit with paraffin flares.

  • Marum

    says:

    @Ag….You have obviously never experienced vertigo. We have never evolved to fly.

    In a condition of Vertigo revert to trusting our impaired senses, rather than the instruments. (unless trained to) Have you ever been head down doing something? Then popped up in a different position and taken a second to orient yourself. At least you still know where up and down is. Try that in three dimensions with zero visibility.

    An example: Get your dive ticket and do a night dive (under controlled conditions) with no light at all. You can then experience vertigo. However you are operating at zero velocity, and cannot stall or crash. An aircraft can stall at any speed. So it is possible to have an overspeed warning and a stall warning simultaneously. Which do you believe?

    Yes sir! It requires lots of training….Marum Kastze

  • Vannus

    says:

    The worst outcome of stalling latterly was AF447, enroute GIG-CDG.

    The two incompetents’ on the flight deck at the time, shouldn’t have ever been allowed inside a cockpit.
    Neither had a clue how to ‘fly’ the jet.

    Not surprising that QANTAS is well ahead in doing this training, as per John’s comment above.
    This is just one of the reasons’ it’s voted multiple times as ‘World’s Safest Airline’.

    • Rod Pickin

      says:

      Interesting to note that shortly after the AF447 debacle BALPA issued an “advisory” to all their operating members reminding them that crews should not totally rely upon “AP ON ” concentrate on and refresh your manual skills, isn’t that what the big bucks are paid for?

  • Allister

    says:

    CASA with their usual over-reach, have lumped straight wing turbo-props into this one as well. Another exercise in more paperwork and less proficiency. We have been doing recovery from unusual attitudes forever, both in the sim and in the aircraft where there is not an alternative to aircraft training.
    Now we have developed a special UPRT curriculum and fit it into an increasingly crowded recurrent training program. All because an airline had a couple of MPL graduates sitting in the front of the wonder jet who didn’t understand the basic axioms of power, attitude and performance.
    Luckily in Australia the ill-conceived MPL is not currently offered.

  • Joh Brooks

    says:

    I don’t understand how any pilot can get to even PPL standard without hands-on stall recovery training, let alone to CPL or ATPL standard.
    Maybe that’s why airlines didn’t bother with it? However, in my QANTAS experience, dating from 1964, the airline demonstrated stall recovery in 707’s ( no simulators then) and I seem to recall doing it in the 747 simulator but that might not have been a listed part of the training session.
    JB

  • Not a spud

    says:

    John an Vannus… how’s the air up there?
    We rest of mortals can only dream of how it must be to be a Qantas pilot…
    Haha get off your high horses, spuds. Everyone is doing it because it’s a mandatory regulation. If it was up to the Leprechaun, pilots would be made in 3 weeks for an eighth of the cost..

    And for the genius that called those pilots incompetents (Vannus) may you never be in a never heard of situation like that, try to save hundreds of lives while being terrified just to be trolled online by an in cultured wannabe spud.

    Thanks for reading, now go back to your thin air up there, flying roo…

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