The Advanced Qualification Program (AQP)

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The Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) is an alternative method of preparation, assessment, certifying, and qualifying pilots, crewmembers, coaches, and surveyors to ensure and validate their competency skills. Both those affected by the AQP are those concerned with the preparation and assessment criteria specified in Canadian Aviation Regulations Subparts 702, and 705 (CARs).

To establish the required framework and manual of training programs for the air operator, AQP employs a logical process. Because of its proficiency-based assessment and preparation methodology, AQP was a supplement for conventional training programs (Curtis, & Jentsch, 2010). It is a proficiency-based program that was as a consequence of another comprehensive task assessment that includes Crew Resource Management (CRM) (Farrow, 2010). Through the use of AQP approach, innovation is emphasized through the procedures and techniques employed in the course of the instruction and evaluation phase of the process. The approach also encourages and facilitates effective management of the training systems. The primary objective of the AQP approach is to provide adequate training that will lead to enhanced expert qualifications to a level beyond the existing standards. Transport Canada uses AQP to efficiently monitor the process and the product. Rather than just being curricula on recommended generic schemes, AQP curricula are centered on a very comprehensive analysis of the specific job, and the required or target skills set of each duty position. Therefore, it can be concluded the most important goal of AQP methodology is to realize the maximum possible standards of either an individual or crew performance (Beaubien, & Baker, 2002).

The figure below illustrates the general AQP structure

Need for the program

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was faced with two major issues in 1975; the need to redesign and restructure the current training programs to handle the increased complex human factors and the need to have hardware equipment to facilitate complete simulation. The FAA, at the time, addressed the problem of hardware requirements for total simulation. The effort to address the problem came to an end in 1980, with the emergence of the Radical Simulation Program. Since then, the FAA has always been on the forefront to pursue methodologies for the restructuring and remodeling of their training courses to maximize on the welfares of progressive simulation. Another reason is to put into consideration the wide range of sophisticated cockpit human factors (Byrnes, & Black, 1993).

A Join Government-Industry Task Force on Flight Crew Performance was formed in 1987. The 1987 task force held a meeting to ascertain and deliberate on critical crewmember performance matters. With regards to CRM training, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gave out a safety recommendation (A-88-71) in 1988. The safety recommendation was on all part 121 carrier’s evaluation preliminary and the regular flight crew training plans. The main aim of the review was to make sure that all the training curriculums included either the simulator or plane training exercise involving crew resource management and dynamic synchronization of all the crewmembers undertaking the training. The review was also to allow for the evaluation of all overall crew performance and devotion to appropriate crew organization techniques.

On the 2nd of October 1990, the FAA responded to the sanctions made by the joint task force and the NTSB by publishing SFAR 58 – AQP. AQP was also developed to facilitate for a better extent of supervisory flexibility in the endorsement of original pilot training plans. The operational requirements according to the documented analysis required that an air operator covered by the AQP may recommend advancing from traditional procedures depending on where, how, what and when the training and testing are being conducted. The advancement criteria are questioned to FAA authorization of the particular content of every projected program. The SFAR 58 – AQP mandated all changes made from traditional management requests be standard and proven upon a conventional progressive data collection criteria necessary to form at least an equivalent level of safety. The developments and establishments of AQP were needed to provide a regular basis for matching technology to the training requests. Furthermore, AQP provides a platform through which approval of training programs could be conducted on content founded on significance to the operational performance (Byrnes, & Black, 1993).

Is it more effective than Crew Resource Management (CRM) training? If so why?

AQP is more effective than Crew Resource Management (CRM) because there have been drastic changes in the skills and use of emulators and other computer founded training equipment used in training undertakings. The requirements of the AQP regulatory methodology allow an operator to cultivate innovative training that combines some of the most advanced and recent training techniques. The new training and evaluation presentations are clustered under the general term of Line Operational Simulation (LOS).

The work of CRM in avoiding fatal accidents is preeminent. However, it has become crucial that all the training criteria should progress and assess both CRM and technical skills. CRM cannot access both of these skills, hence the need for a better approach, AQP. AQP employs a structured line operational simulation scheme procedure to accurately determine and integration necessary CRM and practical skills into any LOS scenario. The methodological approach used in the development of the LOS scenarios need to be sanctioned by the Transport Canada division which is accountable for operational oversight.

The traditional training procedures majorly focused on the flying abilities and system knowledge. However, most accidents were documented to be triggered by either error of judgment or communication and coordination of the crew. Crew Resource Management training is a training and evaluation approach. However, there was a need to have a segment for simulation purposes and prevent any build-up of the error chain. For that reason, AQP integrates training and evaluation strategies that are scenario-oriented, involving a simulation close to the actual flight environments referred to as the most deadly carrier accidents.

CRM training procedures include training of the crews, standardized valuation of the crew performance, and continuous operation of the process. AQP is a comprehensive implementation package that includes all the CRM procedures. The design and development of AQP are through a collaborative effort between the research community and the airline. AQP training approach is a continuous development process that offers the associated airlines with unique CRM solutions designed and developed to meet their operational requirements. The design of CRM techniques is founded on the critical CRM principles that need prominence in airline’s particular operative environment. CRM procedures were designed and structured to emphasize the CRM elements through the incorporation of Standard Operation Procedure for regular and irregular emergency flight circumstances. Hence it can be concluded that AQP is more efficient than CRM.

Another reason why AQP is more efficient than CRM training is the fact that AQP is a continuous, dynamic, development process but not a single set of products.

Why are more and more airlines implementing AQP?

Over the last five to ten years, the airline training philosophy experienced some changes. The emphasis on CRM has resulted in the development of the AQP simulation training approach. The traditional FAR Part 121 training was centered on the items that were to be covered in a simulator session. The main items that were to be demonstrated through the traditional approaches were the emergency procedures and terrain avoidance maneuvers. The only variations that the pilot might experience are the airport programmed into the simulator. AQP is a scenario based technique that requires the flight crew to work together as a team and handle any situations that may arise in a coordinated approach as a team. Such kind of training provides the crewmembers with a more realistic training experience ("Airline Training: Advanced Qualification Program Becoming Standard," 2017).

Crew problems trigger a greater number of accidents. All the traditional training methodologies were individual oriented training and evaluation. However, through the implementation of AQP, airlines can effectively focus on team performance ("Airline Training: Advanced Qualification Program Becoming Standard," 2017).

Some accidents occur by a series of errors that accumulate within the progress of the flight. Such errors if they end up being undetected or unresolved they end up in a fatal error. The traditional training and evaluation programs artificially section simulation actions and avoid the realistic accumulation of error chain. Through the use of AQP in an airline both training and assessment process end up being scenario based. AQP facilitates in a closer simulation on training and evaluation of the actual flight conditions that are known to be the cause of most fatal carrier accidents ("Airline Training: Advanced Qualification Program Becoming Standard," 2017).

Many airlines are implementing AQP training methodologies because it incorporates training and evaluation features targeted to refining the traditional training programs. Through the implementation of AQP, systematic and continuous validation proficiency-based training criteria are achieved. AQP allows for the air operator to analytically change, device and retain a training tactic deemed to be self-correcting ("Airline Training: Advanced Qualification Program Becoming Standard," 2017).

How can CRM and this kind of training be improved?

CRM training techniques develop skills that enhance flight welfare by effective utilization of all the available resources comprising of human, hardware and evidence sources. Through CRM training human awareness is harnessed and any related systematic and organizational threats are addressed aiming to minimize their effects. CRM training techniques could be modified and improved to include assessment techniques that focus on error and risk management tactics and performance. CRM training programs also need to incorporate risk mitigation strategies. Therefore they could be improved by including responsiveness of flight crewmember outlooks and conducts along with the use of practical administration skills ("Crew Resource Management - SKYbrary Aviation Safety," 2017).

All traditional training programs such CRM aim at achieving a degree of integration through an AQP mitigation approach. Hence, CRM could integrate an AQP into is instructional system and technical training systems. The primary objective of AQP involves the unified assimilation of CRM and professional training. Through such integration, CRM ends up being an essential part of the flying job. Where applicable, CRM processes could be acknowledged, assimilated and documented the equivalent to the technical procedures that are mandatory for the execution of a particular phase of flight. However, by the seamless integration of AQP into CRM for improvement purposes does not imply that all those features of CRM can be systematic and handled in flight maneuvers technical training and evaluation.

Making improvements to the CRM training would involve its integration into the AQP that requires two aspects of CRM addressed. There are those CRM issues that are inherent to performance. For instance, communication processes employed in the co-ordination of callouts while taking-off and other maneuvers evidently detailed regarding when and what should be said. Such callouts are most current in-flight stages and are achieved for the most part. Likewise, there are certain features of communication in the course of the administration of non-normal circumstances that could be cited in the order of activities that are executed to accomplish the non-normal condition. Such CRM aspects are considered to be condition specific.

Phase independent is another type of CRM activities. Phase free activities are executed on an as needed basis for purposes of managing the flight or responding to unique situations. There is need to always recognize the need for, and effectively execute these activities when dealing with CRM training approach, when synchronizing several duties the crew is obligated to perform during the flight. For instance, some communications should be executed for purposes of maintaining crew sentience of flight status. Irrespective of the phase of flight, it is important that for the involved crew to actively recognize the communication requirements and swiftly respond in a timely way to retain crew situational responsiveness ("Crew Resource Management - SKYbrary Aviation Safety," 2017).

Phase independent and phase specific activities of CRM training approach do not match any classified list of any technical undertakings structured by the phase of flight. As an alternative, they pose as “shell” that overlaps and classifies all the involved actions that could be done at any given point of flight. Phase flight independent skills comprise of supervision scheme that represents a critically imperative part of the inventory of defenses against error by the flight crew. Moreover, such skills cover for those threats that might surface from the organization or within the operational environment. Phase-flight independent skills could provide the crew with essential tools and techniques necessary to solve any problematic situations that could not have been realized during training. It is therefore important that CRM training methods seek to fully introduce and teach such skills to crews to provide a root for simplification to a possibly wide range of situations. The figure below illustrates some of the phase independent CRM skills that could be included to improve the training approach.

Another way to improves CRM training shifting it from general information to specific application oriented technique. To start with a distinct CRM portion must be suitable to address any relevant philosophical issues relating to either the Captain or First officer’s authority. Consequently, it should also comprise of all the corporate expectations related to individual and professional responsibility. CRM could also play a critical role in other sectors for instance flight controlling through situations of severe weather.

Should the FAA mandate AQP for all airlines

Some several factors may determine whether the FAA will ever mandate AQP. Some of those factors include AQP is quite expensive to implement and integrate with the current traditional training and evaluation programs. The integration and running process of AQP are quite complicated and come organizations might find it difficult to use it for training and evaluation purposes successfully. AQP requires a special set of skills. Some very limited individuals possess the necessary expertise to integrate AQP which is a great hindrance to its implementation. Another reason that may limit its integration would be the fact that it requires enhanced levels of communication and cooperation, unlike the traditional methods. Despite the fact that there are several challenges with the integration and management of AQP in airlines, the FAA should mandate it based on its benefits. AQP training and evaluation programs could also be used for licensing purposes. The FAA could consider mandating AQP for all airlines to facilitate for an alternative practical means to license pilots and flight engineers. The regulatory guidance under AQP offers an alternative training and valuation platform for the cabin crewmembers and other operations personnel. Any applicant for AQP licensing program is required to be eligible as required by the application requirements of ANTR-FCL. The application form under the AQP requires a signature for license certification. The signature requirements is from the designated examiner that establishes the verification status of the candidates. All the applicants for licensing under the AQP clause are required to exhibit remarkable technical proficiency in either a real or simulated environment to determine their effectiveness as crewmembers. Based on this argument, the FAA should consider mandating the integration and implementation of AQP in all airlines.


Airline Training: Advanced Qualification Program Becoming Standard. (2017). Flight Training Blog. Retrieved 13 July 2017, from

Beaubien, J. M., & Baker, D. P. (2002). Airline Pilots' Perceptions of and Experiences in Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training (No. 2002-01-2963). SAE Technical Paper.

Byrnes, R. E., & Black, R. (1993). Developing and implementing CRM programs: The Delta experience. Cockpit resource management, 421-443.

Crew Resource Management - SKYbrary Aviation Safety. (2017). Retrieved 13 July 2017, from

Curtis, M., & Jentsch, F. (2010). Line Operations Simulation Development Tools. Crew Resource Management, 265.

Farrow, D. R. (2010). A regulatory perspective II. Crew Resource Management, 361-378.

November 09, 2022

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