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Aeronautical Science

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Presentation without Video

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Aircraft design and reliability as well as pilots’ education and training have steadily and significantly improved in the last 20 years. Nevertheless, high-profile accidents still occur, even when the aircraft and related systems are operating adequately. Controlled flight into terrain, runway incursions accidents, and loss-of-control-in-flight are examples of mishaps in which inadequate decision-making, poor leadership, and ineffective communication are frequently cited as contributing factors. Conversely, the investigation of accidents (e.g., US Airways Flight 1549, in US, in 01/15/2009) and serious incidents (e.g., JJ 3756, in Brazil, in 06/17/2011) have indicated that flight crews have to be flexible and adaptable, think outside the box, and to communicate effectively in order to cope with situations well beyond their individual expertise. Conventional flight training requirements generally consider only the so-called “technical skills” and knowledge. Interestingly, pilot’s competencies in important areas, such as leadership, teamwork, resilience, and decision-making are not explicitly addressed. The aviation system is reliable but complex. Thus, it is unrealistic to foresee all possible aircraft accident scenarios. Furthermore, there are many organizational variables that could have a detrimental impact in the flight deck of an aircraft. To further improve flight training, the global aviation industry is moving toward Evidence Based Training (EBT). EBT provides rigorous assessment and assurance of pilot competencies throughout their training, regardless of the accumulated flight hours. EBT programs must identify, develop, and evaluate the competencies required to operate safely, effectively, and efficiently in a commercial air transport environment. Moreover, EBT needs to address the most relevant threats according to evidence collected in aircraft mishaps, flight operations, and training. There is some emergent empirical evidence showing that high-quality education and flight training have a greater impact on efficiency and safety than just the total flight hours accumulated by entry-level pilots. Advanced Qualification Programs are utilized in Part 121 operations. A similar model with the development and assessment of defined competencies can lead to better education and flight training outcomes in collegiate aviation. In keeping with this transition to a competency-based educational model, and given an understanding of the benefits of an EBT program for aviation safety and efficiency, the Purdue School of Aviation and Transportation Technology is redesigning its professional flight program. The benefits of this program will include:

a. The establishment of advanced training processes that will enhance the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and abilities by the future professional pilot workforce that meet or exceed safety standards;

b. Amplifying quality of education and flight training over flight hours; and

c. Developing empirical data to inform decision-makers such as program leaders and regulators.

The goal of this transformation process is to develop a competency-based program that will attend to academic and regulatory requirements, and that are in alignment with the major aviation stakeholders’ standards and recommendations. It is important to note that a competency-based degree will require graduates to demonstrate proficiency in competencies that are valued by the aviation and aerospace industries. Therefore, this will be beneficial for both the graduates as well as the industry.


International Society of Air Safety Investigators


The Hague, Netherlands

Number of Pages


Additional Information

A PowerPoint presentation on this article is included as supplemental material.

Dr. Mendonca was not affiliated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the time this paper was published.

ISASI_2019.pdf (1886 kB)