Meet the expert Vol. 2

Competency-based training, blended learning approaches and virtual reality

Safety and Emergency Training

In conversation with Andrea Resch and Raghoonundun Gunputh about safety training at LAT


Safety and emergency training is an essential part of the Initial and further training of flying personnel. In this context, Lufthansa Aviation Training offers, among other  trainings, the "Safety Emergency Procedure Training,"  also known as "SEP training". Could you describe in more detail what this involves?


Resch: The most important aspect on board is and remains the safety of passengers and crew. And that is exactly what we train in this area at LAT. Regardless of whether it's a regular flight or a deviation from normal flight operations - every  actionin the cockpit and cabin has to be right. Our courses prepare the crews to safely apply standardised  skills in normal and  emergency situations. But learning and repeating first aid measures, for example, is also a central part of the training. After all, the most frequent incidents on board are of a medical nature. This can be a minor indisposition but also a more critical issue.  Therefore a good preparation and  prompt actions are required.


Gunputh: Safety training is often referred to in general terms as "safety training". This describes the entire area, which, in addition to SEP training, also includes the so-called "crew resource management" (CRM). At LAT, we  lay great  emphasis to closely interlinking both areas. In CRM, interpersonal skills such as communication, leadership or decision-making are trained. In SEP training, cockpit and cabin crew learn the correct operation of aircraft systems and equipment as well as certain procedures, for example, how to evacuate an aircraft safely and quickly in the event of an emergency landing. How do the systems work and where can I find the equipment I need? All this can vary depending on the type of aircraft and airline. For this reason, the training is tailored to the respective type or operator-specific procedures. In addition, courses on the subject of dangerous goods on board or first aid  as mentioned before are also part of the safety training. 


Are the courses prescribed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)?


Gunputh: Crews have to complete different safety courses depending on their profession and career phase. The "Initial Course", for example, comprises the basic training for cabin crew. The initial course is followed by the aircraft-specific and operator training. Once a year, the recurrent safety training takes place in the so-called "Recurrent Training". When changing to a new airline, EASA stipulates that an "operator conversion course" must be completed, during which the safety and emergency equipment as well as the procedures of the operator and the assigned aircraft type are learned. LAT's product portfolio includes all SEP training courses for cabin and cockpit crews that are relevant for licensing under EASA regulations. We offer customers a generic product which can be adapted to the operator's needs and procedures.


To which customers is the offer directed? 


Resch: As part of the Lufthansa Group, we are of course the training partner for the airlines in the Group. More than 25,000 crew members undergo at least one safety training course at LAT every year. But our customers also include external airlines and operators from the areas of business aviation, VIP transport, flight readiness or the air force. Our goal is to attract more customersbecause LAT's training offer is also extremely attractive for the external market. 


In what way? What speaks in favour of SEP training at LAT?


Resch: On the one hand, we have many years of practical experience due to our close integration with the flight operations of Lufthansa Group Airlines. We know exactly what challenges our customers face and what they need in training. The majority of our training personnel have already worked on board themselves. On the other hand, we are the only provider to offer the entire training spectrum and the necessary infrastructure from a single source. From the training rooms, to the simulators, to the syllabi and trainers. Our emergency training devices in particular offer great added value.
Gunputh: That is an important point. We have the possibility to simulate training in a particularly realistic and cost-efficient way. The Cabin Emergency Evacuation Trainer with realistic interior equipment and systems, for example, simulates all emergency situations on board using special technology, such as visual displays, background noise and, in some cases, aircraft  motion, so that the real aircraft is not needed. In addition, unlike in an aircraft, emergency  situations can be safely trained on the ground. It is important for the crews to practise procedures under  realistic conditions and not just  them  in theory. In this way, competencies are properly acquired and applied. This approach of competence-based training is becoming increasingly important in aviation. At LAT, we started some time ago to develop the training content from conservative learning plans to a more outcome-driven  approach.

Could you give an example of competency-based SEP training?


Gunputh: It is not just about learning how to technically open a door in an emergency, for example. It is about assessing the situation correctly in an emergency, interacting with the crew and applying all procedures correctly so that the passengers leave the aircraft safely. In order to achieve this, the already mentioned integration of training elements from  other areas, for example crew resource management, is of great importance in training. In recent years, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has published new recommendations for competency-based training. Through my membership as a Subject Matter Expert with this organisation, I have had and continue to have the opportunity to contribute to some of the training guidances and to further  promote this topic throughout the industry.  

The Corona pandemic has increased the demand for digital solutions. To what extent does this translate to SEP training, especially with regard to the competency-based approach?  


Resch: During the crisis, our customers also increasingly asked for training to take place digitally. However, this is nothing new for us. We have been working for several years to develop and implement more digital learning methods. In some areas, e.g. computer-based training or virtual reality, we are already well positioned. The pandemic has shown us that we are on the right track. At the same time, it has further accelerated digitalisation - at LAT with regard to the conception of the training, at the  customers with regard to the technical equipment that the trainees need for it, and at the authorities with regard to the need to create the legal framework 

Does that mean the future is purely digital?

Resch: No, there will probably always be parts in SEP training that require face-to-face training. We therefore rather pursue a "blended learning" approach, i.e. a mixture of face-to-face and virtual teaching. By the way, this does not mean that classroom training has to be purely conventional. Here, too, technologies such as virtual or augmented reality open up new possibilities for incorporating digital elements.
Gunputh: Our goal is to offer the best format for the individual training contents. In computer-based training, for example, the trainees click through a topic module on their own.  This is particularly suitable for technical learning content such as aircraft systems and equipment. In a virtual classroom, on the other hand, personal dialogue is possible. The instructor can explain complex topics and answer questions. And practical training can be simulated digitally on the training device itself or through a scenario. 

In what way?


Gunputh: To give an example here as well: We have already set up a virtual reality (VR) hub for Lufthansa, in which the licence-relevant security training on board can be carried out with the help of VR goggles according to Federal Aviation Authority standards. Other applications are also conceivable. Today, for example, a video describing  a decompresion in the cabin is shown before the actual practical training take place in a CEET. This theoretical part, in which the scenario is first explained, could be made more realistic and comprehensive in a VR format in the future. This would then be followed by the best-practice training in the simulator. In EASA's "Enabling Innovation in Cabin Crew Training" working group, we are discussing precisely such approaches with representatives from industry, universities and the aviation authorities of the EU countries. The aim is to certify these new training methods, combine them in the best possible way and transfer them into practice.


Thank you for the interview.


Andrea Resch heads the areas Safety, Security and Service Training at Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT). Raghoonundun Gunputh is responsible for the "Safety Emergency Procedure Training" as Product Manager and is also a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO in his expert role. We spoke to both of them about the special features of LAT's training offer, the "blended learning approach" and their visions for the future.


Andrea Resch

Head of Safety and Service Training LAT DE

Raghoonundun Gunputh

Product Manager Safety Emergency Procedure Training