Last year we covered the on-site acceptance phase of an FSTD programme, in this we used the word “compliance”; we were thoroughly taken to task by one of our readers for “the casual” use of the word. So, with this in mind and with the increasing emphasis by the European and other authorities on ATOs and FSTD operators policing themselves as part of the global move towards Performance Based Regulation (PBR), we are looking at the concept of compliance with particular reference to EASA.
So, what is this talk about compliance all about?
The concept, and requirement for a compliance management system (CMS) comes directly from EASA Part-ORA.GEN. This also specifies the requirement for a nominated Compliance Monitoring Manager (CMM) and procedures to ensure compliance by the organisation with the EASA hard law and aircrew regulations. In fact, it states that “An effective CM function is vitally important in supporting operation of the devices”. Indeed an effective CMS has to be in place to be allowed to operate an FSTD and is a condition of being granted a FSTD qualification certificate.
Allied to this we have talked previously that we have seen and will continue to see a change of emphasis from authorities “policing” the regulations covering the operation of rules, to the extent whereby operators are now having to show how they are obeying the rules; hence how they are compliant. How they are in Compliance.
Got that, now what do we have to do?
The fundamental process is simple and perhaps obvious, but benefits from laying out;
know what the regulations you need to comply with are. It always amazes us that many new organisations that suddenly decide to operate an FSTD just bother to read the relevant FSTD qualification standards such as CS-FSTD (A) or (H). They never bother to read and understand PART-ORA or even PART-ARA from EASA… two documents that explain (a) what the NAA expects of an FSTDO, and (b) what an FSTDO can expect of an NAA with regard to assessing compliance.,
have policies, processes and procedures that ensure compliance with these regulations;
ensure that these policies, processes and procedures are followed by the organisation; and
that there is documented evidence they are being followed, audited and non-conformances addressed in a satisfactory manner.
This gives rise to the role of Compliance Manager and the Compliance Monitoring System (CMS).
Even though the EASA guidelines are explicit in the implementation of the CMS we are aware that some operators have struggled with the concepts.
Whenever applying for an Aviation Training Organisation approval (ATO) or an application for an FSTD qualification the applicant is required to provide the necessary documentation to demonstrate that it meets the requirements in PART-ORA. Note that currently an FSTDO does not require to be an approved organisation under EASA rules.
Good news, and bad news for EASA.
First the bad news, the regulations you have to comply with are spread out over four separate parts of the regulations;
CS-FSTD (A) – Certification Specifications for Aeroplane Flight Simulation Training Devices. This defines the requirements that each level of FSTD has to meet in order to achieve a defined level of qualification.
PART-ARA – Authority Requirements for Aircrew. Annex VI. This covers the requirements for an NAA to follow for the initial qualification procedure for an FSTD, including the format of a qualification report and qualification certificate.
PART-ORA – Organisation Requirements for Aircrew. This covers the management organisation requirements for the organisation and has specific requirements for FSTD operations and includes a format for an application and a handy checklist for compliance.
PART-FCL – Flight Crew Licensing. This defines the training needs for ATOs and the training credits available from using FSTDs for different licence training requirements.
The latter three are consolidated in the Easy Access Rules for Aircrew (Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011).
The good news however is that EASA have included in the documents easy-to-follow ways of compliance, what they call “Acceptable Means of Compliance”, AMCs.
Excellent so all I have to do is follow the AMCs to the letter
Kind-of-sort-of. Some people often take the AMCs as the means of compliance but they are what they say, an acceptable means; that isn’t to say the only means of compliance. What EASA has done, with assistance from industry, is to show a means of complying with the regulations, in this case European law. But, and it is a big but, if an operator believes they can comply by another means they are entitled to do so, all they need to do is to persuade their appointed inspectors to accept their means of acceptance, sometimes referred to as ALTMOC (ALTernate Means Of Compliance).
So does this mean that annual FSTD technical inspections will stop?
No. Definitely not. However, there is a nascent debate on this very proposal, the argument goes like this. If we have an operator with a robust compliance monitoring system with properly trained and empowered compliance management resources then what is the point? Taking a look at what happens during a typical recurrent FSTD evaluation visit; it usually consists of 4 parts as follows.
The in-brief. After introductions and coffee, the operator briefs the NAA team on the device performance for the last 12 months (via a Dossier compiled in accordance with PART-ORA GM3 ORA.FSTD.100 GEN ) including, but not limited to:
FSTD performance KPIs (availability, reliability, custom rating etc)
Quarterly Subjective Flyouts
Results of internal compliance management audit findings and observations
FSTD Subjective evaluation. An NAA Flight Inspector (usually current on type but not always) together with, normally, the operator’s Head of Training (HOT) or the user’s TRI/TRE qualified on type, conduct a half-day flyout. As an FSTD operator, you already conduct quarterly subjective flyouts in accordance with your CMS to comply with PART-ORA. What is the inspector doing? Is he/she checking that the operator isn’t lying? Operator quarterly flyouts can vary in quality significantly as we have seen, but if they are of high standard then this additional NAA subjective flyout is really just another quarterly flyout. Arguably if a good CMS is in place that requires instructors to rate the session and report/record all defects after each training session with the right procedures then the FSTD is being assessed every time it is used for training.
FSTD Objective evaluation. Similarly, the NAA technical inspector will no doubt have a look through the operator's latest QTG results and no doubt request to see some QTG tests run on the day. Again to what end? With a good CMS system, the operator will already have a run, check and audit system in place for the quarterly reruns of the entire QTG.
CMS Observations. The results and findings of any recent internal or external CMS audits related to the FSTDO and the FSTD concerned are only briefly reviewed. Normally a full CMS audit is separately scheduled for the FSTDO (especially if they are classed as a complex organisation) at some other time each year. There is already in the EASA regulations the provisions to have an extended technical evaluation period of up to 36 months, but this does not remove the need for a CMS audit on a yearly basis. It also requires a person to be nominated in the organisation who has “adequate experience reviews the regular reruns of the qualification test guide (QTG) and conducts the relevant functions and subjective tests every 12 months” (PART-ORA.GEN.225); without specifying what constitutes “adequate experience”.
Hmmm... so what about this idea then. Stop doing individual FSTD recurrent evaluations and instead focus more on auditing the full and proper compliance of the FSTDO with PART-ORA by operators having a high-quality and effective CMS?
Absolutely! In fact, we are planning to discuss this very topic at this year's forthcoming FSEMC conference in Utrecht in October... the potential pros and cons of getting the regulators and industry to go down this road of performance-based regulation. Without doubt though it is obvious that the better and more effective a CMS you have then the easier the regulatory oversight will (should?) be.
How can Sim Ops Help?
At Sim Ops our partners have direct hands-on experience of putting in place compliance monitoring systems, following them and in the auditing of them. We can provide assistance ranging from mentoring through training of mandatory post holders through to checking systems and pre-audits. In particular we can provide the training necessary for a nominated person to display the “adequate experience” for extended evaluations.