Distance Learning in the Business Aviation Industry: Lessons Learned and Implications for Theory and Practice

Distance Learning in the Business Aviation Industry: Lessons Learned and Implications for Theory and Practice

Mahesh S. Raisinghani (TWU School of Management, USA), Chris Colquitt (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA) and Mohammed Chowdhury (University of Dallas, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-480-4.ch009
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Abstract

The objective of this chapter is to understand the expectations and behaviors of business aviation pilots towards online learning. The authors believe that the company that is able to offer an integrated, individualized, and useful online training experience will gain a significant competitive advantage. To that end, the authors have researched and synthesized studies that are currently available and relate to this important future product. In addition, an exploratory survey of business aviation pilots and interviews with key aviation industry players are used to determine current attitudes and expectations towards online learning. The scope of this chapter will be limited to exploring the niche market of business aviation pilots using the aviation training company CAE SimuFlite and their new SimfinityTM .technology. However, the authors consider the concepts discussed to be applicable to all business aviation pilots.
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The State Of Business Aviation Training

Business aviation pilots are highly trained and usually possess advanced pilot credentials, such as an Airline Transport Rating (ATP). In the U.S., business aircraft fly under strict regulations as defined by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The training required under the FAA and similar regulatory bodies worldwide is very specific, where a pilot in command (captain) requires continuous training every six months and a second in command (co-pilot) will require training at least once a year. The training is aircraft specific and is requisite for each aircraft the pilot flies.

At a meta-level, the key difference between existing online education systems and those for aviation pilot training relates to the online education that is envisioned for successful pilot training. The intent of this study is to empirically explore the relevant concepts and ideas based on perceptions and previous studies of pilots coupled with what is envisioned for the future of online distance learning (i.e., data centric, artificial intelligence, simulation, and interactive multimedia).

Today, this training is almost always conducted in a combination of personnel study, classroom lectures, and simulator training. One major facility that conducts this type of training is CAE SimuFlite located in Dallas, Texas. SimuFlite was opened in 1984 as the first of its kind to offer multi-platform training in a comfortable environment at one location. That same year, the first all-simulator business jet type rating was earned. Simulator training is the standard for today’s pilot to earn aircraft type ratings because it is more cost effective and safer than using actual aircraft.

In the latter part of the 1980s, SimuFlite introduced a computer-based training (CBT) program called FasTrak. It was tedious and non-engaging. Pilot customers were dissatisfied and therefore FasTrack was eliminated in 1991. Unfortunately, this failure damaged the reputation of SimuFlite and followed them for many years. Today, SimuFlite has over 375 employees and 29 full flight motion simulators. It has revenues of C$150 million and is owned by CAE of Canada. CAE is a conglomerate dedicated to aerospace, defense, and marine control technologies and training solutions. Based out of Canada, CAE generates revenues in excess of Canadian $1 billion and employs over 7,000 people (CAE SimuFlite, n.d.).

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