Embracing Simulations and Problem-Based Learning to Effectively Pair Concepts of Aeronautics With Flight Safety Training

Embracing Simulations and Problem-Based Learning to Effectively Pair Concepts of Aeronautics With Flight Safety Training

Ioanna K. Lekea, Dimitrios G. Stamatelos
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9223-6.ch025
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Cadets, in order to become pilots, apart from successfully passing their flight training program, need to also complete their academic education, where many technical subjects, such as aeronautics, exist. Cadets often face difficulties in comprehending certain concepts in the subject “aeronautics” as well as the applied link between aeronautics and flight safety. To this end, at the Hellenic Air Force Academy, an innovative educational tool is under development so as to facilitate students' understanding of the practical use of aeronautics and its impact on aircraft safety. An important aspect of the proposed educational tool is that it can be easily adopted into the pilots' flight training program and offer a complimentary training experience regarding mid-air crisis scenarios. The new educational tool is based on introducing in-class simulation and problem-based learning, thus combining theory and practice. The aim of this chapter is to describe the development of this educational tool and to demonstrate the way that it can be employed for academic and flight training purposes.
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Trainee pilots who study the subject of ‘Aeronautics’, as part of their academic education, have difficulties in comprehending certain fundamental concepts. Moreover, they struggle to understand the applied link between Aeronautics and flight safety, which is of great importance. Therefore, in HAFA, an innovative educational tool that simulates cases of flight crisis and relates them to aeronautics and physics is under development with the purpose of facilitating students to deeply realise the practical use of Aeronautics to the modern aircraft design, as well as the impact of it to aircraft’s safety. Furthermore, the proposed educational simulation is suitably developed to allow its utilization to the pilots’ flight training program offering them a complimentary training experience regarding mid-air crisis incidences. Consequently, the tool can be used in both academic training (Aeronautics) and flight training in a targeted interdisciplinary case-study analysis for in-flight risk management and for the discussion of flight safety issues. Thus, the ultimate aim of the educational tool is to assist trainee pilots to comprehend in an applied manner fundamental concepts, such as: loading conditions, stresses, critical structural areas, safety issues etc.

The aim of this chapter is to firstly demonstrate the approach followed for developing the educational tool and to present the changes occurred in the teaching methodology of the subject of Aeronautics in HAFA and, secondly, to describe the way that it can be part of the flight training program. The new educational approach is based on introducing in class simulation, serious games and problem based learning. To this end, the teaching methodology on the aforementioned subject will be briefly documented; accordingly, the difference between the teaching approach before and after the utilization of the simulations and simulators, as part of the Laboratory of Aeronautics, will be evident. A detailed discussion will highlight the changes that the simulation and simulators brought to the teaching process from the point of view of the educational personnel, as well as of the trainee pilots.

Consequently, the educational tool is presented in detail, while currently is in the trial phase. This tool aims to assist trainee pilots to visualize and comprehend among other, the way the forces exerted on the aircraft at critical events or in critical phases of the flight (e.g. during take-off or landing and can create flight hazards. In this context, in flight crises are categorized according to the type of hazard they pose (structural, aerodynamic etc.) and the degree of risk they cause to the flight.

In the following steps the conformed design process is described;

  • 1.

    The concept stage was completed by defining the objectives and the expected educational outcomes of our tool.

  • 2.

    We then moved to the elaboration stage concerning the parameters (e.g. height of flying, aircraft speed, geometry of structural components, configuration, forces exerted etc.) that are related to flight safety and could pair well with an interdisciplinary approach to aeronautical decision making. Preliminary investigation of whether fundamental concepts of Aeronautics are well and clearly understood by the trainee pilots in relation to their effects on flight (HAFA, Courses: Aeronautics II & III for the Stream of Pilots). To this end, field research took place with questionnaires that were specifically formulated to serve the research questions and that were distributed to both trainee pilots and flight instructors.

  • 3.

    Development and testing of the scenarios that are simulated and visualized, in order to cover a range of incidents. The scenarios’ specifications, along with their parameters and the technical elements are analysed and are fully justified.

  • 4.

    Development of an educational tool in order to visualize the behaviour of the aircraft in a selected scenario and to analyse the risks posed to the flight.

The aforementioned procedure led to the development of a prototype educational tool that was tested through its pilot application in class. A field research followed with the purpose of providing us input on the satisfaction of the students and the amount of help the simulation actually provided to them in terms of relating the academic education with the flight training; let us not forget that using the simulation tool cadets are supposed to get help in understanding the aeronautics and physics behind the emergency procedures.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Emergency and Abnormal Checklist (EAC): A handbook containing checklists of actions which are the initial response element of Emergency and Abnormal procedures.

Educational Simulation: A simulation created to facilitate learning on the part of students or trainees.

Problem-Based Learning: A student-centered educational approach in which students learn about a given subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem found in trigger material.

Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM): A manual, associated with the Certificate of Airworthiness, containing limitations within which the aircraft is to be considered airworthy, and instructions and information necessary to the flight crew members for the safe operation of the aircraft.

Aeronautics: The study of the science of flight.

Flight Safety: The state of the aviation system or organization in which the risks associated with aviation activities related to the operation of aircraft or directly providing such operation are reduced to an acceptable level and monitored.

In-Flight Emergency Procedures: A plan of actions to be conducted in a certain order or manner, in response to a specific class of reasonably foreseeable emergency, a situation that poses an immediate risk to the flight.

Game-Based Learning: The design and development of learning activities that can incrementally introduce concepts and guide students towards an educational goal.

Crisis Management: Identification of a threat to an organization and its stakeholders in order to respond effectively to the threat.

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