What is Area 100 KSA and why is it important?

Area 100 KSA: Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes

Area 100 KSA (Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes) is a new training approach in the ATPL theoretical training, that aims to teach pilots vital competencies that were not previously addressed by traditional subjects. KSA does not have an associated official exam but is instead assessed at the ATO level.

The name “Area 100” comes from the number code that EASA gives to the ATPL subjects. Ordinary subjects go from 010 (Air Law) to 092 (IFR Communications), and KSA has been assigned number 100.

Why has Area 100 KSA been developed?

As we mentioned when speaking about the APS MCC course, EASA data shows that approximately 50% of licensed pilots have insufficient competencies for employment, and therefore fail AOC assessments. Single-choice examinations do not verify if the answers come from rote learning or from understanding.

Moreover, flight crew errors, and specifically a lack or poor application non-technical skills, are one of the primary causes of aviation accidents. Its importance as a share of total accidents has been steadily rising for decades, as aircraft have become more reliable and complex.

To tackle this issue, Area 100 KSA addresses the need for holistic, output-based training which develops and assesses the pilot’s competencies. It is a shift in pilot training to a competency-based training environment.

Area 100 KSA: Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes
Figure 1: Success as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes

Area 100 KSA differs from other learning objectives (LOs) in the verbs used: Show and demonstrate. Its syllabus has three main objectives:

  • To firmly embed competency-based training in ground school.
  • To provide an effective bridge between theoretical knowledge training and flight training.
  • To encourage the development of the ‘thinking pilot’.

These objectives are reached through involvement, using learning by discovery and scenario-based learning, embedded in real-world situations.

The training philosophy behind this could be then summarized as “Involve me and I learn”, shifting from passive learning to active learning.

Passive and active learning
Figure 2: Passive and active learning

These Learning Objectives are the following:

  • Communication
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Situation awareness
  • Workload management
  • Threat and error management (TEM)
  • Application of knowledge
  • Upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) and resilience
  • Mental maths (approximations)

How will KSA impact pilot training?

Besides the ATPL official theoretical subjects, and before attending the last official examination, you will need to pass the KSA module and show competency in the above-mentioned Learning Objectives, which your flight school will evaluate through any combination of these exercises:

  • Written planning exercises combining multiple subjects
  • Practical exercises using training devices (if available)
  • Enable scenario-based content and individual, pair, or group situation(s)
  • Scenario-based oral board
  • Scenario-based communications exercises
  • Written assignments or project work
  • Preparation and delivery of group or individual presentations and discussions
  • Scenario planning exercises combining multiple subjects
  • Oral communication exercises
  • Discussions

Exercises and assessments are interwoven into the theoretical knowledge training, utilizing a range of learning styles. they address cross-subject topics and are scenario-based. The exercises and assessments aren’t always confined to a classroom anymore.

These are some examples of formative and summative assessments you may be asked to do:

  • Aviation safety assessment: this exercise introduces the students to aviation safety, the human contribution to aviation safety and how the ICAO core competencies relate to them. This is accomplished by means of a presentation, followed by the introduction of eight incidents/accidents. These case studies are chosen in a way that in each of them one of the ICAO core competencies clearly stands out (positive contribution) or is missing/mismanaged (negative contribution). As a team, students are asked to get familiar with the case studies to correctly identify this correlation. Once identified, they are assigned to the members of the group. At home, each member will individually research their case study and prepare a class presentation highlighting the associated ICAO core competency (observable behaviors, why did it stand out/was missing and how we can learn from the case study).
  • Pre-flight planning exercise: in this exercise, students are given four pre-flight planning scenarios where they have to decide the fuel and preferred alternates according to simplified dispatch rules (they are correct and realistic, only not complete i.e. dispatch with no alternate requirements are not included). After 15 minutes, they will compare the results among other pairs/”crews”. The exercise is then debriefed by the instructor.
  • UPRT/workload exercise: images of PFDs showing different upsets (errors)/developing upsets (threats) are given to each crew during 1 minute. Simultaneously, a task involving addition and subtraction must be handled by the same crew. Whenever they can explain the type of upset, they raise the applicable sign and the instructor asks any of them to answer. The answer must include an effective threat or error management strategy, as applicable. The same applies to the math task, only a different sign will be raised before the answer is requested. Thus, crew coordination is imperative before raising any sign, and the crew obtaining more correct answers wins. The number of answers given by the crew to one type (upset/math) cannot double those given for the other type. The exercise is then debriefed by the instructor.

How will those competencies be assessed?

‘Word pictures’ are a proven assessment tool that standardizes pilot core competencies, and can be used to assess student’s competency in the Area 100 KSA. Word pictures describe the student’s performance.

The most commonly used word pictures are based on performance indicators, which explain what the student should demonstrate in order to attain the specific Learning Objectives that are addressed by the assessment exercise.

A word picture is normally constructed with elements containing:

  • HOW WELL the core competency was demonstrated in the exercise.
  • HOW MUCH assistance was required from the trainer or assessor (e.g. tell or show, prompt, hint)
    in the exercise (when the exercise is used for development as well as checking or assessing).
  • HOW OFTEN (e.g. rarely, occasionally, normally, always) and HOW MANY of the indicators
    occurred, to enable the OUTCOME (how successfully the exercise was achieved).

Word pictures typically describe five numerical grade levels, from 1 to 5, which then enable standardisation of the assessment.

Word Pictures typically used in Evidence-Based Training
Figure 3: Word Pictures typically used in Evidence-Based Training

What will KSA mean for future pilots?

As a pilot, you will receive better training and be more competent, since your knowledge will be based on reasoning and not pure memorisation. You will therefore have better chances of meeting airline requirements and securing a job.

On the other side, airlines will be able to choose from a pool of highly qualified pilots that have been trained using best practices and have demonstrated vital ICAO core competencies, and flight schools will show commitment with the best training standards and its ability to adapt to changing requirements and regulations.

When will Area 100 KSA be implemented?

EASA will require all pilot training organisations to have a KSA approach in their training courses by 31st January 2022. However, in Quality Fly, KSA is already implemented on our new ATPL Integrated Programme, which also includes a gliding module, APS MCC and 8 hours in an A320 Full Flight Simulator Level D (FFS).

By doing this, we become one of the first Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) in Spain and Europe to obtain KSA approval within the ATPL integrated and ATPL theory programs. As of today, there is only a reduced number of schools having received Area 100 KSA approval, including BAA or Bartolini Air. Quality Fly is very proud to be within this pioneering group of schools.