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Pilot training and professional development

Issue number: MI-2010-011-SI-02
Who it affects: All ship operators, masters, pilots and pilotage providers Safety
Issue owner: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Operation affected: Marine: Shipboard operations
Background: Investigation Report 282-MI-2010-011
Date: 24 October 2012

Safety issue description

The coastal pilot training program and ongoing professional development is inadequate.

Factors that limit the effectiveness of the training program and ongoing professional development include the:

  • absence of a pilotage safety management system for trainees to learn standard, risk-analysed pilotage procedures and practices, consistent with best practice; the training program’s ‘self-learning’ approach by observing different systems and practices of pilots that promulgates non-standard systems when trainees develop individual piloting systems increases the potential for sub-optimal practices;
  • bridge resource management training that is not backed up with a focus on systems-based risk management through standard procedures and systems by using all resources, such as the coastal vessel traffic service’s capability;
  • absence of coastal pilotage focused bridge simulator training to augment practical shipboard training;
  • absence of training in the use of contemporary electronic charting systems;
  • motivation for self-funded trainees to complete the training program quickly; and
  • over-reliance on the training guide and subjective check pilot assessments to ensure that trainee pilots with little or no local area experience can acquire the necessary knowledge in the prescribed minimum number of transits.

Response from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority

AMSA recognises the opportunities to improve the training and professional development of coastal pilots. As part of the implementation of MO 54 issue 5 training was highlighted and the following initiatives adopted by AMSA:

  • workshops focusing on initial training and ongoing professional development were held on 2 February and 19 June 2012, and a pilotage training steering committee has been established to progress work in this area
  • an e-learning portal has been established on AMSA’s website to focus on pilot and general training opportunities.

It should be highlighted that the current system depends on reaching stated competence levels, including a number of training runs on piloted vessels. When it is felt that the trainee is ready, then there is an assessment process which includes a minimum number of formal ‘check’ runs. The current process requires trained and certified check pilots to assess performance.

AMSA agrees that continuing professional development needs to be relevant, and address changes in the industry (for example, development of electronic systems in pilotage and the introduction of the Under Keel Clearance Management system for the Torres Strait). The AMSA training workshops and review process is addressing these elements.

AMSA also notes that simulators could be an effective tool in training and competence assessment. MO 54 issue 5 includes the option to use simulator training.

There is an opportunity to include these points in the scheduled 12 month review of MO 54 issue 5 (commencing 1 July 2012).

ATSB comment

The ATSB acknowledges the safety action taken and proposed by AMSA to address the safety issue and notes that the action will be facilitated by the introduction of standard passage plans and standard operating procedures for the pilotage task. However, the acquisition of local area knowledge, particularly in confined areas, and the use of electronic charting systems by pilots needs to be specifically addressed through focused training that includes the use of bridge simulators.

 

Recommendation

Action organisation: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Action number: MI-2010-011-SR-049
Date: 24 October 2012
Action status: Closed

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority takes further safety action to address the safety issue with regard to the acquisition of local area knowledge, particularly in confined areas, and the use of electronic charting systems by pilots. Focused training and assessments in bridge simulators should be amongst the measures used to achieve competency levels appropriate for coastal pilots.

Correspondence

Date received: 21 January 2013
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Response text:

Marine Orders Part 54 stipulates the prerequisites for becoming a coastal pilot. The entry point is predicated on base line experience and navigation skills and there is currently no provision for introductory coastal pilotage training. The applicant must hold a certificate of competency as a Master for ships of 3000 or more gross tonnage (or equivalent Royal Australian Navy qualifications). This is an internationally recognised qualification issued in accordance with the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention. In addition to this, the applicant must have 36 month sea service after gaining this certificate and half of this sea service is required within the preceding 5 years of applying for a pilot’s license. Consequently coastal pilots are all experienced master mariners, usually former ships’ masters and widely considered to be at the pinnacle of their marine careers.

AMSA recognises the need for pilots to acquire appropriate local area knowledge, particularly in confined waters. To this end, we have re-written the coastal pilotage exam database to strengthen the focus of testing in local area knowledge. Where necessary, on a case-by-case basis, AMSA may also conduct an oral assessment for local knowledge in a simulated piloted passage.

Noting that the use of simulation is explicit in Marine Orders 54 (including s6, definition for competency assessment; s87, license revalidation; and Division 10, approved pilotage training courses) AMSA is working with pilotage providers to investigate how simulation can be included in the training and assessment regime. This could be used not only to enhance the local knowledge element, but also address specific training requirements for revalidation of licenses.

AMSA has reviewed the industry recommendation for ECDIS familiarisation and will implement a requirement for all Coastal Pilots to have basic ECDIS training in order to be able to demonstrate the relevant competencies identified in IMO Model Course 1.27. Taking into account the complement of the coastal pilotage body, the expectation is that training will be carried out as soon as possible and, in any case, will be completed no later than December 2015.

ATSB response:

The proposed safety action has the potential to adequately address the safety issue.

Date received: 05 September 2013
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Response text:

Regarding ECDIS training - The Industry Standard recommendation for ECDIS training was discussed at CPG63 in March 2013 (document as published in conjunction with IMPA, IALA, and others).  It was agreed that the recommended approach for pilot training for ECDIS should be addressed as soon as possible. The providers indicated at that time that they would work towards having all pilots trained by April 2014 (i.e. one year).

At CPG64 it was noted that this could be a difficult goal to achieve based on the limited number of courses available.  It was agreed that pilotage providers are to provide AMSA with the steps they are undertaking to ensure pilots receive ECDIS training, and that scanned certificates for completed training would be sent to AMSA.

Regarding other training matters – AMSA has completed the workshop series on Pilot Training. The report of these workshops is available on the password protected area of the AMSA pilotage webpage.  An outcome of the third workshop was to convene a Pilot Training Working Group (PTWG). The first meeting of the PTWG is being scheduled for November 2013.

ATSB response:

The proposed safety action has the potential to adequately address the safety issue.

Date received: 06 May 2014
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Response text:

At present, 56% of AMSA-licensed coastal pilots have completed requisite ECDIS training.

In December 2013, AMSA provided provisional approval for the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC) in Cairns to provide the requisite ECDIS course. Noting the high number of coastal pilots resident in Cairns, it is expected that the availability of ECDIS training at the GBRIMC will assist with increased numbers of coastal pilots completing the course as necessary.

The content of written and blank chart pilotage examinations has been reviewed and updated to ensure appropriate local area knowledge is demonstrated by applicants.

The Coastal Pilot Training Working Group (CPTWG) convened its inaugural meeting in November 2013. The group comprised of representatives from coastal pilotage and training stakeholders. The Group’s Terms of Reference were finalised and key areas of future work were agreed as follows:

Simulation (incorporating aspects related to pilot and check pilot training and assessment

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) (incorporating aspects related to curriculum and frequency);

Pilot Training (incorporating pilotage provider-developed training courses); and

Check Pilot Framework (incorporating various aspects including check pilot selection, training, check runs, check assessment criteria etc.).

 

Date received: 06 August 2014
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Response text:

At present, 75% of AMSA-licensed coastal pilots have completed requisite ECDIS training.

In December 2013, AMSA provided provisional approval for the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (GBRIMC) in Cairns to provide the requisite ECDIS course. Noting the high number of coastal pilots resident in Cairns, it is expected that the availability of ECDIS training at the GBRIMC will assist with increased numbers of coastal pilots completing the course as necessary.

The content of written and blank chart pilotage examinations has been reviewed and updated to ensure appropriate local area knowledge is demonstrated by applicants.

The Coastal Pilot Training Working Group (CPTWG) convened its inaugural meeting in November 2013 and had a second meeting in July 2014. Meetings will continue to be scheduled on a twice yearly basis. The group comprised of representatives from coastal pilotage and training stakeholders. The Group’s Terms of Reference were finalised and key areas of future work were agreed as follows:

Simulation (incorporating aspects related to pilot and check pilot training and assessment);

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) (incorporating aspects related to curriculum and frequency);

Pilot Training (incorporating pilotage provider-developed training courses); and

Check Pilot Framework (incorporating various aspects including check pilot selection, training, check runs, check assessment criteria etc.).

 

ATSB response:

Safety action by AMSA to address the issue, particularly ECDIS training, local area knowledge examinations and the ongoing work by the pilot training working group is positive. The progress made by the working group will be reassesed by the ATSB.

 

Date received: 11 February 2015
Response from: AMSA
Response text:

As at the end of January 2015, 97% of active AMSA-licensed coastal pilots have completed requisite ECDIS training.

In December 2014, AMSA conducted an assessment of the Advanced Marine Pilot Training Course (AMPTC) for the purposes of ongoing endorsement (as an approved pilot training course under MO54). The course received continued approval for the purposes of pilot licence issue and renewal.

AMSA considers the concept of coastal pilot training and professional development to be an area that will undergo continual review, development and improvement in consultation with pilots, pilotage providers and training institutions. Further, AMSA considers the pilot training and CPD initiatives already completed, combined with those currently underway and those intended for the future (particularly via the CPTWG), to adequately address the issue.

ATSB response:

The safety action taken by AMSA and the ongoing work of the pilot training working group has addressed many aspects of this safety issue. As the activity is continuing, the ATSB will continue to monitor AMSA’s progress in addressing the issue, particularly with respect to the pilot training program and bridge simulator training for pilots. The status of the safety issue will be reassessed after AMSA’s next update.

Date received: 01 February 2016
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Response text:

As of the end of January 2016, 100 per cent of active AMSA-licensed coastal pilots had completed requisite electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) training.

The concept of coastal pilot training and continuing professional development (CPD) is an area that undergoes continual review, development and improvement. This is in consultation with pilots, pilotage providers and training institutions.

AMSA intends to include discussion on the value of simulation training in the coastal pilotage context at the next Coastal Pilotage Training Working Group (CPTWG). Additionally, CPD will also be discussed as a high priority at CPTWG noting that, as a level of self-regulation, CPD is being deliberated within representative pilotage societies - as highlighted at the October 2015 Pilotage & Port Logistics Conference in Sydney.

AMSA has recently developed examination guidance information for trainee pilots, which includes relevant references to nautical publications, and resources that may assist with the relevant pilotage.

ATSB response:

The safety action taken by AMSA and the ongoing work of the pilot training working group has partially addressed this safety issue, particularly with respect to electronic charting systems training and the implementation of standard passage plans and pilotage procedures. However, focused training and assessments using bridge simulators to achieve appropriate competency levels in an efficient manner is a key measure that has not progressed. Further, the pilot training program remains AMSA-prescribed through the 2004 versions of the training study guide and workbook.

   
Current issue status: Partially addressed
Status justification:

The safety action taken by AMSA and the ongoing work of the pilot training working group has partially addressed this safety issue, particularly with respect to electronic charting systems training and the implementation of standard passage plans and pilotage procedures. However, focused training and assessments using bridge simulators to achieve appropriate competency levels in an efficient manner is a key measure that has not progressed. Further, the pilot training program remains AMSA-prescribed through the 2004 versions of the training study guide and workbook.

 
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Last update 22 April 2016