IEAFA concludes Aviation Safety Program Management course, introduces VR Crash Lab

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robin Cadow
  • Inter-European Air Forces Academy

The Inter-European Air Forces Academy and subject matter experts from U.S. Air Forces in Europe Safety Office successfully concluded a two-week Inter-European Aviation Safety Program Management course in Tallinn, Estonia, strengthening alliances and building partnerships, Sept. 25, 2020.

Adhering to stringent COVID-19 restrictions, IEAFA delivered its first hybrid course--bringing together 25 students from seven nations.

Estonian students attended in-residence with partners and allies dialing in virtually from the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovakia.

IEAFA’s Aviation Safety Program Management course contributes to focused development of a common safety culture and a cadre of NATO and Partnership for Peace aviation safety professionals who together can continually improve the safety of air operations in Europe.

“These classes not only increase ally and partner interoperability, but they also deepen trust on the very human level that organizations like NATO and Partnership for Peace are built upon,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robin Cadow, IEAFA commander.

Of significance, this course validated the first-ever use of the U.S. Air Force’s Virtual Reality Crash Lab in a learning environment, increasing allied and partner interoperability in conducting aircraft mishap investigations.

The VR Crash Lab interactively illustrated how to collect, protect and preserve mishap evidence to students. Students were given checklists and real mishap evidence to process and inventory which created a unique realism to teach the concepts of mishap response.

Students completed blocks of instruction on risk management, air safety and mishap response, all with the aim of developing individual skills, performing national missions, developing interoperability with allies and partners, and setting the stage for future work in multi-national exercises and operations.

As students participated in multiple classroom sessions, there were “breakout” team sessions where in-classroom tablets brought in-resident and remote students together in small groups, and featured guest speakers from USAFE and the Air Force Safety Center.  

Taking advantage of the challenges created by travel restrictions, Estonian students had the opportunity to visit Amari Air Base, Estonia, while remote students visited their local airfields then briefed fellow students—in effect, allowing everyone insight into safety operations at seven airfields across the U.S. European Command instead of just one.

“It was an excellent learning point for our students to see [Amari] Air Base and the facility and gain a first-hand impression of what flight safety looks like,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Dwight Rabe, USAFE chief of flight safety.

Rabe led the instructor team and challenged students to seek out opportunities to see and apply the real-world principles from the course.

“It was a really great experience-- I loved it,” said Luxembourg Air Force Maj. Christophe Schaber, the first member of Luxembourg’s Air Force to attend the course from a remote out-station in Spain. “We had a lot of subject matter experts and a big advantage to have so many people from so many backgrounds here for a single purpose.”

As the course concluded, IEAFA staff and instructors are preparing for the next batch of students. To date, the combined officer and enlisted professional military education and technical training courses IEAFA offers, has trained over 900 allies and partners from 42 different nations.