Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Are We Just Ticking Off Boxes

On Sunday, 11 November 2012, an Emirates A380 EK413 bound to Dubai experienced an inflight engine failure after take off and had to return to Sydney. Engine failures happen, what is interesting was what the passengers said about the cabin crew's reaction, they "panicked more than the passengers" (Click here for full story). Similarly I witnessed "Almost An Emergency" in March 2011 on board a BA flight, the cabin crews reaction was not very comforting. I know, two events hardly make a trend, but we have seen crews stressed to the point of a melt down.

Aircraft are getting bigger and more technologically sophisticated, passengers are so connected they are reluctant to switch off their mobiles and the responsibilities of cabin crew increased to include more security procedures.  Keeping all this in mind, are we training cabin crews effectively or are we just ticking off boxes? to get on with it.

More importantly, how are we qualifying the Senior Cabin Crews, the Cabin Directors or Pursers. These are senior staff that have to manage teams of around 18 cabin crews give or take a few on ultra range flights of 14+ hours.  Are they being trained to effectively manage a large team dealing with 300 to 500 passengers over a long period of time with minimal involvement from the flight crew, especially post 9/11, in a technologically sophisticated environment. Have curricula and training techniques evolved sufficiently to provide the Seniors with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage emergencies and their staff in emergencies.

Personally, I am not so sure that enough attention is paid to skills like conflict resolution, management of large teams and time management when it comes to Senior Cabin Crew training. Airline management still do not fully understand the role or the complexity of the jobs that are performed by cabin crew.

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