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Is Your Training Program in a Rut?

Human Factors, CRM | August 7, 2015

Author: Kyle and Linda Reynolds


Some flight departments seem to be in a bit of a rut. You know, kind of like having toast and coffee for breakfast every day. Whether it’s Crew Resource Management, fatigue, or emergency procedures, the diet always seems to be the same…more training!

While it can be a part of the solution, there are needs in flight departments that training alone can’t solve. In fact, if overdone, it can actually hinder a resolution by making people apathetic about training, and disheartened that the problem is not being resolved. Cathy Moore has pinpointed four factors to consider when solving a problem, which we have adapted here.


It’s not enough just to fill our heads with knowledge. We have to implement it. Yet it’s hard for people to implement training if the environment is not conducive. Excessive paperwork, disorganization and inconsistency, unsupportive management, inadequate Standard Operating Procedures, and a stressful working environment all make it difficult for people to do what they have been trained to do. For example, mechanics can train on fatigue management procedures, but if they are repeatedly asked by their supervisors to take an extra shift or cover for an absent colleague, sooner or later the body’s craving for sleep is going to win out.

Can you think of anything in your working environment that is hindering people from putting their training into practice, or even working against the skills and knowledge they have acquired?


In aviation, keeping all of the facts straight is a daunting task. However, it doesn’t always mean that a recurrent course is the answer. Often a knowledge problem can be fixed with job aids, which are prompts that remind people of information.

Recently, a pilot shared with us his concern about the aging process and his desire to be sure he didn’t forget important information. He was transitioning between several different types of aircraft, so he made his own job aid. He wrote the engine temperature limitations right onto the Before Engine Start Checklist. A very good and practical idea. Could some of the information people need to know be made into job aids or discussed periodically in order to keep it fresh and relevant and reduce the need for more training?


This is the one area where training is often the answer. Practicing a skill is what training is all about. Simulator training is designed for this purpose. The key here is to be sure that the skills being practiced are pertinent to the individuals and the flight department in which they operate. If the training is repetitive, stressful, and/or below an individual’s skill level, its effectiveness will certainly be affected. Is skills training, especially in the simulator, tailored to your operation? Is it meaningful, applicable, and based on real-life scenarios? Is there an opportunity to practice new and difficult scenarios?


Lack of motivation is a common complaint when it comes to training. Be careful, though. Often, lack of motivation is a result of a problem with one of the three preceding factors. If working relationships are strained in my department, or if others continue to disregard SOPs, I doubt I am going to be excited about another Crew Resource Management course.

We in the aviation community are smart. We won’t be motivated by training that is unnecessary or irrelevant to the real problem. Do the people in your department enjoy training? Do they see it as a means to better themselves and their work environment? Has the groundwork been laid to support the training and its implementation?

Now that we have some more options for solving the problems in our departments, why not mix it up a little? In fact, ask the people in your department how training could be more meaningful to them. Ask them to consider if any of these factors are keeping them from doing their best. Maybe while you discuss, you could even offer them a Denver omelet with their coffee and try to break out of that rut.


Kyle and Linda Reynolds are the owners of Flight Level Training Solutions.

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