Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome – Don’t Let It Happen To You

I am the wife of a pilot. I know what it is like to spend Christmas and other holidays without the one I love. I have experienced the challenges of managing a household and caring for children for weeks at a time without the presence of my spouse.

I also work alongside my husband in our aviation training business. I have seen a twinkle in the eye of many pilots as they recount the planes flown, the accidents averted, and the places they’ve visited. I’ve also seen the twinkle fade as they mention the loss of their family due to the extended absences and sudden departures. I have sensed the joy and sorrow that aviation has produced in many lives.

Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome may be a tongue in cheek  attempt to express this double edged sword. It’s a means for expressing the love of flying which diminishes other loves. It’s also a means for expressing a set of symptoms from which people desire relief.

While I may not be able to offer complete relief, I should like to suggest a few solutions. I do believe one can love aviation and one’s family simultaneously. It takes some work and some thought, but it can be done. Training is one of my passions. Aviation is another. Take a look at the solutions offered here and consider training yourself to become not only a better pilot but also better equipped to care for the ones who matter most.

Solutions to Caring for Your Loved Ones While You Are Away

  • Let us into your world – It can be almost a surreal experience to be in another country or state and then back home within a few hours. In fact, it can almost be described as a culture shock. Help our two worlds to meet once again. Tell us about your trip. What did you see? Who were your passengers and what were they like? Show us on a map where you went and start instilling in us that wonder of the world and passion for travel that you have acquired. It can also be a means for helping you re-acclimate yourself to our world.
  • Take lots of pictures and videos – We can’t see first hand all that you do, but you can teach us and make us feel a part of your life by sharing your adventures. After you’ve had a chance to unwind, show us what you saw. Play a homemade video of the airport or the town in which you stayed. Make a commentary of the country or state that you visited. Take a picture of the plane and the cockpit. Explain your process for takeoff and descent so we understand the complexity of the job and can appreciate the skill it takes. The extra effort lets us know that you were thinking of us while you were there and that you want us to enjoy the adventure with you.
  • Set up family procedures – Why not make up some SOPs for us while you are gone? Give us the structure we need to compensate for your absence. How can you delegate duties so that things run as smoothly as possible? Can you enlist the support of friends and family? Can you assign chores and responsibilities to the children? Be sure to follow-up on assigned tasks when you return so that everyone is clear on the need to work together as a team and support mom/dad who bears much of the responsibility when you are on a trip.
  • Explain the complexity of decision making – Pilots make countless decisions every day. Many people tend to think that pilots just get in and go. Your family may think so, too, if you don’t share with us. Show and explain your checklists. Read an accident report (ever mindful of what is appropriate for children). Teach us how to read the radar or how you communicate with ATC.  We will be much more understanding of delays and changes in schedules when we understand the rationale behind duty time, weather patterns, company policies and the challenges you face each day.
  • Share your needs – Safety is of prime concern for pilots. It is important to be well rested and focused while flying. Ask us to refrain from texts and phone calls until you have landed so you can keep focused on the flight. Then when you do respond, give us your undivided attention. Let us know ahead of time when you need to get to bed early so you are well rested for the next trip. Try to spend quality time with us the night before so we feel secure knowing that your early bed time and departure is for work related reasons and not because you are disinterested or tired of being with us.
  • Connect often – It’s true. We lead separate lives while you are away. Call us and ask about our sporting events. Ask how the day went and how the children behaved. Ask for details. Really take interest. Face-time us and show us your room and what you ate. Show us your colleagues and your rental car. The more details you pull out of us and the more you share, the more our lives become one again.
  • Express gratitude – Often a less than ideal situation can be softened by a few kind words. Let us know that you appreciate all of our hard work while you are away and the support given to your career. Tell us how proud you are of the help and the teamwork you see. Acknowledging the sacrifices made helps us to feel that we a part of your success and is a good reminder for yourself as well.

Hopefully, there are a few ideas here that will help to ensure that Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome never touches you or your loved ones. Train yourself to implement several ideas, and then watch to see how your family responds. Take the ones which are effective and make them a habit.

It takes work, but you can enjoy aviation and keep your family. Hopefully, you can have a twinkle in your eye when you speak of both.

Photo Credit: Sergey Kichigin | Dreamstime.com

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Most Aviation Training Isn’t Training – Lessons From A Dog

You can’t train your dog to do the same trick twice. Nope. Once the dog has learned how to do the trick, his training is complete. If he sits when you say “Sit!”, he’s trained. You can PRACTICE giving him the command and amaze your friends with his devoted obedience, but you can’t TRAIN him to do something he already knows how to do. That would be a waste of time.

Similarly, you can’t train a pilot to do something he/she already knows how to do. Much of what we call “training” in aviation is actually just practice. No new skill is being taught, practiced, memorized, role-played, and solidified in the long term memory. Instead, professionals are being asked to repeatedly demonstrate a skill that was trained and mastered years ago. And yet, we still call these practice sessions “training”.

When “Training” is really just Practice

Take, for instance, simulator training. At Initial Training, a pilot is inundated with new information and then given several days or weeks to practice before demonstrating competency. Once the pilot successfully completes the maneuvers listed in the 61.58, a type rating is issued which verifies that the pilot does indeed have the skill needed to fly the aircraft. More practice may be warranted, but the basic skills needed have been demonstrated. This is indeed training.

Now examine recurrent “training”. The same pilot returns to the simulator. The same list of required maneuvers is presented. Once again, the pilot is asked to demonstrate proficiency on the 61.58 check while being lead to believe that training is occurring. But isn’t that misleading? The pilot already knows how to do V1 cuts and steep turns. Those maneuvers were demonstrated during Initial Training. The check ride was passed and proficiency verified. The pilot has already been trained. Some further PRACTICE of those skills in the simulator may be desired, but to retrain a pilot on skills that have already been demonstrated is similar to training a dog to sit when he already knows how. It is a waste of time.

How much better to require the pilot to try a V1 cut in a 25 knott crosswind or another challenging scenario where his/her skill is yet untried. This exercise would be considered training because the pilot is taking a skill already acquired (V1 cut) and using it in a new context (25 knott crosswind).

A lot of time and money is spent on Recurrent Simulator Training. For the most part, it is really just an expensive practice session of skills already demonstrated many times over. If training is truly the intent, then pilots need to be challenged with new skills.

Recurrent Simulator Training is not the only misguided element in aviation training. The many courses and workshops pilots attend throughout the year are also lacking.

Telling isn’t Training

Think, once again, about dog obedience training. Suppose you want to train your dog to shake hands. You have him sit at your feet. You give a detailed history of man and canine friendship and even intersperse some statistics on the success of other dogs in learning to shake hands. Now you bring out a flip chart. You show him a nice picture of a paw and another of a hand. You explain how he needs to shake your hand when commanded.  You ask if he has any questions. Since he has none and he was attentive the entire time, his training is now complete. Sound ridiculous? That’s precisely the response we should have when the same technique is used in aviation training.

Every year pilots sit in on conferences, presentations, e learning courses, and workshops which are labeled as “training” events. During these events, pilots view charts, statistics, and a few photos for added interest. They hear the historical background of the chosen topic and receive loads of information, more information than they care to know, from a Subject Matter Expert. Pilots are evaluated on their ability to regurgitate certain bits of information back to the instructor via a written test or perhaps just their name on a piece of paper to mark attendance. Either of these will suffice because the objective will have been met. The objective is not to train pilots to DO something but to KNOW or at least BE EXPOSED to information. This is not training.

Consider a common requirement; Emergency Procedures Training. The name implies that pilots will train on a certain procedure that is needed in an emergency situation. Yet, this is rarely the case. E learning courses present enough general information to meet standards but offer no procedures on which to train. Some workshops or courses offer more specific information but they rarely require pilots to apply that information using a departmental procedure and their own aircraft.

One IS-BAO (International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations) standard for EPT asks pilots to be trained on inflation of a life raft. This has some training merit because at least pilots are being asked to DO not just know something. Yet, if the training does not give pilots a specific procedure to use on the specific life raft carried on the aircraft unique to each pilot’s operation, it is not truly training. Furthermore, it is not enough to just watch others inflate the life raft. Remember, telling isn’t training. To be training, it needs to be practiced or at least simulated by each pilot.

IS-BAO also states that use of a fire extinguisher should be a part of EPT.  This is a good training goal for the FIRST exposure to EPT. It is not a good training goal every two years. Operation of a fire extinguisher is a pretty simple skill. Once demonstrated, that skill is trained. It may need to be practiced from time to time, but put it in a new context. Have the pilot use it to extinguish a simulated cabin fire. Without a new context, it’s not EPT training the second time around. It’s just practicing.

Pilots feel the pressure to keep all of the boxes checked. Because so much of their valuable time is spent practicing competency on the use of a fire extinguisher and retaking a life raft course, they have little time to train for a new skill such as an active shooter on the plane or in the hangar. While the IS-BAO standards have a good intent, their requirements are keeping flight departments from truly training on risks and hazards unique to their operation.

So What Exactly Is “Training”?

Training is a process for acquiring a new set of skills that can be DEMONSTRATED. The steps involved in training usually encompass:

  • modeling  (the trainer shows you how to do it)
  • practice (you give it a try)
  • critique and revision (the trainer corrects any errors and you try again)
  • mastery (continued practice until the skill is acquired)

For example, imagine that your department develops a procedure for handling a laser assault. Since it is a new procedure, everyone must train on its implementation. Using the steps listed above, a training session is organized. It might look something like this:

  • People are broken into pairs and asked to read and talk through the procedure (Modeling it to one another).
  • Now each pair enters the cockpit and simulates a laser assault. The Pilot Flying and the Pilot Not Flying run through the procedure (Practice).
  • A third colleague sits behind them making sure that the pilots follow each step correctly (Critique and Revision).
  • If they miss a step or if they come across a flaw in the procedure, they try again or make revisions. Once they can complete the procedure without error, they take a few minutes over the next two weeks while in the cockpit to review until it becomes second nature. The department also agrees to review the procedure once a year to make sure it is still viable and memorized (Mastery).

The Laser Assault Training is now complete. The skill has been demonstrated and mastered. It may need to be practiced from time to time to keep it mastered, but the training is complete.

Why Semantics Matter

“Well isn’t this just semantics?”, you may be wondering. “What is the difference if we intermingle the terms training, practice, and presentation?”

It makes all the difference when we examine how much time and money is being spent on something labeled as “training” when it is not really that at all. One corporate pilot recently calculated his “training” sessions and estimated nearly 60 per year! Is it any wonder that when a colleague mentions there is no procedure for a laser assault or a quick descent due to an emergency, everyone roles their eyes in disgust? When would they have time to devise a plan of action for something that is not required but yet a rising risk? When we ask pilots to continually practice skills they already have or fill their heads to the brim with information and call it “training”, there is little energy or desire left to learn a new skill that is sorely needed.

In fact, misleading people to believe that exposure to information or successfully demonstrating a skill already acquired is actually training is one reason for the rise in apathy and Procedural Intentional Non-Compliance (PINC). You can read more on that topic in “PINC: 3 Reasons Why Aviation May Have Created Its Own Monster”.

Training is important. It’s important for dogs and it’s important for people. Making sure that the money and time invested in training is well spent is vitally important.

Solutions To Make “Training” Really Training?

Here are some solutions for making your aviation training more relevant.

  • When designing or participating in a training, ask yourself “What will people be able to DO when finished?”. This will help you to recognize if technical or hard skills are actually being trained or if it is just an information dump or an expensive practice session.
  • In order for training to be applicable to the flight department, most often an action plan or procedure should be one of the deliverables. Request that the training provider incorporate a time for procedure creation or review as it relates to the topic being presented. If no procedure from the department is incorporated, it is probably not a true training session.
  • Request that the requirements of your 61.58 be incorporated into specific scenarios which are relevant to your operation and present a true challenge.
  • Examine carefully your training requirements, especially IS-BAO standards. Many people assume that certain packaged courses are a must. If examined, many of the requirements and standards can be met in-house with some effort.
  • Examine your hazard reports and SMS data. Are there any themes which would point to a need for training? Try to devise your own based on the data.
  • Practice “What If” situations while in flight. It’s a great way to keep your mind active and to keep the crew on the same page. If you come across some situations for which you don’t know the procedure or in which you are unsure of a response, it’s probably a good sign that training is in order.

In order to rid our industry of box checking and to pave a new path that is centered on acquiring new and needed skills, it’s important to understand what the term “training” real means. Please join the conversation. Do you think pilots have been mislead into thinking expensive practice sessions are actually training? Do you feel the pressure to check the box and find little time to address real training needs? Are you fed up with fancy presentations and longing for some good hands-on activities that will help you get better at what you do? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Why Your Aviation Emergency Procedures Training is Behind the Eight Ball


None of us like change. That’s why we usually wait until we have no other choice.

Aviation training is at that point. We must change the way it is conceived. We must change the way it is designed. We must change the way it is accomplished. We have no other choice. We are behind the eight ball and the situation doesn’t look good.

For years EPT (Emergency Procedures Training) has centered on meeting IS-BAO standards.  Routinely, pilots have been asked to shoot off the fire extinguisher, locate the emergency exits, don life vests, and practice the use of oxygen masks. For those departments with a hefty budget, inflation of a life raft or simulation of an underwater escape have offered a nice change of pace. These are all necessary procedures to understand and implement. Yet they are not nearly enough. Certainly not in the world in which we live.

We need to train on more than the minimum standards

Recently an active shooter opened fire in an airport terminal in Florida. The risk of a disgruntled or recently terminated employee becoming an active shooter on the corporate aircraft, the hanger, or the FBO exists. Is our EPT covering that subject? Do we each have procedures in place to mitigate that risk?

Last year PED (Personal Electronic Device) fires became a national crisis for Samsung. The risk of fire in the aircraft cabin suddenly increased. The current statistics indicate that pilots have about 4 minutes to extinguish a cabin fire. If the fire isn’t out in 4 minutes, it probably won’t be extinguished in-flight. The statistics also suggest the plane needs to be on the ground in under 14 minutes when a cabin fire is out of control. Do we each know how to extinguish a PED fire and keep it out until the aircraft is safely on the ground? Is our EPT covering any of the other sources of cabin fires? Do our passengers know how to assist and are we confident we know how to evacuate them without fueling a fire that cannot be extinguished? Have we practiced getting the airplane from altitude to the ground in under 14 minutes during our simulator training?

Recently, two corporate pilots were kidnapped while exiting an airport in Mexico. Drug smuggling, extortion, bomb threats, and acts of terrorism are becoming a way of life in other countries. Pilots who fly internationally are definitely at risk. But there’s risk here on our home soil as well. It’s perplexing, but even after 9/11 little training has been done on how to handle a weapon on board the aircraft or an assault to the crew. Is our EPT covering any of these subjects? Do we know how to defend ourselves and protect our passengers?

There were 7,442 laser illuminations reported by pilots in 2016. Flashblindness can temporarily incapacitate a pilot. Do our crews have procedures in place should an assault occur during the critical phases of flight? Do we know how to treat an affected crew member and how to report an incident to the authorities?

We need to be proactive

These are but a few of the developing risks to the safety of crew and passengers. SMS (Safety Management System) has done a lot to help flight departments identify risks within their own operations. The ultimate goal is for each department to be proactive in mitigating these risks. Unfortunately, most departments are still relying on generalized minimum standards when it comes to Emergency Procedures Training. Here are some solutions for becoming proactive.

Customized solutions

  1. Be knowledgeable of threats to safety – Look at case studies but also look outside of the aviation industry to learn what is happening.  Use LinkedIn to follow firefighters and law enforcement officers. Read their articles and even connect if you have a specific question which requires their expertise.
  2. Use your SMS hazard reports to identify specific training objectives – Look for themes which indicate a need for revision of procedures and practice. Incorporate solutions into role plays and simulations.
  3. Talk with your colleagues – EPT is not a one shot deal. It is a career long process. Make it a habit to analyze each trip and talk about “what if” situations. Discuss scenarios with your fellow pilots, but also include maintainers and even company employees in human resources, security, or communications when deemed appropriate.
  4. Role play an emergency and practice call outs and procedures – Even if you do have a plan in place, it is unlikely you will use it when an emergency arises unless it is ingrained in your memory. Make it stick by practicing. Role playing also gives you and your department an opportunity to pinpoint procedures which are inadequate or unclear.
  5. Make good use of your subscription services –  Ask them to tailor their training to the specific needs of your operation. Role play the use of their services and discuss ways to draw upon their resources and expertise.
  6. Customize your Simulator Training – It is possible to meet all the requirements of the 61.58 and still incorporate items unique to your operation. There is no better time to practice a maneuver you wouldn’t dream of doing under normal circumstances but may be forced to consider in an emergency.

It’s time we placed ourselves in the forefront of proactive training. It is time we started asking some of the difficult “what if” questions and working together to find solutions and prepare ourselves. It’s time to get out from behind the eight ball. Working together, we can make a clean break from box checking and start pocketing some Emergency Procedures that better prepare us for the world in which we live and work.

Flight Level Training Solutions will customize a workshop for your department addressing any one of these emergency related subjects as well as others. Contact us to discuss how we can help you start being more proactive in your Emergency Procedures Training while still meeting IS-BAO standards.


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Why the CEO of Your Company is a Big Baby

baby_on_boardPerhaps you always suspected. Maybe you’ve always known it to be true. Fact is, it IS true. The CEO is a big baby. Your baby. At least that is the mindset that should prevail in your flight department. Every time you place that CEO into the aircraft, the standard of care and the attention to details you give should leave you feeling completely at ease knowing your baby and other members of your company family will arrive safely.

But that’s not the only baby you need to care for. Your aircraft is your baby as well. At least that is what some maintainers feel. Don’t just keep her clean. Maker her shine. Show her off as the little apple of your eye. It doesn’t matter so much her size or her title. What matters is that she is your responsibility. A reflection of your care.

In a fast paced world where people have many distractions, it is easy to become complacent. To perpetuate latch key kids. It’s easier to let the safety of our passengers or the care of the plane be someone else’s responsibility. It is easy to pacify ourselves with the thought that others are OK with mediocrity so we might as well join them. But mediocrity isn’t becoming. It’s not becoming to our industry nor to a flight department and it’s certainly not attractive to our personal and professional reputations.

It’s time we wake up and take back the responsibility that  is rightfully ours. The next time we walk into the hanger and see the aircraft, let’s whisper to ourselves “That’s my baby”. Then love on her. Polish her up. Check her over for any areas that need attention or care.

When the CEO and other passengers arrive, whisper VERY QUIETLY to yourself, “That’s my baby” and then be sure that every risk is mitigated and every safety procedure is followed. As you look back at your precious cargo, remind yourself that they have put themselves in your care and that you are going to do whatever it takes to  get them safely to their destination.

Taking care of babies is hard work. Sometimes we all forget just how important it can be. So let’s not be neglectful. Let’s take pride and joy in our position knowing that the care of passengers, cargo, and the aircraft reflect our professional and personal character.

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Why Business Aviation is in Trouble and What You Can Do to Help


Business Aviation is in trouble.

Pilots and maintainers are voicing concerns about colleagues who refuse to follow Standard Operating Procedures and Best Practices. They are frustrated by owners, managers, and C suite executives who care little about safety initiatives and refuse to lend financial or training support. Apathy is on the rise, and those who recognize this danger are feeling helpless to stop it.

Despite the most advanced simulators, increased training, and strict regulations, a recent report by NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) revealed that an average of 15% of corporate pilots do not fully complete a pre-takeoff flight control check. Procedural Intentional Non-Compliance (PINC)  is more common than we had believed. How can so many be so complacent about even the most basic of safety procedures?

When the Cat’s Away the Mice Will Play

Although PINC and complacency toward safety initiatives are concerning, they are only symptoms of a larger problem. In order to defeat complacency, we have to identify the real problem. The real problem is the leadership model pervasive in most of corporate aviation. It is a top down, authority driven model in which The Experts set the direction and demand others follow by use of disciplinary actions or prestigious recognition and rewards. As the NBAA report reveals, this model can keep people in check as long as the authority is present. But when the cat is away, the mice will play.

So how can we lead our industry out of complacency and non-compliance and renew a passion for safety and professionalism? Odd as it may sound, it starts with aviation training.

Why Aviation Training is Both the Cause of and the Solution to Complacency

Currently, aviation training is the poster child for the Top Down Leadership Model.  The Experts analyze the data and decide which topics will be the focus of this year’s training. The Experts then offer products for purchase based on the focus areas. Once consumed, these products allow The Experts to fill us and our departments full of all the knowledge which they have acquired. Having completed the hours or percentages necessary for meeting The Experts’ satisfaction, we are then free to rest until The Experts notify us that it is time to start training once again. It is so simple. Fatigue Management? Just take an e learning course. Upset Recovery? Take a two day workshop. Whatever the ailment, we just need to take our medicine and the problem is cured. Do as The Experts say and our training is complete.

Rarely, if ever, are we asked for our input or evaluation. Rarely, if ever, is training customized to reflect our needs or to take into account what we already know.  And rarely, if ever, does it draw upon the strengths and knowledge of others within our workplace. Why? Because these perks do not fit into the Top Down Leadership Model.

Is it any wonder that true leadership skills such as effective communication, delegation, problem solving, collaboration and other soft skills are sorely lacking in our flight departments?

So it is bound to happen. Sooner or later, The Experts will determine that soft skills and leadership are the new focus areas! In order to promote safety within, they will begin to create  leadership workshops and e learning courses based on soft skills. “Surely that will fix the problem of complacency,” The Experts will say.

NO! A thousand times, NO!

Much to the surprise of The Experts, training was never meant to be the end all.

Training, when done well, is a means to an end – that end being trust, collaboration, and professional growth. Instead of precipitating complacency, its by-product CAN be leadership.

Leadership Training

Training done in a collaborative environment where people are valued and their input is appreciated and welcomed not only allows for a better training experience and improved skill development and retention but it also builds trust and appreciation among colleagues and departments. It causes people to practice decision making, communication skills, and problem solving. It causes a flight department to look at their SOPs and SMS and determine validity and functionality. It causes people to form ideas, seek out their passions, and pass their knowledge and skills between one another.

The content of the training matters but it is not supreme. What takes precedence is the interactivity among the participants learning together and the leadership skills that are developed. That’s how leadership training needs to be done in business aviation.

What You Can Do Right Now to Build Leadership Skills and Squelch Complacency

Here are some ideas that you can implement in your department that will weaken the top down mentality and start to encourage true leadership in yourself and your colleagues.

  1. Make people feel special – Bring donuts or another item that tells your co-workers you appreciate them.
  2. Remember you work with people, not robots – Talk on a personal level. Get to know your co-workers. Ask how they got started in aviation. Ask about their family. Make them feel an integral part of your team.
  3. Look for people’s strengths and identify their passions – Ask people what excites them about their work. Compliment them on their knowledge and expertise. Make them feel important and valued.
  4. Encourage innovation – Ask people what ideas they have for improving the workplace. Ask them if there are any resources or training experiences they would like to see implemented. Even if you don’t have the authority to implement their ideas, you can still keep dreams and ideas alive by allowing people to share.
  5. Show gratitude – write a note of thanks or give a small token of appreciation to someone who is struggling or when someone has done an outstanding job.
  6. Ask for input – get a second opinion or another viewpoint. Draw upon the wealth of knowledge and the experiences your colleagues provide. You’ll gain wisdom and they’ll be honored you asked.
  7. Make your training interactive – organize activities or lunch and learn programs where people can grow professionally together. Throw out a scenario and ask your colleagues what they would suggest as the best possible response. Practice learning a new skill together. Or just take time to analyze the training you’ve already done this year. What went well, what could improve?
  8. Customize your training – develop your own training or at least ask that workshops or e learning purchases be interactive and tailored to your operation. Don’t settle for common place. If you need ideas or help, Flight Level Training Solutions is willing to listen and support you.

You know the saying. More is caught than taught. The relationships formed in or outside of training are worth more than the knowledge instilled. Business Aviation is in need of good training and strong leaders. You are just the person to fit the bill.

“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to. ” – Simon Sinek (How Great Leaders Inspire Action)

Do whatever it takes to lead your department safely from the dangers of complacency.

Posted in Leadership, Safety Managers, Training Managers, Trust | 2 Comments

PINC Part 2: Concocting a Solution to Intentional Non-Compliance in Aviation

downloadProcedural Intentional Non-Compliance is a a scary reality and on the verge of becoming more habitual. We discussed the problem in our previous article, PINC: Why Aviation May Have Created Its Own Monster.

We believe that one solution to PINC lies in changing the aviation training paradigm. Currently, almost all training is dispersed from the top down. Government agencies and professional organizations announce the newest threats to safety and latest training mandates. Providers design products based on these initiatives. Flight departments in turn purchase the products and then require employees to consume the training.

The glaring problem with a top down training system is that most of us who consume the training have little or no buy-in. This is a big reason why we have people choosing to intentionally disregard checklists and standard operating procedures. It is a by-product of a faulty training paradigm.

Getting Buy-in

So how can we engage people so they will value and apply the training they receive? Mark Crowley in his article, Why Engagement Happens in Employees Hearts, Not Their Minds lists 4 factors that increase engagement in our workplace.

  1. Having a supervisor that cares about us, our well-being, and personal growth
  2. Doing work that we enjoy and have the talents to perform
  3. Routinely feeling valued, appreciated, and having a deep belief that the work we do matters
  4. Having strong bonds with other people on the team

People want to belong, enjoy their work, make a difference and collaborate. Is the current training paradigm promoting engagement?

Training was never meant to be something dictated to us in an impersonal manner that we learn to tolerate. It was meant to make us better at what we love to do…..whether that’s flying, fixing the plane or making passengers comfortable.

A New Training Paradigm

So let’s consider flipping the process. Let’s start with the people who do the job. Let’s teach them to assess their own needs, develop a plan to meet those needs, design a solution, implement the solution, train others, and then assess what went well and what needs revision. Let’s teach them to do this all as a team so they can draw on each other’s expertise and creativity and hold one another accountable. Let’s have providers begin to develop tools and products that support the unique needs of their customers. Professional organizations can then be used as a vehicle to share the ideas and experiences gleaned from those in the field. And finally, government oversight can once again be focused on the few who truly have no interest in safety or getting better at what they do.

A new training paradigm wouldn’t be complete unless it addressed simulator instruction. Let’s base the instruction on the workload, hazards, and risks that are specific to each of us and the operation in which we work. Let’s allow each pilot to practice, experiment, learn from mistakes, and try new maneuvers in the simulator without the fear of failure or loss of certification. Let’s harness technology and virtual reality and develop simulators that are placed in-house so that we can train proactively and immediately following an incident.

Change is Possible

We can implement a training paradigm that is engaging, meaningful, and enjoyable. It won’t come about by mandates. That would defeat the purpose. It has to be created by the people who do the work. It needs to be encouraged by management and leaders in our industry. It will become wide spread when we’ve had enough of the status quo and decide to take action. Hopefully, that time has come. Hopefully, PINC will be an anomaly in our industry and not habitual.

Starting with the people and working outward. Functioning as a team. Letting customer need drive the products and services. Supporting professionals with organizations in which they can share ideas freely and learn from one another. Structuring a system where professionals are trusted to do their job well and dissidents are held accountable. Sounds like a formula for employee engagement and autonomy. Sounds like a good way to concoct a training program. Also sounds like a good way to concoct a Revolution.

We can facilitate a new training paradigm in your flight operation. Contact Us to discuss your needs and how we can be of help.

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PINC: 3 Reasons Why Aviation May Have Created Its Own Monster

Frankenstein's_monsterProcedural Intentional Non-Compliance (PINC) came to the forefront of concern with the Bedford Gulfstream Accident. The NTSB Report Summary stated ” A review of data from the airplane’s quick access recorder revealed that the pilots had neglected to perform complete flight control checks before 98% of their previous 175 takeoffs in the airplane, indicating that this oversight was habitual and not an anomaly.”

Habitual and not an anomaly. How can this happen?

It is a question with which many have been wrestling. We’d like to think that this flight crew was an anomaly among professionals. We propose that many pilots are on the verge of sub-coming to a similar mindset. How could the aviation industry have created such a monster as PINC? Here are three reasons to consider if we really want to find a solution.

Reason #1: The Regulatory Agencies Have Swung a Stick for Far Too Long

There is a place for government oversight. The problem is that the minimum standards set in place for certification and re-certification have continued to snowball to the point that we are so busy meeting minimum, after minimum, after minimum that there is little time or money left to do something beyond the “minimum”. Little support for getting better. Just a firm reminder that you “must meet minimum standards…or else”. Being constantly told what to do doesn’t encourage people to think or take ownership of their actions. Big sticks don’t do much for motivating people either. In fact, if you continue to swing the stick long enough, some people will just flat out refuse to comply. They become rebellious. Sounds a lot like Procedural Intentional Non-Compliance.

Reason #2: The Professional Organizations Keep Moving the Carrot Just a Little Farther Ahead

Realizing that punitive efforts were doing little to increase safety practices and promote good training, numerous professional organizations began to offer incentives for those who desired change. Offering prestigious certifications, alerting us to “hot topics”, encouraging us to buy the latest and greatest training program that rivaled our peers would surely help move the industry along, they thought. And it did, to a point. The problem with incentives is that one must continue to offer a sweeter carrot or else attempt to keep it just out of reach if one wants to keep people moving forward.

An alarming trend that Flight Level Training Solutions has noted is the increasing number of large corporations who are becoming bitter towards training. They have gained the certifications, taken the suggested courses and workshops, and purchased the fancy training packages. And yet, there is always just “one more thing” that is needed in order to keep their status. Meeting minimums coupled with meeting professional standards has become so consuming that they have little time and money to spend on initiatives that are relevant and specific to their own operation.

Reason #3: Apathy Has Begun To Set In

If some professional pilots have turned their backs in rebellion and others are growing disheartened and bitter toward safety and training, what do we have left? Those who have learned not to care. Those who have been conditioned to believe if you don’t expect much then you won’t be disappointed. Not a pretty picture.

So how can we begin to motivate people and set our course aright?

Motivation is Key to Setting a New Course

In our article How to Inspire Motivation in a Box Checking World , we discuss the difference between extrinsic (sticks and carrots) and intrinsic motivation (doing things because we know them to be right). There are three key elements that build the foundation for an intrinsically motivating workplace.

  1. Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives
  2. Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose – yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Drawing upon these elements, we propose that a remedy for PINC and the growing bitterness and apathy toward training and safety initiatives is found by encouraging flight departments to assess their own needs, devise their own solutions, to work as a team, to celebrate their success, to learn from their failures and to share their knowledge with others. Sound like a tall order? It is. But it can be done.

It starts with collaboration within the workplace. It doesn’t come from top down initiatives. And it doesn’t sustain itself by laying the burden solely on Training and Safety Managers or Executive Leadership. They burn out all too fast.

It grows from the center out. It is sustained by the people who do the job because they like directing their own lives. They enjoy getting better at something that matters. And they take pleasure in knowing that their safety and training initiatives are helping their colleagues, their department, their organization, and their customers.

And best of all, when people have a say in what they create, they naturally take ownership and interest.

When people who do the work come together to solve problems, train, and motivate each other, they don’t create monsters. They create something that is practical, meaningful, and unique to them.

People are not the problem. People are the solution. At least that’s the way we see it. How about you?

For More Infgormation on the solution, read PINC Part 2: Concocting a Solution to Intentional Non-Compliance in Aviation

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“That’s my baby!” – How One Maintainer Improves Communication and Keeps His Passion for Aviation Alive


Private_airplane_in_hangarEvery once in awhile we come across someone who utters a phrase that just won’t stop rolling around in our heads.

Bob Rorison, technical adviser for TrainingPort, was describing the role of the maintainer to us during the NBAA Conference. As he spoke about his attention to detail and his expectation that the plane be well maintained, he made a declaration of love…”That’s my baby!” His connection to the plane and his passion for keeping her running and in tip top shape was obvious.

“That’s my baby!” It was a phrase that made us realize how passionate Bob was for his job. It was a phrase that made us all wish we could be a maintainer and a member of his team. It was a phrase that stuck. That’s what passion for one’s job will do. It leaves a lasting impact. Sit in on our chat. Hopefully, it will stir up that passion for aviation in you as well.


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The One Fear Which Haunts Aviation


It’s time to be frank. Aviation is fearful.

“But aviation is safer than ever. The accident rate is at an all time low. The chances of death in an airplane are far less than riding in a car,” you say.

Yep. The chances of physical death in an airplane are low. That fear has been managed. There is another fear. One more subtle. One which brings about a slow death. Continue reading

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Share the Love in Your Flight Department: 3 Ways to Show Appreciation at Work


When was the last time someone noticed your effort and said “thanks”? When was the last time you stopped to appreciate others? If you’re like most of us, feeling appreciated is not usually something that happens at work. So here are three tips for encouraging your colleagues in honor of Saint Valentine.

Write a Note of Thanks

Writing “thank you” here and there is a nicety. But writing a meaningful note of thanks is an art form. Here is a breakdown of what makes a thank you note personal and meaningful. Continue reading

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