In the unlikely event of an emergency, you really want to know your cabin attendants have the training to keep you safe…
Regulatory requirements vary with region, but the FAA requires cabin attendants only on aircraft certified to carry more than 19 passengers. Since operators adhering to the ruling would be unable to provide any real standard of cabin service, smaller aircraft often fly with at least one cabin attendant, but they need not be safety trained.
Debbie Elliott, Training Manager at TAG Global Training, says: “We believe all crew should be trained irrespective of the 19-seat ruling and TAG Aviation crew attend annual safety recurrent training in a variety of subjects. Most of our safety and service training is conducted at our Farnborough, UK location, with some courses offered via eLearning or Live Learning. Our ground school training team comprises ex-airline crew. We follow the same regulatory training competencies for pilot and cabin crew training as an airline because we believe this is the benchmark standard.”
A variety of incidents could affect safety, but fire or smoke in the cabin, and the actions required before and after an emergency landing are perhaps the major events that spring most readily to mind. Considering the former scenario, Elliott explains: “The practical assessment for fire and smoke training sees each crew member don a smoke hood and extinguish a fire in a variety of scenarios with a water-filled extinguisher representative of the type installed on their aircraft.”
When it comes to emergency landings, she continues: “Our safety, emergency and procedures training covers communication techniques used to ensure everyone on board understands the situation and the necessary actions. I don’t think you can ever keep passengers totally calm in such a situation but understanding different types of panic allows crews to help everyone. We conduct ditching training at a local swimming pool using a raft representative of the type on board the crew member’s aircraft. The practical assessment covers the management of passengers in the water, the principles of survival and how to maintain the integrity of the raft until rescue.”
Classrooms and devices
Cabin crew training typically employs a mix of classroom and practical work. David Gill, Program Manager Cabin Safety at FlightSafety International’s Dallas/Fort Worth North site, says: “Each of these approaches is extremely valuable and neither would be totally effective without the other. The classroom approach either introduces or refreshes knowledge. Through facilitation, the instructor can determine the level of knowledge of each client and based on their assessment, direct the class to increased understanding of the individual topic and, maybe most importantly, the associated emergency equipment.
“Once the classroom portion has been conducted, the next step for us is to reinforce that understanding through scenario-based training. Training devices give clients hands-on understanding of topics discussed in the classroom, whether through evacuation scenarios where they are tested in commanding and controlling an evacuation, or inflight scenarios where they might experience decompression and must use the oxygen equipment, or a medical scenario where they may have to identify symptoms and use O2 equipment along with other devices, perhaps including an automated external defibrillator. The training device also allows us to challenge their situational awareness by generating fire or water hazards, or reducing visibility outside the aircraft to be sure they properly assess prior to opening an exit.”
Like FlightSafety, Aircare International offers cabin safety training at several sites in the US, under its FACTS programme. Delivered to pilots and cabin crew, FACTS uses the classic combination of classroom and hands-on training, and includes a digital manual. Training devices include full-motion simulators, live fire trainers and water egress ‘dunkers’. Surprisingly, Aircare International also has a ‘travelling’ capability.
Jake Paini, Aircare International’s Director of Sales, says: “We run travelling classes, at four locations, around once a quarter. Uniquely, we also provide custom training, where we might visit a large operator for up to three days and train their people as a group on our mobile simulators.”
Gill says clients normally visit one of FlightSafety’s centres, but occasionally its instructors visit them. “At our centres we can do many more things realistically, like pulling windows and using supplemental oxygen systems, but everyone has to be incredibly careful not to damage anything in a customer’s airplane.” He notes that training on a customer’s aircraft nonetheless has the benefit of familiarising crews with the specific details of an individual cabin.
Based in the UAE, Spatial builds and supplies cabin crew trainers. “We offer a complete range of cabin crew training solutions, typically including task-specific door trainers or service trainers as well as more fully fledged evacuation trainers,” says Managing Director Marc Van den Broucque. “They are built using a combination of removed aircraft parts and replica parts fabricated using licensed OEM data. In the business aviation/VIP world, we’ve made training devices for Bombardier and Dassault aircraft, as well as the BBJ. Our latest VIP project includes a full B747 cabin, replicating the private aircraft of a royal family member.
“Every device we build is a bespoke product designed to meet our clients’ needs. We’ve built training devices for virtually all aircraft types, including some on behalf of the OEMs for their own training centres. These range from simple door trainers all the way up to highly advanced devices on motion platforms, with synchronised video and audio effects, fire and smoke, decompression and other aircraft failure scenarios. We also typically offer normal and abnormal door operations, including door jams, slide failures and so on.”
Van den Broucque says avoiding aircraft damage is among several factors that make Spatial’s equipment attractive. “Wear and tear on real aircraft is greatly reduced and there is an efficiency benefit where rather than needing to schedule training around aircraft availability, it can be properly planned and executed as needed. But the main benefit from a dedicated training device is the breadth of training available, including scenarios that are impossible to replicate economically on the aircraft – door malfunctions, fires and other emergencies among them.”
A Spatial customer, Dynamic Advanced Training is based nearby in Dubai. Mark Kammer, Dynamic’s Operations Director, says: “We are an independent cabin crew training organisation and after discussions more than ten years ago with business jet operators and others, we decided to offer relevant training on a par with that available to the airlines.
“We use a business jet training device, a full-motion simulator, in which you can select pretty much any scenario you want. We call what we do reality-based training, where crews train in the environment in which they operate. When you place crew in the simulator, with all the sights and sounds running, full of smoke and shaking around during an ’emergency landing’, they really get into the scenario, play their roles and understand what’s required of them.”
Dynamic Advanced Training has a BBJ simulator, and a Spatial-built generic business jet trainer, featuring a fully functional galley and operational emergency exit windows for the G550, G650, Global, Challenger, Falcon and Legacy, along with a full motion system, sound and visuals. And when it comes to training for ditching, Dynamic has a pool on site, complete with waves and wind for a fully immersive experience.
TAG Global Training’s Elliott concludes: “To professional crew, every flight is an opportunity to showcase the best of what they do. And the safety element is performed from the moment they arrive at the aircraft to the moment they leave.”