Training the next generation of Aviation Professionals

An aviation training facility must be well rounded and provide both technical and commercial training. It must be funded through foreign and State funds. Above all, the right trainers must be employed so that the right professionals will emerge as the next generation of aviation professionals.

l by Dr. Ruwantissa Abeyratne

(March 07, 2012, Montreal, Sri Lanka Guardian) The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has released figures which reflect that, in the next 20 years, airlines will have to add 25,000 new aircraft to the current 17,000-strong commercial fleet By 2026, and that the aviation industry would need 480,000 new technicians to maintain these aircraft and over 350,000 pilots to fly them. ICAO also notes that between 2005 and 2015, 73% of the American air traffic controller population is eligible for retirement.
With this ongoing trend in mind, ICAO established in 2009 the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals Taskforce, consisting of 29 representatives from industry, education and training providers, regulatory bodies and international organizations. Near-term objectives of this task force are to: inventorize human resources planning data; identify and support initiatives to reach out to the next generation; and, find ways to harmonize training regulations. The Task Force will also support initiatives relating to the next generation of aviation professionals.
ICAO has adopted a new training policy featuring an endorsement process of training organizations and training courses. The new training policy addresses all areas of aviation safety and security and will complement the work of the Task Force. The ICAO civil aviation training policy enables the implementation of a comprehensive framework to ensure that all training provided by ICAO or third parties will be assessed to ensure it meets vigorous standards for the design and development of training courses.
ICAO’s role would essentially be achieved through the facilitation, support and harmonization of efforts made by States and industry; the development of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), Procedures for Air Navigation Services (PANS), and air transport policies; and the provision of advice and guidance material.
At the 37th session of the ICAO Assembly, held in the fourth quarter of 2010, ICAO member States adopted Resolution A 37-15, Appendix H of which lays down ICAO’s training policy. The principles of this policy are as follow: aviation training is the responsibility of ICAO member States; ICAO places the highest priority on the establishment of safety- and security-related programmes; mutual assistance among Member States in the training of aviation personnel is encouraged and facilitated, particularly in those matters where the lack of adequate training may adversely affect the safety, security or regularity of international air navigation; ICAO will advise member States on the operational oversight of training facilities but will not participate in the operation of training facilities although it will encourage and advise operators of such facilities.
The ICAO Council, which is a 36 member permanent body responsible to the Assembly, is composed of States of chief importance in air transport; States not otherwise included which make the largest contribution to the provision of facilities for air navigation; and States not otherwise included whose designation will ensure that all the major geographic regions are represented in the Council. The Council, which plays a leadership role at ICAO, has taken on certain duties within the ICAO training policy. Through the development of specifications and guidance material, The Council assists ICAO member States in the conduct of training seminars, and by direct advice and consultation, it assists Member States to: standardize, as far as practicable, the curricula, methods and content of training courses and establish adequate examination and licensing provisions; bring levels of accomplishment into line with international Standards; and employ the criteria referred to above so as to bring about greater uniformity in operating practices and procedures. The Council also gives continuing attention to the establishment of specialized and advanced training courses when needed to provide the skills required to install, operate and maintain facilities and services and encourages ICAO member States to establish requirements for: on-the-job training, including familiarization with relevant operating conditions, for personnel who, after completion of their basic training, require practical experience under actual operating conditions before being assigned to positions of responsibility in operational posts; in this regard States’ attention is invited to the possibility of drawing fully upon the resources of the various technical cooperation and assistance programmes; and periodic refresher training particularly when new equipment, procedures or techniques are introduced.
The Council also requests that member States provide, for dissemination to other States, information on the types of aeronautical courses they sponsor or are otherwise available in their States to which students are accepted from other States, including the address to which enquiries may be sent for additional details. Similarly, the Council makes available to Member States all pertinent information concerning training establishments assisted through ICAO that admit students from other countries. Another task of the Council is to urge Member States to make the maximum practicable use of training centres in their area for training their aviation personnel in fields where there are no corresponding national schools. To this end, the Council encourages States to establish favourable conditions for attendance by nationals of other States in the area.
There are two fundamental principles that can be culled from the foregoing discussion which would be of primary interest to a State intending to set up a quality aviation training centre. They are that aviation training is the responsibility of ICAO member States; and the most compelling need is in the area of air navigation. However, it must neither be ignored nor disregarded that the next generation of aviation professionals must essentially be those who are called upon to keep the air transport product economically sustained. The world would need competent aviation business managers and economists, not to mention diplomats.
The next generation of aviation executives must thoroughly understand the nuance created by the anomaly that the normative foundation of air transport has been built on the myopic delusion that air transport and the sovereignty of States are inextricably linked by an immutable construct of protectionism and that airlines have to be substantially owned and effectively controlled by nationals of the States in which they are registered. They must also be well versed in the philosophy that this anomaly has compelled commercial air carriers, in the absence of their ability to attract foreign capital and equity, to perform elusive practices to circumvent collapse. Mergers, alliances, code sharing and franchising are some of the tools used by air carriers to maximise capacity and optimise market access. The accessibility to foreign direct investment by airlines and its attendant benefits must be a special component of training.
An aviation training facility must be well rounded and provide both technical and commercial training. It must be funded through foreign and State funds. Above all, the right trainers must be employed so that the right professionals will emerge as the next generation of aviation professionals.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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