United Airlines just confirmed that throughout the next three months, each of their 12,000+ pilots will be called back for additional training, mainly focused on bridging the generational gap between younger co-pilots or first officers and veteran captains. This initiative could have a say in whether or not the record low airline accident rates will continue within the United States and other regions.
In the past, a long-standing communication barriers between experienced captains, and more-junior pilots contributed to large number of serious accidents throughout the years. However today, teamwork is fundamentally necessary for every aviation operation around the globe. This includes piloting an aircraft. United’s training program is intended “to find the recipe that will help ensure veteran captains pass on their knowledge, experience and perhaps most importantly — internalized safety culture — to junior aviators who will replace them.”
According to multiple experts in the aviation industry, United’s initiative in this training program could be paving the way for a broader campaign to update and improve Cockpit Resource Management training industry-wide. If aspects of these single day training sessions are incorporated into ongoing training programs, they could be a catalyst in the reinvigoration of teamwork emphasis on the flight deck.
Not only would they be a way to improve communication and coordination among generations of pilots, it will ensure the “transfer of wisdom” from thousands of future retirees to recent hires, be it safety information, professionalism, or proper decision making.
“How we shape the next generation of pilots will determine the safety of our industry,” according to Tony Kern, a human factors expert who is chief executive of Convergent Performance LLC. Unless these pilots are trained to better monitor complex computer systems and seek to support one another in states of emergency, accident rates could begin to rise again.
It is important to note, that lessons learned from these efforts can be transferred to all aspects of commercial aviation and ground handling.