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Learning Enhancement and Development

Session 2H - Paper 1

Sharing educational practice and promoting learning experiences within aviation training

Mr Michael Prentice - School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering, City, University of London

Aviation training consumes vast quantities of time and resources, yet it’s questionable if sound educational practices or quality learning experiences are considered when delivering this training. This paper hopes to stimulate debate as to how educational practitioners might contribute to an improved learning experience within the aviation industry.

The aviation industry is noted for the quality of training available to licenced professionals, however for staff based in Operations, Continuing Airworthiness, Safety or Compliance there are few recognisable qualifications or career paths(Global Aviation Information Network, 2004). Having experienced numerous training courses, few have provided a quality learning experience, often little more than box ticking exercises toward regulation compliance.

Being expected to contribute toward and work within complex management and safety systems; requires thinking beyond simply knowing the regulation backgrounds or system descriptions offered in some  training sessions.

This paper focuses on an educational programme introduced by myself whilst working towards an MSc in Aircraft Maintenance Management at City University; involving junior staff at the author’s organisation using live data during flight planning and maintenance management.

Hoping to contribute toward the next probable era of flight safety, the development of management cultures(International Civil Aviation Organization, 1998) the programme proposed to educate, motivate and elevate the status of these workers. Using theories of Transformational Learning and Self-efficacy (Bandura A, 1995), then on a practical level, propose methodologies such as Experiential Learning and Problem Based Learning (Boud, D. and G. Feletti, 1991), teaching strategies ranging from Case Studies to Discussions designed to identify and convey Threshold Concepts whilst removing Troublesome Knowledge (Meyer, J. & R. Land, 2003)

My project looked at Dynamic Risk Assessment, exposure and decision logs adapted from industries outside of aviation; aiming to provide staff with tools needed to explore the systems in which they operate, manipulating them to best advantage and developing thinking required to capture data for safety reporting and building case studies guaranteeing them a stake in the Safety Management System.

The programme continued during 2016, resulting in two members of staff having Form 4s accepted by the UK CAA in Safety Management and Ground Operations on condition they continue to work under the supervision of programme mentors.

During the presentation, we intend to:

Highlight the need for learning within industries providing high quality training for licenced professional and management, but overlook learning experiences for all levels of staff working within safety and management systems.

Suggest if training rather than learning is taking place, ‘training providers’  identify and convey threshold concepts, whilst removing troublesome knowledge, focusing on what knowledge is important to transfer.

Discuss the means of delivering the tools and concepts needed by workers to contribute to the systems in which they are expected to operate within.

Is aviation biased heavily toward training as opposed to learning?

Aviation is a complex world of regulation, compliance and systems, deemed vital to flight safety, yet any training to use or benefit from these systems is seen as secondary and structured learning opportunities rarely appear.

Does the industry need ‘aviation educationalists’?

Whilst accepting that many trainers are experienced professionals with a vast knowledge base, could knowledge exchange be better served by practitioners with some teaching/educational background? Is there a need for educational research in aviation training?

Can it be determined that the aviation ‘ignores’ the educational needs of many workers?

For workers involved in complex aviation systems, shouldn’t educational experiences based on learning be available to workers to help breakdown many of the managerial, cultural and safety barriers within the industry.


Bandura A, (1995) ‘Self-efficacy in changing societies’. Cambridge; New York, Cambridge University Press, [online] Available from; http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam034/94049049.pdf[Feb 2015].

Boud, D., and G. Feletti (Eds.). (1991) ’The Challenge of Problem-Based Learning’.

New York: St. Martin's Press.

Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN) (2004) A roadmap to a just culture: Enhancing the Safety Environment. 1st Edition, Working group E.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (1998)Part D-3 Flight Operations Officers/Flight Dispatchers. 2ND Edition .

Meyer, J. & R. Land (2003) ‘Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines.’ OCSLD, Oxford.