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Johan Berg: Mentorship program proposed by FAA – Part 2

Please read the first part of this two-part series of posts here – Johan Berg: Mentorship program proposed by FAA – Part 1.

The second a new Captain sits down in the left seat for the first time to command a commercial flight is the same moment piloting the airplane from A to B becomes secondary. It might happen unconsciously, but your mind is filled with the responsibilities and tasks related to this become a top priority. It can feel like if the whole system around you immediately starts to throw you curveballs from all angles. This is where experience becomes such a valuable part of getting safely to the destination. The Captain is ultimately responsible to facilitate the communication process to assure the safe operation of every flight. As a consequence, most communications related to the launch and progress of a flight is passing via the Captain at some point.

I’ve identified 9 key roles directly involved in the safe dispatch of every flight.
• Pilots
• Flight Attendants
• Dispatchers
• Gate Agents
• Maintenance staff
• Ground Handling crew
• Fuelling staff
• Catering staff
• Cleaning staff

Getting to know and understand each and every position and being able to identify their needs and challenges is immensely beneficial in many different ways. A flight is a teamwork effort with everyone as per above involved at some point.

Being new at the job can be overwhelming for anyone and certainly so for a new Captain. For someone who is inexperienced it is always a challenge to map your understanding onto the daily operation and to fully recognize the impact of the organization, mindset, and structure of an airline. On the other hand, for someone with experience, it can be a challenge to relate to what used to be, as there is a risk of being affected by old habits that might not fit in as well in the new airline.

Who should participate?
As much as I would like to see everyone in these roles doing some kind of regular workshops or training together, I have realized the almost impossible task to make this happen. However, I would like to see all positions that actually have their name on a flight release, participate in the mentorship and CRM training in the same classroom (Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Dispatchers). It is my firm belief that this is totally doable and would catalyze improvements of the teamwork on the line.

It is a good thing that the FAA will make a system like this mandatory and regulated. I do feel that they did not reach all the way and missed a golden opportunity when they only mentioned pilots (Captains) to have this mandatory program. I have identified at least nine roles directly involved in every flight that would benefit from a better understanding of each other’s tasks and duties. In a perfect world, all staff in these roles should be participating in this program but that would be a logistical challenge. Partly, because some of the positions do not actually work for the same company. But there are still more questions than answers, such as these:
-Who will be responsible for the program within the operator?
-What will be the requirements for someone to qualify as a mentor/coach?

One major change for the better with this system in place is the shift of focus from avoiding doing the wrong thing and making the wrong decision to proactively working on doing the right thing, taking the right decision, and how to grow and become better based on previous experiences and exposure.

Johan Berg
Professional Aviator, sentimental with my pen

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