The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the difficulties [operator] cabin crew have in ensuring they are fully prepared for their annual emergency procedure (EP) assessments.
The reporter advised that they find it much easier to study. to remain current, if they have a hard copy set of manuals to read from. They would like to have access to a set of manuals or at least access to revised chapters so they can read a chapter every few weeks and remain current. The current method of having a CD or downloading a soft manual does not suit their preferred learning style and it has been shown in a lot of research that for most people this is the case. To ensure that [operator] cabin crew are better able to retain the information they are required to have, access to paper manuals should be available. With the number of changes to these manuals, expecting cabin crew to pay for their own printing in not an option.
Cabin crew are required to be assessed on computer based training (CBT) but the information they rely on for revision of EPs is in many cases outdated. There should be a requirement to have this up to date, or a dedicated EP’s site that can be visited extensively, and videos that can be watched repeatedly.
The reporter also advised that once a year cabin crew are required to be assessed as competent on all of the exits, in all conditions, as well as numerous other safety/emergency situations. They are also required to show competency on the operation of emergency equipment but they are not given prior opportunity to actually handle this equipment and operate these exits as if they were actually in an emergency - certainly not on board the aircraft, nor at the training centre on the day of the assessment - yet their livelihood depends on passing these competencies.
Tech crew get to practise in Simulators, but cabin crew do not have this available. The emergency equipment could be made available at each base… the doors could be made available at the training centre on an ongoing basis with times published well in advance for crew to schedule time to rehearse in life like situations.
The reporter has been told the reason all crew are assessed one at a time as well as in groups of 4 is that CASA found there should be no advantage of any one group over any other group by hearing feedback from the practical training drills.
In a practical sense if it increases the collective knowledge of any group of individuals then it can only be good for the airline, if the practical sessions and door opening practices were all run in the morning, with the express purpose of increasing muscle memory, knowledge and understanding, and the actual assessments run in the afternoon with the same one on one format used now, it would satisfy both requirements in a fair SUPPORTIVE format conducive to adult learning.
Many crew feel the sessions are designed not to facilitate competency, but rather to put individuals under so much pressure so as to force errors.
Although there are certain trainer’s names mentioned more than others, cabin crew feel this is more of a cultural attitude that exists perhaps in differing degrees in different bases.
Operator's response (Operator 1)
We release a new set of cabin crew manuals approximately twice per year. Interim policy changes are released in the form of cabin standing orders (CSOs) which override policy found in the current manual revision. Due to the nature of the revision schedule, sign off process, production process and delivery challenges, manual revisions do not always incorporate all CSOs.
All Cabin Crew bases have a manual library that enables crew to borrow a printed set of manuals if they wish to.
The expectation on crew is that their procedures are constantly at a point where they can respond to an aircraft emergency instantly.
[Operator] and their training provider are always open to supporting crew with opportunities to improve their skills, working within the resources provided by the airline. This can be evidenced by the revision materials and the open assessment criteria provided on crew websites. These help to support a qualification system where 96 to 98 percent of crew pass their emergency procedures assessment on their first attempt.
The balance between training and assessment is a challenge in regulated industries. To help address this balance [training provider] will implement a new practical session this July which offers an opportunity for crew to practice and develop their skills in emergency situations in a supportive, coaching environment, with no formal assessment. The training is in-line with the with the ‘Evidence Based Training’ approach recommended by IOSA.
The assessments for doors, exits and emergency equipment have never involved a hands-on 'practice' session on the EP day. However, aspects of the EP assessment have changed in recent years. These are the introduction of individual assessment, as opposed to being assessed in a group and the change to one face to face day per year. The change to individual assessment was in response to a CASA observation where the regulator questioned the organisation's ability to be assured of an individual's competency in all of the requirements. The Regulator is applying the same assessment standards across all Australian based AOCs.
We remain committed to continuous improvement practices and use reports such as these, audits and crew feedback to strive to find the best training and assessment solutions within the context of the regulatory requirements.
Regulator's response (Regulator 1)
CASA has reviewed the report and is satisfied with the operator’s response.