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Response to EK Training a disgrace

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Response to EK Training a disgrace

Old 9th Oct 2017, 12:46
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Response to EK Training a disgrace

Having read the hysterical outburst at Emirates Training on public forum I felt beholden to respond as a trainer.

I have been in Emirates Training for almost 2 decades. Like any organisation it has had its ups and downs but is far from qualifying as a "disgrace". For the most part I have seen it as a progressive organisation that has the simple objective of producing good pilots to deliver to the line and identifying the areas where skills are lacking and take remedial action when they are.

Inevitably this results in some being graded as unacceptable, which is unpleasant for all. I have seen some fail checks and heard the excuses behind that. They are frequently hazy around the areas of poor performance and identify other criticisms that in themselves were not the reasons for the failure. I know this as I have often discussed the matter in detail with Examiners who themselves are somewhat distraught at having to make the call. No one likes this. It also produces a lot of work. The best sessions are 4's and 5's, short reports and everyone goes home happy. There is no agenda to send colleagues home in distress, or expose ourselves to close scrutiny on the reasons for a low grade. And close scrutiny is exactly what occurs.

That aside what is the option if someone's performance is not up to standard? A wink and a nod and let them loose to carry your family on the next vacation? That's the golden standard. I agree sometimes the call is difficult. I have agonized for hours over it. Even called to get guidance from other training colleagues for whom I have great respect. And to a degree it is even variable. Upgrades have tighter limits than the inexperienced for obvious reasons.

Simply put it's not a exact science. Inevitably there have been a few casualties that were not entirely warranted but that is inevitable. What side of the line would you err on?

That said for the most part when candidates fail to make the grade or simply have a bad day in the simulator, 90% can identify their own weaknesses and understand the decision. They too are professionals and, for the most part, highly self critical.

I hear the cry for more training. Less checking. But I see a great deal of training going on. We have some superb training staff. Again like any organisation we have some new and inexperienced ones who are bound to make errors. Generally they learn in time and are watched closely. If their motivation was wrong in the first place they soon get washed out of the system.

I have seen some superb trainers in my various airlines. I can assure you all that amongst the best are to be found in Emirates. As are the facilities and time allocated to training. I feel bound to defend not Emirates but the majority of my colleagues who put in great effort to give a quality product. To train. In a pleasant atmosphere with frequent pauses to critique, make suggestion, debrief, repeat. Not out of ego but a genuine desire to see a fluid, well handled, well managed training detail.

My personal standard is that if I the crew leaving the duty are not at least a little bit more dexterous, experienced, enlightened, confident or simply motivated then I have failed entirely in my job description and wasted all our time. And this benchmark is shared by many in the department.

But training is a two way street.

I cannot give someone a professional attitude. I cannot brief them on every aspect of a training detail. I cannot do their preparation, learn their memory actions, study their charts or familiarise them with the well published techniques on handling. My job is to set a tone, highlight difficult areas and assist in their management, to validate understanding, discuss implications, correct misconceptions, give an experienced input and help sort the vital from the interesting. And I don't claim to know all the answers. I am grateful to be corrected. It makes me better.

In short I am not a nursery school teacher. I expect to face well prepared professionals as I too am well prepared.

In my long experience, sessions go bad when the level of preparation and easily accessible knowledge is grossly lacking. If I have to explain a chart or teach a memory item that is clearly published and very obviously going to be a feature of the session then I have less time to explain the more detailed salient points. I have little time to add value above that which is already the baseline. I am trying then to simply pull the individual to the baseline and pre-empt that which I know will be ugly watching.

And yet I see a lot of this occurring more recently. An attitude of "I've pitched up - now train me. What are we doing today?". Well news to some: You will only get out of the session as much as you have put in. And whoever you are - there is always something to learn even from the less experienced.
To some of the more critical on this forum I say: Do not cast stones in glass houses. Don't take an incident on line to condemn and denigrate the nearest convenient target.

Don't get me wrong. There is a malaise afoot. Recent events prove that but training will not cure or stop that. However good it may be.

It is time for all - to the very top - to be introspective, self critical and open to discourse. We all have responsibilities. Do your bit and you personally will be ok.

Where did this malaise come from? I don't know. I have my suspicions. I believe it is a multi-headed hydra that has invaded the organization due to a deteriorating fundamental social ethos. Simply put the motivations have been wrong on many levels. But I can't cure that - certainly not alone. I point out and argue deficiencies when I see them. I see that as my responsibly but many do not. They moan or leave but do little to bring to light the problems. Mostly out of unjustified fear. If we don't all push for improvement then it's a slippery slope to the bottom. The front line of the industry has stood quiet for years while self interested parties have manipulated it for personal and unreasonable gain. That is acknowledged. But did you do your bit? You claim to be a professional. Did you write about your concerns and observations in a formal, factual, un-emotive fashion? From what I see on this forum there are many who are neither mature enough, literate enough or professional enough to do so.

We are all tired from years of pushing rosters to the limits, from the constant manipulation of FTL's, duty times. The application of law in this area without reason or logic, resulting in a workload and fatigue far beyond that which is formally acknowledged. The endless flood of information dispensed on a daily basis with the expectation of instant familiarization. The arrival of the instant and entitled generation who have much to learn about life - let alone flying. And a petty culture of resentment and barriers in the administrative departments on which we depend.

I too go to work sometimes weary, sometimes at inhumane hours, having beaten my head against the bureaucracy all day, having met the word "no" frequently with no rational reason or met yet another petty deterioration of my conditions in my mailbox. Sometimes I'm boiling with a hard to contain rage brought about by some minion who has no comprehension of the environment in which I work.

But I never take this out on my charges. They are colleagues with similar dreams and aspirations who I want to succeed. And when I leave, if I've given my best to then I feel somehow soothed.

I don't go the extra mile based on some corporate blurb from a soulless organisation that is another slave to 21st century morally bankrupt capitalism. I do it for you.
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 13:19
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Well said Pixy. While the criticism can be well justified sometimes in any airline it is a very very small group that is referred to but of course they get the maximum dialogue. I've done 40+ years in this industry and you post really is the reality and some need to be reminded of it, Thanks.
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 13:58
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Pixy - I believe that the VAST majority of EK pilots agree with you! The reaction that we see now is towards a senior management which has identified training as the issue, (though to be fair, that is only my supposition) since it is an easy target and draws criticism away from the areas where it should be pointed.

Based on the company reaction to DME it is only natural that the pilots are concerned. When MM arrived we seen a change in training for the better and things improved dramatically. We have also seen (or read between the lines) as he was undercut over and over by senior management. There is no doubt that a decade ago there was more more 'checking' going on. MM manged that and managed those trainers who were the problem out of the department. The natural fear among the pilots now is that those days may be returning.

It should be clear to everyone that senior management is targeting pilots and training as the issue. While pilots obviously are at the forefront there has been NO acknowledgment from management that THEY have any responsibility in the events (rosters, fatigue etc etc).

Training is not the issue.
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 14:35
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I think you're right. Training isn't the issue, I believe practise is.

Whilst I feel that almost all of the trainers are good, the attitude of fleet and the training management is flawed and needs to be changed.

I also don't believe we should be attacking one another. That just plays into fleet's hands.

Last edited by Oldaircrew; 9th Oct 2017 at 14:37. Reason: Content added
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 15:05
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Pixy

Articulate, factual, non emotive, unbiased and informative. Without doubt one of the best posts in a long time.

Harry
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 15:20
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And dare I say, that most people who blame training for everything, probably don't have a great training record from the past...?
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 15:32
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Pixy nailed it as usual
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Old 9th Oct 2017, 15:45
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Pixy
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 05:00
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Fully agree Pixy - well said.
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 06:16
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Pixy - your first post is generally speaking a defense of good trainers and an urging for all to up the game, your second is a damning indictment of the system's mgt methods - in effect a 'disgrace'.

They are two separate subjects.

If you reread your second post (#11) - what you have done is effectively articulate what that individual who created the 'Disgrace' thread was less effective at doing.

At the end of the day - you have both written of your contempt of the system - to which the vast majority of us agree.
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 07:10
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you are right
I know of a couple of guys who failed the selection for training dept and are now big mouth as far as the " inexperience " of some of the trainers.
However some of the incidents and events we've had you cannot fix with a quick sim session, there are fundamentally a few things a wide body pilot , if he didn't waste his time taking selfies and asked the questions and learnt from the guy his flying with , should know , in fact any pilot who takes his job seriously as a professional. Everyone , including trainers make mistakes, but to put the blame purely on the dept is plain silly.
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 09:18
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Pixy: for sure you must be a star but be assured you are a living minority.
There are Trainers like N.C. on AB who is in taining for ages and who passes guys after the Sim but 3h later calls you up that he changed now his mind and decided to fail you.
It's those guys who destroyed training as well.
He is also on the list if training department needs a dirty job to be done ( His Nickname is Hitler )!
Remember the Austrian Instructor NH who got a warning letter from the Training Department because according their opinion he is/was a bad instructor because he didn't fail any trainee within the last 6 month?
Many more stories like this can be mentioned!
Yes the training department is a disgrace and has it's share of responsibility for the present spiral dive of the whole company.

Last edited by Talparc; 10th Oct 2017 at 16:31.
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 13:57
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Hey Pixi, I give you a 5 on your essay.
Now, what is this rumor of getting rid of up to ten percent of the pilots? Wow, it must be a rumor:-)
That would amount to four hundred plus pilots; they should start at the office perhaps :-)

Last edited by Neektu; 10th Oct 2017 at 14:21.
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 16:56
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NH warning letter was not because he was too fair or didn't fail anybody

Originally Posted by Talparc View Post
Pixy: for sure you must be a star but be assured you are a living minority.
There are Trainers like N.C. on AB who is in taining for ages and who passes guys after the Sim but 3h later calls you up that he changed now his mind and decided to fail you.
It's those guys who destroyed training as well.
He is also on the list if training department needs a dirty job to be done ( His Nickname is Hitler )!
Remember the Austrian Instructor NH who got a warning letter from the Training Department because according their opinion he is/was a bad instructor because he didn't fail any trainee within the last 6 month?
Many more stories like this can be mentioned!
Yes the training department is a disgrace and has it's share of responsibility for the present spiral dive of the whole company.
His warning letter was because his file in the company was evident and had other issues
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 18:47
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ibelieve:

their intention was to shut him up, he was the only one in training who spoke up and finger pointed at the existing problems back then.
While the other 5 Star Trainers buried their heads in the sand, same as today.
It's called ass covering mentality.
Why is NC still in 380 training?
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Old 10th Oct 2017, 19:06
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Harsh Gloie, but not wrong.....except for doe, not sure what female deer have to do with it
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 11:04
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Glofish, I have disagree with part of your comment.

'I can relate to that, but please do not cry for sympathy or tell us that you do that for us. That’s pathetic. You do it for yourself and some more dough' - No one is looking for sympathy, just some understanding that not all trainers can, nor should, be tarred with the same brush. Despite what you think, I (and many others), do train for the trainee - we help them achieve their goals and dreams and if I haven't helped, then I consider that I have failed the trainee. To say that that's pathetic is completely disrespectful and indicates that you don't understand what it means to be a trainer. Yes, we do get more remuneration because for any given session that a trainee participates in (sim session, line check, or line training), the trainer has to prepare prior to the session and then follow the session by writing a report for each trainee that is factual and acknowledges good performance and highlights areas that require improvement without being degrading.

I will continue to do the best that I can to ensure that I'm part of the solution, rather than the problem. Doing nothing is tantamount to adding to the problem.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 11:37
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Here is the thing....

1. You don't know what you don't know... if you have been here for a long time, and this is the best you know.... Then sorry to say, you don't know what you don't know! Other airlines have training, techniques, open discussions, feedback loops that integrate and improve. Other places do this better... FACT.

2. The original gripe had very little to do with the quality of the trainers, but more about the system that they operate under. I would be sure that you can go to the manager of training and ask him or here what should change. Then ask him / her to circle on the list the things that they can change. The top of the crop is operating with their hands tied. We all know where the problems are to be found. Unfortunately it will take something major to change it.

3. If someone tells you they feel like they cannot engage in training due to the fear that the place operates under.... Then that is real. Take it as feedback (which may would agree with) and try to see a way forward to improve. Feedback is not something to be argues with. If the customer is telling you they have a crappy experience with what is on show, then that's the feedback.

My opinion only... The good trainers are worlds best. The worst are worlds worst... You would not believe how average some of the training is. Some is wrong, some is just absent, some is negative training, some is intimidating.... Some is by people who just don't care, and some is by people who just don't know any better.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 12:59
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Glofish, why don't you show us all the moral example and quit with a bang. Or maybe you should have refused to upgrade (you are a Captain?). After all, surely an FO position would have provided with the "basic money" we all need and assuming a position of authority as a Captain is completely unnecessary.

Aaah, the good old solidarity with other people's, careers, finances, dreams and ambitions as long as one oneself doesn't have to pay the bill...

Always particularly entertained with the phrase "decided not to join" Training. A bit like APC, just your decision...

Last edited by OBOGS; 17th Oct 2017 at 13:26.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 14:55
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Yes please read my post again, it's important. Since the post has split.

I would like to elaborate on my initial post and let's hope some of my more condescending colleagues don't consider me hysterical, because at the time of writing this I do not feel in any way hysterical.

I will clarify and mention some points in no particular order;

How can one be accused (which I fortunately never have been) of being substandard or inadequate if you have had NO way to practice your skills. The training department somehow thinks that reading the manual more is the answer to poor line based performance. This logic is fundamentally flawed. I am not talking about the very few limitations and memory items one is supposed to know. I am talking about general performance.
There is a trend by Airbus to move away from knowing all the detail. There is just too much to know. What’s considered important for one instructor is irrelevant for another, and that proves my point. Remembering some small insignificant figure or detail for a training session and forgetting it soon after because it’s irrelevant does not surmount to good training or a good operator. But that’s where the focus is in Ek training….to learn the books more. Know level 3 more.
It’s not the solution. Of course I am not suggesting a lack of general interest in the profession.
Most colleagues I know are happy to read up about the job at an acceptable level.


If I come to a session/flight and my performance is substandard, but I have had NO opportunity to hone my skills then I think it is very inappropriate to say that I'm unprofessional and subpar. Of course I must put some effort in, that goes without saying. But if my EO is wobbly and I get a 2 somehow this is all my fault?
(BTW a 2 today is not the 2 of yesteryear)
If I could have trained to competency even in my own time, because the tools were available, and I show up and deliver a poor performance then I have no excuse.
THIS would reflect a poor attitude and a lack of motivation as the pilot has not taken the initiative to optimize himself, which I believe most of the type A personality pilots that I know would have done.
But there is nowhere to practice!!
There is only one way to enhance proficiency and unfortunately it costs money. We need TOOLS!
We need a simulator (static would do) that can be used by the pilots to sharpen their skills. Like British Airways has, we need a SIM driver who is not affiliated with training so that the pilot can feel 100% confident that he is free to experiment and discover in a very safe and holistic way regardless of the outcome of his actions. This is how we learn - by experience.
We need ECAM/ICAS software that we can work through and it behaves and acts like the real thing so we become familiar with the more challenging parts of this interface. This software is available on the open market but not for EK type AC otherwise I would purchase it myself.
How can ones ECAM/ICAS management be up to speed if we have not seen a complex example unfolding for 6 months or more.

Only with the correct tools available can checking somebody on day one make sense and lead to a truly competent pilot.

As automation becomes more complex and not less so, the nuances and complexities of what we are trying to do in the cockpit become more not less.
The only way to mitigate this is hands on practice and utilizing basic muscle memory. Muscle memory is the only modality that has been proven to deliver results under pressure.
Familiarization is key in order to manage unforeseen and stressful events.
The only way to enhance automation familiarization, is exactly that, familiarization.
You don't see a 12 year old playing Xbox or PlayStation with the tsunami of information pouring out of that interface confused do you? Why? Because he is very comfortable and familiar with the information coming out of the interface due to repeated exposure.
Have you ever seen a teenager become good at a console game by reading the manual??

Modern pilots on the other hand are not familiar with non-standard automation information. We don't regularly see anything other than standard line flying automation and no wonder we are confused when something out of the ordinary is presented. The instructors of course see a lot more from the back, so they are much more comfortable with interpreting the information and expect the line pilot to be as familiar.

This idea that evidence-based training is the solution, is in my opinion flawed. What happens with this training is that a trend is noticed and is then trained for, but it's the cart leading the horse because those events have already happened. There are new trends manifesting already. Something else will always be TRENDING
I am trained in something that is trending and it's ticked off the list and I never see it again for five years but I'm supposed to ALWAYS be proficient at it because it's been ticked off the list.
So when that latest flavor of the month event happens to me in five years and one day, I have no bloody clue on how to do it because I've not had the opportunity to review it in 5 years ( other than the manual).

What needs to be embraced is a solid base for dealing with any issue. And that lies in repetitive training and familiarization, not knowing level 3 of a specific event because it happened once or twice in history.
Again, reading and trying to learn complex tasks form a manual has very limited effect under duress. It’s not the correct way to become proficient in stressful situations when they happen. This concept is understood in all levels of education except in aviation and EK specifically.

Lets look at some scenarios to determine which one will produce the safest outcome:

I have not been to Moscow for approximately five years. I read some text and “think” I understand the procedure. Then go to Moscow and realize I didn't truly understand it correctly and make a hash of it. There was nobody to ask and run my ideas by because the training department is what it is.

Alternatively, I can contact somebody respectful and knowledgeable in training (not a friend) and ask them to run by the procedure with me to make sure that I understand it correctly and that I am comfortable with it. Even better, if that imaginary sim was available I could even shoot some approaches using my new knowledge and test my understanding. So I wonder which one of these options is fundamentally safer?

Let’s look at another scenario:
I don't feel confident with 40kts Xwinds. I get through them in my simulator checks but it's not pretty. I pass and I'm on the line dreading the day that 40Kt is waiting for me.

Alternatively,
I can contact the training department and tell them as a professional, “listen folks, I can get through crosswind Landings in the SIM but I've never done it in real life in 10 years. I don't feel 100% confident with my own ability, it might be good enough to pass a check but it's not good enough for me as a professional so can I please practice.” “Yes of course training says” and they say thank you so much for coming to them and commend you for being so professional and mature. They offer to schedule some time so that you can practice for as long as you want until YOU feel up to speed with this activity that is very rarely practiced let alone encountered for real. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, to me it's so blindingly obvious which one is safer but somehow there still seem to be some people that defend the other narrative and suggest I should read THE TECHNIQUE AGAIN and not be so lazy!

It is naive and foolish in my opinion to think that a memory item can be flawlessly performed from reading it in the manual and then regurgitating it later. Under stress this theory will not deliver. Only muscle memory can deliver under stress.

I'm not advocating that we don't know memory items, I'm just saying that it goes against all fundamental educational principles to expect a procedure to be replicated under stress perfectly when memorized from text in a manual.

As for the level of experience I can only say that I am so impressed with the level of dedication and piloting skills of our FOs of late, even if they have very little experience. If these people were nurtured and properly trained they would be outstanding. I am personally very opposed to the dropping of entry standards but I must say that the new guys that I have been flying with have been generally excellent operators.
I am not confusing this with lack of experience which is understandable.
In my opinion the "slackers" are the demotivated, scared of their own shadow colleagues who have been jaded by the broken system over time.

The amount of lives that the training department (and subsequently fleet) have ruined of late is alarming. The word is certainly out there by now and many people don't want to come to Emirates in case they get through the whole selection process and most of the training only to be canned at the last minute.
How is it possible that experienced pilots who get through selection cannot be trained to land properly or fly a raw data ILS but instead get terminated? Personally this makes no sense.
If someone is battling in all fields then of course certain harsh action needs to be taken.

How can it be acceptable that captains are getting downgraded for one or two issues on a line check or PPC when they have immaculately served 10 or 12 years or more with perfect records .This is basically saying that every flight needs to be perfect which goes against all logic because we all know that that's not true and impossible to replicate.
It is well known and understood if you fall into the cracks of the training department you will be ravaged until there's nothing left of your soul. Your confidence will be shattered and that a very dangerous reality for a pilot to have no confidence.
They will come down on you like a pack of wolves. Treating respectable long serving veterans and new joiners with utter distain and disrespect. This is certainly a disgrace because it’s uncalled for and unnecessary. Deliver the message, but have some respect and humanity. That’s for free.

I notice a lot of instructors are very demotivated due to their conditions being eroded but are also of late very ashamed to be affiliated to the training dep.
They try to distance themselves somehow from the training dep as a whole. That’s sad and reflects on its management and where the dep is.

Way too much emphasis gets placed on who the instructor is for ones check. It’s the first thing people say when it’s mentioned that your PPC is due. “Oh who’s the instructor? “
It should not matter if proper standards where in place and the terrors in training could be further rooted out and the emphasis was rather on training nurturing and advancement.

There are a certain amount of loyal followers of MM. Good for them. I’m not one of them. But requiring a certain amount of statistical failures is a recipe for disaster and this training reality we have now is under his watch. This post is not a personal attack on anyone so I will leave it there.

As for the manual handling which apparently we should be so grateful for. A lot of the time is spent completing, in order to certify, EK special procedures which are badly thought out, not clearly understood, with very little consensus between trainers on how to do them. They general get revised soon after to another version.

I will say it again, that the ethics of the training department are completely flawed and compared to what it could be- a disgrace. I think a complete novice would be able to see the shortcomings. Let me be clear that I am not having a go at individual instructors, I'm having a go at the training department as a whole and probably the “lost few” in charge of this airline.

Let me say in closing, because a lot of negativity has surfaced in this post, that EK is still an amazing job with an unfortunately mounting amount of issues…but still amazing. I have had a privileged 10+ years but it has systematically ruined my love of the profession and I will get out of it as soon as I can. It’s an industry wide cancer of which EK is NOT the sickest. Not by a long shot
My own pride keeps me motivated and as professional as I can be. I just wish I could be more so, and have a training dep that would help me get there, and a company culture that embraced the grind that aviation has become, rather than added to it.
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