Cabin crew training continues to evolve as new rules and regulations come into effect and it adapts to today’s world. This feature will take a closer look at just a few of the developing approaches to changing.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has revised the Cabin Crew Safety Training Manual (Doc 10002) to provide more up to date guidance regarding cabin crew initial and recurrent safety training. The manual has been developed in conjunction with a joint Regulatory-Industry group, the ICAO Cabin Safety Group (ICSG), composed of safety experts from civil aviation authorities, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and international organizations. There was also additional participation from members of the ICAO Medical Provisions Study Group (MPSG) and the IATA Medical Advisory Group (MAG) on Cabin Health and First Aid. The ICSG serves as the expert group, providing advice to ICAO on cabin safety-related matters, and assisting in the development or revision of requirements, guidance material and implementation support to enhance cabin safety on a global scale.

This most recent revision (Doc 10002) addresses significant changes made since the 1990s. New material in the manual includes cabin crew training requirements & qualifications, training facilities and devices, competency-based training, SMS training for cabin crew, fatigue management, in-charge cabin crew training and management aspects of cabin safety training programs. It provides guidance material for initial and recurrent training and presents a competency-based approach to training.

Competency-Based Approach

ICAO developed this competency-based approach to cabin crew safety training to ensure that cabin crew are proficient in performing their duties and responsibilities, and with the goal of establishing an international baseline for cabin crew competencies. ICAO defines a competency as “a combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes required to perform a task to the prescribed standard. Competency-based approaches are characterized by an emphasis on job performance and the knowledge and skills required to perform on the job. Competency-based training aims at progressively building and integrating knowledge and skills required for competency job performance. Competency-based assessments aim at measuring how well competencies necessary for the job are demonstrated to the specified performance standards.”

This approach to training focuses on normal operations, abnormal and emergency situations, security threats, cabin health and first aid, dangerous goods and ‘soft’ skills, e.g. communication.

The contents of the revised manual are generic, and provide examples and detailed guidance so operators can adapt it to suit their operations. Mitchell Fox, Chief Flight Operations Section at ICAO spoke to delegates at this year’s WATS conference about the revised manual, and how it “provides guidance for States when approving a cabin crew training program. It provides all relevant parts of syllabuses that should be included in cabin crew training syllabus, but the syllabus should not be limited by it.”

The manual also provides guidance on other issues States and industry have asked for such as representative cabin training devices, instructor qualifications and competencies, and training program management.

ICAO’s Cabin Safety Work Program for 2014 will continue to address emerging issues, provide guidance to assist in implementation and continue joint industry-regulatory efforts via ICSG. These issues will include the safe expanded use of PEDs; enhancing safety through competent cabin crew members; the safety of infants and children on board; enhanced safety, security and reduction in operational disruptions through better management of unruly passengers; and capturing lessons learned from accidents and incidents specific to cabin aspects.

Inflight Use of PEDs

As just mentioned, ICAO is addressing emerging issues related to cabin safety and one of these is the inflight use of PEDs or Portable Electronic Devices. These include digital cameras, smartphones, tablets, and e-readers.

In January 2013, the FAA chartered a Portable Electronic Device Aviation Rulemaking Committee, or PED ARC, to make recommendations “on allowing additional PEDs without compromising the continued safe operation of the aircraft”. Then in September 2013, the PED ARC published a final report that included numerous technical, operational, and safety communications recommendations. On 31 October, the FAA announced that commercial airlines can “safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight” using implementation guidance provided by the agency, which is based on the PED ARC final report recommendations.

European and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety guidance has now established that passengers may use PEDs switched on in flight mode during all phases of flight, unless the flight crew or cabin crew instructs them otherwise. Under these new policies, airlines are allowing passengers to use small, handheld devices during taxi, take-off and landing.

The ARC recommends that the FAA work with industry stakeholders to develop model frameworks for training programs targeting crewmembers and other affected operator personnel. This effort should involve initial and recurrent training for all employees.

Candace Kolander, Coordinator, Air Safety, Health & Security for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA spoke at length on this subject at WATS 2014 and pointed out that the FAA failed to fully explore a number of considerations such as the possible adverse effects of unsecured PEDs and attached power cords during an incident or accident. PEDs are carried by nearly every passenger on board an aircraft, and are significantly different from books, magazines, and other items that passengers bring into the cabin.

Of equal concern is the possibility that sudden crash forces could cause passengers to lose hold of their PEDs, resulting in “struck-by” injuries to occupants or impediments to egress through evacuation pathways. Previous guidance informed passengers that all electronic devices were to be turned off and stowed at altitudes below 10,000 feet above the ground, but the new guidance suggests that operators ask passengers to “secure” small items in their hands. Kolander said that flight attendants question this policy in particular during the high risk take-off and landing phases of flight, when promoting the goal of a ‘clean cabin’ environment is essential to the interests of public safety.

AFA’s concern is that during take-off and landing, passengers need to be prepared for a sudden emergency, and passengers may be so attached to their cell phones or other PEDs, that they may be inclined to stop and look for them in an emergency situation, even at the cost of slowing down an evacuation of the cabin.

For years safety experts have attempted to entice passengers to observe and embrace the messages imparted in crewmember safety briefings. With passengers now able to use PEDs during all phases of flight, including during crewmember briefings, Kolander pointed out that flight attendants are concerned that important safety information will be ignored.

Kolander said that changes in the inflight use of PEDs need to consider cabin safety aspects, such as information to passengers, securing and stowing of devices and policies for prohibiting the use of devices under specific circumstances. ICAO is developing guidance material to address these and other issues related to the safe expanded use of PEDs, and promote harmonisation at an international level.

Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA)

A final aspect of training that is of relevance to cabin crew members is that related to the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA). The SAFA Programme was established by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and is the fulfilment of the legal obligation upon EU Member States to perform ramp inspections on third country aircraft landing at their airports.

The purpose of a SAFA inspection is for the various national aviation authorities to check for compliance with international standards that are the minimum requirements to be observed by any aircraft engaged in international aviation. These inspections follow a procedure common to all Member States and are then reported on using a common format. Oversight authorities (Inspectors) of the Member States engaged in the SAFA Programme choose which aircraft to inspect. Some authorities carry out random inspections while others try to target aircraft or airlines that they suspect may not comply with ICAO standards. In either case only a very small proportion of third country aircraft operating into each State are inspected.

Depending on the volume of third country flights and the availability of inspectors in each Member State, the number of inspections may vary from relatively few to several hundred each year.

Checks may include: crew licenses; manuals that should be carried on board; compliance with procedures by flight and cabin crew; safety equipment in flight deck and cabin; cargo carried in the aircraft; and the technical/mechanical condition of the aircraft

Since the crew of any airline can come across a SAFA Inspection and be questioned about documents and equipment matters, it is very important for members of the cabin crew to be aware of what can be checked in the cabin in order to see and prevent a remark of expired equipment or safety issues with regards to emergency exits for example.

If an inspection identifies significant irregularities, these will be taken up with the airline and the oversight authority. Where irregularities have an immediate impact on safety, inspectors can demand corrective action before they allow the aircraft to leave. More information about this particular area of cabin crew training will be provided at EATS 2014 by Mr. Fons Schaefer from SGI Aviation.

Cabin safety is a key area of training that is essential to maintaining and enhancing operational safety and improving survivability in the event of an accident. ICAO and other regulatory bodies are establishing dedicated programmes in direct relation to this subject matter. Other emerging issues will continue to be addressed and the important role of cabin crew and cabin safety will continue to be promoted in years to come.