Chris Long reports from the first Asia Pacific Aviation Education and Training Symposium (AAETS) held in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

There was a tremendous impact right from the start of this inaugural conference, when a troop of traditional Korean drummers struck up to grab the attention of the conference hall - maybe the entire building - as they heralded the propitious opening of this new symposium. The 700+ delegates were immediately enthralled and primed to play their full part in the event.

Halldale has expanded the reach of its conferences in Asia by delivering the Asia Pacific Aviation Education and Training Symposium (AAETS) in Incheon, Republic of Korea (RoK). This conference was created in response to a request from the RoK Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MoLIT), who wished, together with the Korea Civil Aviation Development Association (KADA), to establish an official event in Korea which focused on the demands of the rapidly growing national civil aviation sector (see CAT 1/2014).

Not only have the well-established major players, such as Korean Air and Asiana, ordered a large number of the latest generation of aircraft, but the increasing number of Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) has now captured 48% of the domestic market. The ambition to grow even further into the wider international market is made clear by the massive investment in the Incheon International Airport. Indeed it was the Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) which was the principal sponsor and supporter of this conference.

Keynotes

In his keynote speech, Mr Yeo, Hyung-ku, Vice Minister of MoLIT, identified AAETS as playing a significant role in MoLIT’s “Aviation Personnel Nurturing Project”, which is the government’s flagship programme to promote interest and engagement of the current generation of high school and university students, who will soon be starting their careers in this expanding industry. Consequently an extensive range of experts, from within Korea as well as the Asian and global aviation communities, gathered to address the major training issues for the new generation of aviation professionals.

As part of his keynote speech Park Wan-su, President of IIAC, expanded on the aim of AAETS to include not only the exchange of ideas, but also to seize the opportunity to foster the level of cooperation in the aviation training industry across the international community.

Topics of Discussion

This Asian conference widened the debate beyond pilot training, and examined a wider selection of disciplines. Not least of these was a close look at the challenges presented by different cultures when involved in the aviation tasks - how do we adapt culture to aviation, and, equally, how do we adapt the demands of aviation to work with varied cultural values to ensure the levels of safe operation which is the absolute baseline in aviation? It was particularly encouraging to see the open acknowledgement of the importance of those cultural challenges, and especially interesting to see some of the initiatives already being implemented in Korea.

Ideas for the specialist disciplines of pilot selection, simulation training for Air Traffic Controllers, regulation of cabin crew and approaches to maintenance training were all addressed. The “glue” of Human Factors and Crew Resource Management, which skills apply across the whole range of aviation professionals, was also discussed. These presentations were complemented by an entire session run by the ICAO Training Plus team, which drew in major players and expertise from the region.

It is sometimes difficult to register the effectiveness of such a conference, but there were several indicators that this symposium did, indeed, make people sit up and pay attention. The high level of expertise of the Keynote and subsequent speakers can be calibrated, (see the AAETS Proceedings at www.halldale.com/aaets-2015/conference-proceedings) but another two measures in particular were significant. The first was the very high attendance numbers for this inaugural conference. As well as attendees one would expect from the airlines, government bodies and industry, there was the very encouraging presence of 42 Education and Training Institutes, whose students and professors numbered close to 200; this included a party of 40 from the University of Hong Kong. A less scientific measure was the amount of activity in the exhibition hall and the networking breaks. If the noise levels were anything to go by, then an impressive level of discussion and exchange of ideas was taking place.

The final arbiter of success is from the feedback gleaned after the conference. Mr Choi, Director of MoLIT was proud of the success of AAETS, which proved to be an excellent place to have in-depth discussions on sustainable growth for the industry, and for the sharing of ideas to further enhance flight safety. He much appreciated the participation of so many experts and their engagement with the representatives on the upcoming generation of aviation experts. It was definitely very appropriate that the first AAETS was celebrated with a roll of drums.

Comments from attendees at AAETS

“Great opportunity to meet aviation specialists from diverse backgrounds”

“Regular conference in Korea would be appreciated”

“meaningful, learnt a lot from the conference”

“Useful for my career to learn the cutting-edge technology and practice”

“Exceeded all expectations”

“Since being a student, I can meet many professionals in the conference and have the chance to talk with them and share ideas”

“Well organised and great turn out given this is the 1st symposium of its kind in Korea”