The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recently grouped all the training elements in the organisation together, and held the inaugural ICAO Global Aviation Training and TRAINAIR PLUS Symposium in Dublin, Ireland. Chris Long reports.

It is always challenging to pick a suitable venue for a global conference, but Dublin can give claim to some very convincing rights for such an event. Not least of these is the astonishing level of engagement in the aviation industry itself - some might be surprised to learn that over half of the world’s aircraft fleet is owned and managed from Ireland. With responsibility for a major part of the North Atlantic aerial traffic, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) continues to be an early adopter of innovation in both regulation and operation, and that is recognised around the world as the multiple cooperation agreements show. When that capability is added to the traditional and unstinting Irish hospitality, there is a heady mix of professional expertise in the conference hall, and relaxed hosting which welcomed some 71 nationalities and 400 delegates from many walks of aviation life. Regulators were there, alongside airlines and other operators and of course the key participants - trainers from a wide range of disciplines.

The introduction to the conference, delivered by Kevin O’Driscoll of the Dublin International Aviation Training Academy (DIATA) gently pointed out the attributes mentioned, and later explained the wide variety and scope of training which DIATA delivers - again demonstrating the reach of Irish aviation competencies.

Mr Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General of ICAO, outlined the role of ICAO and within that the training responsibility, which is to identify and promulgate guides to desired outcomes of training and procedures.

Throughout the conference there was a clear indication of the way that TRAINAIR PLUS works. The basis is of course to encourage organisations to update their training methods, but as they improve their skills there is a great interest in identifying best practice, and promoting of such methodologies across the global audience. TRAINAIR has encouraged levels of expertise in specific disciplines, and supports those who have focussed on such areas and who are willing to share their knowledge, such that best practice becomes standardised and adopted on a global basis, which would lead to a general increased competence in aviation. In turn, the constant work to improve safety and efficiency will ideally become the common currency of the industry.

Naturally there are real challenges to reaching this worthy goal - selection and adoption of practical solutions from the dazzling array of emerging technology is an issue - what are the real game-changers? The gradual realisation that competency based training and shaping of training tasks in the light of recent operating experience (evidence based training) can help the relevance and effectiveness of training, is moving both regulators and training suppliers to new ways of working.

The overriding theme was that no one nation or organisation can be expected to lead all the changes, but that a collective and team-orientated approach by a wide range of players will give the best result. The incessant aim to improve safety is the driver - we just need to work out the best way to do that by retaining some of the best practices which have already been established, and augment those intelligently with new ideas and techniques.

A major part of the event was in acknowledging the efforts already made by organisations, large and small, who have not only moved ideas along, but who have actually implemented and, above all, shared those solutions and delivered them through the ICAO-approved TRAINAIR centres distributed around the world. Some 23 certificates were awarded as organisations were recognised for initiating these changes, as well as for those who had moved up in the scope of their work and cooperation.

This was a conference with a broad reach, both geographically and technically, probably with as much value in follow-up conversations as to what was immediately satisfied in the friendly and historic capital that is Dublin.