Welcome to the WATS 2018 issue of CAT Magazine.

WATS is CAT`s annual flagship training event, and we always endeavour to have this issue mirror much of the content of this international celebration of aviation simulation and training. This year is no exception and I am particularly proud of the depth and breadth of both the magazine and the 21st iteration of what the industry recognises as the largest aviation simulation and training event in the world.

Some four years ago in this space I wrote of the growing awareness of the impact of all manner of cultural influences in aviation safety and operations and the importance of blending these influences to build what some call a “safety culture” but what I like to refer to as “Aviation Culture”. Three types of cultural influences create Aviation Culture: National, Organisational, and Professional. We often only think of the latter two in aviation, as we strive to create positive operating environments in our companies, while furthering a professional culture in our employees. One example of the latter is encouraging the mentoring of new hire pilots.

The fact is, however, all three cultural influences impact all of us, and we shouldn’t be afraid to objectively recognise and explore their complete range – including our national cultures. If there are national cultural attributes that exhibit great “power-distance” between young and old, male and female, or between members of different social classes, then in the interest of safety these realities must be recognised and mitigated. This industry has demonstrated considerable success in doing just that.

Over the past year CAT has profiled the stories of a remarkable group of professional female pilots and several of the stories pointed to the fact that actually, some of the families and friends of these young women presented greater challenges to them than their airline employer, with many indicating that the culture at their airline was accepting, progressive and always professional. One of these airlines was a prominent Middle Eastern national flag carrier that was described as having “no dominant national culture on the flight deck” as their flight crew hailed from dozens of nations. That same airline could boast of one of the industry’s most professional working environments and highest safety rankings in the world. An “Aviation Culture” indeed.

Thus, the very good news is that the primary output of the simulation and training industry’s “Aviation Culture” is the only one that ultimately matters – and that is safety. The successful integration of all these cultural influences has been going on for a very long time and has delivered enormous dividends, encompassing the work of national and international regulators, air carriers, ATOs and training equipment suppliers. Yet very often it has been the vision, ethics and talents of individual personalities that provided the necessary leadership to advance the art and science of aviation simulation and training. They have emerged from many nations and backgrounds, from all corners of the simulation and training industry, and from operator, engineering and executive ranks.

If our unique Aviation Culture has performed an admirable service in helping to produce these enormously talented individuals, and on whose shoulders the rest of us stand upon, it has historically demonstrated less success in actually recognising them. And this is where CAT Magazine feels it can help correct this long-standing omission. We will continue the awards program that was launched at WATS 2017 at this years’ event.

CAT Magazine will present “Pioneer Awards” to individuals whose leadership and stellar achievements have made such a difference to the aviation training sector and ultimately to the safety of the flying public. In order to ensure maximum objectivity, the recipients will be determined not by the Editorial Board of this magazine, but rather by the hundreds of ballots cast by you in the industry. I do hope you participated and had an opportunity to cast your vote.

See you at WATS.

Chris Lehman, WATS Conference Chair , CAT Editor in Chief

Published in CAT issue 2/2018