Editor’s Note: The Journal of Civil Aviation Training (CAT) magazine presents Guest Commentary on important issues facing the community. The opinions expressed are the author’s own.
This commentary features Marco Van Sterkenburg, CEO, Drillster, and Franck Euzet, Cabin Crew Safety Training & Safety Pro Level Manager, Air France – who presented at Halldale/CAT’s Global Airline Training & Simulation - Virtual conference in November 2020. Their presentation can be viewed on the Halldale website in the Events section. (Global Airline Training & Simulation - Virtual
All-time proficiency is one of the most crucial aspects of the flight professionals’ work, including the cabin crew members. For the sake of safety, cabin crews are always expected to be fully skilled and have the necessary knowledge about how to act in any (emergency) situation immediately. Thus, it is the company’s responsibility to support and help those crews and make sure they are prepared year-round.
As a leading French airline with a presence in 91 countries worldwide, Air France was facing a huge challenge to keep its 12,000 crew members trained and prepared for any situation at all times. Earlier this month, we interviewed Franck Euzet, Cabin Crew Safety Training and Safety Pro Level Manager at Air France. We asked him about their training methods and how crucial knowledge is maintained during the pandemic.
The Ugly Truth of Cramming Culture
Franck Euzet told us that Air France employees must demonstrate a satisfactory result on their recurrent exam to prove their knowledge proficiency level. If they don’t pass the exam, this means they are not able to do their job safely and are not allowed to perform safety procedures on board. And just like any other exam in this world, it can be very stressful. Sometimes, cabin crew members will be cramming for the exam a few days ahead, trying to memorize every piece of information needed to pass the test.
Of course, such a short-term extensive learning method was not effective at all. “It may be enough to pass the recurrent exam. But it results in temporary knowledge peaks that will quickly drop down again. And all the information learned during those days of cramming will just slowly disappear right after the exam,” Franck Euzet explains.
Scientifically, this effect is almost impossible to avoid as the human brain automatically forgets information when it is not repeated regularly. Therefore, memorizing, understanding, and repeating the need-to-know information is needed to create an effective and sustainable learning process.
The Adaptive Solution for All-Time Proficiency
To solve this temporary knowledge peak problem, in 2019, Air France collaborated with Drillster to launch an online adaptive training app for its cabin crews. This app is not only easy to use, but it also pushes the user to actively maintain the need-to-know information on a regular basis.
“With the micro-learning method, Drillster allows the cabin crew to learn in small bites”, says Euzet. “This methodology does not only make the learning process engaging and easy to absorb, but it’s also very quick. It only takes five to ten minutes per learning session. As the solution comes on PC, tablets, and mobile phones, employees can now learn anytime and anywhere in between their daily activities.”
Furthermore, Drillster’s smart algorithm adapts to the pace and knowledge of each cabin crews’ activities. This algorithm will analyze their proficiency and automatically focus on the development areas of each individual so the app will be repeating the elements that an employee hasn’t fully mastered more frequently. This makes the learning process different for everyone. “These features are exactly what Air France needs to create its own efficient training program for the cabin crews’ year-round proficiency,” Euzet continues.
Better Exam Performance
“We have been using Drillster as their training tool for a while now, and we are receiving a very high engagement rate from the cabin crews ever since. Drillster’s methodology helps crew members to feel confident with their proficiency level. Even though using the app is not mandatory, it is shown that 70 perrcent of Air France cabin crew members are actively using Drillster to retain their on-cabin skills and knowledge. This results in an increase in the overall cabin crew proficiency levels.”
Pandemic-Proof Cabin Crew Training Method
Unfortunately, the current pandemic makes things completely different. Because of the flight restriction and travel ban caused by Covid-19, fewer cabin crew members are up in the air, while others are waiting until the situation is getting better. At the same time, face-to-face training is no longer allowed due to social distancing measures. Therefore, Euzet and Air France’s training team have to work harder to ensure that the cabin crews retain their knowledge, even when they are at home.
“So we decided to send everyone a message, to invite them to continue using the Drillster app to retain their flight safety proficiency. These include the normal procedure, abnormal procedure, dangerous goods, etc. Surprisingly, more and more cabin crews are using the Drillster app to keep their on-cabin knowledge up-to-date since the pandemic. The engagement even increased by 22 percent during the lockdown. This number is very significant, considering that the use of the app is entirely voluntary. This result has shown that everyone can learn things at ease with the right methodology, even during the most challenging times. Drillster as a training app has proved to be a pandemic-proof way of keeping Air France employees engaged.” Euzet adds.
So even though it is uncertain if and when the industry will bounce back to normal, Air France cabin crews are staying optimistic and excited to keep themselves up-to-date. Crew members use their time efficiently, and they make sure that they are ready to hop on a plane at any time. Hopefully, they can put their knowledge to good use very soon!
About the Authors
Franck Euzet, a 25-year veteran with Air France, provides over 15,000 flight attendants with the right knowledge and skills to execute their work safely at all times on 3000 commercial flights annually.
Marco van Sterkenburg co-founded Drillster, an EdTech company, in 2012. Marco is an experienced speaker and has given presentations at multiple international events and conferences, including Halldale/CAT’s EATS (European Airline Training Symposium).
Reprinted by permission of Drillster (Drillster: the adaptive learning solution for knowledge retention.)