Aviation Professionalism The Qualifications, Attributes, Ethics, and Responsibilities of Aviation Professionals Yadvinder Singh ASCI – 202 Anthony Miller March 7, 2013 Once someone joins the Airlines industry as a professional, be it a pilot, a technician, or an air traffic controller, they are committing to a certain level of responsibility and expectation. In my experience I have come across professionals who I have felt suited their role to near perfection while others in the same position at times fall short of basic expectations.
The issue of professionalism and responsibility in the airline industry has been in focus recently due to some recent events like the Northwest pilots flying past their destination airport, in-flight breakdowns and rants by pilots and flight attendants, and airline mergers. I feel that sometimes media speculation exaggerates the issues presented to society and highlights mistakes where the public gets the impression that these types of incidents and errors are taking place daily.
The reality is that safety measures are an integral part of an airline worker’s training and major errors or incidents occur rather infrequently. At the same time, another reality is that a mistake made by an airline employee, whether pilot, technician, or air traffic controller runs the risk of being fatal and this is where the attributes and ethics of an individual come into play. Pilots are required to complete extensive training and log thousands of hours of flight time before they can land a job with the major carriers, so
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I feel the qualifications alone can be met by many but perhaps there needs to be some sort of training or measure of ethical behavior of an individual because that can help determine how they will treat the level of responsibility associated with their job. Most flights complete their course without incident and this can naturally cause someone to relax their mind or reflexes a little, but no flight should be treated with any negligence whatsoever. The incident with the Northwest flight (NY Times 2009) crew is an ideal example of this.
The pilots had a combined flying experience of over 30,000 hours, yet they committed an error that resulted in a major embarrassment and which could have cost lives. The main cause cited for this blunder is that the pilots were distracted during flight because they were engaged in personal matters on their laptops, which is a violation of airline safety guidelines. Is the root reason for this incident just poor judgment and misbehavior of the pilots or perhaps not enough emphasis on responsibility in their training?
The hundreds of hours of flight time required to be a pilot come with a hefty price, so anyone who is a pilot has surely proven their passion and persistence for flying. However, it’s a wonder that this same dedication doesn’t follow through for some once they’ve landed a job with a major carrier and I think it may be because the path is often so strenuous that getting a job itself is treated as the goal, when it actually is a stepping stone to really being a pilot. Air traffic controllers have also been in the news recently with incidents of suspicion that they are distracted and even sleeping on the job (USA Today, 2011).
Here is a profession where mistakes are simply not allowed because the repercussions can very likely be fatal. I think there has to be a close monitoring of on the job behavior because the job itself runs the risk of complacency. It’s important to note that fatal incidents have been few and far between, but the risk is still great enough to warrant better oversight. A person who works as an air traffic controller needs to be one who is naturally very focused and detail oriented because the rules, the risks, the guidelines and need to be responsible and focused can be taught, but ultimately, this is behavior they have to showcase.
Technicians are a group of people I’ve had several years of close working experience with as both a former technician and in my current role of Inspector. Unfortunately, the current crop of technicians are a group I find to be well intentioned, but without enough working experience as they’re often straight out of high school. This doesn’t mean they don’t possess the necessary attributes or approach to be successful and responsible technicians, because these are often the deciding factors but I think there needs to be more training and understanding of the great deal of responsibility they are taking on as technicians.
Professionalism to me is a good mix of knowledge, a candid commitment to ones job, the disciplined passion, and the ability to make proper but sound judgments. To put it into simple terms Professionalism simply means doing the right thing, even when you have had a long day and also when you are not in some spotlight. Whether you are a pilot, a technician, or an air traffic controller or any employee in the aviation profession these attributes or qualities have to be considered in taking the professional approach in today’s aviation profession.
Works Cited Matthew L. Wald (2009, Oct 26). Off-Course Pilots Cite Computer Distraction. NY Times. Retrieved October 26, 2002 from http://www. nytimes. com/2009/10/27/us/27plane. html? _r=0 Alan Levin (2011, Apr 21). Recent air controller incidents no signs of crisis, experts say. Us Today. Retrieved April 21, 2011 from http://travel. usatoday. com/flights/story/2011/04/Recent-air-controller-incidents-no-sign-of-crisis-experts-say/46338056/1
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