There is no question that COVID-19 has impacted the travel industry in unprecedented ways. Developing and implementing a comprehensive health and safety program, enhancing services, processes and training across the operations and across stations has become unavoidable for airlines and airports. And many challenges came also with this new imperative. Adapt and update continuously internal measures and business continuity plans as the situation evolves is now part of every reflection of a companies’ strategy, especially regarding aviation training.
Airlines are drastically reducing capacity and the number of passenger jets in service is the lowest it has been in 26 years. And while this mass grounding has been devastating to the industry at large, there is one bright spot: aviation maintenance and staff training. There was already high demand for aviation maintenance skills, but the pandemic has increased the urgency for these skills and made them even more valuable.
“Aircraft can’t simply be dusted back into action. They need plenty of work and attention while in storage, from maintenance of hydraulics and flight-control systems to protection against insects and wildlife… ” Bloomberg
“New normal “means new challenges
The new normal involves a lot of challenges that needs to be tackled immediately by aviation professionals such as staff training. Indeed, how companies can continue to train their employees while they can’t be gathered in classrooms following a training led in-person by an instructor? At first, companies started to use remote software such as Zoom or Teams to provide virtual sessions led by the instructor. That way, employees could continue to get trained while respecting the sanitary rules. In the short-term, it was an efficient way to deal with the problem, but many challenges came up afterwards.
Indeed, it revealed that engaging a diverse set of learners with various experience levels was much more complicated than expected. For instance, a training course of an hour long could cover several topics that are not relevant for many learners participating in the virtual session. Offer the best material to the right group of learners is becoming one important to address short-term to make the training process more efficient and engaging.
Moreover, learners need to pass FAA certification, especially for the aviation maintenance. Empower them to work independently, get all the material they need and be confident to pass their FAA exams, this is another limitation of in-person virtual session. Virtual sessions remove the « Hands-on » effect for learners, and they can’t deliver the same quality of service once they are on the ground. Finding a way for learners to safely practice what they are learning, that is one of the main concerns for airlines.
Technology as a problem solver
Responding to these challenges effectively is not easy as it seems, but many companies are introducing online learning or eLearning as the solution to the problem. The current situation has significantly accelerated the integration of technology and the search of tools that allow to keep learners engaged and on track. Thus, adding the possibility to get a 360° visibility over training operations is now what aviation executives are looking the most to keep up the pace when returning to affairs will come and not left behind compared to competitors.
Many software are available on the market such a learning management software or a learning experience platform. These platforms provide programs that are presenting learning in a microlearning framework, offering numerous benefits for the learners. They also offer the possibility to integrate interactive components thanks to artificial intelligence that enable learners to feel a similar way to « practice » their skills, while they’re not on-site seeing for themselves.
Introducing interactive multi-media technology could provide major operational gains for airlines and airports. Indeed, transfer traditional face-to-face learning into remote delivery formats can enable training to be facilitated across state borders and stations, removing the need for travel and the impacts of social distancing restrictions because learners are able to view the training from their home or local workplace.
Microlearning and adaptive learning, the future of aviation training?
As we said earlier, COVID-19 required that companies adapt their training processes and the way their employees are learning and improving their skills. Virtual classrooms showed their limitations. Introducing eLearning is going to be a must for organizations but providing the relevant training materials to the right learners or group of learners will become crucial in terms of operations efficiency. This is where learning management software comes into play because they offer a flexibility for companies and learners.
Microlearning or adaptive learning are being considered as the best way to provide training within the aviation industry. Indeed, delivering continuously high-quality and remote learning is what most airlines and airports are looking for. Why? For many reasons:
- Customized and competency-based: learning management software or learning experience platforms offer to learners a customized experience where they can adapt their individual learning needs to their specific knowledge gaps. Structure the learning contents depending on the level of each employee, it also means ensuring that your employees have access to relevant content to enhance their skills. It allows them to progress into advanced training once they mastered the basics and can adapt their contents and get learning recommendations in real time thanks to AI or machine learning.
- Interactive: Introducing interactive learning offers learners an environment to put what they have learned into practice from reading or watching a lecture or demonstration. Using tool such as Microsoft Remote Assist where the learners can have a direct access to the right expert and get live instructions through virtual reality could be a very important elements for employees to be well-prepared and build confidence when it will be possible to return to their workplace.
- Measurable: Learning Management Software provides many features related to measurement and tracking of training and offer to assess quickly and effectively where the learner is in its training path. Provide the right lesson at the right time and strategically increase the learning velocity for each learner could benefit to the whole training process. This helps the instructor or administrator of the platform to better understand specific areas where an individual student might be struggling and why, so they can reach out to offer support, as needed.
Organizations are living and growing more comfortable with this “new normal” brought by COVID-19, and the integration of technology and more engaging online learning tools such as Learning Management Software (LMS) or Adaptive Learning Platform will become indisputable to address challenges of the remote learning. Continuing to deliver high-quality training that keeps employees and learners on track, this is the major concern for aviation organizations right now.