Does Your Training System Need an Overhaul?
By Al Krusz
How does your operation decide how much training is enough for you to efficiently maintain your aircraft? Are those decisions based on convenience? Schedule? Cost? Whatever system you use, your training dollars should be based solely on desired outcome. If, on the other hand, you're not in control of your operation's training budget or schedule, you may be all too familiar with some of these rationalizations:
• Once trained - always trained.
• The new airplane is practically the same as the old one.
• It's a simple airplane. Why do you need to go to school?
• There's no regulation that says I have to train my technicians.
• You're my best mechanic; you can figure anything out.
• Call Tech Ops. They know it all.
Let's look at other disciplines and critical services
What's needed here is a little perspective. If, for instance, you were facing heart surgery, would you rather come under the knife of a second-year intern training at a local clinic or a surgeon with years of experience who studied under Dr. DeBakey? Naturally, you'd choose the doctor with plenty of experience who's learned from the best. But in the aircraft industry, with so much riding on your skills, is your level of training any less important?
OEMs certainly value it. Their agreements with Authorized Service Centers mandate annual training because they know they can greatly reduce troubleshooting costs and time by keeping current on product improvements and aircraft changes. Successful companies have come to consider training an essential part of the cost of doing business. They've learned that by providing ongoing instruction to their technicians, they can avoid the expense of replacing components because of improper troubleshooting. By improving your troubleshooting skills, you not only reduce down time, you become a better resource for your operation. The cost of re-certifying a fuel pump, a starter-generator, or an Air Data Computer alone could easily pay for a lot of formal training and development.
A high degree of personal and operational integrity is the benchmark of a professional. Time, opportunity, and access to additional levels of training all contribute to a professional's development. Advanced training exposes you to a wide range of subject matter and experts who are schooled in the transfer of approved, accurate information and procedures. Such instruction provides a standardized base of knowledge for you to build your skills and proficiency. Remember that these experts don't come straight out of school and automatically perform at a master's level. They require time to hone their skills and put their newly acquired knowledge to work.
Professional technician training is not a one-time event. Skills can only be enhanced by repetitive exposure to new and current knowledge, so the following is important to consider:
• Share experiences with other professionals during formal gatherings at schools and conferences.
• Commit to a life cycle of training to improve your level of proficiency in every facet of your path to success.
• Attend industry and professional learning center seminars regularly to receive rewards far above your investment in time and money.
In this business, training is readily acknowledged as a requirement for success and operational integrity, if not survival. Does your training system still need an overhaul? Well, now's the time to get started.