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Aircrew training is an enormously important aspect in promoting safety in air transport. The United States, Canada and many European countries have taken great strides in facilitating air transport safety and comfort (Transport Canada, 2011). Such an improvement is attributable to the sufficient and effective training programs that are formulated in these developed countries. However, many developing countries have not yet attained international standards in terms of aircrew training. Licensing problems and lack of modern training programs has hindered development of the aviation industry in developing countries. This paper compares and contrasts aviation training standards in USA, Canada and Europe versus the developing world.
Why accident rates are so high
The African Airlines Association has argued that most accidents in the region are caused by aged aircrafts (Gwilliam, 2011, p.174). However, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), accident rates in the world have increased mainly due to poor aircrew training and ineffective assessment criteria (Gwilliam, 2011, p.174). The NTSB further holds that most of these accidents occur in developing countries. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also cited that lack of proficiency among air crew personnel is a major cause of air accidents in developing countries and in the world as a whole (Gwilliam, 2011, p.174). The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) maintains that air accidents in the developing countries have increased rapidly because of frail regulatory oversight in air transport.
Aviation training standards in USA, Canada and Europe versus the developing world
Training standards in Canada, USA and Europe are widely recognized in the world than standards in developing countries (Transport Canada, 2011). For instance, airworthiness in these regions is assessed by national and international standards, unlike in developing countries where standardization is mainly overseen by the national entities alone. In addition, air transport authorities in developed countries recognize each other’s licenses (Transport Canada, 2011). For instance, Transport Canada recognizes pilot licenses from US’s FAA and licenses granted by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) (Transport Canada, 2011). This is because the aircrew training programs in USA, Canada and Europe are equally superior. On the other hand training standards in developing countries are poor, thereby not recognized by the aircrew licensing bodies in the developed countries.
The USA, Canada and several European countries have initiated the ICAO-backed multi-crew pilot licensing (MPL) and training programs (Schroeder & Harms, 2007, p.32). On this aspect, developing countries have not been left behind. Singapore and Philippines are good examples of developing countries which have adopted the MPL-based training. MPL-based training involves the use of advanced simulators (Schroeder & Harms, 2007, p.32). This competency-based-training encompasses the utilization of high-fidelity simulations in aircrew training. China and has taken great strides in this form of training in order to catch up with European and American aviation stakeholders (Schroeder & Harms, 2007, p.32). Thus, it can be deduced the adoption of competency-based-training has taken place in both developed countries and developing countries.
Training on security measures is more advanced in developed countries than in developing countries (Poole, 2008, p.8). The U.S’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has collaborated with EASA and Transport Canada to offer overseas training to air security experts (Poole, 2008, p.10). This practice is not effectively carried out by developing countries. Most airlines in developing countries offer only onsite security training to aircrew. Canada and Europe offer advanced training in electronic trace detection (ETD) systems to their aircrews, which is not the case in most developing countries (Poole, 2008, p.10). Many developing countries are majorly devoted to offering security training only in explosive detection systems and conventional cargo screening techniques (Poole, 2008, p.10). However, lack of training in ETD has contributed to more fatal air accidents in developing countries, when compared to developed countries.
Improving safety in the aviation industry
One strategy that can be adopted to reduce the number of fatal air accidents in the world is to abolish the system of licensing that is largely based on academic credit (justice.org, 2011). The aspect of experience should be the main point of concern in the piloting practice. Though academic merit is equally important, the actual experience is more profound in ensuring air transport safety (justice.org, 2011). In addition, the aviation industry stakeholders should offer aircrew with sufficient additional training on various hazardous conditions (justice.org, 2011). This will ensure that such pilots and co-pilots are fully prepared to navigate flights. Research and development should also be improved in this industry to find new ways of eradicating human errors which affect flight control (justice.org, 2011).
The USA, Canada and several European countries have undoubtedly adopted advanced training techniques for their aircrews. To prevent accidents which are mainly caused by lack of competency in aircrew, these developed countries have incorporated state-of-the-art training methods which are licensed under the MPL program. On the other hand, aircrew training in developing countries does not meet international standards. As a result, pilot licenses from most of these developing countries are not recognized worldwide as is the case of Canada, USA and Europe. Some of the most suitable ways of increasing air transport safety include establishment of research and development projects in the industry and advanced training