When the two passengers on the first commercial flight took off from Tampa, Florida in 1914, few would have predicted that the global aviation industry would be carrying 6 million people a day just over a century later. During this time, advances in technology have made flying safer than ever, but accidents are still a reality, with 80% of all aviation incidents caused by human error, such as a communication failure.
Ensuring the safety of passengers and crew is the number one priority for airlines, ground staff and air traffic controllers. However, the pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the aviation industry, halting the flow of goods and people around the world and reducing aviation’s 3.2% annual growth to a decline of 46.7%. Airline budgets have been slashed and staff laid off, but as shutdowns ease and air traffic returns to pre-COVID levels, English training should be on the wish list of airlines that seek to successfully recruit and retain talent, and ensure customer safety and satisfaction.
Since 1951, English has been the official language of the skies, with aviation employees required to achieve an ICAO proficiency level in order to qualify for their respective jobs. A high level of spoken English allows air traffic controllers to give concise information to pilots, such as altitude and heading instructions, and cabin crew to effectively convey safety procedures to passengers.
Especially in critical phases of flight such as takeoff and landing, communication can be the deciding factor between life and death, as the 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 demonstrated. crashed into a sea wall while landing at San Francisco airport. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that one of the causes of the accident was the non-standard communication and coordination regarding the use of autothrottle and autopilot systems.
The July 4 period this year saw more than 2,000 flights canceled and another 25,000 delayed. Such events can cause the foundations of employee-client relationships to falter. However, effective communication of instructions, reassurance and in some cases de-escalation can be crucial elements in customer retention and the long-term success of a carrier. Fluency in English pronunciation is important in an industry that relies on effective teamwork, and a forward-thinking airline will prioritize this when creating its training program. In addition to being beneficial to the company, language training can promote the personal growth of employees and provide an attractive prospect for potential candidates around the world.
Retain talent through training
The aviation industry is in the midst of a recruitment and retention crisis, as only 50% of flight attendants who successfully complete their training are still employed by that airline after one year.
Flight attendants particularly operate in high-stress environments and can suffer from frequent burnouts, leading to high turnover within the industry. English fluency edtech that improves speaker pronunciation can be a cost-effective and time-saving way to train, using millions of data points to analyze speech pattern, accent, and inflection.
A study by Lorman found that retention rates within companies can increase by up to 50% with a strong learning culture, and 86% of millennials would be prevented from leaving a job if extensive training and development were offered by an employer. For the aviation industry to reach its cruising altitude, personnel must be fully trained in effective communication to meet the needs of regulators and passengers.
At any one time, there are 500,000 passengers in the sky, and as the aviation industry recovers, Aviation English will be a necessary tool in the flight crew and ground personnel directory to ensure safety and passenger satisfaction. . For pilots and controllers, ICAO re-evaluates their proficiency level every three years, compounding the need for a consistent level of achievement. People are the fuel that keeps the aviation sector in the air, and investing in employee language training can play a role in revitalizing an industry desperate to regain its wings.
Vu Van is the CEO and founder of ELSA. ELSA Speak uses technology and design to empower people around the world to speak English with confidence. The company aims to unlock greater opportunities for billions of language learners around the world.