Flight attendants stress adequate training levels in Flight 1549 aftermath

Washington DC
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Using their time in front of Congressional leaders that convened a 26 February hearing to examine the US Airways A320 ditching last month, flight attendants are stressing that adequate training levels for emergency situations must be maintained.

During the testimony when questioned about the landing of the A320 on 15 January into the Hudson River and the subsequent safe evacuation of all passengers on the aircraft, each of the three flight attendants referenced their training as crucial to ushering customers out of the plane.

But the safety coordinator of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Candace Kolander told members of the House aviation subcommittee of the union's concern over varying levels of training that the unions members receive.

Unlike most US majors carriers Kolander says regional airline operators offer two-day recurrent flight attendant training. Those operators typically only have one or two aircraft types featuring similar cabin configurations and locations for emergency equipment, she explains.

Yet a major carrier operating multiple aircraft types in multiple configurations in many cases only conducts a single day of recurrent training, says Kolander. "One has to wonder what subjects are being short-changed in the one-day recurrent training that the larger carriers are providing," she says, arguing certain subjects become merged during eight-hour training courses.

Kolander also contends that airline management seems intent on adding more 'customer service' type training for flight attendants "often at the neglect of important safety and security training".

FAA in January published proposed rulemaking on qualification, service and use of crewmembers and aircraft dispatchers. Kolander says on first glance two things in the document stand out: hands-on training for some emergency equipment every 12 instead of 24 months, and flight attendant ground school instructors being required to receive specific training and qualifications as instructors.