What is the best way to decide who should sit in the flightd

Sir - I greatly agree with Mr Julian Ticehurst's letter (Flight International, 26 November -2 December) about "Fliers who lose their way" (Flight International, 5-11 November), but have something to add.

The scenario depicted by the US General Accounting Office (GAO) is correct, but who is to blame?

Airlines have been pressured to accept too-big a role for psychiatrists in flight-personnel selection panels. Studies of human factors and crew-resource management (CRM) are helpful in tackling the related issues, but personnel-selection problems exist and always will. For European airlines, staff problems with the English language must be added.

From the mid-1980s, psychiatrists in selection panels have been given so much importance that they have assumed more or less the stature of real gurus. Results in the quality of flight personnel selected have not been that different from formerly.

It is my firm belief that the best judges in assessing the quality of flying personnel are experienced flying personnel. Experienced personnel (with at least eight to ten years seniority) know all the nooks and crannies of the working environment, the tricks of the trade and how to implement the most important of our job requirements: safety.

I think that experienced flying personnel should have a say in the hiring of new crew members.

A probation time of two years should be enough to judge if newly hired flight personnel will be able to carry out future flying duties in a satisfactory manner. Only when an individual is supervised working hands-on can he or she be judged.

My advice for recruitment is:

nmake sure the candidates can speak acceptable English and that they have a little bit of computer knowledge;

nhire them whatever their previous experience (flight hours), and keep them in if acceptable.

All rookies are nervous at the start of a career. It does not take that much for an experienced airline pilot to detect whether a nervous rookie is chronically nervous (and therefore unsafe) or simply overexcited (and therefore retrievable).

There are no clever shortcuts which can reduce the costs of hiring new flight personnel. The new ways of hiring (selection panels) have led to the actual unpleasant situation as assessed and stated by the GAO.


Weston super Mare, UK

Source: Flight International