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17 Adult Learning Styles Research on adult learning has revealed that (a) adults learn differently than do children, and (b) there are multiple ways to reach adult learners. Smith (1995, p. 7) states, âThere is no single way . . . [adults] learn best.â As such, if an airport delivers all training via lecture, for example, some employees will not learn efficiently and may even be unable to fully comprehend some material, resulting in employees who are not as highly trained and proficient as airport management might believe. And Stastny (1999, p. 1) shares, âPeople have preferences based on individual skills and comfort levels when learning.â How might an airport design training to meet the needs of adult learners? Primarily, airport staff will want to understand the three main types of learning styles. Employees will primarily be visual learners, auditory learners, or kinesthetic learners. These styles indicate the method by which adults learn most efficiently. âAlthough everyone uses all three modes of learning, at some level people tend to rely on one mode more than anotherâ (Smith, 1995, p. 7). To create and deliver training that uniquely meets the needs of employees, airport trainers benefit from knowing not only the three main learning styles but also the primary learning style of each employee. Employees might be able to share their primary learning style with manage- ment. If not, airports may consider asking employees to complete a learning style assessment. Numerous learning style inventories are available for free online (see Appendix C). These assess- ments generally require learners to indicate the level of agreement or disagreement with various statements that reflect learning preferences. Learner Motivation Airport trainers know that employees have varying levels of motivation toward training. Some employees love learning and will take advantage of every opportunity to learn, whether being initially trained in a classroom or participating in a manufacturer demonstration of a new foreign object debris (FOD) detection system. Other employees, unfortunately, either find learning to be a challenge or are simply disinterested in training, possibly even exhibiting resistance. These employees may believe that training is a waste of their time and a burden that must be endured. Admittedly, this attitude might indicate problems with the training methods and may require the airport to redesign the training program. It might also indicate a poor trainer, in which case reevaluation of the trainer qualifications and methods being used will be required. Fortunately, âadult learners usually come with a readiness to learnâ (Holyoke and Larson, 2009, p. 14). Tapping into this âreadiness to learnâ can be a challenge, however. As part of this process, airport trainers benefit from having an employee perspective. âThe purposes of learning from C H A P T E R 3 Literature Review
18 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports the employee perspective are basically to acquire skills and knowledge to do the job and to gain promotion and advance [oneâs] careerâ (Dalton, 2016, p. 44). Making the learning process an engaging experience with clear benefits to the employee will speak directly to the employee. Airports desiring to improve attendance at training sessions and better engage with employees during training should consider various elements of the process. For example, Higgins (2006, p. 13) suggests considering (a) the size of the group in each session, (b) the suitability of the room to the presenterâs instruction style, (c) the types of audio and visual equipment needed, (d) the best use of breakout sessions, (e) the suitability of the venue for caterers to provide snacks or lunch, and (f) the recording of sessions for future training. Although no one best way exists for each of these considerations, airport management will experience benefits by producing easily accessible, engaging training that considers individual employee learning styles. In this way, airport staff may capitalize on employeesâ internal moti- vation. âInternal motivation may include improving an individualâs self-esteem, helping an individual gain self-confidence or a sense of accomplishment, garner recognition, or quite possibly lead to a better quality of lifeâ (Holyoke and Larson, 2009, p. 18). Enhancing learner motivation is not commonly a subject of discussion when airports share information on this topic, but considering learner motivation may stimulate greater employee participation and knowledge retention. Only by intentionally creating training that generates enthusiasm on the part of learners will airports improve employeesâ learning motivation. Generational Learning Preferences It is true that employees of different generations think differently, learn differently, and may even perceive reality differently. Yet these generationsâbaby boomers (born 1946â1964), Generation X (born 1965â1980), millennials (born 1981â2000), and Generation Z (born after 2000)âmust often work together in the same workplace, which creates challenges for manage- ment. As a result, airport management may consider how to collectively integrate such a diverse work group. Indeed, a cohesive and engaged group of employees representing different genera- tions is possible at airports. Table 1 presents ideas on how to manage, motivate, mix, and train these generations in the workplace. These generational attributes require airport trainers to consider generational differences when developing training programs. Holyoke and Larson (2009, p. 20) explain that âteachers and trainers of adult learners need to be aware of generational characteristics when developing lesson plans and training materials. Combining generational understanding with current adult learner theory provides a unique teaching as well as learning experience.â To summarize, âThe challenge [for airports today] . . . is how to create supportive work environments for an increasingly diverse population of multigenerational employees and work groups [to include training of these employees]â (Fredericks, 2018, p. 6). By simply considering these challenges and subsequently developing training to overcome them, airports put them- selves in a much better position to develop knowledgeable and proficient multigenerational operations employees. Initial Training, Recurrent Training, and Professional Development Many airports are active in conducting initial training, recurrent training, and professional development of employees. Initial training is that training provided to newly hired employ- ees to bring those employees up to required knowledge and skill levels. Recurrent training is
Literature Review 19 Baby boomers Place high value on relationships (face to face) and trust. Reward strong work ethic and extra effort with praise in public. Have a great deal of life experience and can serve as effective mentors to the younger generation. Use facilitated, instructor-led learning with handouts. Lecture, detailed handouts, note- taking, and writing a personal story related to content. Generation X Want control over their time and work, and the opportunity to have their voices heard. Willing to provide input for problem solving. Staying ahead of the curve is important, so provide training and professional development opportunities. Considered the âsandwich generationâ between boomers and millennials. Give them the opportunity to lead and mentor millennials while having a front-row seat to the wisdom of boomers. Include games and case studies with real-world feel. Provide clear instructions. Help them understand how training benefits them. Distance learning courses; programmed instruction done independently, at their own pace, and on their own time; detached study guides and test reviews. Millennials Thrive in a structured work environment with clear goals. They will work hard to meet expectations, but treat them like professional colleagues, not kids. Personal success is their main motivator. They need honest feedback (both good and bad). Provide a path toward self- improvement. Consider setting up a co- mentorship with millennials teaching boomers and Gen X-ers who want to learn more about technology and social media. Millennials will enjoy making a contribution, while boomers and Gen X-ers can grow these younger Highly visual and expect technology to be integrated with learning. With short attention spans, benefit from use of bite- sized learning. Simulations with immediate feedback, group activities including problem solving, creative interactive exercises, a Jeopardy-style game played with teams as a test review. Generation Manage Motivate Mix Train Examples of Training Activities employees into future leaders. Table 1. Managing, motivating, mixing, and training generations in the workplace. (continued on next page)
20 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports that training provided to current employees and is designed to maintain proficiency. Profes- sional development refers to efforts to support employees in earning industry certifications and continuing education. As specified in Part 139, both initial and recurrent training are required for personnel who access movement and safety areas and who perform duties in compliance with the Airport Certification Manual. Even when FAA does not require training, âin order for an organization to maintain a higher workforce standard, management should invest in developing training programs that help employees to become more efficient and productiveâ (Stastny, 1999, p. 1). Stambaugh et al. (2014, p. 40) state, âA fundamental step to establishing a better operating team is training.â New employees may have little to no airport operations experience or may bring years of experience from another airport. Although different levels of training would be appropriate depending on new hiresâ existing knowledge and skills, considerations in training new employees include (a) providing electronic recordings of previous training sessions, (b) providing written training materials as additional resources, (c) encouraging experienced personnel to train new employees, and (d) holding recurrent in-service training sessions in which new employees are invited to participate (Higgins, 2006, p. 32). Depending on employee turnover, airports may conduct varying degrees of initial training. Airports with low turnover may rarely conduct initial training, whereas airports with significant turnover will conduct initial training on a regular basis. Initial training is designed to train new employees on airport-specific knowledge and skill areas. All employees, regardless of turnover, will need recurrent training. FAA specifies areas of recurrent training; however, even for nonâPart 139 airports, recurrent training is important to maintain employee proficiency and introduce new concepts. âTraining and education are not Generation Manage Motivate Mix Train Examples of Training Activities Generation Z Need support to understand corporate culture and how to best fit in. Communicating via text is the norm; email is considered old school. Yet will appreciate an informal meeting over coffee. Perks, such as time off, flexible hours, free coffee/food, gym membership, grocery delivery, gift cards, and so on. Some of these perks are expected regardless of personal performance. Eager to contribute, but likely have unrealistic expectations regarding pay, hours, and general level of effort required to complete a task/project. Millennials can be tapped to mentor this youngest generation on work ethic, workplace norms, tools of the trade, and so on. Benefit from taking part in the training process, to include role play, creating videos, integrating social media, and so on. Short attention spans and very accustomed to digital exploration and training methods, such as online training. Computer-based training, online courses, role play scenarios, social mediaâbased training, videos, opportunities to search the Internet for answers to training questions. Sources: Adapted from Johnson and Romanello, 2005; Guidestone Financial Resources, 2014; McPheat, n.d. Table 1. (Continued).
Literature Review 21 one-time activities that organizations do, but rather must be part of an ongoing process that has management commitment and emphasisâ (Quilty, 2003, p. 9). This ongoing training becomes part of the culture of the operations department. Different than initial training, which often introduces initial concepts to make sure employ- ees are fully knowledgeable of the airport environment and their responsibilities as operations employees, recurrent training of experienced employees is both a review of current knowledge and an introduction of new concepts. In recurrent training for employees, the trainer should (a) emphasize how to identify and solve problems, rather than always presenting specific problems that arise; (b) place the ultimate responsibility for learning on the individual; and (c) make sure that the people who will learn together share a common vocabulary, are trained to use the same analytical tools, and have communication channels available so that they can work harmoniously with other people or teams within the airport organization (Higgins, 2006, p. 34). It is important for airports to recognize the value of professional development of their employees. Encouraging employees to pursue industry certifications and continuing education creates a more rewarding work environment and may allow employees to achieve personal goals as well. For those with an eye on career growth, training, in a professional development sense, should be a prerequisite. The National Business Aviation Association states, âTraining, whether formal or informal, should always be required to move upâ (NBAA, 2017, p. 15). Training Needs Assessment The first step in any training effort involves conducting a needs assessment. A training need exists when employee performance or behavior does not meet the requirements of the position. By understanding the training needs of employees, airports are in a better position to design effective training programs. See Appendix D for more discussion of conducting a training needs assessment. The training needs assessment generally has two phases. First, airports perform a train- ing needs assessment to determine the degree that training is needed overall for the airport operations department. This overall assessment includes an understanding of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of the various operations positions. It will support overall development of an operations employee training program. Second, airports conduct a training needs assess- ment of individual employees, which will determine the specific training required by employees (most often newly hired employees). When conducting a needs assessment related to the need for an airport operations training program, airports first consider FAA requirements, which certainly create a need. For those airports not required to comply with FAA training requirements, such as nonâPart 139â certificated airports, the training needs assessment will consider the airportâs needs. âPerform- ing an assessment to determine the actual needs of the group to be trained is the first step in developing an effective training program and will serve as the foundation for the entire training effortâ (Higgins, 2006, p. 4). Questions airport staff might ask include the following: What kind of training should we provide? How often should we train? And how should we carry out the training? Whichever method an airport uses to assess training needs, the process can be time- consuming. For this reason, the tendency may be to avoid conducting a needs assessment or attempting to shortcut this first step. By taking the time to assess at the department and indi- vidual employee levels, however, airports can tailor training to meet department needs and the needs of individual employees, creating more effective transfer of knowledge and development
22 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports of skills and abilities. More effective training creates a more highly functioning operations department, which produces benefits not only for the airport but also for myriad stakeholders, such as airlines, general aviation (GA) operators, TSA, and others. Training Curriculum Design Once the airport identifies a training need, it develops the curriculum for the training. Regarding airport operations training specifically, Cruz (1992, p. 1) notes: Airside Operations personnel need a comprehensive training program that details requirements expected of them to become proficient and qualified under an Airportâs Certification Manual (ACM). When training guidelines are established, they should provide an overall program to expose Airside personnel to their daily responsibilities and demands of working in a stressful situation. Despite the tendency to develop a more general airport operations training program, the air- port will need to consider individual employee training needs as well. This individual focus may require adaptation of the training program to allow more training for certain employeesâfor example, those with less airport operations experience. âIt is important to remember . . . the amount of time it requires to bring an individual on line is directly related to his/her background as well as the objectives of the training programâ (McElvaney, 1990, p. 7). The curriculum design process has five phases. First, the analysis phase requires consider- ation of job or task requirements and subject knowledge requirements. Fully understanding the positions held by personnel to be trained allows the airport to develop appropriate training to meet the needs of those employees. Second, the actual design of training requires establishing desired skill levels for the areas determined during the analysis phase. Third, once a design for the training curriculum is in mind, development of the training curriculum begins. Numerous cloud-based platforms are now available that allow for the development of quality training. Fourth, once the training curriculum has been developed, implementation of the training occurs. Last, testing and evaluation of the training occurs. Feedback from learners is an impor- tant aspect of this final phase. More detail on each of these phases is presented in Appendix B. Training Materials Airports deliver training in a variety of ways. Training materials are often used to supplement traditional training delivery methods. Although classroom training might consist of lectures and PowerPoint presentations, for example, employees benefit from having access to training materials. At a minimum, such access might be in the form of handouts of the PowerPoint presentations. Preferably, âa substantial amount of thought should be devoted to determining the best way to provide cost-effective training materials that participants will keep for later follow-up training opportunitiesâ (Higgins, 2006, p. 14). These materials serve as a useful refer- ence that employees may access at a later time, thereby extending the benefits of the training. Airports have learned that training materials are most useful for training purposes if employees actually use themâduring training, later as a reference, or both. Higgins (2006, p. 14) states the following: The quality of the materials provided to participants sends a nonverbal message about how highly the airport values the materials it provides to its employees. It is best to avoid hastily-copied materials that are held together by staple or paper clip. A better approach is to put the materials in an inexpensive three- ring or spiral binder or in a booklet. Providing the materials and handouts electronically is also a good way to give participants ready and easy access to the training materials.
Literature Review 23 Training materials can be provided by the airport to the employees or can be developed by the employees to aid their learning. Examples of training materials or training aids provided by the airport include workbooks, copies of PowerPoint slides, and a 5-in. diameter circle with 3-in. measurement and 45-degree angle to use in spall assessment. Examples of training aids devel- oped by employees include flash cards (electronic or paper), diagrams, video (often recorded using a smartphone), and pamphlets. Training aids often become job aids once training is complete. Training materials and aids increase employee comprehension and build employee skill proficiency. According to the literature, no one format is best for training materials. Airports use a variety of formats, which will differ among airports and possibly even among similar employee groups at the same airport. Employees benefit when airport staff take a long-term view of training, realizing that new knowledge or new skills are stronger when reinforced by training materials. Training Manual By developing a training manual, airports can standardize training so different trainers follow the same process. McElvaney (1990, p. 14) states, âAn aspect of any training program which often means success or failure is the amount of structure in the program.â This structure is often enabled with the development of a training manual. And Saracco (1998, p. 13) says, âThe effectiveness of a training program can be greatly increased with the use of a manual.â Thus, âeach Airside Operations Department should develop a training manualâ (Cruz, 1992, p. 3). Although âa written training manual is just one component of the overall training program,â it is an important component nonetheless (Beckman, 1993, p. 10). The training manual may be in electronic format or on paper. With an electronic version, the training manual can be placed on the airport intranet site and made available to employees. Linking an employeeâs electronic training file to specific sections within the training manual allows employees and their supervisors to quickly determine needed training and the manner in which to complete the training. Similar to, for example, a ground vehicle operations training manual, an airport operations training manual will include airport-specific knowledge areas for which airport operations personnel are responsible. Examples of information to be included in an operations training manual include the following: â¢ Chains of command â¢ Examples of duties â¢ Policies and procedures â¢ Shift change procedures â¢ Company radio malfunction procedures â¢ Resource materials â¢ Airport rules and regulations â¢ Reports and work orders â¢ Part 139 requirements â¢ Part 1542 requirements â¢ Other regulatory requirements (such as Part 77) â¢ Documentation practices â¢ Communications â¢ Snow plan â¢ Weather information and examples
24 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports â¢ Terminal issues and information â¢ Federal inspection station requirements â¢ Safety issues and information â¢ Police and security requirements and response â¢ ARFF requirements and response â¢ Fire department requirements and response â¢ Airfield issues and information â¢ Airfield lighting information â¢ NAVAID information â¢ Approach information â¢ FAA responsibilities and information â¢ Noise abatement procedures and information â¢ Airport emergency response information â¢ Accident/incident reporting procedures â¢ Aircraft type and verbiage glossary â¢ Airport statistics â¢ Radio procedures â¢ Vehicle inspection procedures (Beckman, 1993, p. 11) Small airports may also include elements such as heavy equipment operation, landscaping or mowing, snow removal, aircraft fueling, aircraft towing, and painting. The operations training manual will reflect areas of responsibility for operations personnel, resulting in a unique operations training manual for each airport. When the operations training manual includes procedures that expand on situations not addressed by the Airport Certification Manual, employees will develop a greater perspective of the airport and be more prepared to address nonroutine situations. Training Budgets As all airports fully understand, personnel training requires a financial investment. In simplistic terms, training costs money. Cost is a valid concern, especially among small air- ports with limited resources. â[Airport] administration will be concerned not only with the success of the program, but with the costâ (Saracco, 1998, p. 11). Some airports may believe that personnel training is an area in which to conserve resources, but this belief can lead to unintended consequences, such as the negative impact of poorly trained personnel on airport safety. âAn Operations Training Program will not survive unless the Administration can see the relevance of the program,â which requires dedicating funds to training (Saracco, 1998, p. 11). This resource commitment, however insignificant, must be sufficient to meet training objec- tives and ensure properly trained personnel. Airport directors who realize that employees are a valuable human asset are more likely to invest in the training and development of this human asset. Small airports with limited resources may be unable to dedicate extensive resources to employee training. Fortunately, effective employee training programs can be developed on a limited budget. âBy using existing resources, the [training] program can be developed at little or no cost. It may take considerable time, but little expenseâ (Smith, 1995, p. 12). Small airports benefit by thinking outside the box in creating cost-effective training solutions. For example, several third-party vendors have developed off-the-shelf training programs for airports. Industry associations and government agencies have also made training resources available to airports. For example, AAAEâs Airport News and Training Network (ANTN) Digicast has made streamlining training videos possible with a subscription. Additionally, Boeing has
Literature Review 25 an airport compatibility website with extensive aircraft-specific information. Various software solutions are available to both deliver employee training (via e-learning content) and track employee training. Electronic training logs greatly enhance the efficiency of tracking initial and recurrent training for employees. Reminders can be set to automatically remind employees of needed training. Airports may also decide to produce an airport-specific video for a more custom approach. Even so, âbefore an airport decides to custom produce a video, management should determine if an existing âoff-the-shelfâ video will be suitable for the training program goalsâ (Stastny, 1999, p. 6). If currently available videos donât meet its needs, an airport may decide to produce videos in-house. âAirports deciding to partially produce a small budget, amateur production using in-house video camera equipment and resources could combine the footage filmed by the air- port staff to complete production in the appropriate . . . format in a professional editing suiteâ (Stastny, 1999, p. 7). Additionally, industry vendors, such as AAAE, can be contracted to create airport-specific training videos. Regardless of how videos and other training materials are produced and how training is con- ducted, the important consideration for airports is to include a training line item in the budget to provide needed funds to adequately train airport operations personnel. Chapter 4 provides the average training budget per operations employee, offering insight into the industryâs average amount of training funds budgeted per operations employee. Training Timelines Effective training programs are built with a specific training timeline in mind. In other words, how many hours, weeks, or months are required for this employee to become profi- cient in all required topic areas? âEstablishing a training timeline establishes goals for both the trainee and the person responsible for conducting the trainingâ (Smith, 1995. p. 5). In reality, âestablishing how long it takes to train someone should be based on experience, nature of the task, and guidelines set forth in the formal training planâ (Smith, 1995, p. 7). It considers the amount of time required not only to on-board a newly hired employee but also to recurrently train current employees. Scheduling training around shift work, for example, makes develop- ment of a training timeline important. Experience has shown that employees with some airport experience will require less extensive training than new employees without such experience. âA background in aviation does two things: (a) it shows that the trainee has some idea of what he is âgetting intoâ and (b) the amount of time required to train an individual in the basics of airport operations is usually reducedâ (McElvaney, 1990, p. 7). It is useful to assess the abilities of new employees, even those with an aviation background. This assessment is often carried out with a written test and observable behavior (such as driving). Assessing employees early allows for development of a comprehen- sive training program suited to their level. Similar to âjust-in-time inventory,â a concept of âjust-in-time trainingâ means meeting employees where they are and providing training appro- priate to their level of knowledge and experience. Developing training from the employeeâs perspective ensures a more productive and efficient training approach. Although developing completion timelines for each specific training task or topic is beneficial, a total amount of time for training is also needed. âAlthough some training may be accom- plished in one, two, or more total hours, by identifying it based on the number of days, and by the point in time that training is scheduled to begin, it provides a means to establish a total timeline for completion of all trainingâ (Smith, 1995, p. 7). Doing so also aids with scheduling of employees for training and ensuring sufficient coverage of operations shifts.
26 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports As previously discussed, all employees learn differently. âConsideration of how adults learn should be given when developing the training timelineâ (Smith, 1995, p. 7). This consider- ation requires some flexibility in the training timeline. Additionally, learnersâ attention spans are limited, necessitating frequent breaks. âWhen a training timeline is developed, it should be noted that this timeline should not be inelastic. It should be somewhat flexible. Some trainees may complete some tasks sooner than others, while some trainees may take a little longerâ (Smith, 1995, p. 7). Developing a structured training timeline without consideration of indi- vidual employees may at first seem more efficient for the trainer, but it may create a less efficient training program, resulting in minimally trained employees. Consider also that a training session is more effective when of a reasonable duration and need not be a day-long session. Brief training sessions will better hold employee attention and also have minimal impact on scheduled shifts and time away from tasks. Further, to accommodate all employees and in consideration of the 24/7 airport environment, a training schedule is best when planned a year in advance to allow employees to schedule vacation leave and conference attendance around the training. This planning ensures that employees on all shifts have an equal opportunity to be trained. Determining completion of training is also important to consider. âThe end of the training period is when the trainee has successfully completed all required checklist items and has per- formed duties on a solo basisâ (Cruz, 1992, p. 21). Although the timeline to become proficient in each of the required areas may be different for each employee, employees should not per- ceive achieving proficiency to be a race. True, employees should be motivated to become fully proficient in their position (and thus complete training) within a reasonable period of time; however, fast-tracking training in any of the required areas may lead to less than preferred com- prehension and underprepared employees. It is most useful to develop a required minimum amount of time on each required topic area, rather than a maximum amount of time. Benefits and Disadvantages of Training High-performing organizations recognize the value of employee training. Airports have learned that employee training produces numerous benefits. Studies have shown that trained employees are (a) more productive, (b) more satisfied, (c) more motivated, (d) better able to cope with demands and pressures of the workplace, (e) safer, and (f) able to exercise better judgment and decision making (Baun and Scott, 2010; Ng and Dastmalchian, 2011). Airports that invest in providing high levels of training also experience less turnover of employees. These benefits are highly valued by airports. Trained employees are effective employees. Iekel (n.d., p. 22) states the following: The manager will be provided with skilled employees who can be cross-utilized in every condition covered by their job classification. He will be provided with a highly motivated and productive workforce who will significantly contribute to the goals of the organization. He can go home at night reasonably assured that the situation is âwell in hand.â He can go to work in the morning assured that work is in progress. Saracco (1998, p. 11) agrees: A successful training program will increase the productivity of the Operations Departmentâs personnel. This will result in a reduction of operating costs. An adequately trained department will also decrease the hidden costs related to litigation resulting from actions taken during an incident or accident on airport property. Although difficult to quantify, the benefit of reduced litigation costs is an indirect benefit of properly trained personnel.
Literature Review 27 In the skill-derived role of airport operations, on-the-job training is commonplace. For air- ports underestimating the value of on-the-job training, Sree and Basariya (2019, p. 213) point to several benefits, including (a) low-cost training that shares the knowledge of current working employees with a new generation of workers, (b) comfort of trainees in a familiar work environ- ment, (c) flexible training method, and (d) immediate feedback on traineesâ performance. In addition to these benefits, employees generally prefer on-the-job training as a learning method. Even with these clear benefits, on-the-job training has some disadvantages. They include (a) poor quality of training if the trainer is not skilled at training others, (b) disinterest of the trainer for fear of having his or her work reassigned, (c) disruption of training if the trainer has other responsibilities, (d) lack of time for employees to practice, and (e) effect of familiarity of the workplace on traineesâ concentration (Sree and Basariya, 2019, p. 213). Airports will need to weigh these disadvantages, compared with the benefits, to determine the degree of on-the- job training to provide. Training operations employees can be challenging. At small airports without sufficient resources, personnel within the organization who frequently do not have a background in education or training methods conduct much of the required training on a piecemeal or as needed basis. This circumstance may result in a poor or ineffective training process because successfully proven training and education procedures are not used. (Quilty, 2003, p. 6) This can have long-term impacts on the airport and the quality of services for users. Quilty (2003, p. 6) explains, âThe improper or nonexistent training and education of airport person- nel is often identified as one of the major factors that contribute to the shortcomings of airport operations.â Training Methods The literature suggests that the use of effective training techniques can positively affect âteam performance, teamwork, and emergent cognitive states that support teamworkâ (Littlepage et al., 2016, p. 1277). Research by Littlepage et al. (2016, p. 1286) provides evidence âthat a multi faceted training program that features high-fidelity team simulations can lead to enhanced teamwork, transactive memory, and enhanced team performance.â Their finding has implications for the training of entry-level airport operations employees. âEntry-level aviation professionals can benefit from task-relevant training involving collaboration among aviation specializationsâ (Littlepage et al., 2016, p. 1286). In reality, the methods in use by airports for training airport operations personnel vary widely. Saracco (1998, p. 29) explains, âThe preparation of an employee for a position in an Airport Operations Department is a huge undertaking. There is no industry standard for train- ing, and the factors of each facility vary greatly.â This lack of an industry standard can be a significant obstacle for some airports in their attempt to develop effective training programs. According to Saracco (1998, p. 1), there are several reasons why no industry standard exists for airport operations training. First, every airfield is unique, which presents a challenge to the adoption of an industrywide standard training curriculum. Second, there is wide variation in the degree of experience of new airport operations employees. Third, technology evolves quickly, making it difficult to determine what common information will be needed for the safe and efficient operations of an individual airfield. Even without industry standards, this study reveals common practices (presented in Chap- ter 4 of this report). Airports can choose from a number of innovative training methods. Some
28 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports options include (a) simulation exercises, (b) equipment-related training, (c) interactive com- puter training, and (d) confrontation management exercises. For example, employees can be trained on a software platform that supports airfield condition reporting, maintenance work orders, weather forecasting, friction testing, and aircraft gate scheduling. With no one best way to train, âa combination of these methods will probably be necessary to provide the most thorough and complete training programâ (Saracco, 1998, p. 10). Airports may benefit from experimenting with new training methods to reach employees in different ways. Given the different generations, learning styles, and motivations of employees, innova- tions in training methods might be overdue for an airport. Training Records FAA, through 14 CFR Part 139.301, requires certificated airports to maintain training records of personnel performing functions in support of Part 139 compliance, to include oper- ations personnel, emergency personnel, and fueling personnel. Even airports not certificated by Part 139 benefit from maintaining records of employee training. As Saracco (1998, p. 13) explains, âMaintaining records of the training program and its participants is critical to the entire program.â Consider that âa well-documented training program in place may assist management personnel in making decisions for future employee assignmentsâ (Smith, 1995, p. 3). However they are maintained, âtraining records must be consistent, unbiased, and pro- vide an accurate record for all departmental employeesâ (Saracco, 1998, p. 13). Klein (2001, p. 6) explains as follows: The documentation of participants is a key element to the success of any training. Establish a central location that is easily accessible where all participants can register for the training. Once a person registers, class-related material should be processed before the first day of training. On the first day of instruction, the participants should sign in and pick up all materials. This will ensure accountability for those who do not show up or register on the first day of class. A formal class registration should be completed once the class is over. This registration will be the final list of all employees who have completed the training. The airport can use this list to enforce rules and regulations for anyone who has not attended. Many airports maintain training records in an electronic database, which enhances efficiency, provides redundancy, and is readily searchable for both specific employees and specific training components. Secure cloud-based record retention enhances accessibility for authorized users. âRecordkeeping procedures can be similar to those used for any security or driverâs training program. Entering the training records into an employee database will allow all information to be stored in one central locationâ (Klein, 2001, p. 6). If an electronic database is not available to an airport, the airport can complete paper logs of training records and then archive them for storage. These records should be retained as required by FAA, and potentially longer if the airport so desires (Klein, 2001). See Figure 4 for an FAA-provided sample training log. Klein (2001, p. 6) notes that records also allow an airport to recognize employees for com- pleted training: Employees attending the training should receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the training. The original registration will allow you to complete the certificates before the training but anyone who registers on the first day of class will receive a certificate one or two days after the session. Another way to identify attendance is to issue a sticker or card that can be placed on the airport identification badge. In this way, the airport can also identify employees who have not completed required training or are overdue for said training (Klein, 2001).
Literature Review 29 Trainer Qualifications Airport trainers throughout the country have varying levels of qualifications. Some trainers have extensive academic qualifications, including a masterâs degree in learning or instructional technology, for example. Some have extensive industry experience and numerous years of expe- rience as an airport trainer. Still others have minimal experience or have had little education on how to effectively train, which may be the case if airports rotate senior operations staff into the training role. The quality of training is directly related to the qualifications of the trainer. As Cruz (1992, p. 6) explains, the trainer should be an experienced operations employee qualified in training others: The trainee should be assigned a trainer; a person that is well seasoned and versed on the respon- sibilities of Airside operations. Normally, a trainer should have at least a year of experience before he or she is allowed to train another person. A one-year cycle allows a person to go through numerous necessary incidents, planning and coordination meetings, and briefings to feel comfortable with their own ability to make sound decisions. The importance of requiring trainers to have a minimum level of airport operations experi- ence cannot be overstated. Such a level of experience produces benefits, including that it â(a) maximizes training program scenarios, (b) minimizes wasting of time in the program, and (c) affords the trainer an opportunity to interact with the trainee in a positive wayâ (Cruz, 1992, p. 24). Airports with sufficient resources may designate one individual as the trainer. Other airports may rotate training responsibilities among experienced employees. Although neither arrange- ment is necessarily wrong, Higgins (2006, p. 11) favors having a designated trainer: The director must identify someone who is in a position of authority that has the ability to teach, either someone from a leadership position at the airport or a consultant. It is simply not possible for someone who has not had the experience in one of these areas to command the respect and attention for this type of training. The director also has to consider the cost of retaining a consultant versus that of having someone from senior leadership facilitate the workshop. Source: FAA. Figure 4. Sample training log.
30 Airport Operations Training at Small Airports In addition to ensuring that a qualified trainer delivers the training, some airports have a designated committee to oversee training of operations personnel. By designating an indi- vidual or committee to maintain responsibility for training and training records, these airports ensure training oversight, thus providing some quality control to the training of operations employees. Training Assessment Gauging the effectiveness of an airport operations training program requires regular assess- ment. Effectiveness can be determined by assessing the trainer as well as by assessing the learner. In other words, the assessment answers two questions: Is the trainer performing well in terms of delivery of content and engaging with learners? And is the learner meeting the specified learning outcomes? Employees should be provided the opportunity to give feedback about the trainer. Evaluat- ing the trainerâs knowledge, organization, and delivery of content, as well as the usefulness of the training, will inform airport management as to the quality of training. Additionally, trainer assessment may be conducted by a training officer or supervisor capable of evaluating the per- formance of the trainer. To conduct an effective assessment, this training officer needs to have working knowledge of the airfield and responsibilities of the position. Often, this person will be a supervisor with significant experience in airport operations. Assessment also requires an objective evaluation of the degree to which training goals are being met. By assessing the learner, the airport can determine whether employee knowledge and skills are being enhanced as intended. âThe best gauge of success is the competency of the personnel in the programâ (Saracco, 1998, p. 12). This evaluation will require assessments such as written tests and field tests. âA variety of tests can be used to evaluate the employeeâs progress. Written tests and demonstrations of skill can assess the individualâs competency, as can drillsâ (Saracco, 1998, p. 12). To ensure thorough and ongoing evaluation of training, multiple assess- ments may be used. Proof of Training Competency and Completion In an effort to verify competency and assess learning, an exam is typically administered to employees. âAn exam is an excellent method of reviewing the essentials of Airside training and legitimizes the process of Training Guidelines for Airside Operations personnelâ (Cruz, 1992, p. 21). This is an important part of the assessment process. Once employees successfully complete the exam, they may receive a proof of training com- petency or completion of training certificate. âProfessional competence is obtained when knowledge is acquired through training and education efforts, skills are developed through practice and experience, and there is a continuous application and evaluation of these knowl- edge and skills as they apply to the work environmentâ (Quilty, 2003, pp. 12â13). Airports may award training completion certificates or may support employees in obtaining industry certifications. The key is to verify competency. To avoid taking a short-term view of training, airports also need to assess employee com- petency 30, 60, and 90 days after completion of training. In other words, it is important that airports determine if employee training is working in the long term. Long-term effectiveness of training can be determined by checking in with each employeeâs supervisor at predetermined intervals. If employees are not retaining content, reevaluation of the training methodology is necessary to determine if the training program meets the long-term training needs of the air- port. If not, revising the training program is appropriate.