From Zoom to Pilot Training: How eLearning Took Off
- Advanced Aircrew Academy
Pilots have a thread of adventure that connects heart to brain to soul. That thread creates a Bermuda Triangle of income, stability, and calm (in that it all disappears), but it also manifests into an independent personality. Pilots tend to be self-powered, self-guided, and see the world through the eyes of their career. They want to be in control of their environment which gives the illusion of independence, but the pandemic showed us all what the real story is: We all have a complete and utter need for social connection, even FAA personnel, and the internet has created a variety of solutions.
While the momentum of using online platforms to create connections was already at terminal velocity, the pandemic sent us into Mach speed. We’ve come to realize that technology can enhance our social connections, but never replace it. There is a weight and balance formula, but each person's balance is unique. The teeter totter of finding balance is up to you.
Early Days of the Internet
We must look back to appreciate how we got here. The concept of the internet was a government program that began as a method for scientists and researchers to communicate and share data. What began as a simple platform to share technical information fifty years ago is now regularly used by over 4.33 billion active "internet users", formerly known as people. Early Usernet newsgroups provided image sharing with narrow bandwidth in the early 1990s. In the subtext of social connections, a study by Carnegie Mellon University claimed that by 1994, 83.5% of the images on Usenet were pornographic, but that depends on your definition.
By 1990, the floodgates had been opened for the availability of public access to the World Wide Web which, as of 2020, now has six billion indexed web pages. The number is astounding, but we are just now harnessing its power. It is opening doorways to an unlimited wealth of knowledge, information, and educational resources.
The internet has changed every aspect of our lives and all these changes carry their own negative or positive change. Depending on your perspective, the internet has improved communication while others see us turning into anti-social screen addicts. The internet has its flaws, but it is giving everyone an opportunity to learn in more ways with the flexibility to change with the environment and make us more prepared for current challenges—which is a perfect platform to teach the everchanging technology, rules, and regulations of aviation.
Pilot lounge debates in the 1990s regarding the future of aviation centered around if the internet and virtual conferences would replace or reduce the need for travel and decrease demand for aircraft and pilots. Corporate conference rooms were being outfitted with new technology that allowed for people thousands of miles away to virtually be in the same room. That early technology did not shift the demand needle for aviation.
Virtual Meeting Technology for Aviation
Fast forward to 2020 and the ease and accessibility of virtual meeting technology allows even grandpa and grandma to Zoom, Google Meet, or have a Teams chat, essentially a forced year experiment to accelerate the adoption of virtual meetings. Now that the barriers of hosting a virtual meeting have largely been eliminated, will that have a long-term effect on demand for aviation? Based on our experience with this year's virtual aviation conferences, there is still a need and desire to be face-to-face for certain things. We will continue to leverage the new technology to replace some phone calls and emails, but we are eager to travel again.
The aviation world mourned the loss of our EAA AirVenture week at Oshkosh, Sun n Fun 2019 and the NBAA's Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA | BACE). We sighed when traditional social events were moved to an online virtual conference platform because we knew in our hearts it's not about the free swag; it's about seeing the airplanes, shaking hands with current and future clients, sharing stories, and seeing the reactions. Moving a convention to an online platform reenforced and amplified our loss of human connection. We attended online, but our bandwidth is low for future online conventions. Without the people, it's just a list of advertisers. But another sector has emerged with strength and momentum.
Shift to Online eLearning
The spotlight shining from the depths of the pandemic darkness is the shift to online eLearning. It connects users to knowledge. Aviation is the quintessential market sector that can have the perfect balance of training; online and in the simulator/airplane.
Pilots are required to have a balance between hands-on training in the airplane/simulator and ground training. Advanced Aircrew Academy has been providing eLearning for flight departments for 15 years and to over 500 flight departments. eLearning allows pilots to complete their Initial or Recurrent ground training at their convenience instead of pulling them off the flight line for days off for recurrent ground training and testing. It can also fill in some training gaps not covered in your aircraft-specific training program for everyone in your flight department including flight/cabin attendants, mechanics, scheduler/dispatch, and administrative team.
Aircrew Academy's superior and customized eLearning content is the result of our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and frequent updates. Each of our eLearning modules has an industry expert responsible for developing and maintaining the training material. Our SMEs are active business aviation pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants. They regularly attend industry Safety Standdowns, are members of FAA/Industry working groups and NBAA committees, and are subscribed to blogs, journals, and other publications to stay on top of what's relevant and changing in the industry. Our SMEs make updates to the courseware weekly while you can measure our competitor's frequency of updates to eLearning content in years.
Whether you're operating Part 91 (including if you choose to conform to industry best practices like IS-BAO or BASC), 125 or 135, we have a complete line of modules available to meet your training needs. Just a few of our 75+ topics include: Emergency Procedures, Aircraft Surface Contamination / Winter Operations, Safety Management Systems (SMS), Dangerous Goods / Hazardous Materials, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), International Procedures, Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT), Crew Resource Management (CRM), High Altitude Operations, RVSM, ADS-B, TSA Security, CPDLC / PBCS, Electronic Flight Bag, FAR/AIM Review and Fatigue Management.
History.com Editors. (Oct, 2019) History. The Invention of the Internet. Retrieved 1/5/21
Rimm, M. 1996. Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway. A Survey of 914,410 images. Carnegie Mellon University.
Ying, L. 2019. 10 Internet Statistics Every Marketer Should Know in 2021. Oberlo. Retrieved 1/7/21