It’s no secret that I as a flight attendant have to be recertified with a new competency card every 12 months. Every country in the world requires flight attendants complete an annual training program. At my airline, requalification consists of three parts.
(Please note; as always; the details of this article have been altered for the safety, security, and privacy of my airline)
1st part : pre-class work book
It is emailed to us a few months before the actual training class. The workbook consists of 100 multiple choice questions and must be completed prior to the start of class. With every answer you also have to include a reference to our Flight Attendant Manual with the chapter and page number where the exact answer can be found. The questions aren’t all that hard, since we have the whole manual memorized, it’s just time consuming searching for all those references. That swhy they give you a few months to do it. Although I usually just sit down a week or so before class and power through it in about 6 – 8 hours.
Here’s an example question of what you might see in the workbook:
The following are all fire prevention practices, except?
a. Strictly enforce no smoking regulations
b. Investigate any unusual smoke, fumes or odours in the cabin or lavatory upon
completion of service related duties
c. Ensure cabin floors are kept free of paper
d. Be alert to circuit breakers that may have popped and the cause of it
The answer in this case is “B” because 1) safety and security come before service, and 2) if you’re investigating smoke, you’re no longer preventing fire. You’re fighting it.
2nd part : training is the classroom work and in class drills
This is a regular 9 – 5 work day in a classroom. The first thing we do is hand in our workbooks to be marked. Everyone is required to get 90% or higher to pass. Once marked, we go over all the incorrect answers as a class so that everyone has been orally corrected to 100%.
After that, most of the day is spent going over study material, hazardous goods laws, and reviewing all the key points of our Manuals. The day ends with another 100 question exam where once again, you need to get 90%+ to pass. We’ll go over the incorrect questions again as a class to be orally corrected to 100%.
Finally, to end the day we’ll do some basic drills. We need to demonstrate how to put on the life jackets on ourselves, children, and infants. We show how to use the fire extinguishers, various oxygen bottles, breathing equipment, etc.
All the drills are exams as well. We have to demonstrate how to use each piece of equipment without making any more than 1 mistake. If we do make a mistake they’ll let us know after what we did wrong.
3rd part : the evacuation drills
These are the same ones we did in initial training, which I wrote about here. There was only one difference. This year the airline decided that it would be a good idea to take the soon to be upgraded Flight Attendants and put them in the Cabin Manager role so they could get a better idea of what was included in their new roles. Unfortunately there were only a couple upgrades this year, so the airline decided that “Flight Attendants who applied for the upgrade, but were unable to receive it due to the lack of available spots will be filling a Cabin Manager role in this years Hunger Games evacuation drills.” Apparently I would have received the upgrade this year if there had been room for me because I was assigned the in charge position. Hurray for small victories.
My group was last for the group evacuation drills. Our Scenario? “The Bomb Threat” Due to the security aspects of this scenario, I cannot disclose most of how we handled this situation. What I can say is this:
During the “flight” we received a bomb threat. The pilot called the CM (That’s me) to the flight deck and gave me my orders. We were to search the entire aircraft, including passengers and their bags. If a bomb was found, we’d take the details of it to the flight deck and get further instructions at that time. We were not to tell any passengers what we were looking for. Once I left the flight deck I immediately briefed my crew members.
During our search, we did find the “Bomb” (It was a paper shopping bag with a cartoon bomb drawn on it). I took down all it’s details and then returned to the flight deck, where the pilot gave me a fresh set of instructions.We’d be making an emergency landing immediately. We would be on the ground in 15 minutes. Do an emergency demo for the passengers. The signal to start your shouted commands will be “Brace!” once on the ground will be doing a rapid deplanement unless an evacuation is necessary. I’ll give you the appropriate signal at that time.
I returned to the cabin and briefed my crew. We performed our demos, and then took out jump seats. We began our shouted commands once we received the “Brace” signal. Once we “Landed” we performed a rapid deplanement and got everyone off the plane via the main entry door as quickly as possible.
It was the most time consuming and detailed scenario of the night. However I felt it was also one of the best executed. I was very proud of my team, because we all knew our stuff and we all made each other look good.
Depending on the year, there may be some extra components to requalification. For example, this fall I will be due to recertify my firefighting qualification. I’ll have to go into a simulator to put out live fires in a mock aircraft cabin. (This is my favourite one! Although I certainly hope I never have to use it in real life). Other components include first aid and dangerous goods. Those are much more boring to do, but equally as important.