The Emirates Airline was established in 1985. The Royal Family of Dubai was instrumental in founding the airline. The continuous growth and success of the company has made it become the leading airline in Middle East and Gulf Region. It is also among the top ten airlines worldwide in terms of sales and commuters (Airliner World, 2010). It operates in more than a hundred global destinations in sixty-five countries. The company conducts business in a competitive industry.
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Despite the airline industry gaining steady growth in the last three decades, it faces persistent commercial and other business encounters. There has been rapid entry of competitors across the globe. This has made the industry to be more competitive. The airline faces such cutthroat competition from Etihad and other local and international airlines. The severe rise in prices of fuel disrupts operations yet the companies cannot increase ticket prices due to the entry of low-cost competitors. However, Emirates falls among the rare corporations that have been able to be profitable especially during the 2008/2009 downturn (Airliner World, 2010).
The company broke-even in 2011. Emirates Air Company is globally renowned for its superior facilities. It is famous for the efficiency of its operations. This report examines the performance management system of Emirates Airline with regard to its pilots. Piloting airlines is essential for global economy albeit with immense pressure on individual pilots.
Airline pilots have a desirable job. This includes flying large planes full of passengers around the world. To attain this level of an occupation, it takes absolute effort physically and psychologically. Getting a license to fly large aircrafts is challenging let alone getting a job with a global airline such as Emirates. Flight companies have good and bad times and so do pilot who often find themselves on the firing line. However, once a pilot has created seniority and occupational stability, the reward is awesome. These rewards come with immense responsibilities. Among these responsibilities is the necessity to make serious judgments in seconds (Flin & Martin, 2001).
The core duty of pilots is to fly an aircraft carefully. However, pilots perform many more duties than flying. In the case of Emirates’ pilots, a usual day begins with the pilot utilizing his computer skills. This is important for checking weather and flying plans. The aircraft ought to be pre-flighted. He then reviews all the logs. Once through, he overlooks the pushback from the hangar and eventually minicab to the airstrip. During the flight, pilots must keep in touch with the company and the United Arabs Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). Concurrently, the pilot must perform the normal flying procedures as well as monitor all the craft systems (Flin & Martin, 2001). Emirates being a global airline require pilots to work for protracted hours and bizarre shifts.
The pilots perform slightly different tasks compared to airline captains and First officers. The captains are in charge of over-seas flights. They are assisted by first officers and pilots. They are in charge of the larger part of a flight and the operating equipment. The programs and initiatives by the airline are meant to check whether or not the pilots are competent enough to effectively execute their roles as captains, first officers and airline pilots. The assessment by instructors rates the performance of the pilots to determine who is to be promoted, placed on probation or sacked.
Education, Training, knowledge and roles
Individual pilots have different competencies, training and proficiency. However Emirates have a general criterion where it prefers pilots with university degrees in any field. Pilots with military training have advantage over civilian pilots. Irrespective of whether former military or civilian, the company takes pilots through a vigorous training prior to rating them as airliners. For a pilot to hover the company’s large planes including Boeings, one must be in possession of an airline coupon, ATP (Airline Transport Pilot receipt). The pilot must have achieved all the lower ratings including possessing a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). Additionally, the pilot must have accumulated 5,000 flying hours with 2,000 as Pilot-in-Command. This aspect boosts anterior military aviators not only in terms of hours but also the excellent training. Pilots with limited experience are initially consigned to flying domestic flights. Once hired as an airliner, the pilots are extensively trained on the specific airliner they will fly. There is regular continuing training throughout the career with Emirates (Baker & Dismukes, 2002).
Performance management planning
What is expected of Airline Pilots: How Performance Management system is used
Pilots are expected to undertake simulator checks biannually. Emirates check the proficiency of its pilots every nine months. Disappointments in performing the tests are rare. Failure in successfully performing the test is permanently recorded in the pilot’s license. However, pilots are given numerous attempts to pass prior to being place under probation or dismissed. Instructors do every effort to ensure that the proficiency checks are challenging. These include testing in a network of mountainous airports and those with noise reduction procedures.
The unsurpassed and most fundamental safety element on any aircraft is a well-trained, exceedingly-inspired and proficient pilot. Regardless of the technology advancements in developing airplanes that make crafts infinitely safe, the flight team remains responsible for making critical decisions on every flight to ensure maximum safety. Emirates have the most complex aircrafts in the aviation industry today. Consequently, the company expects the pilots to be well versed with the upcoming technology to effectively handle the airplanes (Baker & Dismukes, 2002). The pilots are expected to have the capacity to resolve dissimilarities between an aeronautical simulator often used in most of flying training and an actual airplane loaded with passengers.
This is one of the areas of concern for the company considering the harm an aircraft accident may cause on the company brand name and finances. This is among the performance parameters that the company is keen to uphold. The flight logs and performance of the pilot when flying are critical during performance appraisal of its pilots. Senior pilots with over 20 years of flying experience are part of the performance management system of the company. Together with flight instructors, they assist in assessing the performance of the pilots in-flight. They also use data generated by the craft system on how the craft was handled. The reports generated by the instructors are handed to the human resource managers with recommendations.
The pilots are expected to perform the configuration of airplane in a timely manner. The pilots when configuring must follow the company’s procedures under different circumstances and situations. The performance of the pilot here is supervised by ground technicians, particularly aeronautical engineers and instructors, on a regular basis. They document their reports and hand them over to the human resource department. They also include their recommendations.
These recommendations by the technical team account for a substantial percentage during the performance appraisal. The Air Traffic Controller (ATC) expects pilots to achieve a steady approach through the maintenance of exact airspeed and vertical route parameters once the ATC gives permission to perform a visual approach. Emirates mandate a team to attend the landing of each of the pilots to assess their performance in this area twice per year. They execute the observation with the assistance of ATC who ranks the performance of a pilot. The authority also rates the effectiveness of a pilot to adapt to last-minute adjustments required by the ATC or necessitated by rapid sudden weather condition changes. This exerts psychological pressure on pilots (Baker & Dismukes, 2002).
Few jobs are inspected as meticulously as that of an airline pilot (Baker & Dismukes, 2002). Every pilot undergoes wide-ranging qualification training and continues to receive annual retraining. Traditionally, airline training and assessment concentrated on a pilot’s technical skill. This has specific performance parameters. These included how a pilot would execute a steep turn with no more than a hundred feet deviation in altitude with a 5-kt deviation in airspeed (Flin & Martin, 2001). In 1980s, the line-oriented flight training (LOFT) was introduced. It was then followed by Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) in 1990s. These required pilot instructors to teach and assess specific practical flying skills as well as complex team resource management (CRM) expertise. On the other hand, AQP entails technical and CRM teaching and assessment.
Emirates Airlines utilizes AQP in executing performance management of its pilots. This involves official evaluation which takes place during line operation evaluations (LOEs). The approach is similar to LOFT. The only difference is that individual pilot and crew performances are ranked (Flin & Martin, 2001). An actual flight performance check is conducted annually. The flight instructor watches the flight from the jump-seat or as a crewmember. This is the ‘line check’ part of performance management. In addition to checking by instructors, there is program designed to monitor numerous flight parameters.
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Emirates have a team of experts mandated for assessing, evaluating and grading its pilots. The team comprise of senior pilots with more than twenty years of experience in flying wide-body airplanes over-seas. It also includes aviation and aeronautical experts most of them sourced from the military in different countries. However, the company is sensitive about the skills and competencies of its employees despite the amount of training and years of experience (Bamber & Kochan, 2009). Consequently, the company employs AQP during performance appraisal of the pilots.
First, the information received from ATC, the paperwork documentation of flights by the pilot, and the technical team that assess landing expertise of the pilot is separately assessed by the human resource department and the points from each report are added together. The second and most crucial part of performance appraisal is the conducting of AQP. During LOE, the pilot instructor position himself behind the simulator cab. He normally runs the simulation. He observes the pilot and his crew. He rates the pilot level of preparedness for line operation duties. He also observes how the pilot manages his crew through CRM while applying his technical skills to maintain the craft in flight.
The instructor assesses the effectiveness of the pilot to execute these duties while applying technical skills to use aircraft’s computer properly to manage the entire flight using automated systems. A crucial part is this assessment is the capacity of the pilot to make critical decisions in ambiguous circumstances that involve weather inconsistencies and equipment malfunction (Bamber & Kochan, 2009).
The result of the LOE performance evaluations helps in determining a variety of functions in the AQP. The readiness of the pilot for unexpected turn of events including equipment malfunction and bad weather is determined. The effectiveness of AQP training is assessed. The deficiency of skills in individual pilots is detected. Most importantly, the instructors are able to detect performance challenges across a wide population of pilots without bias on one particular pilot. A common problem across a large number of pilots means that this is not an individual’s incompetence (Flin & Martin, 2001).
Emirates have been striving to streamline its performance management with regard to its pilots. This has exerted pressure on the company’s Information Technology (IT) department. The IT department through funding from the Research and Development (R&D) department has been making substantial effort towards this end. However, the rate at which technology is improving is higher than the rate at which the Emirates pilots’ are acquiring emerging airplane technology (Flin & Martin, 2001).
Dependable and effective evaluation of a pilot cannot be arrived at during LOE when the pilot instructors differ. This regards to the types of pilot behaviors observed and the degree of performance the behaviors signify. When the instructors differ, performance ratings are an element of the specific instructor leading the valuation contrasted with performance of the pilot. When the inconsistency among the instructors is huge, valuation of training efficacy and pilot capabilities is weakened. Consequently, the airline may fail to identify performance challenges that threaten airline safety (Siddique, 2004).
The Emirates management has in the past made steps towards involving its pilots in reviewing their individual performances. However, there are challenges considering the huge pool of pilots the company has. Consequently, not all the pilots get the opportunity to schedule a performance review meeting with the management especially the human resource department responsible for employee personal and career development. Those who get appointments with the human resource managers are those who are deemed to underperform. This is the major shortcoming of the company when it comes to performance management with regard to its pilots.
In fact, Emirates still utilizes traditional pilot performance evaluation method founded on pass-fail grading. This does not allow for comprehensive scrutiny of pilot proficiency across a multiplicity of undertakings. This approach is insufficient for performance evaluation of proficiency. Additionally, it flops in offering information that the corporation must get for an extensive analysis and feedback to the pilots in order to develop training and advance the pilot performance. Review is useful as it gives the pilots a view of their proficiency. Instead, Emirates approach only declares pilots unfit for the duties hence they are dismissed from duty (Siddique, 2004).
Unfortunately, Emirates’ human resource does not give feedback to pilots who meet expectations of the company. This means like a lost opportunity for pilots who feel that they have performed in their technical skills with regard to their obligations as pilots. The failure of the company to engage the pilots who excel in performance rating leaves them uncompetitive. Appraisal meeting with pilots offers an opportunity for pilots to express themselves regarding the standard of work that should be executed. In the home environment, it is the prerogative of any telecommuter to execute duties assigned to them (Siddique, 2004).
Key recommendations for improvement of PM
Handling performance challenges and deciding the disciplinary action to take is a pair of exasperating and demanding subjects Emirates Airline management has to contend with. Emirates have been successful in performance appraisal of its pilots’ performance. It is leader in evaluating its pilots in the United Arab Emirates. However, global companies in its class are doing more to ensure fair assessment of the pilots. Consequently, Emirates require reassessing its performance management systems to improve pilot performance and job satisfaction for maximum benefit to the company. This can be achieved through implementation of various strategies (Flin & Martin, 2001).
In recent years, there has been need to develop more instant and expressive measures of pilot performance. Some tools have been developed to assess pilots’ non-technical competencies. These tools have been deliberated precisely for the multifaceted setting of modern airline industry operations. The complexity of aviation industry is increasing in line with the technological advancement. Emirates require developing new tools for performance management of its pilots. This is in view of functioning necessities, in addition to the views of student pilots pursuing professionalism with the company. Emirates require engaging more with the pilots to ensure that each pilot receives the accolade that they deserve. All airline pilots are competent to safely flying an aircraft over-sea (Siddique, 2004). However, the application of other logical instincts including CRM originates from training and Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of the specific pilot.
Emirates ought to move along with change as the backbone of increasing diversity of thought in flying. Initially, these changes should be focused not on individuals but on piloting as a profession. This includes the assessment of pilots as a profession as opposed to viewing flying an aircraft as an individual talent. Company performance is contributed to by the individual pilots. Consequently, it is essential for the company management to understand that individual pilots have diverse skills that contribute not only to the success of a company but also the wellbeing of the entire aviation industry (Siddique, 2004).
The creation of business for Emirates Airlines volumes and product parity fundamentally depends on the dedication the Pilots, First Officers and Captains have to the wellbeing of the company and the entire company. Considering the high competition that the company faces from emerging and existing companies, it becomes essential for Emirates to review its performance appraisal for its pilots. The corporate approach to performance and assessment entails not only a novel emphasis on lager functional units, but also entails a shift in the way evaluation is conducted. Instead of a series of assessments that are performed on a stringent biannual schedule, the company should endeavor to implement a surveillance-founded approach that evaluates the performance of pilots on a continuous process (Flin & Martin, 2001).
The Line/Line-Oriented-Simulation Checklist (LLC) designed by the Human Factors Research Project at University of Texas. This tool has contemporarily developed into an essential instrument for majority of global airlines’ CRM appraisal.
Finally, Emirates ought to adopt the NOTECHS system of performance management. The tool assesses individual pilot performance with regard to non-technical capabilities. The system recognizes four categories of non-practical capabilities of individual pilots. These include Cooperative, Circumstance awareness, Management and Managerial Abilities, and Administration. Additionally, the company requires engaging the pilots who have reached the performance benchmark. It is also recommended for Emirates to engage the entire flying staff in making decisions that will make the airline to succeed (Flin & Martin, 2001). The approach has been implemented in Canada, Germany and the United States. The involvement of the pilots has had positive returns on airlines including Etihad and KLM.
The human resource function of Emirates Airline requires recognizing the challenges that pilots face in the course of executing their duty. They have the mandate to safely fly airplanes across the continents as well as abiding by the rules set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Emirates require adopting contemporary approaches to performance management. This involves the engagement of individual pilots towards the improvement of the Airline along the IATA.
The management needs to involve pilots in consultative meetings that are aimed at the improvement of individual and corporate performance based on the contribution of individual pilots. This paper has explored the progress of development programs aimed at increasing the assessment on commercial and airline pilots’ performance alongside the set parameters of Emirates.
The company’s pilot instructors require training that is specific to the responsibilities they execute. These include effective pilot training, mental capability to handle diverse situations and the capacity to handle extreme and straining mental challenges. These entail the handling of over sea trips that may take days to connect between different countries.
The contemporary change in focus towards approaches to valuation and appraisal in the work place combined with enhanced emphasis on the evaluation of pilots’ non-technical skills has resulted to novel systems that are being rapidly employed by diverse airlines, colleges and individuals in pursuing excellence in the aviation field.
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