It was surreal pulling up to the Emirates Airline training facility in Dubai to find that part of the building was designed to look like an airliner — engines and all. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be too surprising, since this is the land of bigger and better and Emirates Airline seems to fit right in.
Emirates currently has a fleet of over 175 aircraft, flying to 120 destinations and they have no plans to slow down their growth. The airline hopes to hire around 4,000 additional cabin crew by the end of 2012.
Emirates is not an airline that cares only about the number of employees, but also the quality. They hire people from around the world to train to be some of the best flight crew in the world and Emirates Aviation College in Dubai is where every new hire will start.
Each week, about 80-120 near new trainees will start their seven week long educational journey. Each class is comprised of people from around the world, making Emirate’s employees some of the most diverse. At any given time, there are about 130 nationalities represented among the trainees and about 70 among the the trainers.
One of the first steps of every trainee is learning about Arabic hospitality and about the other cultures represented among the company and passengers in a themed roomed call the Majlis room. The crew’s diversity helps them easily interact with many of the passengers that will be flying on the airline.
One can only learn so much by reading out of a book or being lectured to. That is why each trainee is given hands on experience in one of the interior cabin mock-ups. From greeting passengers to learning what order to serve them food, to pointing out how to operate the on-board showers, the mock ups provide opportunities for students to learn new ways of doing things and to learn from their mistakes.
Each trainee is taught how each cabin is designed to give their passengers a unique experience. Emirates tries to make first class passengers feel like they are on a private jet, where business class passengers will receive a “my retreat” experience and finally a “surprising treat” type encounter for economy.
One part of the training is learning when it might be best to start weaning a passenger off alcohol, when they have had one too many. This can be more of a challenge when that passenger is in a public space, like the business and first class bar on board an Emirates Airbus A380. Unlike a bar on the ground, a drunk person cannot be kicked out. It takes a certain skill level to cut a person’s alcohol without insulting them. Lisa Williamson, part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess, explained how Emirates follows a delay, distract, dilute and then, deny strategy.
A group of Emirates flight crew walking in an airport garners attention — and for good reason. Their outfit is one that stands out and each trainee must go through training on how to wear their uniform, style their hair, apply their make up and of course on how to properly wear their signature red hat.
Although learning how flight crew should properly wear make up is interesting enough, getting to the training pool with a mock up for the Boeing 777, Airbus A380 and A330/A340 is much more aligned with my interests.
Unlike other safety training mock-ups I have seen, both the 777 and A340/A330 trainers are able to move on 3-axis. Due to the size of the larger A380 trainer, it did not move and was stationary.
In the aircraft training room there is a pool that is surrounded by all three aircraft mock-ups. On one side, crew are able to practice water evacuations, where on the the other side, slides allow trainees the ability to practice sliding to the ground. This can be a mentally and physically challenging part of training and those flight crew that are not able (or un-willing) to go down the slide, are unable to continue the overall training program.
Like most other things in Dubai, the aircraft training room was huge — it has to be. There was no shortage of eye candy watching both the A330/340 and Boeing 777 trainers rocking and rolling, hearing trainees yell for their training and seeing them jump out of the slides. I probably could have stayed in that room all day — heck probably all week.
Unfortunately during out visit, there was no one who jumped into the pool.
The photo above does not accurately convey how steep and long the upper deck slide on the Airbus A380 is from the top to the ground. It made me feel a bit nervous just standing on the ground and I could imagine that some trainees would have some hesitation sliding down for the first time. At first glance, the facility might seem like fun and games, but crews are practicing worse case scenarios on how to keep passengers safe and how to save lives.
From providing the best customer service as possible, to helping passengers in a disastrous situation, the Emirates Airline Crew Training facility prepares everyone to have a successful career with the airline.