W A T S ' 98 U P?

By Hans Adriaanse

The first World Air Transport Training conference and trade show (WATS) was organized by Spiderman in aviation training, Mr. Trevor Nash from Andover, England, more importantly Editor-in-Chief of the Civil Aviation Training journal (CAT).

WATS is the result of a first attempt to bring the aviation training community into a productive discussion about the challenges ahead and exchange of information about important players in the CAT-field. It is the merit of Mr. Nash, who has been the driving force behind the team that has brought about this conference at the Queen Elisabeth II Conference Center, at the Thames banks in London. Trevor had a pivotal role in running the conference, both on the podium and behind the scenes. He used his networking partners extensively under the benign auspices of Mr Andrew Smith, publisher and owner of Halldale Publishing Company, patron of the conference.

Both the airlines, regulators as well as the trainers were well represented among the presenters and in audience. The focus of this first WATS was on pilot training: there may be a lot of discussion, about the crew who is running the aeroplane in shared responsibility, about the irreplaceable role of airport management, about controller-pilot interaction, this first WATS had to be dedicated to pilot training, because the PILOT is the most important actor in aviation.

Sponsored by United Airlines, Lufthansa and the Royal Aeronautical Society, Trevor Nash and his team have succeeded in putting up a first class event, in which over 500 decisionmakers from all walks of life in the aviation training industry participated. Mr. Nash is a sturdily built, eloquently formulating thousand-eyed organizer, who is at the center of a unique network, liasing the majority of the aviation training experts in the world. A prolific writer and an investigative journalist, Mr Nash has managed to develop CAT into a widely read training magazine with a circulation of well over 12,000 and a readership of approximately 70,000.

The choice of pilot training as the focus of the first WATS was no more than logical. Nevertheless, the next WATS, to be held in Denver in May 1999, will also zoom in on training issues in adjacent professions. Given the expected growth of aviation in the upcoming decade, the stakes in sound training, are higher than ever.  There should be attention for the whole cast however, not only for the prima Donnas.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of visiting Trevor in his homestead in Andover, a village at 2 hours train-time from Waterloo station, in the green rolling hills south-east of London. In Bendle’s Cottage, an old farmhouse where Trevor takes me after a speedy ride, I meet with his partner in business Sarah Jane Prew. She is an aviation researcher, teaches at Cranfield University. After we have agreed on some article topics, I reported about my experiences at the Montreal Trainair Conference, which I had visited last July. I then suggested there might be a market for an Aviation Training Conference, not knowing by then that Trevor had everything in place already for the first WATS to roll in May this year. Some are faster than others, and hopefully I can contribute to the 2nd WATS in 1999, in Denver.

Smoothly, we go over from the cottage to the pub next door where we have chips, meat and pints. Trevor has reiterated his interest in a report on the CAT-upgrading efforts of the Netherlands Aviation College in East-Africa. Returning to London, I can see lots of work ahead, but this is really inspiring!

Half a year later after the closing session in the bar, with the Fokker Control people, the publisher, Trevor himself and many representatives of aviation training agencies from around the world: we have discussed the future of pilot training, the shortage that is envisaged in this sensitive industry.

I have learned from Swissair’s brilliant duo Captain Werner Naeff and his purser Patrizia, who embody Crew Resource Management (CRM); from Lufthansa’s Captain Dieter Hass, reporting about the rapid internationalization of pilot training at Lufthansa’s Arizona campus. The FAA people have shown us again, in which country half of the world’s experience in aviation lies.

We have enjoyed the British humour, but also the South African:

The WATS Conference was a very stimulating event, flowing smoothly as if it were the 10th edition, with a high-ranking field of participants. The focus of the second WATS will be on Flight Crew and Maintenance training: join WATS ’99 a the Adams Mark Hotel, May 4 to 6 in Denver Colorado.

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