Ian Mitchell, Lead Cabin Crew Training Designer, Air Canada
Ian began his aviation career as a flight attendant with Wardair Canada in 1988. In 1990 Canadian Airlines International bought and merged with Wardair. In 1994 he joined Air Crew Training at Canadian Airlines as an Instructor/Developer. After a few years in this position, he discovered his real passion was for training design. When Air Canada bought Canadian Airlines in 2000, the training department was reorganized, and he became a training designer. Since then, he has served as lead training designer for numerous training programs and other training initiatives.
Air Canada’s Pandemic Training Experience
As with every other airline in the world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Air Canada was unprecedented. Passenger traffic dropped at one point by more than 90%; thousands of employees were furloughed or let go. Those who remained found themselves working in a far different environment.
After the resumption of training, following a suspension of several months, training designers, instructors and trainees were dealing with a new reality. The need to minimize time spent in a physical classroom meant a switch to virtual training, a first for Cabin Crew Training at Air Canada. A virtual training platform needed to be selected and the existing program, designed to be delivered in a classroom, had to be adapted to virtual training without changing the content. This provided a mixed experience for learners and instructors. A different platform in 2021 provided a better experience but was still not without its challenges.
An increase in disruptive passenger incidents due to the implementation of a face-covering policy, meant updating our Disruptive/Unruly Passenger training with an increased focus on conflict management and de-escalation techniques.
Pandemic-related mental and physical stresses meant that more than ever before we needed to provide our crew with the tools and strategies for support to help cope and develop resiliency.