When it comes to learning and development, businesses are increasingly becoming serious nowadays. Not only in the IT sector but in sectors such as manufacturing as well, the need to fill the skill gap, due to the introduction of newer and better technologies, is being felt. With machines and robots threatening to replace humans, people are realising the need to constantly develop their skills. Naturally, the focus has shifted to the development of employees, across sectors.
The scenario becomes more challenging for the aviation sector in India, which is grappling with many other issues in addition to skill gap. The workforce in this sector majorly comprises commercial pilots, cabin crew members, technical support staff in addition to a handful of corporate staff. With customer interaction being the foundation of the business, constant training and learning is required for its staff to fulfil the goals and objectives of the business.
Indigo, the low-cost Indian airline, has an I Fly Academy in Gurgaon, Haryana which is a whole new world in itself. According to Raj Raghavan, senior vice president-HR, Indigo, “Every day at I Fly, 1400 people are getting trained in 70 different courses under around 140 trainers. This is a university in itself!”
“The I Fly Academy is not just a place where learning and development takes place. It is also a place where our true culture is built,” shares Raghavan.
“The cabin crew is trained on safety, security, human resource management and also undergo a seven-day first aid course. The major part of the training involves enhancing customer experience, but at the beginning of the career the crew members are also given leadership training”
Raghavan cites an example, that when people think about Indigo, they think ‘On time’. This is the culture, which is embedded deep in the heart of all the people who are part of the I Fly Academy. All classes are taken on time, and the Company keeps track of the same.
It is not a normal corporate setup where trainings happen. Here, hands-on training is provided to the commercial pilots, cabin crew members and the technical support staff. I Fly follows a learning management system (LMS) which is a blend of computer- and classroom-based learning.
The commercial pilots are hired in two ways. First, through an internal programme, where students who have passed class 12 can apply and the Company provides flying school training to the selected candidates. After completing all the credits and a specific amount of flying hours, they go through an internal training at I Fly. One they obtain the flying licence they are inducted as junior first officers.
The training process does not end here. After flying for certain hours they again return for refresher courses, as the aviation sector is heavily regulated by the Government. On completing the refreshing courses, they become senior first officers. To become a captain they need to complete 2500 flying hours as well as a type rating certificate, which signifies their expertise on a certain kind of aircraft, such as A-320 or A-321.
Apart from the classroom and computer-based learning, the pilots are also trained on simulators, where VR technology is used so that the pilots can experience flying in adverse conditions and climates. Such simulation-based training is provided in Gurgaon and Dubai.
“The I Fly Academy is not just a place where learning and development takes place. It is also a place where our true culture is built”
The cabin crew also goes through a 97-day training before they actually fly. Again, this involves a mix of classroom- and computer-based training. Before people come for classroom training they also go through some video-based modules on Indigo’s 6E channel. The cabin crew is given a feel of the aircraft and the airport before they finally start serving.
“The cabin crew is trained on safety, security, human resource management and also undergo a seven-day first aid course. The major part of the training involves enhancing customer experience, but at the beginning of the career the crew members are also given leadership training,” mentions Summi Sharma, Vice president, I Fly Learning Academy.
Interestingly, Indigo has installed a model of an aircraft cabin inside the I Fly Academy where practical classes are held to give hands-on experience to the crew members and a look and feel of an aircraft cabin.
The whole atmosphere of the academy is vibrant, which is just apt for a learning environment. Generally, in big offices people go past each other like strangers, but here, people greet each other with a smile always. And why not, after all it is the place that defines Indigo’s true culture.