Monday, 13 April 2009

Biggles Flies Undone

Cheering BALPA Pilot instructors under fire for chanting 'No more ATPS' during aviation exams boycott vote

By Laura Clark

Airline pilot trainers at the BALPA conference voted unanimously to boycott tests for pilots and air traffic controllers.

Pilot instructors who chanted and cheered as they demanded the scrapping of Airline Transport Pilot Certificate were accused of setting a poor example to trainee pilots.

Cries of 'no more ATPs' rang out as the British Air Line Pilots' Association conference voted unanimously to boycott tests for cabin crew and air traffic staff.

Delegates had earlier staged a demonstration outside the conference centre where they chanted 'no more useless tests' and 'scrap the ATPs'. Some wore T-shirts bearing the logo 'BALPA' and 'No Useless Tests'.

But air safety campaigners said the televised spectacle made pilot instructors appear 'childish' and 'unseemly' and unsuitable role models for pilot trainees.They also speculated that if the trainees weren’t tested from time to time in simulated conditions, the training authorities could not be sure if the pilots would crash on take-off or in flight or on landing.

More than 100 delegates at the conference in Cardiff backed a resolution calling for a ballot of members to boycott ATPs next year if ministers fail to drop them. Speakers were given a standing ovation as the motion was passed and there were cheers and chants of 'no more ATPs'.

As members gathered for Saturday's debate, at St David's Hall in Cardiff, they staged a protest against the tests, which they claim damage pilot's education and lead to hours of needless coaching.

Wearing red T- shirts bearing anti-testing logos, they held a banner stating: 'BALPA say Training Not Testing, No More ATPs.'

Max Hyde, of the BALPA executive, said: 'At best ATPs are detrimental and skew the curriculum. At worst, and particularly for our most vulnerable trainees, they are perilously close to cramming in General Navigation.'

The boycott, which Transport Secretary Ed Balls claims would be illegal, would involve refusing to administer ATPs for pilots and air traffic controllers.

But Nick Seaton, chairman-of the Campaign for Safe Aviation, said: 'The spectacle of pilot instructors chanting about getting rid of ATPs sets a poor example to would-be airline pilots.

'It's childish and unseemly. When the major training union has direct access to senior politicians, you would think there would be no reason to conduct themselves like this.'

The National Association of Senior Airline Pilots, which represents 85 per cent of leading commercial and passenger pilots, will vote next month on a boycott.

Around 450 trainees will be forced to take ATPs next month even though ministers have abolished the discredited tests.

Three-quarters of flying schools will set the tests to advanced trainees despite being told they longer have to.

Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show 32 pilot training schools have ordered tests for 2009 which is only slightly down on last year's 41 even though they are now non-statutory.


This is eerily similar to an article pointed out recently by DumbJon.


James Higham said...

Have to admit I haven't looked at this issue. Where are you on it?

North Northwester said...

Hi James - nice of you to visit my posts.

The SATs were intended to break into the secretive world of the monopolistic producers' interests (the teachers' unions) to provide government and parents with some idea at seven and 11. This was to check whether schools were collectively doing their jobs, and also to see if particular pupils' progress was about right or wildly off.

Now, I believe, along with much of the Right, that the educational establishment is wholly Left-wing and heading further away, so I'd like SATS to be recommenced or beefed up, or...

Better yet, scrapped, and full-funding vouchers given to parents with a term-by-term portability.

LEAs should be abolished along with their teacher training colleges.

Parents can gauge by word of mouth - i.e. listening to their children and observing how happy or stressed they are if bullying is going on, and listening to other parents and consumer groups as to how well or badly schools are doing.
The popular schools will be the ones which sack crap teachers, kick out the bullies whose parents refuse to discipline them [there may need to be some centrally - organised borstal system for the hard-cases], and teach stuff that parents can see is useful and is marked and graded understandably.

I think they would also test the children regularly and in a stress-free way; with parents' evenings to follow once results are collated.

My parents, both teachers, sent an already semi-literate me (thanks to their enthusiasm prior to school days) to the local infant school.
I was there for four years, and I had all the trendy ideas going in the early 1960s.
Initial Teaching Alphabet. Plan-your-own week. Self-monitoring of how I went through the set work.
No tests. Bland reports that my parents trusted.

They were horrified when they discovered the term before I was heading off to junior school that I was illiterate and innumerate.

No tests to show up the fact that lazy little North spent his infant years in the sand pit and the toys cupboard becasue we were supposed to organize our own time.

It took concentrated rote learning supported by my mother over the summer holiday before to make me literate. Fortunately Mum was a specialist in teaching the educationally subnormal. A good junior school and an old-fashioned grammar school with more rote learning did the rest.

Pity my spelling and punctuation never caught up...

I stand, James, next to a pile of TES and Guardian jobs pages, and long to see the self-centred educationalist love children who've made school and schooling useless and hellish for millions.

I long to see their pasty faces as they're sacked and look for work in Sainsbury's.


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