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Speech at the World Fear of Flying Conference

Extract from Captain Keith Godfrey’s speech at World Fear of Flying Conference hosted by ICAO in Montreal, Canada.

The use of pilot training skills in the support of anxious passengers.

Good afternoon and may I thank the organisers for this opportunity to speak at the conference. Because I’m a pilot I’m naturally enthusiastic about all pilots being involved in helping passengers who are anxious about flying. I am sure that their modern training skills can be applied very effectively for this reason.

There is I believe a direct comparison between Cognitive behavioural therapy and modern airline pilot training methods and, though I have no clinical training, from the reading that I have done, in particular from the Psychological Perspectives on Fear of Flying the two processes seem, and I stress the word seem, to have considerable common ground. My expertise is as a pilot I have 43 years of flying training from beginners to the training pilots to become trainers and examiners, applying the skills that I am about to describe.

This presentation will try to show that modern airline training methods provide many pilots with the skills needed to deal effectively with passengers who are anxious about flying. Few airlines that I know of prepare their pilots in this important area of customer care. Training seems to be limited to their cabin crew who have just a passing knowledge of to how to deal with the symptoms of fear exhibited by passengers during boarding or in flight.

I am certain that an airline known to have an interest in the welfare of these particular passengers will enjoy a commercial advantage over their competitors, but, for some reason, perhaps denial or ignorance of how to deal with the problem no airline to my knowledge, positively advertises this aspect of its customer experience. The most they seem to offer is a company associated course. Perhaps this is changing but if there is evidence of it, it is hardly overwhelming. And how extraordinary this is when every airline has staff well trained to deal with the problems that arise with anxious passengers. The staff I’m referring to are of course the pilots.




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