Photo: Finnair Cabin Crew
If someone asked, what would you say are the main duties and responsibilities of the flight attendants? Many people will say that it’s to welcome passengers as they board and exit the airplane, serve them food and refreshments, perform a pre-flight safety demonstration, and always be smiling and pleasant. All of this is true, but actually it is only a small part of all the cabin crew responsibilities, which bring passengers’ safety in the first place. If you ask the same question of any cabin crew member, they would proudly say that the most important aspect of their job is safety. And they would be right.
The first concern
Starting from the beginning, what was the reason which caused the establishment of this profession? Without any trace of doubt – first of all it was a concern of passengers’ safety assurance.
The first flight attendant in 1930 became Ellen Church, who was a nurse. Her role was to ensure all the aircraft passengers’ health condition during the flight. Airline, which employed the nurse, has noticed that passengers feel more secure and relaxed when there is a person, able and qualified enough to take care of them on the airplane. Soon, this tendency has been introduced in many airlines and became mandatory in commercial aviation.
Nowadays, passengers’ health assurance is also one of the main cabin crew responsibilities, included in passengers’ safety procedures. During the training all cabin crew members have to pass a special course of First aid in order to be capable to properly handle the emergency situations.
Dedication to safety
Many other cabin crew duties and responsibilities involve passenger safety as well. During the flight preparation, they are responsible for checking safety equipment – ensure that all the necessary equipment is stored on the airplane and is functional. After boarding the passengers, cabin crew is in charge of making sure that passengers are seated correctly according to the aircraft mass and balance, and safety regulations, and giving them safety demonstration, indicating emergency exits and safety procedures.
Regarding emergency situations, such as crash landings, ditching, aborted takeoffs, decompressions, fire, and etc. cabin crew are there to reassure passengers so that they follow the correct emergency procedures. Ensuring passengers’ safety, and in case of emergencies, the safety of their lives is each of cabin crew members’ mission to which they are strongly dedicated. Of course, when dealing with passengers’ safety matter, the proper training is required.
Safety aspects in training
Each candidate, wishing to start cabin crew career, is obliged to pass an Initial Cabin Crew training course. It is the very first, but at the same time the most important step in cabin crew training. The course provides fundamental knowledge of cabin crew responsibilities and duties through the aspects of safety. This course is also aimed to develop practical skills, necessary to perform safety procedures in standard and non-standard flight situations.
The course includes such subjects as Safety equipment and procedures, Dangerous goods, Aero medical aspects and first aid, Survival and Fire and smoke training, which are all related to passengers’ safety issue.
“It is very important that each candidate wishing to become a cabin crew would understand how big the responsibilities of this job are. It is far more than romance. Flight attendant is responsible for passengers’ and all the crew lives during the flight, so they have to be well trained to take the proper actions in emergency situations, and be self-confident while making the decisions. Sometimes, there are only 30 seconds to make such decisions, which could save or cost hundreds of people lives,” shared her thoughts Inga Cainikoviene, former flight attendant, currently working as Deputy Head of Training for Cabin Crew Training at Baltic Aviation Academy.
As you might have perceived, safety is a key aspect of cabin crew job as well as the training. Flight attendants are primarily on the aircraft for the safety and welfare of the passengers and secondly for their comfort. If there were no services or extra comfort on board, we would still be able to survive the flight. However without the trained cabin crew who are ready to take care of our safety at any second, it would be a lot more complicated doing so.