Stimuli are the bases for cues, but a stimulus is not a cue by itself" (Weiner & Nagel, 1988, p. 239). Just as pilots need simulation devices to provide them with realistic cue which signal that they need to adjust the aircraft, the crew within the cabin of the commercial plane also need cues that they can respond to in training with actions that they are supposed to execute.
Cues need to be part of the crew member training programs. "Crewmember initial training must include instruction on general subjects as well as subjects pertaining to the airplane type to be operated. The subjects for whom crewmembers are to receive instruction must be applicable to their assigned duties. Initial training is based on equipment and crewmembers not qualified in an aircraft group should complete initial training on the aircraft in that group. Crewmember initial training programs should include drills and actual operation of the equipment as described in the FAR. It should be noted that the requirements for initial training are more extensive than the requirements for recurrent training" (NTSB). Part of these drills need to include realistic simulations not just of cues that crew members can rely on seeing when all is normal with the aircraft flying and engaged, but cues which indicate a proper emergency response. For example, crew members need to be able to tell passengers when to drop with their chests to their knees and brace for impact. A perhaps more common type of cue is when the captain turns on the "fasten seatbelt" sign; crew members within the cabin know that they have to tell all passengers to return to their seats. Such a cue is a simple and frequent example of how pilots aren't the only ones within the aircraft who depend on cues. However, there are cues that cabin crew members are aware of that passengers are not and those need to be realistically conveyed via the simulator with subtly and accuracy.
In a study conducted by Spark and colleagues, entitled, "Transfer of Training from a Full-Flight Simulator vs. A High Level Flight Training Device with a Dynamic Seat" the researchers wanted to see what aspects of flight simulation were most important for pilots of varying degrees of experience and expertise (FFS and FFT). "What matters most for the safety of the flying public is whether the alternative motion system of the FFT reduced pilots' final flight precision. We already know that the check airmen who qualified the 34 FFT-trained pilots were obviously satisfied with the pilots' flight performance, but we will also consider the pilots' flight precision during quasi-transfer to the FFS. Once pilots transferred, there were no differences between the flight precision of the FFS-trained and the FFT-trained groups for the takeoff maneuvers; for both the V1 cut and the V2 cut, pilots showed no statistically significant differences in heading standard deviation, yaw rate, airspeed exceedance, or pitch standard deviation" (Sparko, 2012). This quote demonstrates the importance of having and taking advantage of simulators that can adequately impact and take advantage of the pilot's own skills of precision so that instructors can effectively surmise how prepared the prospective pilots are to fly in a range of scenarios.
When it comes to cabin crew members, the bulk of their importance with safety revolves around being prepared for a range of emergency scenarios. This is particularly true for large aircraft such as ones which have two levels and which carry masses of passengers long distances over travel times of 17 hours and more (Liu, 2010). This is a significant point to focus upon. The cabin crew members are essentially the people who are in charge of keeping sometimes hundreds of passengers safe, calm and relaxed for hours upon hours. Passengers can get restless, some can get panicky; panic can spread and this feeling can multiply and incite more widespread panic.
Cabin crew members thus need to be able to not just keep passengers calm, but to have thorough preparation for a variety of scenarios. "These days, the air travel is now accessible to the public, including all age groups and all social levels. In this case, in terms of medical aspects, it is necessary for the crew members to have first aid skills, basic medical training is becoming essential for them. These kinds of skills are required of both short haul crew members and long haul cabin crews. In regards to the area of airplane emergencies, such as crash landings, ditching, aborted takeoffs, decompressions and fire, and so on, the cabin crew members' training, experience and ability tends to be more crucial for the survival of the heaps of passengers" (Liu, 2010). Proper flight simulation training is key; though the field of aviation would be behooved to copy tactics that the medical community uses to proper train their doctors. In the field of medicine virtual training is not just achieved via realistic technology, though that is a definitive aspect of it. Rather, the medical community relies on the participation of real people to play patients so that doctors get medical experience, training in making diagnostics, and work on their bedside manner. "Given that the best way to replicate a human being is with a human being, many aspects of the real clinical world can be evoked using specially trained actors to portray patients with particular health conditions or concerns. Because of their special training they are referred to as 'Standardized Patients' (SP). They are able to give consistent and pre-defined accounts of their conditions and to answer the full spectrum of questions about themselves" (Stanford.edu, 2012). There's absolutely no reason why such a phenomenon could not exist as a part of flight simulation training. Instead of just have high-tech simulated cabins and cockpits for crew members to respond to a range of cues and issues, these simulated cabins should absolutely contain actors playing passengers who will present the cabin crew members with a range of challenges. These challenges could be things like finicky passengers, demanding passengers, passengers having panic attacks, passengers going into hysterics or hyperventilating, diabetic passengers who have low blood sugar and a list of other difficulties that could occur during a long flight. Cabin crew members need to be fully adept at dealing with a host of challenges not just from the atmosphere outside, or the aircraft, but from the very real and very live passengers inside.
One of the aspects which makes flying such a challenging career and one which requires the highest level of training and expertise is that the environment outside of this "workplace" (the plane) cannot support human life. Cabin crew members know that a decompression failure is an emergency possibility that they need to be fully prepared for. "According to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) (2010)2, decompression failures happen when modern aircraft fly at altitudes which are too high to support human life. Failure of pressurization in the airplane shows various disasters according to speed of the loss. The loss of pressurization may lead to physiological effects of passengers in aircrafts from the very cold temperatures and not enough oxygen" (Liu, 2010). This would be a suitable scenario to have enacted within a simulated cabin with actors posing as passengers. The crew members would have to react without delay and respond in the manner that they've been trained for such a scenario.
Crew members must not only help passengers get a hold of their own supply of oxygen from the masks stored above their heads, they must also reinstate order and keep hundreds of people calm (Liu, 2010). it's also possible that people might be injured as well; the cabin crew members have an obligation to coordinate with the team members in the cockpit until everyone is calmer, more organized and the plane, most importantly, has returned to a safe level of flight. While one school of thought would feel it's adequate to lecture/teach cabin crew trainees what to do in such a situation, test them on it, and have them engage in a simulated cabin where the advanced technology is able to replicate a failure of decompression, another school of thought would argue that in order to best prepare trainees for such an experience, they really would need actual human beings becoming panicked and hysterical about the failure of decompression. The reality is that the best and at this point only way to achieve this is to mimic the medical profession's use of actors.
On a somewhat similar note, safety threats such as uncontrolled fires are incidences which happen rarely on aircraft but which definitely pose a formidable threat to the airplane and all people aboard. While having the proper training is essential with all cabin crew members aware of the equipment that is available to them and how to immediately stomp out the fire, this is something that needs to be aptly simulated in a controlled environment such a simulation cabin for flight crew training. In such a controlled environment, team members…