For any job, you will be required to have a relevant skill set, and the world of aviation
is no exception. In fact, lacking some of these skills could be the difference between
a life and death situation.
In the modern world of recruitment, professional skill sets are just as important as
any qualifications or experience as they are vital to the candidate’s success within
their role. Speaking at the UK’s Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES),
Matthew Hancock claimed that today’s employers struggled to find employees as the
skills system lacked ‘rigour and responsiveness.’
So, if you’re thinking about joining the aviation industry, or wanting to climb the
career ladder, here are 7 essential skills that every aviation professional needs to
It’s fairly obvious that aviation professionals need to have exceptional
communication skills during normal flight conditions and in emergency situations.
Poor communication has previously been cited as a factor for accidents, such as the
Tenerife airport disaster of 1977 whereby two planes collided on the runway, killing
583 people. The KLM captain mistakenly believed that air traffic control had issued
him clearance to take off. The plane thus went on to collide with a Pan Am plane
which was awaiting takeoff in foggy conditions.
Analysing and evaluating skills
Being able to evaluate information to establish certain facts and principles are key
strengths for anyone within the aviation industry. Though tragic, the Tenerife airport
disaster did lead experts on to review all their procedures, including the importance
of standardized phraseology in radio communications being emphasised.
On a day to day basis, pilots are faced with many split-second decisions that can
affect the fate of everyone on board. For example, by analysing a change in weather
conditions, they can then react accordingly via their training and experience.
Interpersonal & sensitivity skills
Interpersonal skills also include effective communication skills, whether it be a simple
or complex message. The importance of effective communication is of particular
importance due to the level of responsibility of human life and the continual shift
towards automated procedures.
Also known as ‘emotional intelligence,’ interpersonal sensitivity is the ability to
respect and being open to another person’s viewpoint. It has fast become one of the
most important skills of the 21st century and is highly sought after in leadership
Working as part of a team is a vital skill needed in most professions. Being a good
team player requires cooperation, patience, identifying common goals and working
collaboratively towards them. When you’re flying the skies, it’s vital that the whole
team cooperate together to ensure a safe journey for everyone.
It’s also important to accept responsibility for your failings within a team setup.
During flight training, students are actively encouraged to take responsibility for their
actions and decisions.
Working in the aviation industry will bring you into direct contact with different ethnic
backgrounds from around the world, so global skills are absolutely essential. Having
an awareness and understanding of different cultural viewpoints and communicating
respectfully will give you a significant competitive edge in the aviation job market.
Whilst flying as a First Officer in Greece, Marcus Lindblom tried to notify the ground
crew that he required 5 tons of fuel by signalling with his whole hand (one finger for
each ton required) with his palm facing forward.
However, in Greece, this is deemed as a rude gesture which resulted in the ground
handler denying his request and looking the other way. Fortunately, the Captain had
experienced this before and advised Lindblom accordingly. This example just goes
to show how essential global skills really are.
For any business to grow, it needs to change and evolve. The future of aviation is
expected to be turbulent with a new wave of technological innovation and changes in
geopolitics. The UK leaving the European Union, for instance, will have a significant
impact on previously agreed legislations between countries.
A report by Right Management found that 91% of hiring managers will only recruit on
the candidate’s ability to deal with change and uncertainty.
Time management skills
Time management skills are exceptionally important to airlines that are measured by
their On-Time performance. Any delay caused to a flight is a waste of valuable
resources and may cost the airline in fines. An airline that has a bad reputation for
always being delayed or causing passengers to miss connecting flights may result in
a loss of business as passengers seek to fly with a more reliable airline. Thus, time
management skills in their workforce are of paramount importance.