Too high a percentage of inexperienced crew
I checked in briefing a crew of 10 (11 including myself) – I was allocating positions in the economy cabin first as there was 3 crew (3 required) who were only trained in the economy service – during allocation it became aware that these 3 crew members were also on their first trips on long haul having only just joined the company. I considered it risky to have these inexperienced crew potentially on their own during the flight and also having to operate doors…a pair of doors was operated by two crew who were on their first trip.
The company service standard states that there should be no crew operate in either of the premium cabins if they haven’t done the respective courses.
I alerted our cabin crew managers to this dilemma and I was told that because more than 60% of the crew were experienced then it was “ legal”. This ignores the point entirely. The percentage of inexperience being made to operate in economy was 75%.
As the senior crew member I took it upon myself to move one crew member into a premium cabin (against the company’s service standards), but felt it necessary purely on a safety basis. I was confident with my experience I could coach and mentor this crew member to work the cabin appropriately.
The operations manual states that the SCCM must ensure that there is an even spread of experience between the front and rear of the aircraft for take-off and landing. This is also referenced in the briefing document issued to SCCMs regarding the ‘allocation of crew working positions’. Once in-flight, from a safety and service perspective, the SCCM is empowered to make a decision to allocate crew resource in the required cabin based on their assessment to meet the requirements of the flight, this includes during breaks if they are required. Newer crew colleagues may have joined the airline from another airline with previous premium cabin experience or they may have experience in the hospitality industry, together with ‘on the job’ coaching from the SCCM and experienced colleagues, they can deliver the service to the best of their ability. The even spread of experience must apply for take-off and landing only, for example a crew member could be seated at a door in the premium cabin and then work in the economy cabin. The reporter is encouraged to report their safety concerns following the internal safety reporting method.
Regulatory requirements state that some of the operating cabin crew should have more than three months operating experience. Three inexperienced cabin crew members of a total cabin crew complement of eleven is perfectly acceptable. Cabin service is not a consideration and on the reported flight it would have been appropriate for the SCCM to evenly distribute the experience throughout the aircraft.
The Operator has gone beyond the requirement. This is managed at planning stage and the system alerts when too many new crews are assigned to a flight.
UK Retained Regulation (EU) AMC1 ORO.CC.100 states: ‘when scheduling cabin crew for a flight, the operator should establish procedures that take account of the experience of each cabin crew member. The procedures should specify that the required cabin crew includes some cabin crew members who have at least 3 months experience as an operating cabin crew member’.
Some operators stipulate that 50% of the cabin crew on board must have over 3 months experience, some operators do not.
From a safety perspective, experience should be distributed evenly throughout the aircraft and the SSCM did the correct thing in ensuring this was the case. Safety must come before service.