For any job, you will be required to have certain relevant skills, and the world of aviation is no exception. In fact, lacking some of these skills could make all the difference in 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 brush up on.


Communication skills

It’s fairly obvious that aviation professionals need to have exceptional communication skills during normal flight conditions and in emergency situations. As a pilot, you will be repeatedly tested on your English until you reach a satisfactory level (level 6.) 

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 evaluation 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 positions.  


Teamwork skills

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.    


Global skills

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.  


Flexibility skills

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.