ECAC Training Task Force celebrates milestone 50th meeting

19-20 May 2022 - The chair of the ECAC Training Task Force, Nina Smith (United Kingdom), reviews the present and past role of the task force and what lies ahead in the future. The Training Task Force (TrTF) met for the first time on 28 February 2006 in Brussels. It was established to ensure that the human component of the aviation security system is addressed by providing guidance and best practices in the area of training and human performance.

The guardianship of the group has since then passed through a number of chairs and looked at all manner of topics, but its fundamental basis has remained the same: to bring together experts from Member States and observer organisations to address current and future challenges and opportunities in the wider training area. The TrTF is accountable to the Security Programme Management Group (SPMG) and all Member States, like for other security groups. It presents its work at the Security Forum and forms its direction of work based on feedback from Member States – the Forum therefore always provides a source of information for future guidance requirements.

The work programme of the TrTF – in addition to current challenges – seeks to identify early where guidance may be required in the future, as well as working to ensure guidance produced in the past is kept up to date and useful to Member States.

The TrTF works in close harmony with the ECAC Guidance Material Task Force and the Training Task Force and indeed some of its annual work programme is a result of these close partnerships – and the fact that many new avenues bring with it a need to consider training aspects. The work programme therefore reflects the work of the other two groups, as well as study groups, depending on their current work programmes.

The guidance and best practice produced by the TrTF is a reflection of the expertise and commitment, experience and perspective of its members, who work year round to develop, review and assess training guidance. The group also provides a forum to explore new opportunities, horizon scan for challenges and exchange expertise between members.

The group, as with all others, switched to virtual meetings in 2020 and is now looking forward to establishing regular face-to-face meetings again, starting in September 2022 in Paris. The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a welcome – but unfortunate given the context – focus on the human element of the aviation security environment – an aspect that is often underestimated in the sector. The TrTF worked at pace to develop guidance on training and human factors in these uncertain times and much of the learning from this side has continued to influence the sector and the work of the group. The battle to highlight the critical nature of training and the human performance aspect has become a little easier – but the group continues to work to ensure that these elements are seen as core values, rather than a cost and burden.

As the current chair and "guardian" of the group, it is my pleasure to be able to thank everyone who has contributed to the group’s work over the last 16 years, some of whom continue to work with the group today. We look forward to the next 50 meetings of the TrTF and the opportunity and challenge to serve the training needs of ECAC Member States, through the opportunities and challenges that may present themselves in the future.

The role of the human in aviation security continues to evolve – the swift pace of technological advancement changing the nature of how we use human resources within the system. This requires constant recalibration of what functions and tasks we require training for and what competencies staff must have to undertake them. This keeps the TrTF busy but also always provides for excellent discussions and information-sharing in the group, benefitted by its diverse membership in being able to offer numerous different perspectives on the current matter at hand.

Our door is always open for questions or queries in our area of work from Member States – your challenges are our challenges and we exist to serve the Member States.