High flying management

60 pilot captains participated in designed program at IESE

20/11/2013 Barcelona

Barcelona, November 20. IESE has launched its first custom program for airline pilots: "Taking flight deck management to new heights." The program, which took place on November 5th-7th and was aimed exclusively at captains from Spanish airline Vueling, brought together 60 highly ranked pilots. The Vueling crew attended the three-day management program, which is designed specifically to improve their effectiveness in balancing safety and efficiency.

As estimated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), human error accounts for 60-80% of air traffic accidents with many reports finding problems associated with poor communication partly attributable. In the late 1970’s, CRMs were introduced as a set of training procedures to help reduce accident risks. IESE’s "Taking flight deck management to new heights" goes a step further by adding the business school perspective to this knowledge: Operations Management - to maximize customer satisfaction and reduce cost without reducing quality, Communications - to improve soft skills and establish a reliable reporting chain, Leadership and Decision Making - to improve teamwork and a good chain of decisions.

Vueling is the second carrier in Spain in terms of passenger numbers and the second airline in Europe for number of flight connections. The low-cost company has a strong focus on customer satisfaction ("Friendliness is our philosophy", as they claim in their website) as well as efficiency. Fernando Val, Vueling’s COO and the person behind the idea for this program, said that "pilots aren’t only high-qualified technical personnel anymore, but resource managers themselves: their decisions have crucial consequences, they are a very important part of Vueling".

IESE’s program combines lectures with case studies, simulations and assessments. The school’s strong focus in management offers captains the tools to juggle good decisions, coordination with the rest of the team and effective communications – and not only communicating outward, but also learning to listen - to reduce risks and carry passengers in a safe, efficient and comfortably way.

According to Luis Lozano, Vueling captain and participant, "the program is an extraordinary combination of skills we can apply to our work environment. Case studies on subjects like the Mount Everest tragedy in 1996 (Harvard Business School) taught us the importance of risk analysis, teamwork and decision making. Also, we have learned the importance of not only managing the organization’s resources, but also generating ideas to improve the company".

The program has been taught by top IESE faculty specialized in Financial Management (Prof. Ahmad Rahnema, co-academic director), Accounting and Control (Prof. Hillel Maximon, co-academic director), Managing People in Organizations (Profs. John Almandoz, Anneloes Raes and Alberto Ribera), Managerial Decision Sciences (Prof. Miguel Ángel Ariño) and Production, Technology and Operations Management (Profs. Philip Mosocoso, Eurest Chair of Excellence in Services, and Frederic Sabrà, CELSA Chair of Competitivenes in Manufacturing).