Jan 24, 2007


I was recently in the grocery checkout line and noticed the cashier wearing a badge proclaiming: I'm New. Then in smaller letters below: thanks for your patience. It got me wondering what might happen if other occupations adopted such a button as a way of shielding newbies who are adjusting to the new responsibilities. For example what would it be like to suddenly glimpse one on your cardiac surgeon just as she reaches hesitantly for the scalpel and the anesthetic kicks in. Or what if you were waiting in the boarding lounge when your pilot strolls in sporting such a moniker? Would you try to book a later flight?

Airlines and regulatory bodies may not require badges on pilots but there are specific limitations imposed on new Captains. For example, we must fly a required number of hours in the left seat in our new status before we are allowed to land in the worst weather conditions.

There's a second regulation that prohibits newly-trained Captains from flying with inexperienced First Officers. This second injunction was something pilots' unions pushed for for many years. Some airlines agreed to invest in this extra measure of safety while others would only agree to comply "when feasible." Unfortunately, the times when it wasn't feasible usually coincided with the worst weather conditions. It took an accident to convince Transport Canada to make it mandatory.

There's no better example of Crew Resource Management than seeing how a Captain newly trained on an aircraft type, incorporates the guidance of an experienced First Officer. But it can be a trying situation when either the Captain doesn't like subordinates offering help or the junior partner lacks tact. Perhaps I'll write about some specific examples - the good, the bad and the ugly - another time.

When the chips are down, I know how valuable it is to have a highly-qualified co-pilot "watching my back." But I still think a New Pilot - thanks for your patience badge would be funnier. I wonder if my passengers would appreciate the humour? Probably not. Hardly any of them laughed that time I wore dark glasses and a white cane to the plane. Just joking.


chris said...

In funding my PPL I've had to be one of those cashiers wearing the I'm new badges, but it went more along the lines of 'I'm in training to serve you better' Certainly one of the more humiliating experiences, although people never got angry :D
They just say "Just do what you have to do" Yeah, that would be fine if I knew what I had to do. Luckily I'm past that stage.

Aviatrix said...

The thing about flying up north, or serving any small community of frequent fliers is that you don't need no stinking badges, everyone knows you're new.

And I'll tip your readers off to look for the shininess of the braid on our epaulettes. New captains leave their hat in the window to get it to fade a little, and stop it from gleaming out it's "I'm new!" message to everyone on the ramp.

Aluwings said...

The new hat can also be a dead give-away. It was soon discovered that when we pack our uniforms in our suitcases for dead-heading, the hat usually ends up jammed into a corner. It inevitably comes out looking wrinkled and weather-beaten, which gave rise to the expression: "- the hundred-mission crush." I'm not admiting I ever purposely crunched my hats to obtain this look...

I wore one new hat for a couple of weeks before an astute co-pilot told me I looked like a Russian General (have you ever seen those huge Russian military hats?) - and asked if I'd remembered to take out the plastic hoop. "Plastic hoop?" Turns out the manufacturer started supplying them with a "frisbee" ring folded into the brim to help keep their shape.