On the 25/06/20 we published a blog called “7 pieces of job advice to pilots graduating during Covid-19”. If you have not read it you can read it here: https://askapilot.net/7-free-pieces-of-job-advice-to-pilots-graduating-during-covid-19/

The blog was deliberately written with a very direct tone and this was in part to prove multiple hypotheses.

Our hypotheses:

“it is difficult to pass on advice to generation y and z as they could be easily offended”

“generation y and z can be almost explosive on social media if they disagree with something”

“generation y and z don’t recognize their attitude is a concern in the industry”

“generation x and baby boomers think that there is a problem with generation y and z but it is sensitive and difficult to talk about”

We came up with our hypotheses based on various sources (flying schools, operators, training pilots) who had all made independent but similar claims.

This is what we decided to do

After publication of the blog on our website it was shared on facebook in two private pilot forums:

A) “European Airline Pilots” with about 18.000 members

B) “Future Pilots” with about 16.000 members

The assumption we made was that the European Airline Pilots would predominantly consist of experienced pilots from generation X and Generation Baby Boomers.

On the other hand, the Future Pilots forum wold consist of inexperienced pilots or wanabe pilots from generation Y (miliniums) and Z (zoomers).

The blog we produced contained 7 pieces of advice that we considered “sound” but with a few direct comments aimed at generation Y and Z.

So how did it go?

In the Future Pilots group we very quickly got a lot of comments but the vast majority of comments were very negative. The tone was not kept constructive and over time the comments got more hostile. We don’t want to hang anyone out so the following has been edited to protect the individuals, however here are some of the comments we received.

  • “I already know this and did not need to get told”
  • “Before you give advice to others check your own grammar and spelling”
  • “You will not get any customers if you have this tone”
  • “I will be fine without your advice”
  • “I will never buy anything of you with your attitude”
  • “I will take your company down as I think you are shit writing this”

After a few hours the post got deleted by an admin.

The post regarding our blog in the European Airline group also got a lot of comments but here the vast majority of comments were very positive. Apart from a minor fallout between two pilots, the tone was constructive. The general consensus was that it was an important but difficult topic to discuss.

The conclusion is that the blog post generated a completely opposing reaction and that all generations had reacted according to the expected hypotheses.

The majority of all comments from generation y and z were short however here is a reply from generation y and Z that we have decided to bring in full. 

It is important for me to state that this is going to be my view from the student’s perspective. This is a response to an article written by Ask A Pilot about generation Z and I believe it is highly relevant to have focus on differences between generations. One of the first things our instructors told us when we started was “Don’t be an a**hole”. You start your CV the first day you start your pilot training. Because a lot of the people who teach in the school are also in the industry and you never know who is sitting on the opposite side of the table when you need a job. Don’t argue with your instructor and be humble.

But here I can recognise the clash between generations. The younger generation, in the this article referred to as Gen Z is more likely to start a discussion and have this “I know I’m right” mentality. From my point of view I think the instructors are aware of this and they are trying to prepare us as students for the industry.

The school needs to focus significantly more on this issue, much more than in the past. I know schools make money on students and that we will end up getting through the education however, the more Gen Zers they put through the system without actually straightening them out, the more individuals we will experience having a certificate without ever actually making it into the seat of an airliner. That will cost them (the school) more money in the long run because they will get the reputation that pilots from this place will never get a pilot job. That will also damage the “good pilots” from the school as they will be judged according to the reputation the school has in general. In the long run it could even lead the school to close if nothing is done to change the trend.

Most of the things from this article you will hopefully learn if you ever join the military or do elite sports. One of the things I have noticed about this generation is that they don’t accept harsh criticism well. You’ll kind of have to put it in a nicer way somehow. Something generation X and baby boomers properly don’t realize or understand because this was most likely the way they have been taught.

The generation Zers are not used to having to do something without being told to do so. Here is  an example. Tomorrow, students are expected to learn about Principles of Flight however if the instructor doesn’t tell them to read page 10 to 50 (where the specific topic is explained) the students will just meet up expecting to be taught the material.  OIder generations differ.  They, on the other hand, would show up prepared and would have read page 10 to 50.  The same principle applies when it comes to flying.  The generation Zers often arrive at school 30 minutes before briefing and have prepared very little, perhaps none whatsoever.  

Student pilot, a guest writer.

How can we solve the problem (differences between generations)? 

We think the solution is: 

  • Honesty and being brave enough to talk about the problem
  • Face to face communication about the topic and training

But where and how?

EASA has with their Area 100 KSA (knowledge, skills and attitude) highlighted the importance of attitude and it is up to the flying schools to implement EASA’s guidelines into their training. However based on our experience the Business to Customer relation that exists most flying schools can make it difficult to address something like attitude. In our view it is also unlikely that “how to solve conflicts between generations” is going to be a mandatory part of commercial flight training. So unless something is done by the flying schools or later on by the operators, nothing is likely to change. 

It is unrealistic to change the behaviour of a whole generation. Blaming a generation will not solve anything either. Equally, every generation will have something positive they can contribute to the workplace with and the new generation is no doubt the future. In order to solve conflicts between generations focus should be on education of all generations. It is about understanding why each generation is different and in what ways we are different. Once that is made clear (for all generations) it is much easier to find ways of working together without having conflicts.

In most companies change and budgets is driven by top management and here lies another challenge. Conflicts between generations usually exists at lower levels and if no-one is really brave enough to talk about the conflicts, then it can be difficult for top management to know that these conflicts exist in their company.

Making a change

We know that change takes time and with many industries fighting for survival, conflicts between generations may not be at the forefront of everyone’s priorities.

It does not matter if you work within or outside aviation, if you wish to discuss conflicts between generations and how to solve them, we are happy to help.

Happy landings