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Aviation Selection Consultants (ASC) was set up with a mission to make psychometric and psychological assessments and employee wellbeing more accessible to all aviation companies, in particular for highly stressful jobs such as pilots and air traffic controllers. We profiled the firm and invited Margie Burns to tell us more about the firm and what makes it so successful.

Established in 2012, ASC’s goals are simple, to help its aviation clients select the best candidates cost effectively without compromising on quality or standards. The aviation industry has become very reliant on pilots to self-fund their training. This has a particular set of consequences, going as far as many pilots with a licence not making the transition from flying small aircrafts to jet aircrafts used by airlines such as A320 or B737-800 aircraft. In fact, 50% of licenced pilots are found unsuitable for flying jobs with airlines. This is largely due to the fact they tend not to undergo a thorough assessment before training. Margie outlines what services the company offers within the aviation sector.

“At ASC, we provide independent assessment for those considering funding their pilot training, so that they can make a more informed decision about whether they should invest in becoming a pilot or not or in fact which route they should take to becoming a pilot, as there are different options available. We provide this service to airlines globally, some flight training schools that want to do things right, and also the military. We also provide the training on how to use a competency base approach to pilot selection so that the client’s own staff are trained to carry out the assessments to airline standard. At this stage, ASC has exported its services into 16 different countries, spanning four continents.”

With regard to innovation, ASC must be adept at adapting quickly and prioritise innovation, the aviation industry is very dynamic, with new technology popping up every day, constantly changing and if people do not have the flexibility and innovation to change and improve, then they will not survive in the industry. 

At ASC, the team started out by developing its own pilot specific personality assessment, which takes into account modern day stressors such as burnout, which is often a precursor to depression. This was a joint collaboration between Margie, who came up with the concept, and Peter Rhodes, the psychologist highly experienced in test development. They had worked together on several pilot assessment projects in Europe and the Middle East, after Peter had trained Margie in Occupational Testing, at Level A & B with British Psychological Society approval. Margie explains what the firm has gone on to do since.

“Since then, we continue to enhance our range of courses by listening to our clients. In fact, ASC has developed the first pilot wellbeing programme in the world which has already been proven scientifically to improve overall health, fitness, wellbeing, ability to deal with stress and importantly decision-making skills. Given that 80% of all air accidents are caused by human error and while some of that may be as a result of poor communication, essentially it is mostly as a result of poor decision-making impacted by stress and fatigue. Subsequently, we set up a separate website to focus on everything related to mentoring, coaching, wellbeing, stress awareness.”

Operating in a boutique nature and with a firm philosophy, there are many things which help ASC stand out amongst the industry, including the fact that the team are highly focused in all aspects of aviation, and boast a wealth of experience which Margie alludes to.

“Crucial to our success, our team boast a wealth of aviation experience. Each member with an average of 20 years aviation experience in their particular field. We have backgrounds in pilot recruitment, pilot training, coaching, assessments, psychology, nutrition, sports etc. We live by our motto ‘costeffective’ solutions without compromising on quality or standards, and are driven to make an impact and play our part in making the skies safer for all.”

Working within such a fast-paced market like Aviation, it is vital the ASC employ techniques which help it to stay ahead of emerging developments which typically arise. The team are always looking for new solutions and Margie comments on the fact that they are ready to deploy accessible and innovative solutions at any time.

“Constantly being on the move, I present regularly at international aviation conferences so it keeps me up to date with what is happening. We are also ready to launch online programmes for pilots which will accessible via our YouTube station, along with an app that is currently in the Beta stage. The main route to the market today is utilising social media platforms.”

Staff at ASC come to work with a true vision in mind, which is helping clients select the best products and candidates. Margie mentions the open environment in which employees work together and learn from each other on a regular basis.

“The team are all experts in their field and everyone learns from each other. Innovation is important so all and any ideas on how to improve are encouraged. The internal culture is one of mutual respect, professionalism and certainly friendship, as I have worked with and collaborated with all the team in some capacity before setting up Aviation Selection Consultants.”

Moving forward, there are exciting times on the horizon for ASC, with Margie referring to her belief that the firm is about to achieve huge success. She hints at new contracts which will help the company cement itself as a leader within the aviation industry.

“Looking ahead, I believe we are on the cusp of huge success with ASC. We expect to be announcing details of some very exciting contracts with International Airlines in the coming weeks.”

Ultimately, Margie signs off by predicting what developments there are on the horizon for ASC, and how the firm will adapt around these and build on the solid foundations already built. With the experience amongst the team, the issues and challenges which may arise throughout the industry will be embraced and overcome by ASC.

“Regarding the future of the Aviation market, there is a constant reference to pilot, technician and engineer shortages. In fact, it is reported that over the next 10 years 255,000 new pilots are required and a similar number for engineers. You could argue that in fact there are pilots available but not suitable. As a company, we are doing what we can to address the perceived shortage of pilots. I also feel that the aviation industry needs to compete with the likes of Goggle and Amazon to attract in the next generation of airline pilots.

“Having wellbeing programmes in place, in my opinion is crucial and we have developed a remarkable programme which has already proven its weight. It is worth mentioning that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which is a UN Organisation has set up a working committee/board to look at how we target schools etc and attract in the next generation of aviators.”

Company: Aviation Selection Consultants

Contact: Margie Burns

Contact Email: [email protected]

Address: Block B, The Crescent Building, Northwood, Santry, Dublin 9, Ireland

Telephone: 00 353 (0)46 907 7710