Skyscanner looks at the growing trend of the Flight Simulator as a corporate team building and bonding experience.
For reasons which remain unclear, the powers that be at Skyscanner have always expressly forbidden me to write about planes crashing. I decided though, that in the light of the heroics of Captain Sullenberger, who landed his Airbus in the Hudson River last month, it is time to be heroic myself.
At the risk of sounding like a fourteen year old, what he did was, like… awesome. He did the kind of thing that Walter Mitty types like myself imagine achieving in a moment of crisis. In short, he has made crashing-landing a plane just about the coolest thing around.
And it seems I’m not alone with this rather warped view of airline safety. An article caught my eye in The Sunday Times (01/02/09) which no doubt many of you will have read, about British Airways offering plane simulator crashes by way of team-building exercises. Apparently, bookings for the £130 a head experience have shot up since the Airbus in New York shot down. This strikes me as odd.
The BA Flight Saftey Awareness Course
A quick look on the British Airways website and you find their Flight Safety Awareness Courses. Apparently, you have a “simulated flight on a full motion Boeing 737 cabin simulator, leading to an emergency landing and full aircraft evacuation from a smoke-filled environment [with] a practical door and overwing exit operation”.
According to the article, participants on this course get so charged by the realism of the event that “on three separate occasions businessmen have shorn through a half inch steel bolt by hand so as to lift a 45 lb overhead escape hatch”. Great.
I have a couple of issues with this kind of corporate jolly. It is marketed as a safety course, but BA’s Customer Services manager comments that it is also a team-building experience for clients, “because they go through a stressful environment.”
Why would the private sector need to pay for this kind of experience? If they want collective stress, then why not stay in the office together and watch their share price slide? Are their jobs not stressful enough at the moment? HBOS has been one of BA’s clients for this kind of thing – surely over the last few months, the group-wide blood pressure average has gone up a bit?
Leftie gripes aside, my main objection to taking part in this (apart from being scared) is why you would want your colleagues to see you reduced to your basic humanity: to see the real you.
My friend George, who sometimes comes out of his box at corporate events and gets a little lively at the free bar, always has “an ugly twin brother with a drinking problem” to fall back on the next day, but in the sober confines of a flight simulator there is no hiding the monster that might lurk within.
Are You a Survivor?
I once read a study about the personality types who typically survive plane crashes. Unsurprisingly, young men did pretty well, but specifically, it was young men who displayed sociopathic tendencies and were happy to trample three-year olds and granny as they clawed their way to safety.
This kind of jolly seems to me to have every possibility of your colleagues confirming that either you are a psychotic b*stard who’ll try and batter down the emergency door with the new girl’s head, or worse, that you are a gibbering coward for whom they have no respect whatsoever.
In the meantime, I am sure this will continue to be very popular, as people give their employees yet another excuse to fire them.