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Believe it or not?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Recently, I heard an amazing story. A small, private air transport company was found to be training their pilots in some very unconventional ways. This particular airline was in a competition with many others to stay afloat and every dollar was counted carefully. They were also under tremendous pressure to satisfy their hectic schedules. The director of training for the company had been around for many years. Under constant pressure by his managers and the company directors he finally gave in and compromised on his long held safety commitments toward safe training.

The traditional route of training their pilots had always been very formal, time consuming and costly. The training involved many months of classroom and hands on work to obtain pilots who were capable and qualified to fly in their demanding application. The new training program consisted mainly of a “how to fly” video, observing other pilots fly, a five minute orientation to the flight controls and then a brief takeoff and landing. As long as each trainee completed this sequence, they were given their wings and a permanent spot as a staff pilot at well below industry wages. The airline started to show some impressive profits due to the fact they were turning out pilots faster and cheaper than ever and their competitors were taking notice. Unbelievably, this practice went undiscovered for a long period of time, until finally a serious incident occurred in which a new pilot crashed killing himself, his passengers and taking out several folks on the ground, before their practices came into the light of day.

Take a minute and think about the above story. Now substitute an industrial facility for the air transport company, a pilot for a forklift operator and a forklift for the plane. No the story is not true, and we would be appalled if it were, since most of us fly. It does bring up a great point. It is truly scary what many companies do in regards to training forklift operators. We have seen too many companies treat the training of forklift operators in this manner, or worse yet, providing no training at all. Forklifts, although heavy pieces of industrial equipment, have been long treated as something anybody can just jump on and drive, which is not the case. Just as obtaining a pilot’s license, learning to run a forklift takes time, dedication and effort and there is just no getting around that unless you are willing to paying a high price in the end.

Written by Brian Colburn of Forklift Training Systems, a leading provider of forklift safety training and materials. Forklift Training Systems can be contacted at 614-583-5749 or at Visit them on the web at

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