Captain Graham Stokes

Head of Training and Standards, Virgin Australia

Captain Graham Stokes is an experienced airline Training Manager, Training Captain and Examiner. Currently Head of Training & Standards for Virgin Australia Group, Graham is responsible for the training and checking of all Virgin’s pilots across a diverse fleet mix operating worldwide. Prior to joining Virgin Australia, Captain Stokes held a similar position at Virgin Atlantic Airways in the UK. He has worked as Regional Manager for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, and several major carriers including British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Qualified and current on several major aircraft types, Captain Stokes is an experienced Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Senior Examiner. During his time with the UKCAA, Captain Stokes chaired a working group that introduced ATQP into the UK, and also led the Runway Incursion working group. His innovative approach helped Virgin Atlantic to introduce the B787 into the fleet, with Zero Flight Time Training from the outset. 

Captain Stokes is currently the Post Holder for the Training & Checking organisations at both Virgin Australia Airlines and Virgin Australia International Airlines.

Instructional Techniques and Training ROI

The techniques that can, and should, be utilised by an instructor will vary depending upon a number of factors, including: starting point & ability of the student; instructor ability & experience; simulator vs airborne instruction; phase of training and course.

Airline pilots present with a variety of skills and experience, and courses delivered will cover a diverse range of subjects. Our instructors need to deliver training to a range of crew from new cadet course graduates, through to experienced instructors and examiners. 

Clearly then, one size does not fit all.

The presentation will explore the variety of starting points airlines face today, and are likely to in the future. We will explore ability vs. motivation, and the differing techniques required. We will review experience levels of current instructors, the likely experience in the future, and how this will impact the subject. This is particularly important in a world where we see new pilots coming from a mix of GA, military and ab-initio, with an emphasis on the skills needed to teach MPL graduates. 

I intend to explore how we select and train instructors, and how we develop them over their career. This naturally leads to the thorny issue of retention / Return on Investment. If we don’t properly train and develop our instructors for current and future (known & unknown) training chalenges, then we are likely to have retention issues. The future instructor may include fully effective long term team members, or possibly those who rotate in and out of an airlines training department. Whilst this may look like a way to cause retention / ROI issues, it is likely to lead to longer term engagement. It also supports those who wish to take career breaks, for example maternity / paternity leave, and will encourage more female pilots into training.