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September 13, 2001 Airline research and accreditation will be based here



by Sylvain Comeau

Many of the concerns raised at the July conference will be addressed at a new research centre based in the John Molson School of Business. The International Centre for Aviation Management Education and Research (ICAMER) will seek to expand the horizons of this emerging field of business education.

“The emphasis will be on research into management of airlines, airports and air navigational service organizations,” said Dale Doreen, director of Concordia’s International Aviation MBA Program. Specifically, that means research on airport capacity and design, commercialization and privatization of airports and airlines, globalization of airline markets and strategic alliances.

“If these issues have been addressed in the past, it’s mostly been on the operational and technical side of the industry. Now the emphasis will be on how you manage the people who do the technical jobs.”

Doreen says that training programs have overemphasized technical skills. “Many of the aviation programs developed in universities over the past 50 years, primarily after World War II, were started by former military personnel and pilots, people who know how to fly planes, but not necessarily people with a business mind and management skills.”

Better management training should enhance safety in an industry that already has a strong safety record.

“Over 80 per cent of all accidents are caused by human error, not by technology. Without solid management, things just don’t work right. In the airline industry, that costs money or lives.”

The industry has struggled since it was left to fend for itself after privatization. “The airline industry is not particularly well managed, compared to most,” Doreen said. “There are some exceptions, but many companies are either losing money or showing very little profit, based on return on assets or return on equity.

“When many airlines were government-owned, they lost money and were subsidized. Now governments are saying that they can’t afford it any more and have commercialized airlines. Government and the public are demanding an industry that’s viable, sustainable and profitable, and not a burden to the taxpayer. Airlines now have to think about making money, and not just about flying planes.”

In addition to its research component, ICAMER will develop graduate, undergraduate and short-term programs in aviation management.

It was also announced at the conference that the Council on Aviation Accreditation (CAA) will establish an international office at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

“This [decision of the American accreditation body] is recognition that Concordia has the best known aviation graduate program in the world, and that Montreal is home to 230 companies in the industry, as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),” Doreen said.
“It’s the most aviation-related city in the world.”

The John Molson School of Business is providing office space to CAA free of charge, and Doreen says the AMBA program will reap the benefits.

“We will be at the centre of an accreditation process that will be extended worldwide, that will give us insight into the standards [for accreditation]. Perhaps we will have some influence on those standards. It will also create contacts with universities applying for accreditation, which could lead to fruitful research collaborations.”