Søren Møller: 50% owner and one of the original founders of GreyBird. Søren has a background in telecom and leadership and has been an entrepreneur for more than 20 years.
Jens Stausholm: 50% owner and board member. Jens is a highly successful business developer from Aarhus, Denmark.
GreyBird was founded in 2013, and in the short timespan since then, it has expanded immensely. Not only is GreyBird now the largest and most successful flight academy in our home country, GreyBird has also established bases in Sweden and Spain. The company continues to grow at a healthy pace, and GreyBird has cleared the pandemic with positive numbers – a pandemic that caused some trouble for the industry in 2020-2021. GreyBird now stands fitter and better qualified to continue our expansion in Europe than ever before.
GreyBird was founded by three very different, but very skilled, individuals, who all put their hearts into the first years of GreyBird’s history. Only through demanding work and completely new ways of building a flight training organization, has it been possible to grow the company this fast. Today, GreyBird is owned by one of the founders as well as a financial investor, but the majority of the founders are still in the management group. GreyBird has more than 50 people permanently employed in three different countries, and we have managed to grow – even through the period of the pandemic.
The GreyBird spirit remains. We want to be the best, we want to treat people fairly, and we want to work with colleagues and students who have lofty expectations of themselves and of the organization they work or train in.
GreyBird's Training Philosophy
GreyBird’s training philosophy is based on three pillars of belief. These pillars are always at the center of our discussions when changes are made to our programmes, tools, or planning. These pillars are what make GreyBird.
Pillar 1: Positive Training
Positive training is a GreyBird phrase. It is the opposite of negative training, which is when you learn something that will damage, harm or obscure other skills you have learned. A good example is if you must change training aircraft for no other reason than a wish to save money. A different type of aircraft adds unnecessary complexity; the flows in the cockpit will be different, and the speeds you must remember will be different, just to mention a few things. This forms a real risk that you might get the different speeds, flows or procedures wrong on the two different aircraft, and this increases the risk of errors. Furthermore, your learning will be slowed down. Adding this risk, making the training organization’s fleet non-uniform, and forcing the pilot students to fly different aircraft form an exceptionally good example of negative training. Another good example of negative training is if your theory instructors use their own material to teach, which will undoubtedly mean that there are many different takes and thoughts behind how to structure a lesson and how to present information, all of which you must comprehend as a student.
Positive training, on the other hand, is when all the training you do leads on to the next step. When nothing of what you learn conflicts with other knowledge or complicates your operation for no reason. For instance, when all the theory material follows the same common thread. We have strived to remove any such negative training from our programme, and we believe that we have been highly successful. Good examples of our positive training are:
You will never fly two different aircraft types in the same module.
You will never go from one type of aircraft to another and back to the first.
The procedure simulator is an accurate replica of the IFR twin-trainer aircraft.
Engines are the same in the single-engine and the twin-engine aircraft.
All presentations used in our classrooms are developed by GreyBird and follow the same structure and standard.
The manual structure and names of manuals used during the basic flight training match those of the complex training – even in the MCC course.
Our teaching methods and materials are highly standardized and are used by all our instructors. This is possible because we mainly use permanently employed full-time instructors in contrast to the typical employment of freelance instructors. This means that fewer people spend more time in our company, and they do not get any negative training from other operations.
We believe that the first pillar in our training philosophy is crucial to obtaining ambitious standards for our students, and for us to be able to deliver a first-class product.
Pillar 2: Meticulous, Responsible, Competent
The industry is extremely focused on “KSA” which is short for Knowledge, Skills and Attitude. There is a good reason for this. Intense studies have shown that when sufficient skills, knowledge and the right attitude are present in a cockpit, accidents are extremely less likely to happen compared to when just one of the three areas is missing. As a flight training organization, our finest goal is to make sure that all the students who study at GreyBird will get the right level of skills and knowledge as well as the right attitude.
The industry has a general challenge which we believe we have found a great solution for. The challenge is that skills and knowledge are heavily tested and monitored during the education and skills tests. This is the law, and it has been in place for many years. But attitude has not really been addressed. Furthermore, how do you train your attitude and how do you get a better attitude, and is it needed?
When the industry hires pilots, it is commonly accepted that Knowledge Skills and Attitude are assessed during the interview and simulator tests. Skills are given a 10% weight, Knowledge 20% weight and attitude a 70% weight. This means that you can be a very skilled and competent pilot without being a viable candidate for a given job. We believe that this is a massive and unaddressed problem in most flight training organizations.
We have developed a way of working that will ensure that our students get sufficient levels of Knowledge and Skills as well as the right Attitude. It is massaged into their way of working and thinking. The system rotates around the three words Meticulous, Responsible and Competent.
It is important to understand that this is not a system that in any way challenges or replaces KSA, but we believe that it is the recipe to use when the task is to make a person KSA aware. It simply does not work to tell a person that “your attitude is not good enough”, and then expect the person to improve based on that. We must assume that all students have done their best in the way they believe to be best, however wrong that is. When a student’s error is miscalculation or insufficient skills in the cockpit, it’s easy to correct and inform, and expect the student to learn from that. By doing that, we have addressed what everybody addresses, and that is about 30% of the weight of the decision when that student applies for a job. We must address the remaining 70% to excel in our task.
The three arrows you see in the illustration above form a circle, and this is important. What we aim to introduce is a repetitive way of working and an understanding of how you must work to become and remain a great pilot. Meticulous, Responsible, Competent must all be part of who you are. The road to becoming a great pilot with the right attitude starts with meticulousness. Being meticulous is a choice, and it does not take more than a decision to act meticulously. To be responsible and competent, obviously, is not a decision. To be competent is a result of doing the right thing; training hard and working efficiently for a prolonged period of time. But what about being responsible? Could that be a choice? In our minds, not completely. To be responsible, you must make the right decisions over and over again, and to be able to make the right decisions, you need knowledge and knowledge comes from preparation. What is the right decision, you then ask? The right decision is very rarely an easy decision. The right decision is the decision that is good no matter what happens next. If you find yourself thinking, “is it good enough if I…” or similar, the right answer and the following right decision is “NO”. You ask yourself because you have a thread of doubt, and that does not work in aviation. You will not be able to ask and answer this kind of question without proper preparation, and therefore the journey to becoming a great pilot starts with being meticulous and acting meticulously.
When you are meticulous, you prepare thoroughly, strive for perfection and aim to perform as well as humanly possible, and eliminate any and all errors in your preparation. This makes an ideal basis for making the right decisions and thus enables you to be responsible.
When you do this, over and over again – continue to make the right decisions – the result will be that you do make the right decisions and therefore train exactly what you are supposed to – nothing more, nothing less. You never do and train almost what you were supposed to, and therefore you will only become better at doing exactly what you are supposed to. This leads to a higher level of competence, faster. This is also a great example of positive training, by the way.
When you have become a competent pilot, you must, however, continue to be meticulous. If you stop being meticulous and consequently prepare less, your ability to make the right decisions will decrease. You will start to train what you are almost supposed to do or even not supposed to do, and you will actually decrease your level of competence. This is a direct result of having lowered your attitude.
By working with this method; constantly discussing if the error you made was based on missing training, not sufficient knowledge or if it related to your process and therefore your attitude, you would become KSA aware. And by being that, you will, at the time you part with us, be miles ahead of many experienced pilots. This is what separates the good from the great, and this is where we believe that we will influence your future career the most.
Pillar 3: Data-driven and technology-friendly
At GreyBird, we believe in technology. We do not aim to use technology just for the purpose of using technology, but when the technology exists, which can help us, benefit our customers, improve our product, or make the task of becoming a pilot easier, we try to implement it as fast as possible. As a result of that, we are data-driven – here, we differ hugely from most other pilot academies. We collect a lot of data, and we aim to base all changes on data analysis. Generally, this means that we change things not because someone feels, thinks, or believes that things can be better, but because we know. We use data to foresee student performance, and data enable us to act before the student falls behind. We use data to understand why a student’s studying is not paying off, and we use data to optimize our operation. In this way, we act a lot like the airlines, which is not in any way common for flight training organizations.
We have in-house software development, and we strive to gain as much, as fast as possible based on data analysis. This is also one of the parameters that enable us to act across borders. As all understanding of student performance is measured and understood rather than based on talking briefly to students, our head of training is capable of discovering students who need our attention no matter which base they are located at. It also means that we can travel to students in need in time, and we can monitor their progress closely after a special programme has been designed for them.
Together, the three pillars create the heart of GreyBird. The combination of positive training, the right way of working and studying in terms of gaining KSA awareness and having a lot of data on which to build decisions sets GreyBird vastly apart from the traditional pilot academy. We are proud of what GreyBird has become, and we cannot wait to continue the development of the company.
We hope this description of our training philosophy has intrigued you, and that you want to take a closer look at who we are and what we do.