• A whistleblower says a novice flight attendant was unable to locate an aircraft's cabin lights switch.
  • The whistleblower told aviation safety charity CHIRP a senior crew member had to do it for them.
  • CHIRP said senior crew members needed to take junior staff "under their wing."

An inexperienced flight attendant was unable to switch on their aircraft's cabin lights after a passenger got sick, a whistleblower told an air safety charity.

The crew member struggled to locate the switch after the cabin lights had been dimmed prior to a nighttime departure, the whistleblower told the Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP).

A senior cabin crew member, who was attending to the sick passenger, had to leave them "and return to the front galley to turn on the lights themself," the whistleblower said.

The senior cabin crew member was working alongside three colleagues with "limited experience" and a fourth that was "recently on line," the whistleblower told CHIRP.

"My concern is new cabin crew are unable to locate simple yet critical equipment and switches used daily," the whistleblower said, adding: "This was a simple medical issue, however could very well have disastrous impact given the level of experience in the cabin that day."

CHIRP, which reviews and investigates UK aviation incidents submitted to it confidentially, said crew members would have received appropriate training in locating controls such as cabin lighting.

"Time is always pressing during flights we know, but more experienced crew can also help here by taking inexperienced crew members 'under their wing' when possible and refreshing their familiarity with panels and equipment," CHIRP said.

It added: "Crew are onboard should an emergency arise and must be prepared for this to happen at any time. This is even more important for new crew, particularly with aircraft swaps etc that can happen on the day."

Airlines are struggling to staff up to meet surging travel demand, which has been cited as a factor in this summer's travel chaos.

Some airlines don't appear to be short of applications, however, with Virgin Atlantic's CEO telling The Sunday Telegraph in June the airline had received 5,000 applications for 400 roles.

Separately, a pilot told iNews they were cleaning planes and loading bags to help out amid staff shortages.

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