Competency-based education (CBE) is, in many ways, a logical answer to problems with training in the aviation industry. The competency-based approach is also appealing to regulators working in a critical, high-risk industry. From the perspective of CBE, competencies are often written in a way that simplifies the complexity and richness of competent performance. A unitary view of competence is promoted in most models of competency-based education. The weakest link in any CBE system is probably the competency texts themselves. The aviation industry, with its imbedded complexity, requires that competencies written at an international level are as consistent as possible across multiple locations, organizations, jurisdictions and languages. The aviation industry has been exposed to three main areas of safety science: normal accident theory, high-reliability organization (HRO) and resilience engineering. In addition to viewing competency-based education as competence, competencies and competency-based education, there are issues that will need to be resolved in the future in regard to safety.