In airway management, poor judgment, education and training are leading causes of patient morbidity and mortality. The traditional model of medical education, which relies on experiential learning in the clinical environment, is inconsistent and often inadequate. Curriculum change is underway in many medical organisations in an effort to correct these problems, and airway management is likely to be explicitly addressed as a clinical fundamental within any new anaesthetic curriculum. Competency-based medical education with regular assessment of clinical ability is likely to be introduced for all anaesthetists engaged in airway management. Essential clinical competencies need to be defined and improvements in training techniques can be expected based on medical education research. Practitioners need to understand their equipment and diversify their airway skills to cope with a variety of clinical presentations. Expertise stems from deliberate practice and a desire constantly to improve performance with a career-long commitment to education.