Rapid growth of the NZALPA-founded Peer Assistance Network (PAN) means it will soon transform into its own independent entity as planned, NZALPA Medical and Welfare Director Andy Pender says.
The PAN now has the support of the majority of airline employers, including Virgin Australia New Zealand, Jetconnect and Air New Zealand, and the endorsement of the Civil Aviation Authority.
“We’re now at the point where, like the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) programme, which focuses on alcohol and substance dependence, PAN can take on a life of its own outside of the original NZALPA set-up,” Pender says.
“The PAN will no longer be about a union-only initiative, but rather an independent support service for all aviation professionals, providing confidential advice via trained peer support volunteers who are fellow pilots and air traffic controllers, and understand the pressures of the job best.
“The employers are contributing benefactors, and their support is proving crucial, but ultimately PAN is by peers and for peers, and programme delivery remains independent.”
A similar programme, the Pilot Assistance Network in Australia was founded by Australian Airlines Ltd Pilot Association (AALPA), a predecessor of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and now operates as an independent programme.
The PAN’s launch, with new logo and website, is expected to be complete in early 2018.
By that time, the PAN Leadership Team hopes to have worked through the final process of introducing Airways New Zealand into the programme.
“Although air traffic controllers who are NZALPA members have always been welcome to use PAN, having their employer on board will further reinforce the benefits of supporting aviation professionals at work and at home,” Pender says.
“It also makes sense, given that 99 percent of Airways-employed air traffic controllers are part of NZALPA – that’s more than 380 people, not yet including flight service operators.”
Momentum is building among participation from flight training organisations, too, prompted by NZALPA’s joining fee discount to education providers. It costs $1000 per year for flight schools to be involved.
“We stand to gain so much from educating our trainee pilots and air traffic controllers about the benefits of peer assistance from day one of their careers in aviation,” Pender says.