Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

Safety benefits with a focus on wellbeing

The most significant way we can improve the safety of pilots and air traffic controllers is to focus on personal wellbeing, according to NZALPA’s Professional Standards Coordinator Chris Miller.

“Ultimately this is also good news for the travelling public we serve,” added Miller.

NZALPA’s Peer Assistance Network (PAN), Pilot Professional Standards Programme, Air Traffic Control (ATC) Professional Standards Programme and involvement with HIMS NZ (a programme for managing substance use disorders in aviation), are all part of its growing support offering.

Dispute resolution is becoming an increasing focus of the Professional Standards Programmes for both pilots and air traffic controllers (ATCs).

“Any type of conflict in the workplace, as well as being distressing to the individuals involved, is a distraction to us when we need to be focused on our goal of providing a safety-critical service,” Miller said.

The conflict/dispute resolution service for both pilots and ATCs is now available to all members. It is suitable for those experiencing conflict that is having an impact on their performance at work.

Professional Standards Volunteers (PSVs) are trained to assist people in a variety of situations in which conflict might arise, including, cockpit or workplace interpersonal style (CRM), personality conflict, non-adherence to standard operating procedures, crew coordination issues, distracting personal habits and sexual harassment (within guidelines).

The ATC Professional Standards Programme, which was introduced last month, was developed from the current NZALPA Pilot Professional Standards Programme, with input from a similar programme run by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the United States.

“The support from NZALPA’s pilots and NATCA has been invaluable,” Miller said.

“It’s also made us realise that pilots and air traffic controllers may deal with different types of conflict due to differences in their general work environments. The bespoke programmes we have created recognise this.”

The programme is based on neutrality and confidentiality but not anonymity, as the reporting party must be actively involved in the conflict resolution. The rule that no written records of the conflict resolution will be retained.

“We’re providing a service to our members that will help resolve issues around conflict and remove the associated stress.  This means we can get back to work and continue the focus on safety and service that comes with being a professional air traffic controller or pilot,” Miller explained. 

“NZALPA is passionate about aviation safety and the well-being of our members. These go hand-in-hand, and the Association provides a lot of services to its members to help them sustain good mental health and well-being.

“I think our members will see this Programme as a hugely beneficial asset, and will possibly act as a way of helping colleagues who could benefit from NZALPA’s other programmes such as PAN and HIMS.

“This can only benefit the industry as a whole.” 

  • For support, contact the NZALPA office and ask for Member Assistance from the Professional Standards team. Alternatively, contact the Medical and Welfare Director, or your Professional Standards Coordinator.

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