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

CAA shows support for Peer Assistance Network

The Peer Assistance Network (PAN) has been endorsed by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Chief Executive and Director Graeme Harris in a formal letter of support.

Former Medical and Welfare Director and current PAN Coordinator Captain Herwin Bongers said the support comes at a time when the programme is building further momentum among members and recognition among other aviation stakeholders, including airlines.

“This acknowledgement from the CAA recognises the benefits of pilots and air traffic controllers reaching out and talking to colleagues about issues before things reach breaking point,” Bongers said.

“The reassurance from the CAA that it, as a regulator, understands the value of PAN is invaluable. Its support will go a long way to providing the security our members need to speak out about their wellbeing without fear of losing their licence.”

Existing PAN supporters including NZALPA, Air New Zealand and Jetconnect were joined by the CAA in early June.

“We believe [PAN] is clearly in the interests of safety for pilots and air traffic controllers who may feel under stress, anxiety or compromised mental wellbeing to know that they can access the support that PAN provides,” Harris wrote.

“Our view is that cases of compromised mental wellness do not prevent an individual from continuing to operate safely in the aviation system if they are well treated and managed in a manner that ensures safety is not compromised.”

He congratulated the progress made by NZALPA and the PAN team.

“I fully support the outcomes PAN is designed to deliver and would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and applaud the effort that has gone into its development to date.”

Despite the formal letter of support from the CAA, state-owned enterprise Airways New Zealand, Virgin Australia New Zealand, and numerous flight training organisations throughout the country are yet to formally support PAN.

The PAN committee is currently engaging with these groups.

“It’s our intention to have every aviation industry stakeholder involved in PAN so we can all have our say on how best to provide wrap-around care to those in need, and ensure that day-to-day the wellbeing of New Zealand pilots and air traffic controllers is a high priority,” Bongers said.

“Although CAA, as the regulator, agrees that it is best they aren’t involved in the running of the programme, their endorsement speaks volumes and will hopefully reinforce the importance of PAN to aviation employers, educators and other key stakeholders.

“Ultimately, what’s good for the pilots and air traffic controllers is good for the travelling public.”

To encourage participation from flight training organisations, NZALPA is offering a joining fee discount. It costs $1000 per year for flight schools to be involved.

“Together we stand to gain so much from educating our trainee pilots and air traffic controllers about the benefits of peer assistance from right at the start of their careers,” Bongers said.

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