Thankfully, discussions about wellbeing and mental health in aviation are finally taking flight. At EATS 2023, Owen Sims, an experienced aviator and a passionate advocate for mental health in the industry, is ready to share his insights with you in Cascais.
A Journey into Aviation and Mental Health
Owen embarked on his aviation journey in 2002, earning his commercial pilot's license at the Cabair College of Air Training. Graduating as the top performer in both flight and ground school, he began his career as a First Officer at the UK regional airline Flybe. Over the years, he rose through the ranks, becoming a captain, an instructor, and an examiner.
However, life took an unexpected turn in 2013 when Owen was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. This personal experience sparked his interest in the intersection of aviation and psychology. He started exploring how techniques from psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness, could be applied to enhance flight training and support pilot mental health.
Exploring Pilot Mental Health
Owen's presentation at EATS 2023 is much more than a talk; it's a transformative journey into the realm of pilot mental health. He'll offer a candid and insightful exploration of the challenges, misconceptions, and potential solutions surrounding this critical topic.
Owen will detail how pilots cannot rely solely on their natural instincts but must instead be in complete command of their cognitive and reasoning faculties to ensure the safety of their passengers and crew.
Whether it's a momentary lapse or a persistent condition, poor mental health clouds judgment, compromise performance, and jeopardises safety. This issue transcends mere principle or duty-of-care; it's a matter of direct importance, one that cannot be ignored.
Owen will discuss how the industry may need to undergo significant change in how pilots are treated, including how their training is funded.The current distinction between mental and physical health, misconceptions, and a hesitance within the aviation industry to confront the full scope of the problem have hindered progress.
Register for EATS 2023: Be part of the transformation. Secure your spot at EATS 2023 to gain valuable insights, network with industry leaders, and lead the charge in modernising aviation training for Gen Z. Visit EATS 2023 Registration to sign up.
Owen's dedication to pilot mental health has taken him to prestigious platforms worldwide. He's a familiar face at EATS, APATS in Singapore, and WATS in Florida, where he has shared his insights and experiences with fellow aviation professionals. Additionally, he has worked with esteemed organizations like the RAF Cadets, the Ultimate High UPRT Academy, and the European Aviation Wellbeing Committee.
In 2020, Owen's career journey led him to Solent University in Southampton, where he served as their Senior Lecturer in Aviation. Today, he's a consultant lecturer and instructor, currently contracted by L3Harris Airline Academy at their London Training Centre. His academic qualifications include a degree in philosophy, a diploma in psychology, and a postgraduate certificate in higher education. He is a Fellow of the UK's Higher Education Academy and Royal Aeronautical Society.
Join the Aviation Training Leader Forum (ATLF)
If you're a Head of Training or an aviation professional committed to advancing the industry, consider joining the Aviation Training Leader Forum. It's a platform for leaders to collaborate, exchange ideas, and drive change in aviation training. Be part of the transformative journey and help shape the future of aviation.