Since 2022, UK/EU Air Transport Operators have been mandated to establish and implement a Pilot Support Programme with trained Pilot Peer volunteers.

The support programme aims to assist flight crew facing personal challenges in a confidential environment. Pilots can seek assistance from experienced peers who understand their daily work surroundings.

At the heart of the programme are volunteers, trained in listening and coaching skills to support their colleagues. The programme promotes and supports mental health and wellbeing, addressing the risks of substance abuse, and enhancing safety.

Pilot Peers have played a vital role in fostering a healthy community, ensuring pilots receive support for navigating tough situations and building resilience, thus enhancing aviation safety.

A successful Support Programme necessitates support from senior management, mental health professionals, and peer volunteers to facilitate referrals, advice, counselling, and treatment where needed.

Nick Goodwyn, pilot performance technical advisor at the UK CAA, believes professional training for both peer volunteers and senior managers is essential for an effective programme.

Commenting, Goodwyn said: “The concept of equipping pilots with the training to serve as peers, providing a supportive first point of contact, is truly commendable. Aiming to empower individuals with vital skills such as listening, empathy, and overcoming the reluctance to voice concerns, this underscores the importance of pilot peer training and works towards destigmatising discussions surrounding mental health”.

CAAi continues to offer courses to assist air operators in improving pilot health and wellbeing.

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