‘My Cock­pit View Is Worth Any Stress’

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First Of­fi­cer, Bri­tish Air­ways, Han­nah Vaughan, 27 ‘With ev­ery day be­ing dif­fer­ent, we’re trained to take dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions one step at a time. Be­fore each shift, I try to get eight hours of sleep, then I’ll get ready while down­load­ing the flight doc­u­ments, be­fore read­ing up on op­er­a­tional briefs (tech­ni­cal points that may re­late to pro­ce­dural changes/route, air­ports and weather) while on the bus into the ter­mi­nal. The stress­ful parts of the job are de­pen­dent on the time of year. In win­ter, we have to take into ac­count snow and de-ic­ing pro­ce­dures, while the sum­mer can bring thun­der­storms. The most stress­ful flight I’ve had was when a pas­sen­ger suf­fered chest pains and, some­where over Brus­sels, the sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rated – we knew we needed to get him to med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als as soon as pos­si­ble. Within min­utes, air traf­fic con­trol had given us pri­or­ity to land at Heathrow and to fly faster than nor­mal. The am­bu­lance was wait­ing for him and he made a full re­cov­ery.

‘Can it be stress­ful? Of course, but we have strict pro­ce­dures and check­lists, and fo­cussing on these helps. Hav­ing down­time is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant. I’m a triath­lete, so I swim, cy­cle and run in my spare time. It helps me com­pletely switch off from work. Be­sides, there are pros and cons to any job – my view from the cock­pit is worth the odd stress­ful sit­u­a­tion, it’s pretty spec­tac­u­lar.’

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