‘My Cockpit View Is Worth Any Stress’
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.’