The word 'compassion' embraces 'passion' and describes a desire to support someone else’s wellbeing. Passion is one of the values at AviAssist. Each of our professional volunteers has a different way of communicating that passion. Some of our experts are more extroverted than others. But one thing they all share is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards aviation safety and Africa, a commitment to inspire progress in African aviation safety.
Attention to wellbeing has drastically risen since the start of the Corona pandemic and for good reasons. Back in September 2018, the Foundation organised its first training venture related to wellbeing – our first aviation mental health course. That topic came to the Foundation as a logical extension of our human factors course by one of our star instructors. In our dynamic, complex, and hazard-prone aviation environment, the wellbeing of our frontline staff needs to be one of our prime concerns. For all our technological advancement, the human element is still the most resourceful, resilient, and surprisingly effective safety ‘tool’ at our disposal. Want to learn more about Work-Related Stress (WRS)? Click here to watch a presentation that Dr. Joan Cahill from our research team gave at our 2021 Safety in African Aviation conference.
But little is known about the status of, and support to, the wellbeing of our fellow professionals in African aviation. In fact, little research is conducted on aviation safety-related topics in Africa altogether. I wrote in Groundhandling International magazine from our friends at the Mark Allen Group some time ago. The article was all about the importance of starting traditions of domestic data based on Africa based research.
Most data used in the African aviation industry to feed decisions on risk management is currently data coming from other continents. Poor homegrown data hurts the ability of African aviation to set priorities and make better-informed investment decisions. Data is the first, crucial step to come to such better-informed decisions. Then you need smart, objective analysis to make sense of the data. You can then shape the actions you want to take to reduce your risks and thereby your costs as an industry.
Decision-makers at all levels increasingly demand relevant information to lay the foundation for changes to procedures, policymaking, budgeting and for investment decisions when that data supply side is up to standard. It will better enable management to verify if available resources are being used to address the highest risk areas, including the domain of human factors.
Our first AviAssist Safety Promotion Centre (ASPC) is based at the University of Rwanda and that is for a good reason. Universities around the world play a crucial role in research and development.
One of the three pillars of the ASPCs is research for better aviation safety. It is with great pride that we are announcing the beginning of our research into aviation mental health. It will all kick off once we start our monthly online TV show from January 2022 onwards. The aim of our Focus Sessions is to inform, inspire and entertain African aviation safety. We’ll be broadcasting on the last Friday of each month. You'll find a link for registration to access those sessions (for free!) at the bottom of this post.
Our second Focus Session on the 28th of January is dedicated to work-related stress and peer assistance networks. That session also serves as a prelude to research into understanding pilot work-related stress in Africa and its impact on performance, quality of life and safety. This research will support efforts to establish a pilot assistance network for one or more airline operators. The study will also lay the basis for a peer assistance network training course by the Foundation for deployment in the African region. Click here to view a short presentation from our 2020 conference about Peer Assistance Networks.
We will start with research into the role that Work-Related Stress plays in the pilot community. But we are keen to widen that target audience as soon as we can.
AviAssist is here to strengthen your safety commitment, but we need your attendance, energy and input. The African aviation industry must invest in its staff to give them the skills to understand, monitor and maintain their mental wellbeing. Join our research to help shape the future of mental health in African aviation.
See you in our Focus Session on the 28th of January! Click here to register for free for the Focus Sessions.