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Hangar Talk November 2016

Why support Mayday-SA? by Tom Chalmers

This month we have something different for Hangar Talk – it is an appeal by MayDay- SA for help. This is an organisation which has been playing a major role in the wellbeing of aircrews, but so successful has it been that it has reached saturation point and cannot carry on without a large input of assistance and funds. Read on…

MAYDAY-SA, which is part of an international organisation designed specifically to help aircrew, predominately pilots, overcome the mental trauma experienced as the result of an accident or incident in flight or a crisis in their personal lives which effect their wellbeing and ability to what they do best – fly.

Established a few years ago, Mayday-SA has now been forced to use the very words of its name, “May Day”, to call for help to cope with the growing demand for its services and the need to expand and finance its overall operation.

Addressing a breakfast meeting for Mayday –SA held in cooperation with the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa on the opening day of Africa Aerospace and Defence recently, the organisation’s keynote speaker, retired SAA Captain Karl Jensen, focussed on the very core at which Mayday- SA finds itself right now, namely as an organisation established to provide a Safe Haven for licence holders (mainly pilots at this stage) and their families in need of support after a critical incident or when suffering personal trials as a result of a life crisis affecting their wellbeing.

To quote Capt. Jensen: “Included in the Mayday-SA prospectus is a letter by an individual which epitomises the problems faced by so many people when they feel they have nowhere to turn and, as the author suggests, and which I believe is very accurate, professional help can alleviate problems which affect one’s performance in the highly complex and unforgiving world of aviation. In some cases, people are killed, equipment destroyed and the viability of an airline can be compromised, but for human intervention by genuinely concerned organisations such as Mayday-SA.”

In an email to World Airnews, Mayday-SA’s chairman, Mike Groch, wrote: “Post German Wings has seen a growing movement and debate to establish independent Peer Support structures such as Mayday-SA. In some regions, for example, Europe, there is a move to legislate for these. Our CEO, Wendy Santilhano, has been drawn into this global movement which is drawing significantly on her already stretched capacities. Mayday-SA will be expected to take the lead in the South African context.

“In the last two years we have seen a growing demand on the services of our Peer Volunteers as a result of our strengthening public profile and proven worth which has resulted in a greater operational burden on those of us filling a dual, part-time role of Peer Support and Management.

“We need to expand the capacity of the Peer Team (Airlines and General Aviation). In addition, we are engaged with leadership in the Cabin Crew constituency and will, funding permitting, be drawing them into the Mayday-SA fold next year,” he wrote, adding: “Mayday-SA has become an increasingly busier organisation with greater management complexities for our dispersed volunteers which demands that we recognise and react to the new realities.

“Apart from needing more Peers and embracing the Cabin Crew fraternity, we have to change our operating model and engage a part-time CEO (2/3 days a week) to lead and manage our day-to-day operations in a professional manner thus relieving the growing pressure on the current team fulfilling this role.”

Groch went on to say: “I mentioned in my address (to the breakfast meeting) that we needed financial help. We have a small group of dedicated sponsors without whom we wouldn’t have survived. We must expand our funding base to which end I appeal to you and your organisation to come alongside us and assist us as we grow into our new role and model..........................................To read the full article please subscribe to our E Magazine Here.

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