Published On: September 13th, 2021By Categories: Feature1.6 min read

Mayday-SA is thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr Jaco van der Westhuizen as the new Chief Executive Officer, with immediate effect.

Jaco is currently employed by ATNS as a Human Factors Specialist where he deals with matters from safety culture to the human in safety performance and the systemic nature of safety failures. Jaco has been actively involved in MAYDAY activities since 2019 and firmly believes that peer support, and as a result, mental health and well-being forms a critical part of safety across all organisational levels in our aviation industry.

Jaco is a former Air Traffic Controller and holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Movement Sciences (1994), an MBA from UNISA Business School (2006), and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour from the University of Pretoria (2018). In addition, he serves on the ICAO Mental Health Work Group and the CANSO Next Generation Future SMS Work Group.

Moreover, Jaco is a training facilitator on an ad-hoc basis for IFATCA as well as IATA on safety-related courses and acts as a business management research supervisor for Stadio University’s Masters and Doctoral programmes on a part-time basis.

As we welcome Jaco into the Mayday-SA family, we also wish to offer a great debt of gratitude to outgoing CEO Wendy Santilhano. Wendy’s deep belief in the importance of supporting mental health and well-being in aviation led her to take a fledgling Critical Incident Response Programme, then under the auspices of ALPA-SA, and mould it into Mayday-SA, a stand-alone Section 21 company. This not-for-profit status allows Mayday-SA to ensure independence, thus providing a safe-haven with guaranteed confidentiality to licence holders needing support after accidents and incidents and supporting well-being needs.

Wendy remains on as a director and will continue to provide an invaluable contribution to Mayday-SA from her new home in Germany.

This press release is correct as at date of publication, being 9 September 2021. Kindly direct any enquiries to

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