top of page
Business Meeting
Frequently Asked Questions for AOCs
  • What can I use this service for?
    Anything where you would value talking to a peer. This may cover topics such as: your psychological well being; life stressors and changes; relationship problems; fatigue; work/life balance; bereavement; sim check worries; work pressures; colleague concerns; career options; financial problems; health concerns etc. The trained pilot peers are there for you, your well-being as a person and as a pilot. While they cannot act on your behalf, provide expert opinion, advice or even ‘fix’ your problem, what makes them superbly qualified is that they are pilots like you. They have all had further/advanced training in supporting fellow pilots and they in turn are supported by a team of independent psychologists. They are willing to listen to you, understand your challenges and help you figure it out (or at least point you in the right direction). Like most things, it is better to deal with problems and talk to others before they start to boil over. ​Things needn’t get to a crisis point before you contact us. In fact, the sooner you do, the better we can support you.
  • Who are our trained peers?
    We have taken great care in selecting a wide range of experienced peers who work in our other peer support programmes. We have trained them and watched them work at close quarters and they come highly recommended by us as among the best. More importantly though, they understand the pressures of working as a pilot in a scheduled airline. They have weathered many of the same personal and professional challenges users of this service may be currently experiencing. In our peers you will find a confidential and empathic listener who is trained to be non-judgemental, supportive and 'on your side'.
  • What happens when I make a request?
    Once you have requested contact you will receive an email/text message confirming your contact request. ​The first pilot peer to pick it up, will either text or email you (whichever preference you indicated) and arrange a suitable time to talk on the phone. ​​The initial conversation will be to understand how we can best help you - or which direction to point you in. You may have a specific request for guidance or information, or you may be seeking support on a particular challenge you are facing. Either way, we are here for you.
  • What if I am concerned about a colleague?
    It is always better for people themselves to make contact with this service. However, sometimes they are too fearful to do so, or have lost perspective on the impact that this is having on their performance or those they work with. ​If you believe that their situation has an immediate safety implication, then you are obliged to act directly and contact your line manager or pilot helpline. However, if you believe the impact is more ‘slow burning’, cumulative or may put a less experienced or assertive colleague in a potentially difficult position, then we suggest discussing this through with a peer. ​To be clear, this is not about 'reporting' your colleague, this is about discussing it with a trained peer and together working out what your best course of action is. ​Having read this and find you still have concerns, contact us anyway: that's what we are here for!
  • Can I use this service in an emergency?
    No, we are not set up to deal with emergencies. If you think that your own (or someone else’s) safety is in immediate danger, please contact you local emergency service or Flight Operations Manager.
  • Why are there different contact request times i.e. 12/24/48hrs?
    As this is a Peer Support Programme, we want your first contact to be with a volunteer pilot - and not a call centre operator. Given that they are working pilots too, it is not always possible to immediately connect you to one. However, they will do their best to respond to you as soon as is reasonable - and within your requested timeframe. ​​You can help us identify the level of need from your request: If you ask to be contacted within 12hrs, we will assume that it is urgent and will do what we can to respond as soon as possible. If you request to be contacted within 24hrs - we will assume your request is important, and not urgent. However, you would prefer to talk to someone sooner than later and we will respond to you within daytime hours. If you request to be contact within 48hrs - we will assume that whilst your request is important, you are happy for us to contact you during daytime hours, Monday - Friday.
  • What does the training of a peer consist of?
    Peers are trained in essential mental health and counselling skills. They are trained how best to support a colleague in a time of need and the role, responsibilities and boundaries of a PSP peer.
  • I have made a contact request but haven't heard back - what should I do?
    In this unlikely event, please sent us an email and we resolve this asap.
  • Can the peer intervene, advocate on my behalf or declare me unfit to fly?"
    No. As this is a peer support service, the aim is to support you to make decisions and take action in resolving a particular problem or issue you are dealing with. They are not qualified nor in a position to decide on whether you are fit to fly. Even following your conversation, that decision remains your responsibility. ​However, as a peer they can help you work this out yourself and/or figure out your options and how best to progress them. This is what they are here for.
  • What if the peer can't help me?
    Your peer is supported by a clinical psychologist which they have access to, who in turn has access to a range of resources and channels. If for some reason, your peer can't help you, they will do their best to find out or direct you to someone who can.
  • Is this service really independent?
    Your AOC recognises that for this to work, it needs to be independent of the company, the unions and the Regulator. This is in line with recent EASA and CAA recommendations. While this service is staffed by trained peers, it is managed and supported by an independent company, The Centre for Aviation Psychology, to ensure standards are met and the service is professionally managed. This company consists of clinical psychologists who specialise in aviation psychology and are market leaders and subject matter experts in this field. ​
  • How is confidentiality assured?
    Details of individual users are strictly confidential and are protected in the same way medical records would be protected. We are EU GDPR compliant. We keep a protected and encrypted record of your contact details. We also keep a separate, anonymised and encrypted record of your contact with the peer supporting you - and to which their clinical supervisor has sight of. However, no other peer has sight of this. In exceptional circumstances and within an established protocol, the Clinical and Operational Directors of the CAP PSP (both Clinical Psychologists) can access this information. ​Within your rights under the Data Protection Act, you can request to see the information we hold on you. To do so, please contact us and we will send you the address to which you can direct your enquiry and the process in which we can verify your identity.
  • What are the limits to confidentiality?
    We take your confidentiality very seriously. ​However, if you tell us anything that gives us demonstrable concern about your safety or anyone else’s, just as in other healthcare settings, we are ethically and legally obliged to waive your confidentiality. ​In this extremely rare event, your peer will follow an established protocol of contacting their clinical supervisor and together deciding on the most appropriate course of action. However, they will always work with you first to figure out a way in which you and others can be safely protected and with your consent.
  • How will you know that I work for a company who subscribes to the CAP PSP?
    We will never turn away a pilot in need. However, during the first call, we will ask you for your employing company. We will then cross-check your initials against the list of initials we have been provided by each member AOC on a half yearly basis. At no point will we share any personal information about you with your employer - even if we cant find your initials on our list. This process of cross checking is our best and simplest way that we can monitor usage per member company. The only information we will share with your employer is half yearly aggregate and trend data, and only if anonymity can be assured. In other words, we will not be sharing this information in anyway, if it is possible to identify individuals in doing so.
  • How do I complain about this service?
    If something isn't working for you, the only way we can fix it is if you let us know. Please direct your complaint to us, directly and be assured that we will deal with them in a discreet and appropriate manner.
  • Is this an emergency (or 24/7) service?
    This is not a time or safety critical emergency service. (In these instances, it is best to call the emergency services and company authorities appropriate to the emergency.) The way this PSP is managed, pilots can request support within 12, 24 or 48hrs, indicating their level of urgency. They can also request that support in their home language, depending on its availability within the peer community. We will always respond to the request as quickly as possible and typically well within the time frame requested.
  • Is this service really confidential? What if there is a threat to safety?
    Yes, confidentiality is the central pillar to this programme. Without it, this PSP will not work. However, as in every other professional setting, the only time it will be waived is if there is an indication that the pilot or the public's safety is in jeopardy. In this very rare instance, an established protocol will be followed in managing this appropriately and ensuring the response is proportionate to the level of risk posed.
  • Why is access to the PSP via the web and not a telephone number?
    Once a pilot has plucked up the courage to ask for help and request a peer, we want the first human contact they have with our service to be a good and welcoming experience. That means no routing through call handlers or unanswered ringing. The first person they speak to will be their trained peer ready to talk to them. More recently, we have found that most people first turn to the internet before asking for help from anyone - peer or professional. We want the CAP PSP website to be the place that pilots turn to first in their time of need. By visiting the website it becomes clear to them what the CAP PSP is - and what it isn't. They will know what to expect and how to access the service and indicate their level of urgency and language preference. Apart from entering their contact details, no further information is required. This way the pilot remains in control and we can ensure that the first person they speak to is the peer, ready and able to support them. (On a practical level, access via a website also ensures that we use our peers in the most efficient way possible, removing the requirement for a roster).
  • Is the contact with the peer a one-off call or is the support ongoing?
    This depends on the needs of the case. In some instances a single call is sufficient, and in others ongoing support is called for. In this case the peer will stay attached to the pilot they initially spoke to.
  • What does the training of a peer consist of?
    Peers are trained in essential mental health and counselling skills by CAP. They are trained how best to support a colleague in a time of need and the role, responsibilities and boundaries of a PSP peer. Following their initial training, they receive ongoing training and support.
  • How do you know if the pilot is an employee of a subscribing AOC?
    Each joining AOC supplies us with the names of their pilots, updated every six months. At the end of the first call with each pilot, the peer will ask them for their name and company. The peer will enter this into our secure data base and we will confirm the pilots individual membership of the AOC. While we will never turn a pilot away, we will monitor instances of non-registered pilots. We will then recheck the full list of pilots registered to the AOC in question (whilst preserving the pilots confidentiality). In rare instances in which a pilot may wish to withhold their name and company, we will treat this on a case-by-case basis and may choose to carry on supporting them or withdraw the service.
  • What feedback will the AOCs receive about the usage of this service?
    We will share trend (never individual) data with all member AOCs. Where possible, we will report usage relating to their pilots. However, we will only do so if we can protect the confidentiality of the users.
  • Can pilots request peers specifically, or specifically not, from their company?"
    Yes, pilots will be able to make this request.
  • How often will this service be used?
    Like any culture change, it may take some time for pilots to feel emboldened to ask for help from this (or any service) relating to mental well being. Consequently, it is difficult to predict how much this service will be utilised in the first year or two. However, looking at our more established PSPs and those that have been running for several years, it seems that the level of utilisation ranges from between 5%-25%, depending on how it is configured and the actual service on offer.
  • Can we use this service for addiction and substance misuse issues?
    As this is a service of pilots supporting pilots, it is there to support colleagues, whatever their challenge. However, given the safety implications and specialist treatment required for addiction and substance misuse, the CAP PSP can only ever support a pilot in conjunction with other treatment interventions. In other words, it can not be considered as a substitute to a HIMS programme or intervention, but rather in support of one.
  • Does membership duplicate our EAP / other resources we have for pilots?
    We see PSPs providing a complimentary (and very cost effective) addition to these existing services. For some pilots they will prefer seeking the assistance of the EAP's trained counsellors and others will prefer the support of a colleague who knows what it is like to be a pilot. (The purpose of PSPs is to provide a pilot access to a community of active peers, like themselves). We see situations where services like these may refer pilots to each other to better serve the pilot's needs. We also see PSPs providing a lower barrier for pilots who are asking for help. In most instances this will be sufficient and in others this will open the path to seeking the professional support and treatment the individual may require.
  • Does the PSP include treatment for individual pilots?
    As this is a peer based service, the ethos is on peers supporting peers in the hour of their need. It does not include or infer treatment or counselling by peers or clinical professionals - and as such we are able to keep the costs significantly lower. (In such instances where pilots might need professional support, peers will assist pilots accessing the necessary and available treatment either through their company or externally).
  • Can PSPs determine the fitness to fly?
    No, as this is a peer driven service, peers (however well trained they are) are not in position to determine fitness to fly, nor is it the role of a PSP. It is important that the PSP is not seen as a parallel management (or pilot association) structure nor as a replacement of Occupational Health or the individual pilot's AME. At all points, peers will encourage pilots to approach their company and/or AME for help and advice or use external resources available to them.
  • What about cabin crew, engineers, and other safety critical staff?"
    While the regulations are specifically aimed at pilots for now, EASA makes it clear that this does not exclude those AOCs who would like to provide a PSP to other safety critical staff (e.g. cabin crew; engineers). Whilst the CAP PSP has been designed with pilots in mind for now, it is certainly our intention to broaden this programmes out to wider staff groups. Please let us know if you would like to include your cabin crew, engineers, and safety critical staff in future developments of this programme.
  • Who are the CAP PSP peers?
    We are currently recruiting peers to join our CAP PSP team. They will be paid volunteers and trained in the first part of 2020. Our aim will be to provide a diverse range of peers from across a variety of operations, countries, languages, and cultures.
  • What is the role of a trained peer - and how are they supported?
    A trained peer is just that: a peer, first and and foremost - who knows what it is like to be a pilot! They are not counsellors, therapists, lawyers, financial advisers or marriage guidance experts. Equally, a peer cannot tell a pilot what to do, make decisions for them or advocate on their behalf. Neither can they decide on their fitness to fly. Their primary role is to provide support to a fellow peer going through a tough time, making it easier to ask for help. If a peer can, they will point them in the right direction and/or simply be there for them, when they need it most. At every point, peers have access to CAP’s expert aviation psychologists for guidance and support.
  • What does the training of a peer consist of?
    Peers are trained in essential mental health and counselling skills. They are trained how best to support a colleague in a time of need and the role, responsibilities and boundaries of a PSP peer.
bottom of page