Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ready for pushback...

I'm a research psychologist. I am interested in the health and well-being of Aircrews (both Pilots and Flight Attendants), and aviation Ground Crews. I come by this interest naturally, since I have several close family members who work in aviation.

For the last couple of years, I have been studying "stress" in Aircrews and aviation Ground Crews -- both occupational/"on-the-job" stress, and that which arises from home and personal life -- all of which interact, of course. I try to determine the sources of stress for these individuals, what they do to cope, and I attempt to measure some of the outcomes of that stress, particularly in regard to health (both mental and physical).

I began my research with commercial airline and freight crews. Later I expanded the studies to include "corporate" crews -- that is, the sector of aviation that includes aircraft owned by corporations and individuals, the "on-demand" charter carriers, and the fractionally-owned business aircraft.

I focus entirely on the people who work in aviation in one capacity or another. I do follow topics such as the business of aviation, government regulation of the industry, aviation labor unions, and so on, but the focus of my interest in these topics is, "How does this affect the individual crewmembers in their daily lives?"

So, in addition to formally collecting and analyzing data from my research participants, I spend a lot of time each day searching for and reading background material. I read aviation-related news; I follow news, research and other information about health and medical topics as well, sifting for material that could be relevant to the lives and well-being of those who fly for a living, and their colleagues on the ground.

Additionally, I read many on-line forums devoted to aviation and flying. I actively participate in a few of those, too, sometimes asking questions, and sometimes offering comments or answers to others' questions when I feel I have something relevant to say. Yes, there's a lot of fluff and junk on some of those forums, but there's a lot of good information and serious opinion as well. I've learned a lot about aviation, and about the people who work in aviation, from those forums!

As I go along, I find myself continually emailing articles or links to others, posting links on the forums, printing this and that for my background files, bookmarking pages for future review, and so on. I carry on email and telephone dialogues about all this with family members, colleagues and some of my research participants (many of whom have become true friends), and assorted other folk.

Gradually, the idea formed to put the product of all that sifting and reviewing and discussing together in some central on-line location that my many 'correspondents' -- and anyone else with an interest in the topics -- could go to read it.

The idea finally crystallized last week: I decided to initiate this blog.

What I have in mind to do with this blog is to create a place where I can collect and display links to news and other material, embedded in a bit of crew-centered commentary. I intend to do this in an informal, conversational mode.

I want this blog to say, "Here are some highlights of what I found 'out there' on the web today, and here is how I think it relates to the interests of Aircrews and other aviation folk."

I'd be delighted if the readers would add their own points of view to the conversation by adding their comments.