Helen Heenan

Helen Heenan

Safety Improvement Specialist in Human Performance, UK CAA

Helen was educated at The Ladies’ College in Guernsey, and obtained her commercial pilot’s licence from the Cabair College of Air Training in January 1999. In May of that year she joined Jersey European Airways, the airline that later on became Flybe.

Following 7 years as a First Officer on the Dash 8 and BAe146, she gained her command on the Q400 in 2006, and in 2007 she joined the CRM team as an instructor delivering recurrent CRM training to flight deck and cabin crew. Returning from a maternity break in 2013, she then began delivering the more comprehensive Initial Operator’s CRM training for both Flight Crew and Cabin Crew.

In 2016 she was appointed the Head of the CRM training department. In this role Helen led, trained and managed a team of 12, and was responsible for the creation and delivery of all the initial and recurrent courseware for the company’s 1700 aircrew, many of whom were new recruits to commercial aviation. She was invited to sit on the company Training Policy Group to ensure that course materials were responding to identified training needs.

Her work has been acknowledged by the UK CAA as ‘The most engaged class observed for a very long time’, and from external clients as ‘The best delivery of CRM I’ve ever seen’.

Helen remained at Flybe for over 20 years, until when in March 2020 she was made redundant following the sudden collapse of the regional airline.

She then worked for 2 years as an independent training consultant, specialising in all aspects of CRM training for a number of airline operators, and training new, and upskilling existing CRMTs, into her passionate and motivational style.

Helen’s focus is on how training can be most effective. She has the ability to identify learning opportunities from a wide range of industry academic research and thinking, and combined with her own experiences and those of others, turn them into straightforward concepts. These in turn get adapted to suit the applicable training environment, with bespoke training plans designed for both the structured classroom, and coordinated with the practical application in the operational environment.

Helen has now secured a full time role at NATS, working in the Human Factors department. She currently specialises in training design, development, and delivery to ATCO Instructors and Assessors.

"It's Okay to Not be Okay" (And Other Platitudes)

Mental Health awareness is accelerating throughout all industry, not just aviation.

Generationally, socially, and professionally, we are much more aware, and accepting of, mental health conditions.

Therefore, you might think that in this day and age, considering that catchphrase a ‘platitude’ could seem belittling of what it stands for.

So, why the dismissive comment?

There is a deeper issue here; the trouble is with cliches like ‘It’s okay to not be okay’, is that, nobody really answers the question underneath.

“How would you know if you’re not?”

We often hear pilots discuss landing from unstable approaches.

“But it wasn’t a really unstable approach”

What transitions us from a slightly unstable approach to a really unstable approach?

If we use the same philosophy, when does slightly Not Okay’, become really Not Okay’?

What is the impact? Physically? Professionally? How does it affect your cognitive ability, in areas such as decision making and situation awareness?

This presentation will look to answer that question, to explain why it is that very few of would recognise it in ourselves, and what will transition us to acknowledge that, we might not be okay.