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Pilot Assistance Programs - IFALPA Position Paper

pdfPilot_Assistance_Programs.pdf694.05 KB

Mental Health requirements for active pilots - IFALPA Position Paper

pdfMental_Health_Requirements_for_Active_Pilots.pdf771.31 KB

14 August, 2011 The Day the Two Albatross Aircraft were declared “Missing”

How time flies! The last three years seem to have passed faster than those days in 2011 we and many other folk waited anxiously for news. It was a terrible time as, with an increasing sense of doom, the inevitable realization that our loved ones, family and friends, had probably been taken from us.

For us it had started when we were driving back to our Johannesburg home from a lunch with friends in Pretoria. Erica, my wife and Frans Dely’s sister, was dozing next to me when my cell rang. One of our daughters had been contacted by Michelle, Frans’ assistant, with the news that, while she had arrived at Rand airport safely on another plane, the two Albatrosses were long overdue. She feared the worst. When we got home I told Erica the shattering news. We called Rene, Frans' other sister. Both ladies went into shock and disbelief, and for the next many, many hours clung to the hope that Frans was OK.

Then started two days of hell while the dedicated search and rescue team worked tirelessly to find the planes. A friend of ours, Dirk Meter, had been at the Tzaneen airshow and had turned his car from its intended direction and headed back to the scene where he joined the search. He and Santjie, who was amazing, kept us informed of the facts. I’m sure all of those affected will remember the misinformation dished out in the public media.

And then the very sad news. The two plane wreckages had been found with no survivors. Deep grief replaced the anxiety and hope. Frans was really never going to come home.

I pen this picture of that event as a reminder that the anniversary of that tragedy is upon us again. Also to salute those who were at the “front line” searching with hope in their hearts and concern for us families and friends back home. I write, too, to salute a special band of volunteers, ALPA’s Peer-to-Peer team (now at the core of Mayday-SA Peer support offering to aviators) and the professionals they directed us and Frans’ daughter, Cara Lee, to and the incredible help we got from all of them – during the long wait for news and in the months after the shattering news was revealed.

In this instance great good has come from a bad experience. I am now part of the Board of Mayday-SA, an NPO working closely with ALPA, that is an independent “port-of-call” dedicated to providing peer support for aviation license holders. Mayday-SA has grown – in Volunteer Peer numbers from across a number of aviation sectors; in the impact this team is having in supporting those impact by the “oh too many” critical incidents experienced in South Africa, as well as license holders suffering life stresses that we all do from time-to-time; and in the international networks Mayday-SA is part of which enables colleague Peers to be mobilised in many far off places - from Afghanistan to Hong Kong.

It is such a privilege to work with this team as it expands its influence and provides the special, caring support that we had three years ago to, unfortunately, many folk in similar circumstances. Mayday-SA Peers we, Erica, Rene, Cara Lee and I salute you too. Our involvement is a wonderful tribute to a special father, brother, brother-in-law and friend of many - Frans Dely. Part of the legacy he has left behind. We miss our “gentle giant”.

Mike Groch.


Mayday-SA Newsletter - May 2014

Follow this link to read the second quarter Mayday-SA Newsletter...

pdfMay_Day_SA_Newsletter_May_2014.pdf158.68 KB

CIRP Conference feedback 2012

Critical Incident Response Conference

Critical Incident Response falls within the ambit of US-ALPA's Pilot Assistance Programme -

In May, Wendy Santilano attended the US-ALPA Critical Incident Response Programme (CIRP) Coordinator's conference. This conference, attracting the participation of more than 40 airlines, offers a forum to discuss lessons learned from supporting crew involved in accidents and severe incidents. Internationally, the focus of Pilot Assistance is to provide peer support (i.e. pilots supporting pilots). Typically, these programmes support crew who are confronted with life crises, aero-medical issues, substance abuse problems and the trauma of critical incidents and accidents.

What is a critical incident?

From the perspective of Pilot Assistance, a critical incident is any incident or accident which is perceived or felt to be life-threatening to yourself or someone close to you. Critical incident response programmes (CIRP) are designed to help pilots cope with processing such an abnormal event, which usually triggers the fight/ flight response in the brain.

Points to ponder:


A "Brotherhood attitude" tends to prevail amongst pilots. Pilots talk with pilots because we tend to trust one another, we understand concerns about implications/ ramifications of potential threats to licenses and medicals. Talking with a trained and skilled colleague when in difficult circumstances is proven to be particularly effective.


Hormones race through our system at the time of an incident kicking our brains and bodies into high gear for a short period of time. However, pilots are generally unaware that there is a 'hidden' or unexpected danger when these survival hormone levels subside. Consequently it can be very hazardous to assume we are fit to 'complete the mission.'


Are not private or secure. In the event you are involved in a severe incident, the press may dig around for information which may be used against you.

Contact Us

Head Office:
A: 10 Blockhouse Street Kempton Park 1619

Contact Us:
Tel.  (011) 394-5310

ALPA-SA: Emergency number:

27 82 826 5007

or 27 11 394 5310

MAYDAY Helpline


Ask for "MAYDAY"

IFALPA Emergency number: 
+44 (0) 1202 653 110 (24hrs)


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