Airfield Safety Officer - A conversation with Elgar
What did you do prior to joining Birmingham Airport?
Before Birmingham Airport I worked for 4 years as Long Haul Cabin Crew for British Airways, based at London Heathrow. Prior to that I was a vehicle mobile hands free engineer travelling the UK.
What attracted you to the role?
I wanted a job with less travelling and closer to home. I saw the job advertised on the website and applied. I had some flying lessons when I was younger and was interested in the technical side of aircraft and airports, and thought this job would be a good career move!
Tell us about your training?
My initial training was about 5 weeks which was a mixture of classroom and practical training learning all the rules and regulations. Our training though is ongoing as we have a maintenance of competency scheme which ensures we are always capable of performing our role.
So what’s a typical day for you then?
A typical shift would be 7 to 7, 12 hours. At the start of the day we receive a briefing from the Airfield Duty Manager on matters relating to our role. As Safety Officers we are responsible for making sure the runway and airside areas are safe and clean during the daily operation. The main duties are:
- ‘Birds’ – a 24/7 role to discourage birds and wildlife from settling on the airfield, which pose a threat to the safety of aircraft.
- ‘Airfield’ - in which we constantly inspect the runway and other areas for debris or surface breaks that could damage an aircraft.
- ‘Ramp’ - where we patrol the areas and infrastructure around parked aircraft to ensure handling agent employees are working safely.
- ‘Follow me’ escorts - We also liaise with Air Traffic Control and marshal aircraft or provide when needed 'follow me' escorts for planes.
What advice would you give for potential new recruits?
Research the role you are applying for and find out as much as you can about the Airport. I read lots of the information available on aircraft types and licensing of aerodrome manuals which helped me through my training.
So what do you like best about your job?
Although the 12 hour shifts can be long it’s worth it for the time off, and allows you to balance work and home life. No day is the same! It can be quiet in the morning and suddenly manic in the afternoon with incidents or birds suddenly descending on the airfield. You have to be prepared to react to any situation at any given time!
And what qualities are the most beneficial?
A team player and a good communicator are the best qualities to have in my role. You work as a team to get the job done and speak and deal with lots of other departments within the airport. I would say you need to be a good problem solver and decision maker as well as having the ability to use your own initiative.
Are there opportunities to develop in your career?
Definitely as the Airport grows different positions become available. The Company encourages people to apply for secondment positions and receive extra training courses. For the last month I have been shadowing the Airfield Duty Manager role in the hope of promotion in the future as well as completing external Health and Safety courses.
What would you say to someone thinking about joining BHX?
Go for it! They are a good company to work for and I am looking forward to being part of the future development of the Airport.