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The survey says…

by Nancy Jackson Media and Communications Officer

The strength behind BALPA is that it is a professional association run by pilots for pilots. Because of this BALPA can speak with an authentic voice on behalf of pilots.

But to do this we must have excellent communication with our members. That’s why every two years we carry out an extensive national survey. It’s a chance for us to learn the issues that are important to them. It helps us to gauge members’ views about the association, our activities and priorities. The outcome of this survey guides BALPA over the next two years in our industrial, flight safety and campaigning work.

This survey is conducted on our behalf by ComRes which is a highly-regarded professional polling company. They ensure the questions we ask are precise, fair, and the data we get back is reliable.  

Last time, around 810 pilots took part in the survey. The sample was weighted by company, gender, rank and age to be representative of all eligible BALPA members. And the information we got back has been guiding our work ever since.

In 2015, you told us that negotiating terms and conditions and promoting safety should be BALPA’s top priorities. We have acted on that information and put in place new programmes of work, and brought in specialists to focus on the issues that matter to you.

Of members surveyed two years ago, 40% told us that fatigue, overwork or rostering pose the greatest single threat to aviation safety. That information has directly influenced the work of our flight safety team. We have brought in staff to analyse rosters and help identify fatiguing schedules and are just completing a research project on fatigue with members using BALPA’s app to daily to rate their alertness and fatigue levels. BALPA plans to submit the overall findings from this exercise to EASA and the scientific research team who are currently reviewing the impact of the new European Flight Time Limitation rules. We will also share them with the membership, regulator and industry, so hopefully this data will influence those in the corridors of power and ultimately help focus minds on keeping flights safe.

As well as helping us understand our members, this survey also helps give us the information we need to educate decision makers and the public about the lives of pilots. The findings give us the statistical evidence we need to back up our demands to politicians and to respond to the media and public when they have questions about the lives of pilots.

We are now embarking on our latest survey. We will be conducting this by telephone, and will be calling landlines only to minimise the chance of disrupting downroute rest. We often get questioned as to why we do the survey via telephone, not online or by questionnaire – it is important that we try to compensate for the self-selecting bias, this is much easier to do via telephone than online and gives us confidence that the results are an accurate picture of the membership’s views. ComRes will be calling a representative sample of the membership. We strongly urge our members to take part if called. This is a great opportunity for BALPA’s reps and NEC to understand its members better and the findings will help shape our organisation and influence the wider aviation industry.