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ADC: A pilots’ conference

by Brendan O'Neal BALPA Executive President

“How do they do it at [your airline]?” 

“Is that something you’ve experienced?” 

“I’d like to see that happen where I work” 

Just a few snippets of conversations I overheard during the first day of BALPA’s Annual Delegates Conference. 

And that’s one of the best things about ADC. It’s a chance for pilots to meet, exchange stories and experiences, and network. Today, more than 300 pilots arrived for this year’s conference. In the room were pilots who are captains, first officers, younger pilots, older pilots, cadets. Pilots who fly short-haul, long-haul, Airbus pilots, Boeing pilots, those who fly helicopters and many more. But the thing that binds them all, is their love of the profession, their dedication to keeping it a great career to work in and their determination to ensure that BALPA remains the collective voice of British pilots.  

Throughout the day, delegates have been meeting, hearing talks on industry issues and taking part in workshops and seminars on important topics from Brexit to pilot health and safety. 

For me, a highlight today was the expert panel on Brexit hosted by Captain Tim Pottage. It managed to answer some questions but also highlighted that many areas of aviation are still hanging in the balance. It brought it home to me that whatever the macro politics involved a sensible deal for aviation needs to be concluded soon as this industry is so crucial for both the UK and the EU.

Of course, there has been the admin to do too. The heads of all BALPA departments have reported on their work over the last 12 months, and tomorrow there’ll be time devoted to BALPA business… to include standing orders, minutes of ADC 2017, elections, accounts, legal report, BFS report and motions.

But it’s the networking and sharing of experience that really stands out to me. Because BALPA is its members. This event highlights how pilots are at the heart of the organisation. And it’s this structure which means that BALPA can truly speak out as the voice of pilots.