Before ever leaving the runway, thousands of hours of preparation, training and care go into every single WestJet flight. Our new video series, Beyond the Aircraft, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible measures WestJetters take to ensure the comfort and safety of our guests.
We sat down with WestJet pilot John, cabin crew member, Elisa and aircraft maintenance engineer, Tim to talk about safety. Read below to see how they work as a team with other WestJetters to ensure safety is always the number one priority.
John, 737 Pilot
Why did you join WestJet?
Even early on, it was obvious that safety and care were engrained in the culture. As a pilot that’s incredibly important, because at the end of the day I’ve got a family to get home to as well.
What does it take to become a WestJet pilot?
On average new WestJet pilots already have three to four-thousand hours of flying experience. That’s roughly a decade’s worth of flying experience before they ever get on board a WestJet aircraft.
How do WestJet’s pilots make sure they are on the top of their game?
Every six months we’re back in the simulator going over procedures and being evaluated and beyond that, every year, we sit down and go over updates to aircraft systems and emergency procedures.
What teams help WestJet get an aircraft out of the gate safely on time?
The pilots oversee both guests’ and crews’ safety, but there’s a whole team of people working together every time a WestJet flight leaves a gate.
First there is our turnaround crew that are our ‘eyes on the ground.’ This team is responsible for safely marshaling taxiing planes in and out of the airport gates.
Come rain, shine or irregular operations, our TAC team helps to get flights ready to go on-time by handling cargo, positioning airside equipment, supplying the aircraft with water, and other duties that support our operation.
Then we have our operations control centre are always looking out for us, monitoring every second of our journey and providing support.
And inside the aircraft our cabin crew members are our connection to everything outside the flight deck and the people on board.
All of these people, the training, the preparation – they all add up to ensure everyone’s safety above all else.
Tim, Aircraft Maintenance Technician
What drove you to become an aircraft technician?
When I was younger I got my pilots license, but I decided I liked working on aircraft more than I liked flying them.
How does aircraft maintenance work?
Every aircraft has proactive scheduled maintenance done to it, regardless of whether there’s something that needs to be fixed. The age of the aircraft, the number of hours it’s flown, the number of take-offs and landings, requirements by aviation regulators and our own policies determine when and what type of maintenance we do.
The same goes for aircraft that aren’t in service. Even if they’re not flying commercially, they’re still having regular maintenance done.
What are some of the aspects of maintenance that would be surprising to those who don’t work in aviation?
Technology plays such a huge role nowadays too. We have health monitoring systems that are constantly relaying data about the performance of our aircraft. It allows us to be proactive and solve issues before they even happen.
But for all the technology we use, nothing replaces the face-to-face time we have with pilots and other team members. They count on us and we count on them, so there’s a special relationship there for sure.
Elisa, Cabin Crew Member
Why did you want to become a member of the cabin crew at WestJet?
Before I worked at WestJet I was a personal trainer. While becoming a cabin crew member was a big career change, they both have something in common and that’s caring for others.
What do you do as a cabin crew member?
A lot of people think that Cabin Crew Members just serve the food and drinks, but our role involves so much more than that.
Before guests even set foot on an aircraft we’re doing cabin checks. We’re going over cabin loads with the gate agents and ensuring the pilots have all the details they need before taking off.
We’re the pilots’ connection to the cabin. We’re constantly communicating with them, so they have a clear understanding of what’s going on with every part of the aircraft.
What training do you do to become a flight attendant?
The training is really rigorous. There’s a whole facility at WestJet where new cabin crew members go through an intensive program. By the end, you know every inch of the aircraft you’re working on and how to provide the best care for guests every step of the way.
How does safety fit into the training?
Safety is at the heart of what we do. Every year we’re back to ensure everything we do is second nature and that we’re up to speed on any changes to aircraft or ways that we can improve upon the care we deliver. Because when it comes to safety at WestJet, every measure counts – no matter how small.