Despite her uniform of high-visibility jacket, ear defenders and safety gloves, British Airways’ Anasthasia McCarthy is easily recognisable as she strides purposefully among the parked aircraft at Heathrow: she is the only woman among her team of more than 200 personnel.
Anasthasia, 24, from Iver, Buckinghamshire, has held the role of aircraft handler for the last six months. She said: I joined British Airways’ Aircraft Movements team in April. As far as anyone can remember, I’m the first female to have worked in the team, but I really hope that more women will join us in the future.”
Anasthasia is a member of the ground crew responsible for the final checks to aircraft before they are pushed-back for departure.
“Safety is always in the front of my mind. You need to be confident about what you are looking at and where you might spot an issue. I really enjoy my job, particularly talking to the flight crew who are often surprised to hear a female voice at the end of the line.
“A typical job would involve going to an allocated aircraft on stand and then plugging in the communications equipment to make contact with the pilots to see if the ground power can be switched off. Then, as the tug driver connects to the aircraft, I do the walk-around to check that everything is in order. Before the aircraft pushes back from the stand, I re-check the aircraft doors and remove the last two chocks. During push-back of the aircraft, I stay in radio contact with the flight crew while the engines are started up. My final job is to show the flight crew that the lock-out pin has been removed from the steering mechanism, which confirms they now have full control of the aircraft.”
Anasthasia would like to further her skills and is undertaking a course later this month to learn how to communicate with Air Traffic Control. She would then like to learn how to tow an aircraft. She said: “The sky is the limit! I have a host of opportunities available to progress my career and I plan to learn as much as I can from all the great people that I work with.”
If, like Anasthasia, you wish to pursue a career in the aviation industry, British Airways has a number of options available to suit all skills and ambitions. As well as vacancies across the airline, school leavers can apply for one of the 200 apprenticeships places available in schemes ranging from aircraft operations to head office. University students can spread their wings with one of the airline’s six graduate schemes and there are even opportunities for work experience and business placements. More information on careers at British Airways can be found here.