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Human factors passion leads to aviation safety scholarship

For immediate release
12 February 2016

Human factors passion leads to aviation safety scholarship

A former commercial pilot with a passion for understanding the ‘human factors’ of aviation safety has been awarded the 2016 Jilly Murphy Memorial Scholarship for Aviation Safety.

Kate Cook now works in the operational safety team of Airways New Zealand in Christchurch, and is currently completing a Bachelor of Aviation Management degree through Massey University. She will use the $5000 scholarship – jointly offered by Christchurch International Airport Ltd and Airways New Zealand in memory of the late Christchurch air traffic controller Jilly Murphy – to help fund her post-graduate study in human factors, including areas like fatigue, distraction or impaired reasoning that can impact on human performance.

Jilly Murphy was a controller at Christchurch control tower and died in central Christchurch during the earthquake of 22 February 2011. Aviation safety was very important to Jilly, so in her honour, scholarship applicants are required to demonstrate a tangible benefit to aviation safety.

Kate says her experience as a commercial pilot set her on a path to learn more about the impact human behaviours can have on safety in the aviation sector.

“I find it a fascinating subject. During my time as a pilot, I found that talking with more experienced pilots and reading accident reports was a great way to learn and understand where improvements could be made in this area,” Kate says.

Airways Chief Executive Ed Sims says he and fellow judges John Murphy (Jilly Murphy’s father) and Christchurch Airport Manager of Quality and Security, Ford Robertson felt that Kate stood out as a truly dedicated aviation safety professional.

“We were also struck by her emphasis on the ‘mana’ of winning the scholarship over and above any financial gain. She shares the same unwavering commitment to aviation safety as Jilly, and that makes her a very deserving winner,” says Mr Sims.


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