‘Human factors’ passion leads to aviation safety scholarship

Wanting to understand the 'human factors' of aviation safety has led to a local woman being awarded the 2016 Jilly Murphy Memorial Scholarship for Aviation Safety.

Kate Cook has been a commercial pilot, but now works in the operational safety team of Airways New Zealand in Christchurch. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Aviation Management degree through Massey University, studying human factors, including areas like fatigue, distraction or impaired reasoning that can impact on human performance.

The scholarship is offered by Christchurch International Airport Ltd and Airways New Zealand in memory of the late Christchurch air traffic controller Jilly Murphy, a controller at Christchurch control tower  who died in central Christchurch during the earthquake of 22 February 2011.

Kate says the impact human behaviours can have on safety in the aviation sector are fascinating.

"During my time as a pilot, I found 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.