The Work of the Commercial Flight Crew in Air Transportation: Constraints of Working Times and Gender

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.3.02 (Tower One)
Anne Gillet, CNAM, Lise-CNRS, Paris, France
Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, University of Quebec-Teluq, Montreal, QC, Canada; University of Quebec-Teluq-Canada Research Chair, Montreal, QC, Canada; CURA on work-life articulation over the lifecourse, Montreal, QC, Canada
The research focuses on the work of air navigation personnel (commercial), analysed according to different themes linked to work organization, social temporalities and gender. The organization of the crew’s work (pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, in-charge flight attendant, flight attendants and stewards), particularly the working hours (night shift, staggered working hours) and jet-lag, are inherent professional constraints to the work of this personnel.

The modalities organization of the working hours have an impact on the pace of life, and particularly in the coordination of their professional life with their personal and family life. The working hours, which require a good physical condition, and the confrontation with the constant pressure linked to the ever increasing security and air traffic, also pose questions regarding health at work and “human factors” involved in the risk of air transport accidents.

The research analyses the links between different social times, as well as the balancing strategies developed by the personnel. Men and women don’t live these professional constraints in the same manner. On the one hand because of the different type of job and tasks according to gender (few women have a piloting position but they are strongly represented in the commercial sector in relation with the clientele during flights), and on the other hand, because of the social and family roles often distinct according to gender and also different according to the their spouse’s career (or absence thereof).  Therefore, the research investigates working situations, real-life situations, professional realities and work-life balancing strategies of the flight crew, according to gender, to socio-professional trajectories and to positions held.

The research is conducted in the field of civil airline companies transporting travelers and includes international comparisons between France (Europe), Quebec and Canada.  A partnership-research approach is used with the airline companies and the unions.