Introducing Jordan Milano Hazrati

We recently caught up with Jordan, Jordan is a Human Factors Specialist from Newcastle, she has some pretty amazing aviation experience. From cabin crew to human factor specialist as a result of the pandemic to now also a student pilot.

Tell us about your aviation career so far?

My career so far has most certainly not been a straightforward path! Despite falling in love with everything ‘aviation’ from about the age of 4 when I took my very first flight (to PMI- Mallorca!), it took until I was 21 for me to begin my journey within aviation.

Having been academic at school, and a lover of dance and the arts, I decided to take my earliest steps into the job market as a performing artist. Despite enjoying this, I couldn’t shake the thought and feeling that I was supposed to be in the skies.

I was still obsessed with aircraft, couldn’t stop watching re-runs of ‘Airline’, and it was during a visit out to Alicante at the end of the first year of my undergraduate degree that I finally decided to follow my heart and plough all of my energy into becoming part of the industry.

I landed the position of cabin crew with a short-haul leisure airline based out of MAN, and after working out how I could manage my full-time University studies around a full-time flying roster I began my training to fly as crew. Around this time my parents had gifted me a trial lesson in a Cessna 152.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited to become further immersed in the industry that I loved. During that first lesson, we worked through all the basic elements of flight such as how to control the pitch of the aircraft. Local landmarks were pointed out to me, we flew over my house and university, and suddenly, I had a whole new perspective on the world.

“There was also the underlying sensation that this was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life.”

The only way I can describe it was a feeling of total freedom and clarity that I hadn’t experienced before. There was also the underlying sensation that this was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life, and I still get that feeling every time that I fly now. Probably around 15 minutes into the flight, I knew that I was going to start saving towards my flight instruction… and luckily, I had dropped on the perfect job to do that.

At the airline I worked for, we had a commission-based pay structure, that we were paid on top of our salaries. I put all my commission into a savings account during the period in which I worked at this airline, and within the time it built up nicely… although I wasn’t going to end up using it until Autumn 2020.

I had the time of my life working at my first airline (where I also trained to work on the lease provider we had a partnership with, providing me with my first experiences of wide-body aircraft), and I thank them for giving me the foundations and teaching me so much about the industry, as well as giving me friends for life.

However, the opportunity came up to go for a role with a legacy long-haul carrier out of LHR, and unexpectedly, I landed the role. Whilst it was sad to say goodbye to my home base in the North, I knew it was something I wanted to experience and so at the start of 2020 I moved South and began training for my long-haul life.

How has COVID impacted your career?

This is where COVID-19 suddenly began to wreak havoc on not only my career but the entire world. What was merely just a whisper of a virus in January 2020, had grounded pretty much our entire fleet by mid-March.

I flew several milestone flights during this time, including the last flight to leave South Africa before they shut the borders, a repatriation flight that departed a couple of hours after Boris Johnson’s official lockdown announcement, the first cargo flights to operate with medical supplies onboard and every single passenger and their story will stay with me for life.

I operated a JFK several weeks into the pandemic, and whilst sitting in the flight deck, I had this feeling that that was the last flight I would operate for a while… However, I had no idea that it was going to be the last flight I operated before I faced redundancy along with thousands of incredible colleagues.

My world and life plan shattered overnight. Luckily, I found non-aviation work quickly to ensure I could sustain my lifestyle, but I knew I needed to formulate a plan to be ready for as and when the industry eventually picked up. 

So, I applied to study for an MSc in Human Factors in Aviation at Coventry University and was thrilled to be accepted. I’ve been fascinated with Human Factors, CRM, and Fatigue since my very first initial training. It’s hand on heart one of the best decisions I have ever made and provided me with new connections, opportunities and, possibilities.

More importantly, it is also the main reason why I am in the role that I am today. Although new to the role within this major European airline, I’m truly enjoying every second of working in a completely new side of aviation ..people say I’m a lucky girl but I have worked tirelessly to get to where I am today, and it is a representation of hard work pays off.

The pandemic also granted me so many opportunities to connect with and help the wider aviation community. I became a volunteer for Project Wingman, a mentor for Resilient Pilot/Crew, a writer in the form of my aviation/travel blog, and have been super fortunate to have been asked to write several pieces for different magazines, and websites.

I write about anything and everything to do with the industry, from my experiences as a student pilot, women in aviation, my favourite destinations I’ve traveled to, life as crew, and mental health within the industry. I’ve raised money for Aviation Action and worked at a vaccination centre to help the NHS and the UK move forward past the pandemic.

Time to commit to flying 

Fast forward to September 2020, still very much mid-pandemic, and I couldn’t help but feel something was missing from my life and that it was time for me to commit to flying. My whole ‘wait for the right time’ theory had been blown out of the water, meaning that I was starting to see that there was no such thing as the ‘right’ time.

I had enough money saved and whilst it scared me that I could be spending my security if things were to take a turn for the worst again, it was a risk I weighed up and decided to take anyway. I started flying again in October 2020. Within 5 minutes of the first lesson at Fairoaks, I knew I had made the right decision.

I often say that flying is my therapy. The two hours of my day where I don’t think about anything else other than the task at hand, which is to focus on the lesson and fly the aircraft. I have no regrets for choosing to go after this dream of mine, at what was on paper the worst time of my life, but in reality and looking back now, was the best time to have done it.

It hasn’t been simple though. During this time, we faced two further lockdowns, lockdown 2.0 in November was slightly easier, as we were granted permission as an educational establishment to keep training student pilots, under the premise that we followed strict COVID-19 protocols. Lockdown 3.0 was very difficult.

From mid-December, up until the 12th of April, we were not permitted to fly at all as students due to the severity of the pandemic. Since re-starting to fly I’ve since done my first solo and been working on the navigation component of my PPL which whilst is challenging, I’m enjoying it.

That brings me to today! MSc Student, full-time Human Factors Specialist, and student pilot. 

Tell us about Project Wingman?

Project Wingman was the saving grace of my Summer in 2020. It consists of airline workers, volunteering to create ‘first-class lounges’ in NHS hospitals to support the key workers with donated food, drinks, and peer support during what was a super challenging period of their working life.

Airline workers were the perfect people for this, given that most of us were grounded due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, our ability to provide top-class service and, our skills regarding human factors. We understand the value of communication, listening, and support as we rely on this day in day out to perform our duties to the best of our abilities.

I have worked now with Project Wingman for nearly 14 months, in the local hospital, the London Ambulance Service, and on their Mobile Bus ‘Well-Bee’ as well as having worked with the crewing team to ‘crew’ the bus with staff, and I can’t thank them enough for providing me with a purpose during this hardship of the pandemic.

What has been a highlight of your career so far?

My first Wings ceremony (when you essentially graduate from your cabin crew training) as it was the start of everything that was to come.

The first time I sat in the flight deck for landing will always stay with me as well, as that inspired me to achieve my PPL. 

Looking to my right for the first time and not seeing my instructor sat next to me…. Just wow. Like I DID THAT!

As well as this, I must mention my first solo flight. I had no idea it was going to happen on that day, but when it did it truly was the most amazing feeling. Looking to my right for the first time and not seeing my instructor sat next to me…. Just wow. Like I DID THAT! I was trusted to manage an aircraft by myself and when I’d landed and turned off the runway, I did cry happy tears.

Your hope and plans for the future of aviation?

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I cannot wait for the day that travel becomes unrestricted again, and connecting loved ones and, allowing dreams to come true. I stand in solidarity with the airports, airlines, and collaborating organisations at this time pushing for the re-opening of the skies, and for further support for an industry.

As an industry, we have gone above and beyond in adhering to and ensuring the safety of our people and passengers, and with the success of the vaccine programme within not only the UK but many other countries, I truly believe we can follow the data and science and safely reopen the skies.

I hope that every displaced worker within the industry who wants to return, every aspiring aviator, and those still working within the industry find themselves in roles that fulfil, support, and encourage their dreams. 

I also hope that we will see an increasingly diverse and equal industry going forward, and that’s something that I am actively working to promote. I hope we learn something from the pandemic. I’d like to think that human factors will continue to be of prominent importance, with the understanding that people are at the heart of the industry, and to look after your people will ensure a thriving business.

To ensure that mental health and wellbeing become more open and talked about topics, which can only lead to a safer industry. It’s been a pleasure to connect and work alongside those from different airlines, and I hope we keep this collaboration to continue learning from each other for the time to come.