Awarded to an individual, a group or organisation involved in any branch of aviation in the Australian Region or to Australian nationals abroad, who or which has made a meritorious contribution to any aviation activity, either by displaying technical excellence or by the development of a procedure or operational technique of an outstanding nature.
2020 Awarded to: Captain Susan McHaffie
Captain Susan (Sue) McHaffie commenced her aviation career in 1989 as a flight instructor. For almost ten years she demonstrated her passion for training rising to become a Chief Flight Instructor and Examiner but most importantly she influenced and shaped the careers of many pilots flying across the world today.
In 1998 she commenced her relationship with the Bombardier (now De-Havilland) products by joining Flight Safety International initially as a Flight Simulator and Ground Instructor. By 2005, she was recognised by many Dash 8 operators as a technical expert on type so Tyrolean Airlines in Europe requested her assistance with the Dash 8 Q400 for 2 years from Flight Safety International. Following this Air Canada Jazz (Air Canada’s Regional Airline) signed her up for another two years to assist with and fly the Bombardier CRJ. After assisting Jazz she returned to Flight Safety International.
By 2010, her skills and capability were recognised by Flight Safety International and she was appointed as Director of Programs. In this role she was responsible for courseware and material development for the Bombardier commercial product line, including the Twin Otter, Dash 7, Dash 8, Q400 and CRJ aircraft. She developed training programs including training manuals, presentations and exams as well being responsible for the regulatory approvals of training materials. She was Flight Safety’s liaison with Bombardier (now De-Havilland) Flight Operations.
In the same year, she was recognised by the North American aviation industry as a Subject Matter Expert on pilot training and the Dash 8 which culminated in her being appointed to the US Congress Committee and Industry Panel into the Colgan Air 3407 Dash 8 Q400 accident at Buffalo, New York. Following this she was appointed by the FAA to the UPRT development and training committee to formulate and develop UPRT training for industry which issued the first Advisory Circular (AC).
After 15 years with Flight Safety International and establishing a significant mark in both North American and European training, she accepted a role as Manager Fleet Technical and Development with QantasLink in Australia. Leaving her native Canada, she headed to Australia in 2013 to head up the Fleet Technical and Development department across Australia’s largest regional airline.
For the next seven years, her skill set from technical knowledge, training and development shone through in the following achievements at QantasLink –
· Introduced the iPad as the electronic flight bag – first in the world for regional airlines
· Developed the first in country and the world Load App onto the iPad – mitigate significant loading risks and delivered enhanced operational efficiency
· Developed the first centralised Flight Planning app to deliver fuel efficiency benefits and provide pilots with a “one stop” shop
· Implemented fuel efficiency measures across the QantasLink fleet
· Developed a new operations manual suite
· Implemented various electronic mediums for training
During this journey, her innate vision saw her develop and founder an initiative in 2014 which became a worldwide movement – namely FlyPink. She decided to combine her love of aviation with a family connection to breast cancer and identified an opportunity for pilots to swap their traditional epaulettes for pink epaulettes during the month of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Money raised from the epaulettes went to Breast Cancer organisations.
Since 2014, the movement of FlyPink has literally taken off globally. Today Fly Pink not only see epaulettes being worn by pilots but engineers, ground teams and also modified pink wings for Cabin Crew. The movement is truly a reflection on her commitment and passion to a wonderful cause which is now an industry supported event.
Ironically in 2017 after raising so much money for breast cancer, the founder of FlyPink was to be diagnosed with breast cancer herself. She faced the challenge with grace and wonderful tenacity resulting last year with a clear diagnosis.
After 30 years associated with flying operations, she decided a new challenge beckoned. As a pilot, instructor, examiner and aircraft technical expert she was appointed to the Airworthiness and Engineering team as the Manager for Continuing Airworthiness Organisation Services late last year. In this role she will leverage her technical and leadership capability to support and develop the Airworthiness organisation. This is the first time a pilot has been appointed to such a position and CASA was fully supportive of this appointment based on the respect they have for her capability.
Today as an Australian citizen, Captain Susan (Sue) McHaffie is well respected by industry and regulators across the globe. She has made a significant contribution to the industry not just through her technical and training skills and capability but by leaving a legacy through FlyPink which will no doubt be a movement that future generations of the industry will reflect on and realise that one person can start a movement by combining their love of the industry with a common dream to make a difference.
For her meritorious contribution to aviation Captain Susan McHaffie is the Grand Master’s Australian Medal recipient for 2020.
1981/82 H C Minnett Esq Dr D N Cooper Dr J P Wild CSIRO Interscan Team
1983 Not Awarded
1983/84 Brian Hamilton Heeps Esq
1985 Not Awarded
1985/86 Dr Henry Millicer
1986/87 Ingo Renner Esq
1987/88 Wing Commander Bernard I Fernandes
1989 - 1990 Not Awarded
1990/91 Don M Kendell Esq
1991/92 Laurence C Gruzman Esq
1993 Not Awarded
1993/94 Squadron Leader Kevin W Rushworth
1994/95 Captain Ernest A Girault
1995/96 Gary Lawson-Smith Esq
1996/97 Australian Mission Aviation Fellowship
1997/98 The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Inc.
1999 Not Awarded
1999/2000 John G Roncz & Graham Swannell
2000/01 Captain Trevor Jensen
2001/02 Bob Peake
2002/03 Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
2004 - 2006 Not Awarded
2006/07 C-17 Transition Team & 36 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force
2007/08 Number 92 Wing, Royal Australian Air Force
2008/09 The School of Air Warfare, Royal Australian Air Force
2009/10 816 Squadron Royal Australian Navy
2010/11 Air Mobility Control Centre RAAF
2012 Not Awarded
2012/13 Emergency Management Queensland - Helicopter Rescue
2013/14 Royal Australian Air Force Ageing Aircraft Systems Audit Team
2014/15 Flight Training Adelaide
2016 Temora Aviation Museum
2017 Royal Australian Air Force Aerobatic Team - The Roulettes
2018 James Eric Thurstan
2019 RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit
2020 Captain Susan Mchaffie