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RECLAIMING THE SKY “Resiliency Project”

A Project to Help Aviation Workers Meet the Challenges of Change – and Enhance Service for Travelers

Since 9/11 no industry has changed as profoundly as aviation, and those changes continue to impact workers on the front line - creating stresses that can challenge an airport's workforce.

Our “Resiliency” project, conducted by the Reclaiming the Sky Institute and Fordham University, will explore how the principles of courage that aviation workers employed on 9/11 can also be used as “resiliency” principles by today’s workers to help them take more control of “pressure-packed” service encounters and control stress.

The goal is to support airport and airline workers to meet the on-going challenges that come with keeping the country moving forward in a turbulent time. By supporting workers, that will raise customer service levels – which will make working in today’s aviation industry more satisfying for workers and more pleasant for travelers.

Everybody wins!

As part of the project, volunteers will be given donated copies of “Reclaiming the Sky: 9/11 and the Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept America Flying.” They’ll have a chance to read the stories of their colleagues’ courage as a vehicle for study and discussion. A team from Fordham will provide a pre and post survey to give participants a chance to share their thoughts on how the principles of duty, teamwork and positive action reflected in the stories of the workers profiled in the book can be adapted by workers today.

The goal is to assess how these principles can help today’s workers “bounce back” from every day stresses – and thus help employees perform at their peaks.

Traits reflective of resiliency include adaptability, flexibility, positive outlook (optimism,) an ability to be magnanimous (observe and meet the needs of others,) maintain good judgment under pressure and more.

This project will give workers a chance to see their own “resiliency” strengths reflected in the stories in the book and support programs, including a training module will be developed to help them build on their strengths.

The project kicks off at JFK airport in January with leadership from the management of the International Air Terminal (Terminal 4,) the Terminal Four Airlines Council, the Kennedy Airport Airline Managers’ Council and others, including Five Star Parking which with IAT and others is providing copies of the book for use in the project. Following the launch at JFK, the benefits of the project will be expanded to airports and their employees nationally.

Special thanks to Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education and the Human Resources Program in particular, for leadership. Beyond this “resiliency project,” a first step, the goal is to work with Fordham’s GSE Human Resources program to explore more fully the needs of aviation workers and develop solutions to meet them. The consortium of our business, government and academic partners (including Vaughn College of Aeronautics) will take an honest look at the needs of one million aviation workers in a post 9/11 world, then enlist teams of experts on an interdisciplinary basis to create solutions, including the development of training modules, as noted above, and adapting “best practices” support programs in other areas to meet the needs of aviation workers.

Using the success of this “Resiliency Project” as a platform for expansion, the goal is to provide a "clearinghouse" for research (and product development for solutions) into areas that can include:

  1. 1: Physical impacts of stress post 9/11 - explore the negative effects of anxiety on the body in an aviation environment where on-going cost-cutting, intense security and high traffic levels have become the norm.

  2. 2: Health and Wellness - develop solutions derived from fitness, including diet and exercise, while exploring how "wellness" can be used as an integral element in "pre-incident" training.

  3. 3: Emotional impacts - explore the psychological effects of anxiety, the interplay of mind and body and explore opportunities for post traumatic GROWTH. Also, we’ll study how children "suffer" when their parents struggle with stress - and devise innovate ways to support the families of aviation workers.

If you would like to be kept apprised of our progress, as well as learn more about the business, government and academic coalition we are creating to achieve our goal, contact Tom Murphy at or call 360-738-3190.

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