November 9, 2017
Meet Maureen Stevens – Flight Service Specialist
Maureen Stevens is a flight service specialist working out of the Flight Service Station in Les Iles de la Madeleine. This is her NAV CANADA story.
One of the first things people think of when I tell them that I work for NAV CANADA is that I am an air traffic controller. I always explain to them that the job of a flight service specialist is actually quite different. For example, we do not give permission for planes to land. All of those commands come from the area control centre in Moncton. What we do is provide relevant information to departing, arriving, and enroute aircraft. We do this for the airport at les Iles de la Madeleine, and for the past 4 years we have done this for Havre St Pierre airport and Natashquan airport as well.
The first thing I usually do when I start my day of work is check the weather forecast for the coming day. After that I will check traffic predictions and do any mandatory reading for the day ahead.
The day itself can be inconsistent, with periods of inactivity followed by bursts of heavy traffic. We always have to be ready.
Being in a small town means that the team here at the Flight Service Station is small – we have 5 flight service specialists. That means that when there are major events like a snowstorm the hours may be long.
Back in March 2014 there was a major winter storm that hit Atlantic Canada. There were winds of up to 120 km/h and 35 centimetres of snow fell in the region. In order to keep operations going I spent two night sleeping at the airport so that I could be on site during every hour that we were open. For this I was awarded the Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) Air Traffic Control Specialist of the Year (Flight Service Specialty) at a ceremony in Washington DC, and a NAV CANADA President’s Award.
GETTING THE JOB
I was living in Montreal with my boyfriend (now husband) working for a bankruptcy trustee when I showed up to work to find that bailiffs were seizing the company’s property. Suddenly I was out of a job. However, later that very same day I received a call from Transport Canada inviting me to take part in their Flight Service Specialist training in Cornwall. This was more than 2 years after I had sent in my application and wrote the associated tests, so I hadn’t expected to hear anything back.
I went to Cornwall to complete my training in early 1996. On November 1st of that year NAV CANADA took over from Transport Canada as the Air Navigation Service Provider and I have been with them ever since.
LIFE IN A SMALL TOWN
The decision to stay in les Iles de la Madeleine was an easy one for both me and my husband. There is quite a difference between living in a small community versus living in a big city like Montreal and we both enjoy it very much.
People sometimes ask me why I don’t request a transfer to a bigger city or a larger facility. I love living here and I love the sense of community that exists in les Iles de la Madeleine. The population here is just over 12,000. People know each other and those of us that work at the FSS are well known in the local community.