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About our Peers


Lucas Fernandes

Senior First Officer

After gaining a BSc in Biology I pursued my ambition to become an airline pilot.  I gained a cadet pilot placement with Monarch Airlines and joined Monarch in 2013.  I decided to diversify my flying and joined the AirTanker family in 2016.


In the summer of 2016 I unfortunately had to cope with the passing of a colleague and friend whilst down route.  Whilst an overwhelming time in my life, I utilised an informal version of a peer support programme.  The act of simply talking through issues and to have a peer actively listen to you, can help more than you might think.


My motivation for becoming a pilot peer volunteer is to help demystify the social stigma of mental health in pilots and to provide another avenue for confidential support to my AirTanker colleagues.  I'm relieved a peer programme has been created and that the peers are further supported by clinical psychologists, should further professional guidance be sought.  I'm keen to listen to help provide that confidential support.

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Jon Ruffe

Senior First Officer

I joined the AirTanker family in January 2015 after working at both Monarch and easyJet. Since starting with the company, I have been based with my family in the North Cotswolds, where I enjoy spending time outdoors; mountain biking, walking and running.


My motivation for becoming a Pilot Peer is to help colleagues in a time of distress, as I can empathise with the stresses associated with a career in aviation. With two small children, I appreciate the difficulties my colleagues face in trying to maintain a work-life balance, and I have come to understand first-hand the need to prioritise mental wellbeing. I want our company to be a place where we are all happy and thriving, and hope that I can support colleagues in making it so.

Stephen Richards

Stephen Richards


I’m Steve and I joined AirTanker in 2015 and have been a captain here since 2016. I’ve been flying commercially for 15 years across 5 different companies.

I wanted to be involved in peer support because I’ve seen close family members go through tough times and battle the thoughts that can creep into our heads from time to time. I felt helpless to support them and wanted to do more. Actually I’ve learned through this process that sometimes we just need just to be there to listen, and I mean really listen.

I know in the past I’ve needed to talk more then just “beer talk” in a bar. It would have been great to have this service then. It might only be a phone call and a chat. It might be a few phone calls over a few weeks and months. It might be getting extra help. It really doesn’t matter as long as it helps you in the end. And a chat in the bar over a beer after will always be just that, with no mention of this role whatsoever. Cheers!

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