Jobs in Aviation: Inflight Safety Program Manager

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DALLAS – When one thinks about the types of jobs the airline industry offers, the first ones that come to mind are pilots or flight attendants.

However, there are thousands of people working behind the scenes to make the air travel industry run. If you want to apply for a job at an airline, there are many exciting possibilities you might want to consider.

With our new Jobs in Aviation series, Airways will showcase different interviews with industry insiders to learn more about their specific jobs and the ins and outs of commercial aviation. We have already interviewed Catherine Jackson, who gave us the opportunity to learn more about the little-known but crucial job of a flight dispatcher.

Recently, Airways had the opportunity to speak with Elise May, who is the Senior Program Manager of Inflight Safety & Regulatory Compliance for Southwest Airlines (WN). She answered our questions about her job as a program manager and gave interesting insights concerning airline safety management.

Southwest Airlines Sr. Program Manager Inflight Safety & Regulatory Compliance, Elise S. May. Photo: E.S. May.

Extract from the interview


Could you please share some information about your role at Southwest Airlines?

I am currently the Senior Program Manager Inflight Safety and Regulatory Compliance at Southwest Airlines. My role centers around the safety of our flight attendants and also building and maintaining good relationships with our regulators, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

I lead and assist with safety investigations involving our flight attendants. This includes injuries, incidents, or anything unusual that takes place on the aircraft.

Three years ago, I helped introduce the Inflight Fatigue Risk Management Program and currently manage the program for our flight attendants. Prior to the Fatigue Program, I helped start our Inflight Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) and managed that for about five years.

For the last two years, I’ve been heavily involved in mask compliance issues and assisting the TSA and FAA in their efforts to hold passengers accountable for following the federal mask mandate. I also participate in several industry groups to continually evaluate and improve aviation safety.

How does the airline respond in the event of an emergency?

We have a Go Team, consisting of representatives from each department and our labor groups, which is deployed immediately to the accident site. I represent Inflight Safety on this team as part of the survival factors division. My role is to work with the NTSB on their investigation.

CFMI International CFM LEAP 1B mounted on a brand new Southwest’s Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Discover More…


During the interview, Airways had the chance to ask a lot of questions. We had the opportunity to talk about daily life as a program manager and the advantages of the job. We also learned a lot about safety procedures and the relationship between airlines and regulators.

If you want to learn more, stay tuned to Airways. The interview will be published shortly after the launch of the new Airways Premium subscription service in April.


Featured image: Southwest Airlines N727SW B737-700. Photo: Saul Hannibal/Airways

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