Women of Aviation Worldwide Week: Maj Brit Fjermestad

Women of Aviation Worldwide (WOAW) recognizes women in the aviation industry. Between March 2-8, 2020, events are held globally to recognizes and promote women in the field and Heli-One is proud to feature Stavanger’s Maj Brit Fjermestad for this year’s WOAW Week. Maj Brit is not only an aviation professional but a part-time music teacher and a mother of three. She appreciates the flexible nature of the workplace to allow her to enjoy a full and diverse life.

Maj Brit works in the Engineering support department with the Heli-One CAMO group but she started with Heli-One in 2002 through the Apprenticeship program (for more about the program, click here). Her path to a career in aviation started early – she grew up on a farm and her interest in machinery and tools was encouraged by her family and in school she showed a high aptitude in math. After high school she opted to pursue electronics in aviation rather than aerospace because she wanted to stay local.

She enjoyed her time during the Apprenticeship rotation at Heli-One and learning about the different shops in the company as well as meeting so many different people. She appreciated the challenging nature of the work and learning from seasoned professionals . The Apprenticeship program really nurtures young talent and she comments, “I felt really taken care of.”

Maj Brit was interested in hydraulics, an interest that originated from a childhood on a farm. She was lucky to get a placement in that department during her apprenticeship and, after passing her evaluations, she was successful in getting a job after graduation.

She comments, “Hydraulics has a lot of fine small parts. Fuel controls, hydraulic pumps – they are small but have a lot of parts. You use small tools, it’s kind of like building Lego! I like being thorough. It’s a really good environment in Hydraulics, you sit close to everyone…and have a really good social environment. In our free time, we’d do social stuff.”

After 8 years working as a technician, the Design/Engineering support department needed some additional support and she was asked to make the transition to the Engineering group. The Engineering department supports the hangar and all workshops with technical issues, standardizations and streamlining.  CAMO looks after all the maintenance and airworthiness standards and documentation. Her background as a mechanic was useful in her new role as she works with technicians and OEMs to ensure maintenance programs are able to proceed.

Regarding the aviation industry, she notes, ”It is never boring in aviation. It changes constantly and you have to keep track. You also have to work hard to make things change.” Norway has a unique social culture that values gender balance more than other developed countries, but aviation is still heavily skewed towards men. When asked about this imbalance, Maj commented, “I think I was lucky with my coworkers. Maybe the classic thinking is to start acting like a man or stay quiet, but I never had that. I could be the way I am. It was easy because of my coworkers. It’s not like this is a perfect organization for a woman, but my personal experience has been really good.”

The Engineering department, Maj Brit, says has been particularly good with gender balance. “I work in a department with the best gender balance. Tor’s (Tor Baustad, Head of Design and engineering) team has the best gender balance. I think it’s mainly because he doesn’t look at gender. You can feel that – you can see that in him.” For fellow women in aviation she says, “Enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – about technical things or support from other women. Don’t be afraid to look stupid because you’re not.”

After nearly 18 years at Heli-One, Maj Brit will being a new chapter in her career with Equinor as a Flight Safety Advisor in the spring. Although we are all sad to see her go – it is terrific that she is staying in the aviation industry and making an exciting advancement in her career. Thank you, Maj Brit!

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