I Get Paid For This

Anja Eriksen

Providing offshore crew transport, Anja Eriksen flies the H175 from Aberdeen to oil rigs in the North Sea.

How did you get into flying?

Without understanding why, as a child I always felt drawn towards aeroplanes in the sky and the sun’s reflection on them. Then at about 14 I watched Top Gun and it just hit me. I sat in front of the screen, eyes and mouth wide open – from that moment I knew I wanted to fly. 

Tell us about your job?

I’m an offshore pilot for NHV UK, flying the H175 from our main base in Aberdeen, Scotland. The H175 has room for 16 passengers and we usually fly twice a day, covering the UK North Sea sector. 

“At the oil rigs, every approach and landing is different”

Most flights are transporting personnel to and from the oil platforms. Occasionally, we fly out vital spare parts or, if the seas are too rough for supply ships, we may even bring toilet paper! The biggest challenge is that 99% of the time, we fly over water. North Sea weather can be unpredictable, with sudden fog or ‘four seasons in one day’. 

At the oil rigs, every approach and landing is different. Even if it’s the same helideck, there can be a ship that you have to work around, exhaust fumes blowing towards you, or winds causing turbulence. Being able to adapt to every situation, by using your ‘toolbox’ of knowledge of the manuals, regulations, aircraft, weather, experience, common sense – and even your gut feeling, is essential. Understanding and utilising the different CRM aspects is a very big part of it. 

It’s also what makes my work exciting. I love the busy flights, where I have to dig deep in my toolbox to solve a certain issue, or when I get to do something extraordinary, like landing on a semi-sub which is being towed back to shore. Jobwise, I’m exactly where I want to be now and that’s a great feeling.

What training did you have?

In 2006, I got my PPL-H in New Zealand. Afterwards, I went to the USA where I got my FAA licence and worked as an instructor. In 2008, I moved back to Europe, where I got my JAA Licence and worked as an instructor in Sweden, then got my IR in Norway. I flew the AS332L2 and the H225 for another operator before joining NHV in 2018. Since 2019, I’ve also been a CRM trainer. I’ve literally worked my way around the world!

What’s been your favourite flight?

A ferry flight in the H225 from Istanbul to Aberdeen in 2015. It took us three days. Flying out of Istanbul Airport was an experience. It was so busy that by the time we got to 10,000ft it felt like we’d been speaking to 10 different controllers, who all thought their English would get better the faster they spoke… It was great being outside my comfort zone though. I learned a lot from that trip.

And your favourite airfield?

Sumburgh Airport on the Shetland Islands. There’s often a lot of wind, so landing there requires vigilance. As a smaller airport it allows for flexibility and once again you get to use that toolbox. On a clear day when flying across the island, it looks like the Mediterranean – although the water is freezing cold!

Do you get to fly much outside of work?

No, unfortunately not. My dream is to purchase a small fixed-wing aircraft to fly to work, as my partner and I have a house in Denmark and both work for the same company on a two weeks on / two weeks off roster. I have my eyes on the Diamond DA42. It looks really cool and is IFR certified so it’d allow us to fly in most weather.

What’s your most valuable career advice?

If there’s one thing you need in aviation, it’s determination. So if you really want to do this, never give up. Also, a big shout out to women to become pilots. I can only speak for the North Sea, but here there are no barriers for women. Last, but certainly not least, take advantage of the European Pilot Peer Support Initiative if needed. Pilots have mental health issues just like anyone else and talking about it can make a huge difference!

Flying CV

Offshore pilot Anja Eriksen is NHV’s first female PIC in the UK.  She’s also a CRM trainer and part of the Offshore Peer  Assistance Network.

 

Started current job July 2018
Now flying Airbus Helicopter H175
Favourite aircraft Airbus Helicopter H175. “Airbus makes pilot’s helicopters. Very agile and intuitive, the 175 really is a nice aircraft.”
Hours at job start Approx. 3,500
Hours now Just over 5,000
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