ter that I changed to wanting to
be an architect, and then finally, an engineer. I wanted to design airports. At the time I was
attending a university in the early 1990s it was strange to see a
woman in the aeronautical engineering program. The entire program was made up of only maybe
10 percent women. I had no special problems with that, however.
Where did you work after you
graduated from the university?
You, know, it’s funny. I am an
aeronautical engineer who has
hardly ever worked in airports.
One summer I did, for experience. After than I worked in a
transportation as a consultant. At one point I worked plan-
ning the subway/underground system, planning a new con-
When I joined the Civil Aviation Authority I had to pass an
examination (1996). I started work in 1997 and did the training for the flight standards and safety department. In 1999 I
went to Oklahoma City to the FAA Academy for a course in
certification. I studied aircraft certification for a week. I went
on to work in operations maintenance. I was not exactly an
inspector, but I did work in standardization and procedures
for awhile and that was helpful.
Then I was promoted to a department dealing with the eco-
nomics of air transportation, and the politics of aviation. Sud-
denly I was working on much more general issues in aviation,
which also included passengers rights.
In 2008 I was promoted to this position that I am in today,
dealing with such broad issues like security, passengers rights,
derground after bombings there,
it frightened people, and people
then did not want to use it. They
perceived it as unsafe.
The aviation system is one that
I use, so I can think like a passenger. And I also have to pass
the security check control. I
completely understand the complaints that people have about
that. I also suffer! I understand
that it is a hassle. It can be a little
scary, a little invasive. But I think
people are understanding and
conscious that security control is
for their safety.
The Spanish pilots are always
complaining about the security checks.....I have this conversation all the time with them. We are working on a biometrical data identification program for the pilots. It isn’t easy, and
it is expensive, requiring special machines at the airports.
Finally, I’m working with air navigation services. In Europe
aircraft are charged for using the air navigation per flight. Because of this it is very expensive right now in Europe to fly,
with so many countries billing you for each airspace you go
through. With the Single Sky initiative, we are trying to come
up with a single billing system that should cost less. That
means we are negotiating with several countries at once.
Did you have time for a family? Are they okay with the
position you hold?
I have two kids, 11 and 6. It is difficult to find a balance be-
tween my job and my family, but I can do it. I travel for work,
but not every week; maybe once every two months or so. I try
to find that balance.
In aviation it seems as if we are always trying to manage
some crisis. So, I’ve got to be available. It helps that I know
that my kids are very proud of my job. They seem to find it in-
What is the current situation of the Air Europe Naviga-
tion Authority (AENA)?
AENA, the leading airport operator in the world in number
of passengers and the fourth largest provider of air navigation in Europe, currently has a debt of more than € 14.942M,
of which € 12.359M is long-term debt and € 2.583M short-term
debt. That’s almost three times what it owed in 2004.
Ana Pastor, Director of Development for Spain, has announced that her department is working on a Strategic Plan
and Business Plan for AENA, applying strict standards of efficiency, viability and sustainability. She says AENA will
streamline airport investments, ensure the future sustainability and profitability of the airport network economically and
sociallly and enhanc revenue through the internationalizing
the group. That can only help my efforts all the way around.
Your job seems to encompass a lot of the real
challenging aspects of aviation administration.
At the moment things have been difficult because of the
economic crisis. My daily tasks focus primarily on security
right now. I want only the right passengers to get on the airplane, and I want passengers to feel safe. At the same time, I
don’t want to upset them with the security procedures. For
instance, when they put armed guards on the London Un-
What is your advice for those aspiring to aviation ca-
reers in their own country’s Civil Aviation Authority?
At this moment, in Spain, aeronautical engineering studies are fascinating because there are many fields in which you
can work. It is a comprehensive profession. You can focus on
structures, airport design, computers, aerodynamics.....but I
do know that, with the economic crisis we have had in Europe, it has been difficult to find a job. The good news is it is
not so difficult if you are an aeronautical engineer.
The best part of the career, for me, is that you can see when
you safely transport people. It is satisfying. ✈