Aurélie Joy Pascual-WernerSenior operational authorisations consultant

Aurélie Joy Pascual-Werner is specialised in operational authorisations for the aviation industry. She can support organisations by acquiring all required permits along with all documentation or approvals needed for operational authorisations, including risk analysis, the concept of operations and SORA documentation, among others. She also supports organisations as they perform evaluations based on the acceptable risk of their airborne operations along with achieving optimal safety for their set goals. 

As safety is the number one priority of any aviation organisation, it means having an experienced operational authorisation professional on the team who has experience consulting for some of the largest drone organisations in Europe and North America is invaluable. Aurélie Joy also provides general consultations for organisations looking for advice for their organisation. 

Operational guidance consulting includes the entire operational concept for an organisation, but an organisation should have broad goals they’d like to achieve to help achieve better results from our consultations. This might include choosing a general flight route or idea of where the UAV should land. Aurélie Joy can then evaluate if these goals are achievable and what changes, if any, need to be made before applying for authorisation from the relevant authorities.

However, one of her greatest strengths is in the documentation for organisations, which includes creating the documentation, reviewing it or guiding an organisation through the process. Documents that are essential for any drone organisation include the Operations Manual, the concept of operations (ConOps), SORA documentation, Emergency Response Plan and training/safety manuals. Recently, she has also successfully supported organisations as they create their LUC manuals, which is required for the Light UAS Operator certificate (LUC). 

About Aurélie Joy Pascual-Werner

Aurélie Joy Pascual-Werner is a native of Geneva, Switzerland. After high school, she stayed in the area and decided to pursue a degree in environmental engineering at the University of Lausanne, where she became interested in investigating and monitoring natural hazards and conducting risk analysis for emergency management across a wide range of environmental catastrophes. Notably, Aurélie Joy's focus on volcanoes eventually pushed her to join the Geneva Volcano Society in 2009, and she has remained an active member ever since.

Her passion for volcanoes also led her to the University of Iceland, where she collaborated with the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, and later with the researchers at Lund University in Sweden, where she worked on risk management and social safety projects related to natural disasters, such as volcanoes and other environmental factors. During this time, she was also conducting and developing thorough risk analysis methods. 

Aurélie Joy assisted research groups at these universities in developing a decision-making tool for emergency situations that would enable officials to take swift and appropriate action to mitigate losses during disasters like an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. The tool has the potential to optimise entire end-to-end relief response efforts, thus enhancing the ability to cope with catastrophic events.

Air traffic control in Switzerland

Upon completing her internship at the University of Lund, Aurélie Joy found herself facing a daunting realisation: at 27 years old, her lifelong aspiration of becoming an air traffic controller was rapidly slipping out of reach. She discovered that in Switzerland, the training to become an air traffic controller was only available until the age of 30. Faced with this timeline, she put aside her work in volcanology to take the placement test.

Aurélie Joy decided to give her best shot at air traffic control before ultimately returning to academia. To her surprise, she passed the test with flying colours in Geneva, which presented her with two options: continue her academic pursuits or seize this unexpected opportunity. Choosing the latter, she made the life-altering decision to move to Zurich to begin her training at the military airfield in Dübendorf, just outside the city.

It was there, on the runway alongside her fellow trainees, that Aurélie Joy experienced the thrill of the aviation industry. Spending countless hours identifying different types of aircraft based on their unique design features, she was captivated by the passion and enthusiasm of those around her, ultimately convincing her to pursue her dream of becoming an air traffic controller.

She said,

“I arrived here knowing nothing, and I ended up getting hooked. We spent our weekends at the airport, and they’d show me how to identify this plane or that one, and the time would just rush by as we sat on the side of the runway. And, before I even fully realised what was happening, I was loving it just as much as they were. So, that’s how I ended up in the field of aviation.”

Swiss International Airlines: Flight dispatcher and slot manager

Aurélie Joy's aviation career continued with an internship at Swiss International Airlines in their Operations Research & ATM department. Here, she was tasked with developing tools that would support flight dispatchers and pilots in optimising operational processes. Aurélie Joy worked on several projects, but one of the most common tasks was optimising the descent profile of aircraft. Through a data-driven approach, Aurélie Joy and the rest of the team would analyse various factors that impacted the aircraft's descent.

Her work at Swiss International Airlines was heavily data-driven, with the primary goal of improving operational efficiency to make things better, faster and more cost-effective. The projects she worked on were not just theoretical but had a real-world impact, which was what she had loved about environmental engineering.

After her internship ended, Aurélie Joy decided to stay on with Swiss International Airlines. She had the opportunity to choose between two different positions within the company: one in the back office and one at the airport, next to the airplanes and the runway, in the operation center. Aurélie Joy naturally chose the second option without hesitation. The passion she developed for aviation with her fellow air traffic control trainees was enough to still want to be in the thick of the action. She loved the constant buzz of activity, regardless of the time of day, and appreciated the ever-changing nature of airport operations.

One of the aspects that Aurélie Joy enjoyed the most was the ability to change roles within her position at Swiss International Airlines as a flight dispatcher while she gained more skills. Certifications were crucial, and each additional job function generally required a specific certification before a team member could take it on as a responsibility. Through various additional training courses, Aurélie Joy went from flight planner to slot manager. 

Slot managers have the responsibility to prioritise flights, ensuring that planes land on time and as efficiently as possible. When two aircraft from the same fleet had a slot delay, a slot manager would look at various technical factors and try to find ways to reduce or even avoid that delay. They also tend to prioritise aircraft with critical rotation times.

Despite how simple it might sound, sometimes external factors like ATC strikes, weather or geopolitical conditions could disrupt the flight schedule of an entire airport. When this happens, slot managers have to be agile and resourceful, finding new ways to ensure that every flight still reaches optimal efficiency under the circumstances. 

Covid and the aviation industry

When the COVID-19 lockdowns halted airport operations, employees were left stranded at home with no end in sight during Spring 2020. Aurélie Joy had to decide if she wanted to sit and wait for the lockdown and restrictions to end, or search for an alternative. As she had always been the type of person to proactively seek out opportunities, she started looking for new positions in industries that were still running. 

Through her search, she discovered the drone industry that combined aviation and technology, which were her two passions. She was hired as a flight director at Matternet, a US-based company conducting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations in Switzerland that delivers medical samples between hospitals and laboratories. Matternet is one of the few drone organisations that currently have active airborne operations in a major European city as they are permitted to fly BVLOS above Zurich.

It was there that Aurélie Joy was able to combine her knowledge of risk assessment and operational skills from crewed aviation and use these skills to oversee Matternet’s drones. Moreover, she gained valuable experience in drone construction, component usage, repair and system troubleshooting and had the opportunity to fly drones on a daily basis, both remotely and VLOS at a test airfield. She also contributed to product testing and development.

Despite Matternet's sustainable growth, things were simply going too smoothly. Aurélie Joy wanted new challenges and experiences to continuously grow her skill set. 

A career shift within the drone industry: senior operational authorisations consultant

Aurélie Joy had been following influential figures in the drone industry on LinkedIn, including our CEO and founder Lorenzo Murzilli. She was drawn to his informative and insightful posts, which often provided valuable information regarding new regulations and upcoming changes relevant to drone industry professionals.

One day, Lorenzo posted an advertisement online, where he was looking to hire a recent college graduate to assist with his growing company. Despite the fact that she did not fit the ideal candidate profile, Aurélie Joy decided to take a chance and wrote to Lorenzo expressing her interest in the position. She explained that, with some adjustments to the role, her extensive experience in risk assessment and flight operations for both crewed and uncrewed aviation could prove invaluable to the team.

Recognising her potential, the team did not want to miss out on her expertise, and she was soon welcomed aboard as our senior operational authorisations consultant, becoming the second member of the Murzilli Consulting team alongside our software expert for aviation, Paweł Trominski.

She mentioned that, 

“This industry is expanding rapidly, and just taking a moment to look from afar at Lorenzo, I couldn’t help but to think that this guy had a great plan. I know I made the right decision after a year of working here. 

I think the best part of the job is always being the first one to know about new knowledge or regulations in the field because when you work with clients, you either know what’s coming or you have freshly printed regulations at hand to show them. The network Lorenzo brings to the table provides us with pretty much everything before anyone else, so it feels really empowering to bring that to work each day.”

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