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Rikke Carmichael is Head of Air Operations at Network Rail, where she leads a small team who specialise in data collection from multiple aerial vehicles. The data is used to assist with rail conditions and maintenance as well as supporting specific company projects. This helps to identify potential problems ahead of failure which means targeted preventative maintenance resulting in fewer train delays. Major maintenance task can be scheduled in advance resulting in reduction of costs. Another aspect is safety. ‘Boots off Ballast’ means taking people out of the high-risk track environment and using the images and data collected by air to support work tasks instead.
Rikke has extensive experience in aviation both as a professional helicopter pilot (living and working for over a decade in the USA flying for various operators) and from a business perspective where she spent 6 years with Boeing Defence UK. At Boeing she worked on the C17 training programme and, as a Campaign Manager, she secured the through life training contract with the RAF, before leaving for her current job with Network Rail. Even in her early career she worked with SAS (Scandinavian Airline System).