Do I have to fly for a commercial airline?
By now you have completed either your MCC or APS course with us here at Simtech Aviation. You have been trained in how to operate as a crew member on a complex multi-engine jet aircraft. The final stage of your training complete, you now have the skills to operate as either single-pilot or as part of a multi crew.
So have you given serious thought as to what you are going to do next?
The airline jobs beckon no doubt! Is it what you want? Or, have you been swept along by the tide of those hunting for the right hand seat in an airline. Have you ever taken time out and reflected on what other kind of flying jobs are out there?
Flying in its various forms can be challenging, some more so than others. Are you up for a challenge? Let’s explore some of those other forms of flying. Be under no illusion, whatever type of flying you become involved in, flying always requires discipline, commitment and a very high level of professionalism.
If we take the big carriers and legacy carriers out of the equation you still have a lot of choices. I will confine this article to fixed wing operations. I will list some options below for you to consider. The order of the list does not imply any form of grading.
These could be considered as small airlines. The operation and infrastructure are similar to major carriers. They operate the latest aircraft, Turbo-Prop and/or Jet. They have a route structure that can be a mix of national or international. Some may be affiliated to major carriers with the prospects of either remaining and achieving command or moving to the “Mainline”, which is the major carrier itself. In such cases seniority may be a factor. But lifestyle can be a deciding factor for many who join the regional. The route structure and timetable, the bases, the roster, the type of aircraft and the staff satisfaction are major considerations for some. A small regional carrier where everybody knows one another has a lot going for it.
The same can be said for other types of specialist operators. They can be a closely knit operation with excellent interaction between the various departments, each looking out for the other. I have had the pleasure of flying for such an operator but in those days we were a commuter airline. I enjoyed every minute of my time there.
Yes the days could be long and the flying challenging. Flying unpressurised aircraft in Winter is an experience not to be forgotten. But on a good day it would be hard not to have a little smile as you took in the sights around you and marvelled at them. Also the amazing people I worked with not only the flying crew but our ground staff, Operations and engineering at base and the outstations, some of whom have become lifelong friends. The team spirit and can do attitude was a privilege to be part of.
There are not as many Air Taxi operators now as there were in the past. But there are some still operating in various parts of the world.
They tend to be mainly Single Pilot type operations utilising both single and twin engine aircraft for day and night time operations. It will be up to you to do all the flight planning, checking the weather, doing your own weight and balance sheet, which may involve weighing your passengers and their bags then loading the aircraft.
You will have to get the aircraft ready yourself especially if you are down route. So in all weathers you will have to refuel and pre-flight the aircraft maybe even sort out some minor maintenance problem. Then you have to meet and greet your passengers, some of whom you would gladly like to leave behind. Weather can and will influence your decision to get airborne as will the type of airfield you will be expected to operate into. They may not have the same facilities as you could expect in larger airports so bring a packed lunch and a flask to make yourself a hot drink and plenty of water.
You will be in be in very close contact with your passengers throughout the flight and if one of them turns out to be a “bad” traveller it can turn out to be an awful flight. If someone gets airsick on you, you can be sure others will soon follow as a result, you may not feel so great yourself! You also have the clean up to look forward to after you land. That would be a bad day at the “office” for you.
However, having said all that you will have some wonderful days and meet some really nice and appreciative passengers. This can be a very challenging type of operation. When not carrying passengers you could be carrying freight which may involve a lot of night flying and a lot of hanging around. Again I have experience of flying passengers around in light single and twin-engine aircraft.
These operators can offer you some very interesting and challenging flying. They tend to operate the latest single and twin-engine aircraft with “glass” cockpits. The flying could involve either single or multi crew, the other crew member may not necessarily be a pilot but a sensor operator. The nature of the operation requires the operator to operate at the highest levels.
The type of flying you could be involved with, could include, Aerial Photography, Aerial Survey, Surveillance, Nav-aid calibration and Air Ambulance, to name but a few. Some of the operators supply pilots to the police air wings. Recently some police forces in the UK have now started to operate fixed wing aircraft as they are a lot cheaper than helicopters and have a longer endurance. Some operators use air ambulances which are on contract to hospitals, insurance companies and governments. Because of the specialist nature of these operators, be prepared to travel far and wide around the world. A friend of mine worked for such an operator and had a great time with them.
Although he was based in the UK he flew twin-engine aircraft out to India, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa, all around Europe and the UK. I called him once to tell him that a certain airline was recruiting and would he be interested in applying. His response to me was that tempting as it was, he was so enjoying the flying he was doing and the fact he may never get such an opportunity to do what he was doing, he wasn’t ready to commit to an airline job. Could you be like my Friend?