A Career as Pilot: Turning Dreams into Reality

A Career as Pilot: Turning Dreams into Reality

We recently caught up with First Officer, Dr John Kenning, to discover more about his flying career, the process of turning the dream of being a pilot into a reality, and he also shares advice on how to tackle the airline interview process.

 

 

How long have you been a pilot? Tell us a little bit about your career so far.

I started flying at the age of 13 with the Air Training Corps, before moving onto gliders, where I flew at an airfield close to home.

Whilst at University, I started PPL flying alongside my hospital job. I ran the two careers in parallel – instructing part time, whilst working full time in the NHS.

After completing training for a frozen ATPL in Spain, I was lucky enough to be offered a job with Flybe on the Dash 8 Q400. I moved to the Embraer jet (beautiful aircraft) after this before finally moving to a large holiday airline on the Boeing 737.

 

Did you always want to be a pilot?

 I wanted to be a pilot right from the start (well – that, and a tractor driver!) My first flight with 9AEF at RAF Finningley marked the start of my career – and simply confirmed what I had always wanted to do!

I had the goal from an early age, and whilst my initial career took me in different (and interesting) directions, I never took my eyes off the final prize.

 

What was the process of turning that dream into a reality?

It was a long road for me – I came from a solid working class background, and it’s safe to say that there was no spare money! The only way to do it was to fund the training myself. I came within a whisker of a scholarship, and I passed all of the RAF aptitude tests – but no offer was forthcoming.

So… I had to find the money, and the only way to do that was to build a career in parallel with flying. The difficult and uncomfortable truth of flight training is that it is expensive – there is no way around that.

The difference between those who make it, and those who don’t, is often the ability to just keep writing the cheques – even when you don’t really know where the money is coming from!

 

“The difficult and uncomfortable truth of flight training is that it is expensive – there is no way around that.”

Where did you find the information you needed to take the first steps towards training to be a pilot?

When I first started flying, the internet was a very new thing – and so much of my information came from aviation publications. But, places like PPRUNE were a good place to discuss different options.

It is important to bear in mind that many people who offer advice on “the airlines” have never actually worked there themselves – and having been on both sides, it is possible to look back and see that quite a lot of the advice given was not always based on fact.

The first day on the job as an airline pilot.

How easy or difficult was it to find the information you needed about how to become a pilot?

 Finding information is relatively easy – there is a wealth of information on the internet, and there are always plenty of people around the flying club/training environment that can offer advice.

However – it is important to take a critical look at all of the information given. Training providers always have their own agenda (that being money), and each trainee will potentially bring large pots of cash.

Advice often proffered with the best of intentions is not always based upon reality – especially when it comes from people who haven’t worked in the airline industry. You have to gather all of that information and then make an informed choice.

Some of the best information I was given came from friends who were ahead of me in their training – they had already found the cheapest providers and worked out who was giving value – and who wasn’t!

 

“Some of the best information I was given came from friends who were ahead of me in their training.”

After gaining your ATPL, how long did it take you to secure employment?

I was lucky to gain employment within a few months of completing all of the required elements – and most of my friends were equally lucky. It really depends upon the current environment; I hit the industry just as the recent boom started.

 

Where did you find your previous/current jobs?

I had watched a flight deck DVD from an online company and decided that I really quite liked Flybe – and so I actively searched their vacancies whilst also viewing other opportunities. I made quite a few phone calls, and filled out a number of applications.

My current employer turned me down at first – so I popped that on the back burner, gained experience, and then tried again successfully.

 

Doing the Instrument rating in Malaga, Spain.

What’s the hardest part about finding a pilot job?

There are a range of issues when looking for employment. Finding vacancies for “low hour pilots”, or those who do not have an appropriate type rating for the aircraft.

Assuming you can find vacancies, you then have to look at the location – as a family man, my choice was limited as I didn’t wish to uproot the entire family.

 

What’s the most difficult part of a pilot interview? What has been the most interesting / unexpected question you’ve been asked during an interview?

Nerves. I absolutely wrecked my first airline interview (with British Airways) because, for me, it was such a big moment.

I was so nervous that they actually asked me “do you really want to be a pilot?” It was all I had ever wanted, and the moment was just too big for a young 21 year old.

I have since found that the best way to treat interviews is to view them as a friendly conversation between interested parties – in this case, pilots.

I can honestly say that my experiences have been very positive. You have to prepare for the “tell me about a time when” type questions – and the inevitable “on final approach, low fuel, with sudden flap failure – what do you do?” type questions.

Otherwise, it is just a relaxed and friendly conversation. I can’t say that I’ve been asked anything odd – though I’ve heard plenty of apocryphal stories!

What advice would you give to any pilots about to take an interview?

Prepare and relax. Know the company, know where they are going, and know where they have come from. Understand their business model, with the good bits and the bad.

Appreciate the risks to the business, and be able to articulate that. Be open, friendly, and positive. When asked about negative points (such as “what was the worse bit of your previous job”), try to turn them into positives.

But mainly – relax. Good preparation will help this, and a friendly, open, demeanour will carry the day.

Doing the CPL on a Grumman GA7.

How do you tackle aptitude tests?

For me, I think this is the worst bit. Some people spend lots of money on preparation software but I never did. Most aptitude tests will give you some practice before the actual test so you do have an opportunity to become familiar with it.

It may seem silly, but I would add, subtract and multiply car number plates for weeks before the test – just to gain fluency in simple maths. And play on computer games!

Do you have any tips or techniques to pass on which helped you when learning and retaining technical information?

I think that different learning styles require different approaches. Having spent many years in education, I have refined my own way of studying (I do short 20 minute bursts with a 30 minute break) – it often looks as if I’m not doing much work at all!

Mnemonics, rhymes, association with known objects… whatever works – its a very individual thing. Understanding what is important, and what isn’t is tricky at first. I have come across people who do whole courses without taking a single note, and others who write reams of paper.

 

Doncaster in the Embraer 175.

 

The industry is notoriously volatile and job security isn’t always a given. How do you manage this?

Flybe, unfortunately, was always sitting on the edge – and it never really felt safe for the long term. The people there were amazing, and they didn’t deserve the sad outcome that they have had to endure.

I arrived in the industry with a clear idea of its volatility and consequently never gave up my NHS career. I have continued to keep up my skills and knowledge, and do some shifts in the background where time allowed – giving me a solid second option should it all go wrong.

It is vitally important to have a plan B if you work in the airlines – most people that you meet will have been made redundant at some stage during their career – some many times over.

You have to keep your finger very much on the pulse, and be prepared to act wherever you can (I paid a large bond in order to move companies – it turned out to be money very well spent).

That being said, it can also just be about being lucky – there are people who have simply been the victims of bad timing, despite their best efforts. If I had stayed at my previous airline any longer, then I would have been caught up in its demise. It’s a fine balance.

 

“You have to keep your finger very much on the pulse.”

A Beechcraft Dutchess of Aerodynamics, Malaga.

Aerial photo of Chamberry in the Alps.

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What Will the Future of Aviation Look Like After Covid-19?

What Will the Future of Aviation Look Like After Covid-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the aviation industry. With losses of £269billion and 37,104 job losses, the industry is facing its worst financial crisis since the 9/11 attacks.

Aviation professionals, travellers, and entrepreneurs alike are wondering what the future will look like for the aviation industry.
From new business opportunities to technological advances, we look at four areas of the industry and what they will look like after COVID-19.

 

There Will be Many New Airlines

With UK passenger traffic down by 75% in 2020, it would seem counterintuitive for new airlines to launch in 2021. However, entrepreneurs have shown considerable interest within the aviation sector.

Firstly, the overall costs of running an airline has fallen drastically. Secondly, aircraft manufacturers (including Boeing and Airbus) are offering aircraft at discounted rates. And thirdly, entrepreneurs have a wealth of experienced aviation talent to join them, who have been furloughed or made redundant since the pandemic began.

As a result, 2021 will see the launch of many new airlines start-ups. This is good news for job seekers within this sector. To those looking for new job opportunities, it will be worth following these airline start-ups. Some of them include flyPOP, Play, and Flyr.

 

Online Check-in and Self-Check in Will Become the Norm

Passengers are approaching air travel with greater caution than ever before. This goes beyond the use of face masks and hand sanitiser.

Habits have changed considerably, with travellers being more cautious of crowded spaces and queues. It is expected this level of awareness will remain for a long time; even after the pandemic has ended.

With this heightened state of alert, passengers are looking to technology to avoid long waiting periods where large groups of people are present.

Airlines and airports have already started putting more emphasis on online check-in technology to ease insecure travellers, and it is expected this will be the norm very soon.

 

There Will be a Greater Emphasis on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

With less airplanes in the air, the aviation and energy industries shifted their efforts towards, certainly continuity, but also sustainability. Specifically, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

SAFs are produced from sustainable feedstocks and have lower carbon emissions compared to traditional, fossil-based jet fuel. They are part of a longer-term plan to reduce the impact air travel has on the environment.

With the recent corporate shift towards developing SAFS, it appears strides are taking place in their production and use. Gulf Air started using sustainable aviation fuel in March this year 2021; Oil giants Total started producing SAF in April in France; and Bristol-based company CentreLine Aviation have signed a deal with Air BP to become the UKs first non-network retailer of SAF.

There have been discussions over the last few years regarding SAFs’ place in the industry’s future. With these recent developments, it looks like SAFs future in aviation has solidified.

 

 

Fuel Efficient Aircraft Will Take a Backseat

Sustainability is a hot topic in the aviation industry right now. The above-mentioned sustainable aviation fuels are part of many conversations regarding decarbonisation and environmentally friendly air travel (which included the recent formation of the UK government partnership JetZero).

Fuel is one place to start. But what about aircraft manufacturers? Are they developing environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient aircraft?

The answer is yes. In fact, Wizz Air recently unveiled their more efficient A321neo fleet, which Airbus developed in recent years.
However, with the decrease in air travel and the revenue it generates, aircraft manufacturers are expected to delay the development of more fuel-efficient passenger aircraft.

So, it might be some time before older, less fuel-efficient aircraft is decommissioned to make way for innovative, environmentally conscious transport.

 

 

Takeaways

The aviation industry, despite all that is happening, is fighting and progressing. And it appears the future is brighter, greener, with more job and business opportunities; packaged with an emphasis on sustainability. But the reality of it all is the industry largely relies on one thing – passengers.

Lockdown restrictions in the UK are easing and holiday markers are craving a holiday in the sun. But with a wariness of the virus, it will be some time before passengers can fly with confidence once again.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not just altered the aviation industry within the last year. It has altered it forever.

 

Article submitted by EBC Global.

The opinions expressed in this article are based on EBC Global’s knowledge of the aviation industry and research conducted in recent months.

EBC Global are a background check and vetting software company based in the UK. Originally starting out as Avisoftware, we have worked with aviation companies over the last ten years; providing software to ensure compliance, efficiency and increased productivity in regard to background checks. Visit here for more information.

 

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What Is It Like To Be an Aircraft Handler?

What Is It Like To Be an Aircraft Handler?

We recently caught up with aircraft handler, Rodney Kuimba, to discover more about his career so far, how he came to be an aircraft handler and his thoughts on the recent Covid crisis.

 

How long have you been doing this job? Did you always want to be an aircraft handler?

Yes, I have always wanted to do this job. I have been doing it for 7 years now.

 

Where did you find the information you needed to take the first steps towards this job role?

My family has worked in the aviation sector for decades so this kind of information is general knowledge in our house. Finding additional information is easy enough with the help of the Internet and the likes of YouTube.

 

What was the training like? / How long did it take?

The initial training was around 2 months, but in essence, you never stop learning as you come across different and new scenarios regularly in this sector.

 

“You never stop learning as you come across different and new scenarios regularly in this sector.”

 

Where did you find your current job?

The Internet, referrals and just through connections.

 

What’s the best part about the job?

Job satisfaction of maintaining good relationships, and safety & security standards.

 

What’s the hardest part about the job?

To be honest nothing really. It’s probably just making sure all of the team are where they need to be, when they need to be there, in order to achieve on time performance – and also maintain the safety and security.

 

What’s the most unusual thing that’s ever happened to you during work?

For me, it’s coming across some famous faces and actually spending a few minutes with them! My most memorable conversation was with former England International and Liverpool star, John Barnes.

 

The industry is notoriously volatile and job security isn’t always a given. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? What did you do?

Yes, twice now. When Thomas Cook collapsed and more recently with the global crisis that is Covid. You have to maintain some level of positivity because I felt like I had no belonging and had lost my identity. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of skilled aviation employees that have lost their jobs in the recent months and years.

 

“I felt like I had no belonging and had lost my identity.”

What Does SEO Mean for an Aviation Company?

What Does SEO Mean for an Aviation Company?

Even being a strictly regulated structure, aviation still needs marketing approaches to promote its transportation services. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is only one of the possible strategies to encourage an aviation company online; however, a well-developed SEO strategy opens up many additional and quite beneficial opportunities.

So, let’s find out why SEO matters for an aviation company and what benefits it may offer to an air transportation business.

 

Higher Reach

The first benefit of SEO implementation is an airline’s ability to be found in organic search results. This is also the most crucial advantage, because at this stage, the user, firstly, has a clear intention to buy a ticket to a certain destination (or at least find out the cost). Secondly, it is an excellent opportunity to lure the user into your sales funnel.

What’s more, a smart SEO strategy from Google’s perspective allows you to reach the maximum number of users, taking into account not only their search intent but also their previous online behaviour. Plus, a multilingual SEO approach is the best way to reach users in all directions your company flies to.

Thus, when creating an SEO strategy to promote your aviation company, make sure to use the purchase-specific keywords (like “buy an airline ticket to…”). “It is crucial to ensure reaching out to users from different countries, and reinforce your website positions with the help of guest posting services,” shares Jacqueline Martin, a content strategist at Adsy.

 

Competitiveness

The pandemic has made competition between airlines stronger than ever, forcing companies to reduce prices to economically reasonable levels, provide more travel bonuses and take data-driven route optimization opportunities seriously.

And nevertheless, SEO promotion is quite capable of improving your position against competitors’ background. The first goal in this task is to get to the top of Google search results. How to do it?

To achieve this goal, you need a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that will cover social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, and instant messengers.

 

Lead Generation

SEO is also good for generating qualified leads; however, to make this approach work, your website should appear on the first page of search results. In this case, when a user who found you on his own initiative comes to your site and starts a search, you can use a lead magnet, for example, using an Exit-Intent Popup.

In simple words, at the moment when the user intends to leave the website, you can offer them to subscribe to the price update. That is a simple way of acquiring a prospect’s email, and secondly, increases the likelihood of a purchase, if the price will become more affordable.

What’s more, even email alone has value because you can add a user to your marketing newsletter and subtly invite them to consider available directions, stay up to date with news and promotions, and so on.

 

Personalisation

You can also use cookies on your site to analyse users’ experience and behaviour attracted to your site through SEO. These data-driven insights will be handy in personalising your marketing strategies and offering each potential traveller precisely what they expect

Plus, behavioural insights can be used as part of demand analysis, which means you can optimise routes and cut costs during these difficult times for transportation services.

 

Building Brand Reputation

Brand reputation is a combination of many factors, and the ability to both find a brand online and quickly close a deal is one of the keys to a good reputation in the market.

Plus, companies that are at the top of Google’s search results are subconsciously perceived as entirely reliable, since Google indexes websites based not only on their semantic core but also on users’ real behaviour. This means that sites on the first page of the search deserve to be trusted.

Hint! In order to get to the top of search results faster, strengthen your SEO strategy with paid advertising on Google. This is called search engine marketing (SEM), and it’s a pretty effective way to quickly get large numbers of users to your airline’s website, generate a lot of leads, and show Google good behavioural factors.

Plus, such ad campaigns have very flexible settings and allow you to consider many specific details, showing your ad only to interested users.

 

Conclusion

Thus, SEO remains one of the main ways to fight for users’ attention online, and this method will live as long as search engines are alive. In this challenging time for aviation, we suggest taking one more look at your digital marketing approach and making sure you are putting in enough effort to get your site ranked well in the SERPs.

Sooner or later, air traffic will be restored to its previous volume, and then a well thought out and already implemented SEO strategy can become one of your significant advantages.

 

Article submitted by Marie Barnes. Marie Barnes is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.

The Journey From the Right to Left Hand Seat

The Journey From the Right to Left Hand Seat

We recently caught up with ex-Flybe Captain, Ian Robinson, to discover more about his journey into the left hand seat, the challenges he has faced along the way, and how he has coped during one of the worst crises the aviation industry has ever experienced.

 

 

How long have you been a pilot? Tell us a little bit about your career so far.

I started my training towards my Frozen ATPL in May 2004 at Flight Training Europe, Jerez. The school was in transition from BAe Flight School. Upon completion of my training in September 2005, I was recommended to BA Citiexpress but was unsuccessful at the interview.

With the job market slow to pick up post 9/11, I trained as a flying instructor at Ravenair in Liverpool. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job with Ravenair in May 2006 at their flying school on the Isle of man – Manx flyers.

After 18 months, Ravenair’s owner, Jeff Nuttall, gave me the opportunity to fly single pilot charter operations under Ravenair’s AOC flying the Partenavia, Aztec and Seneca. The flying was challenging, exhilarating and it gave me the experience – and a good foundation – to build on. The type of flying was varied, from passenger charter, cargo, pipeline surveillance, offshore wind farm surveys, town mapping, Air-on-Ground, medical repatriation and organ transfer.

“The flying was challenging, exhilarating and it gave me the experience – and a good foundation – to build on.”

In 2008, Ravenair added 3 Learjet 40/45s to their operation and I had the privilege of flying the aircraft – albeit for a very short period due to the 2008 economic crash; the Learjet operation ended in early 2009.

I was grateful to Jeff, instead of making me redundant, he brought me back onto the piston fleet as a Training Captain and Flight Safety Officer. I stayed at Ravenair until July 2012 when I was offered a job with Flybe as a First Officer, flying the Dash 8 Q400. I returned to the Isle of Man – only this time, I had my wife and 3 month old daughter in tow!

I loved my time on the Isle of Man, it offered a fantastic lifestyle, but unfortunately due to restructuring, the base closed in March 2014. I feared I would be made redundant, this time with a second child on the way, but again (luckily for me), I was offered a position in Manchester, which was ideal for me as I am from the North West and have family and friends there.

In late 2014, I accepted a secondment to Liverpool and there I was offered my command (I was on the toilet when I was offered the position of Captain, which hurried things along somewhat!)

Liverpool as a base was never meant to be – competing against EasyJet 3 times a day to AMS was never going to work. As it was only ever a secondment, I went back to Manchester, this time as a Captain.

I was extremely happy at Flybe and to be in Manchester. This is probably a cliché but it did feel like a family and I miss the togetherness amongst the crews. Flybe always seemed to be coming out of the other side of the woods, and the announcement in October 2018 (that the company was up for sale and struggling to stay afloat) unsettled everyone. We were all very surprised given what a busy summer we had had.

“This is probably a cliché but it did feel like a family and I miss the togetherness amongst the crews.”

For a little while, the future was bright with the Virgin Connect take over and I had begun my training to become a Line Training Captain. However, on March 5th 2020, the hammer fell and Flybe entered into administration.

The lives of around 2400 people were turned upside down overnight and I was stuck in a Southampton hotel wondering how to get home. Thankfully, the trains offered free travel to passengers and staff affected by Flybe’s administration. Seven hours later, I was home – the irony being that my journey home was a first hand example of why the UK needs a dedicated domestic/regional airline.

The next day, I joined Facebook to say goodbye to people, most of whom I may never see again. Then the full effect of Covid-19 hit us and everybody’s lives changed.

My wife thankfully managed to get a temporary job teaching to give us some breathing space financially. I toiled with career changes, but I always came back to the same career.

I managed to renew my single pilot license thanks to the National Careers Service – and in particular Carol Mullin and Jane Hughes on the RRS team – who went above and beyond to get me funding.

I renewed my license at Ravenair, and it was nice to see some old faces. On the back of renewing my single pilot license I have since been offered (subject to vetting) a job with NPAS as a fixed wing line pilot, a very exciting opportunity and one I am extremely thankful for, given the current job market for pilots. In the meantime, I will continue to sort parcels at the Royal Mail.

 

Did you always want to be a pilot?

I always had an interest in aviation. Both of my Grandfathers were in the RAF during WWII, as a joiner and a driver. My uncle worked at BAE Systems, Warton, and I remember going to a family day and sitting in the cockpit of a Tornado.

My next door neighbour was a draughtsman at BAE Systems, Samlesbury, and we used to go to a lot of airshows.

I never thought that I could be a pilot and I initially followed a career path towards aerospace engineering.

I wanted to join the RAF but was unsuccessful – the thing that convinced me that I could potentially be a pilot was my RAF aptitude test results.

A young Ian sitting in the cockpit of a Tornado.

What was the process of turning that dream into a reality?

I took my first flying lesson through Westair at Blackpool Airport to see if I enjoyed flying or not. I wrote to airlines and people within the industry, and researched flying schools/various paths to becoming a qualified pilot.

The main stumbling block was financing. It was a decision to either train full time and maximise my chances of a long career as a pilot, or train as I earn a living from another career.

HSBC offered me a training loan but the repayments were ridiculous and unrealistic. The cost to train was probably half as much as it is today but it was still an awful lot of money.

My parents intervened, and after many conversations, we decided the best course was to get a loan against the family home. The repayments were more manageable for me as they were stretched over a longer period.

 

Cliff Fletcher, Ian Robinson (Captain) and Liam Sandie (First Officer)

I still have a couple of years left paying the loan back. I will be forever grateful to my parents and the trust they had in me with such a huge undertaking, risk and financial burden. I will be extremely proud when it is fully paid off.

Looking back now, I was very naive as to how difficult it would be to get my first job and furthermore how unstable the industry can be – job security is everything!

“I will be forever grateful to my parents and the trust they had in me with such a huge undertaking, risk and financial burden.”

Where did you find the information you needed to take the first steps towards training to be a pilot?

My mum recently showed me a file of the letters that I wrote and received to/from airlines and training schools about sponsorship schemes, training courses and how to become a pilot etc. – It was pre-internet! The nicest response I received was from the Chief Pilot of British Midland.

It all seemed very complicated at the time, trying to understand the jargon and licensing terminology. I don’t suppose it has gotten any less complicated nowadays. The whole thing seemed like an unattainable dream.

How easy or difficult was it to find the information you needed about how to become a pilot?

It took a lot of time and effort to get a clear picture of what was required, how to go about it and which path would be the best one for me.

It is much easier today with the internet – but then there is probably so much information, you will probably get lost amongst it if you were new to the industry like I was.

 

After gaining your ATPL, how long did it take you to secure employment?

It took 9 months after gaining my frozen ATPL. I was unsuccessful at an interview with BA Citiexpress. I took a flying instructor course at Ravenair and they offered me a job instructing at their flying school on the Isle of Man, Manx Flyers.

What did you do in the early stages of your career to build your flight hours?

I was a flying instructor, then charter pilot flying single pilot and briefly a First Officer on a Learjet, before getting a job as an airline pilot at Flybe.

I had 2,300 hrs when I started at Flybe. Having this experience has certainly helped me gain employment in what is one of the worst crises the aviation industry has ever seen.

 

What was the transition from First Officer to Captain like?

I found the flying side of the role straight forward. The management side of things took a little more time, being ultimately responsible for the crew, passengers and aircraft as the book stops with you. My experience of single pilot flying helped massively.

 

Where did you find your current job?

I am awaiting a start date with NPAS (as my vetting is still going through). A friend and ex-colleague forwarded the job advert to me. He thought the role would be ideal for me, given my previous single pilot experience.

What’s the hardest part about finding a pilot job?

The hardest thing about finding an airline job is the competition for places, especially if you have little experience. (My experience came from flying single pilot commercial operations.)

It is just a matter of time, perseverance and trying not to be put off by setbacks. Eventually your opportunity will come. The pilot job market has always been cyclical; this time around is the worst it has ever been, but it will bounce back.

What’s the most difficult part of a pilot interview? What has been the most interesting / unexpected question you’ve been asked during an interview?

Thinking on your feet! There are always a few unexpected questions which will be thrown at you. My experience of airline interview questions is that they tend to be competency based interview questions, such as “Give an example of….”

“When can you start?” is probably the most unexpected question when I was interviewed for a flying instructor job on the Isle of Man! Being flexible and willing to up sticks and move away was the springboard to my career.

The most recent unexpected question was “can you unmute yourself please Ian?”

The most recent unexpected question was “can you unmute yourself please Ian?”

 

What advice would you give to any pilots about to take an interview?

Smile, have a back up example to give, and have a couple of company related questions – that will throw your interviewer and make them sit up. For me, it shows that you have demonstrated a real interest in the company.

Ask the interviewer at the end of the interview if they have any reservations about you that you can put to bed. For Zoom or team interviews, organise your room so you can stick notes up behind the camera, check your battery life and have a glass of water.

 

How do you tackle aptitude tests?

Research and practice – anybody that thinks you can’t practice these tests and improve is wrong. If nothing else, it will give you confidence that you can pass.

These tests are not the be all and end all, I have had vastly mixed results and experiences of aptitude testing. They only demonstrate trainability and are not an indication as to how you react in the flight deck, or what people are like to work with.

Do you have any tips or techniques to pass on which helped you when learning and retaining technical information?
Highlight buzz words or phrases and then transfer them to revision cards. Don’t go into too much detail, written tests are often multiple choice.

The best tip I was given was that there are a few things that you need to know, a lot that is good to know and the rest is just fluff to make people appear smarter than they are. Knowing where to look for things or reference information is far more important in my opinion.

“Aptitude tests only demonstrate trainability and are not an indication as to how you react in the flight deck.”

 

 

The industry is notoriously volatile and job security isn’t always a given. How do you manage this?

 

I realised the error of my ways during the Covid pandemic. Flybe went into administration on 5th March 2020 and the aviation industry soon fell into crisis – and all my eggs were in one basket.

My degree is in Aeronautical Engineering and my whole career (bar a few warehouse jobs) has been in aviation. I learnt that you should always have a back up plan or something to fall back on!

The Royal Mail has been a lifesaver and given me a purpose again. I knew my time would come again to sit in the flight deck, I am fortunate that it has come a lot sooner than anticipated.

 

“All my eggs were in one basket.”

Image credit: Cliff Fletcher

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