Airline Captain: Job Description

Airline Captain: Job Description

What does a Captain do?

 
An airline captain has overall responsibility for the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft and the safety of crew and passengers. They will be concerned with the airworthiness of the plane, weather factors affecting the flight, flight regulations, air traffic control procedures, and will be making use of air navigational aids designed to provide maximum safety in the air. These aviation professionals are among the most experienced, skilled and respected workers in the airline industry.
 
For a senior pilot role, you would need to clock up at least 5 years’ experience before promotion to captain. Once in this position, you can earn very a very attractive salary, with perks including travel passes and accommodation allowances.
 
Airline captain responsibilities might include:
  • Ensure all information on the route, weather, passengers and aircraft is received
  • Use this information to create flight plans
  • Keeping aircraft logbook up to date
  • Making regular checks on aircraft’s technical performance, pre-flight safety checks on navigation and operating systems
  • Directing all aspects of flight planning, documenting aircraft and operational compliance to company and government standards and regulations
  • Manage emergencies and coordinate with emergency support agencies
  • Liaising with and directing team interactions involving mechanics, ground crew, ATC and airport operations
  • Managing a large team including flight deck crew, cabin and ground crew coordination
  • Maintain proficiency throughout consistent training programmes
  • Multi-tasking, analysing information, prioritising problems, and achieving objectives during an ever changing, fast paced working environment
 
 

What qualifications do I need to become a Captain?

To become a captain, you must first train as pilot.
 
To work as a commercial pilot, you will need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL). Training for this can take around two years and can cost as much as £100,000. 
 
To get on to a pilot training course, you will need to have performed well at school. E.g. grades A*-C (9-4) and A-levels in at least English and Maths. Subjects including science or a second language would be a great advantage.
 
You must also be at least 21 years of age to apply for an ATPL, and you’ll need to pass a background security check. you will also need to have a Class 1 Medical Certificate.
 
It might also be useful to to take an aptitude test beforehand too, before embarking on years of expensive training. you can do this at The Honourable Company of Airline Pilots hold an aptitude test at RAF Cranwell and they use some tests used by the RAF in their selection process.

 

Anything else? 

Flight training schools will also want to make sure that you are suited to a career as a pilot before they invest so much training in you.
 
Most Approved Training Organisations (ATOs – for a full list, see the CAA website) will put you through their own testing to make sure that you have the right personality and skills to be a successful pilot. Over a series of written papers, interviews, group tests, and simulator tests, you will be expected to demonstrate skills such as problem solving, spatial awareness, and people skills.
 
You will also need to demonstrate your dedication to your chosen career with a good level of general knowledge about the aviation industry. You should treat this stage as seriously as you would treat any job interview and do as much research and preparation as you can.  
 
 
 

How much does it cost to become a Pilot?

Training to become a pilot can cost as much as £100,000. This is a very important aspect of the career that you should consider. Make sure that you are aware of every penny that goes in to qualifying as a pilot before you pay a penny. 

Some UK airlines have fully sponsored training programmes, such as British Airways’ Future Pilot Programme or the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers Programme. Places on such schemes are limited and highly contested, but are fantastic opportunities if you manage to secure a spot.
 
 

What’s the career path for a Pilot?

Most airline pilots start out as a first officer, co-pilot or flight engineer with a regional carrier. All pilots will have progressed through a vigorous flight training programme and have earned a commercial pilot’s license or an airline transport rating. Most likely they will also have one or more advanced ratings such as instrument, multi-engine or aircraft type ratings depending on the requirements of their particular flying job.
 
Captain vacancies advertised today are often specified by the aircraft to be flown – B777 captain, B737 captain, A320 captain, A340 captain and so on. They sometimes work on short contracts, and may work unusual shift patterns, such as 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Captain jobs advertised often specify minimum requirements such as ‘5000 hours total flying time’ and ‘1500 hours PIC on commercial aircraft. Hiring airlines will also want to see accident and violation free records from applicants for pilot jobs.
 
According to aviation law, an airline pilot may not fly more than 85 hours a month or 1,000 hours a year. However, it’s likely that the average pilot works more than 100 hours a month, counting ground duties such as filing flight plans, working on reports, briefing crews and attending training classes. All pilots, including captains, are required to attend training and simulator checks once or twice a year.
 
 
 

How much could I earn as a Captain?

According to our latest annual survey, the average salary a pilot earned in 2018 was £58,964.69. This would obviously increase depending on experience etc. 

 

 
To find out more about being a pilot, read our pilot guide or browse our airline captain jobs.
 
Photo: British Airways

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A warm welcome to our new Advertising Agency Sales Manager, Georgia Cox.

A warm welcome to our new Advertising Agency Sales Manager, Georgia Cox.

Here at Aviation Job Search HQ, we’re thrilled to announce we have recently appointed Georgia Cox to take on the position of Advertising Agency Sales Manager. Working closely with Dave Capper, Managing Director, she will be responsible for heading up the sales strategy for advertising agencies.

Georgia is joining us from Stepstone, home to generic job boards such as Total Jobs and Jobsite.co.uk, so we wanted to get her thoughts on the move to a niche job board, and give her a proper introduction.

How would you describe yourself?

“I’m a very passionate person, with a desire to achieve. My professionalism coupled with my ambition means I believe deeply in inspiring others. I find this achieves the best possible outcome for the organisation I work for, and I’m proud to do so.”

Tell us about your experience

“I have been in the industry for over 6 years and I love what I do. In the past, I’ve worked with brands such as McLaren, BMW, Lidl and Tesco and my main aim is to support them in finding the best candidates for their jobs. There’s nothing better to see an organisation grow to it’s full potential by hiring the right people.”

What are you most excited about within your new role?

“Aviation Job Search is dynamic and ambitious, which I think says a lot about a company. It’s really motivating to see a company that is constantly striving for the next big thing, which fits right in with my personal ambitions.

I want to make a positive impression as soon as I can, so I’m really excited to work with the agencies that are already on board as well as expanding the existing client base.”

Why did you decide to switch from working with a generic job boards to niche job boards?

“For me this is about the new challenge that’s presented itself. The prospect of working with a niche is exciting because the types of jobs that clients are posting are so skilled, and tough to fill at times, it makes for more interesting work!

With my experience, I’m confident I’ll have a positive impact and influence on both the performance of my clients businesses and Aviation Job Search.”

Looking to promote your client’s jobs on a quality platform that provides a cost effective return on investment? Call Georgia today on 07557309053

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Psychometric tests in aviation recruitment

Psychometric tests in aviation recruitment

What is a psychometric test?

Psychometric tests are increasingly being used in the recruitment process, especially by larger companies that need to screen lots of applicants for the same position. These tests are a quick way for an employer to gain an understanding of your personality, skills and intelligence. The tests you are assigned will depend on the role that you are applying for but will generally look at your ability to process different types of information and how you work with other people. These results can then help the recruiter decide whether or not you are the right fit for the role and the company. These kinds of tests have been around for more than a hundred years and as they have evolved into the more accurate psychometric tests used today, they have become a regular feature in recruitment processes. Employers, therefore, have the opportunity to assess candidates on their future potential rather than employment history or educational background. Psychometric tests are often used as one of the preliminary stages of the recruitment process and are often taken online or at an assessment centre.  

What to expect in a psychometric test

Employers tend to explore three main areas with psychometric tests: personality, aptitude, and skills. Therefore, you may be asked to complete several tests to give an idea of how you perform in each of these areas. The tests will usually take place online or at an assessment centre. Some employers still use paper tests so it’s worth finding out the format beforehand so you can familiarise yourself with it. The tests themselves usually come in a multiple-choice format. The tests that are designed to look at your skills and aptitude will normally have a time-limit attached. However, personality tests usually give you as much time as you need to relieve some of the pressure so you can answer honestly.  

Types of psychometric test

Aptitude tests:

  • Abstract reasoning: These are sometimes known as inductive reasoning tests or diagrammatic reasoning tests. These tests are designed to assess your logical reasoning and your ability to learn new things quickly. They do this by analysing your response to patterns, diagrams and charts. You will usually have to choose the next pattern in a series by identifying a set of rules. These sorts of tests are particularly common for technical roles, such as engineering.
  • Verbal reasoning: This kind of psychometric test looks at the way you process written information and communication. You will often be given a passage of text and a series of questions based on this information. Your answers will reveal your ability to analyse information and come to an informed conclusion or decision. Sometimes the test will also assess your standard of spelling and grammar, so be sure to be as accurate as possible.
  • Numerical psychometric tests: These tests can be used to assess how you deal with numerical data from a very basic level to much more advanced problems. You will often be given a series of graphs, statistics or reports and you’ll be asked questions based on these.
  • Logical reasoning: These are sometimes known as deductive reasoning tests. These evaluate your ability to reach a conclusion by presenting you with some information and assessing your response.
 

Skills tests:

These tests focus on your ability to carry out the role you are applying for more directly than the aptitude tests explored above. For example, you might be given a task which involves solving a mechanical fault if you were applying to be an engineer. If you were applying for a role as a member of cabin crew, you might be given a task to resolve an issue with a tricky passenger.  

Personality tests:

Personality psychometric tests are important in helping recruiters evaluate how you approach tasks and how you work with others. This will give them an indication as to whether you are suited to the role, the company and how likely you would be to stay in the role for an extended period. There are no right or wrong answers to these kinds of tests and you will have no way of knowing exactly what they are looking for, so it is important to be honest with your answers. Sometimes your results will be cross-referenced with those of employees already at the business to get an idea of how you would fit in. One of the most common personality tests is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This test consists of questions about a variety of scenarios and how you would respond to them. Your results will then assign you to one of 16 personality types.  

Psychometric test practice

There are several ways that you can prepare for psychometric testing and it is generally advised that you do some practice beforehand, even if you only do some basic questions.
  • Make sure you know what type of tests are coming up. This involves finding out whether you are going to be given aptitude tests, skills tests or personality tests. You will also want to find out the format the tests will take so you can practice either on-screen or paper versions of the test.
  • Find out if you will be negatively marked. Whether or not you will be penalised for incorrect answers should have an impact on your strategy. If you won’t be negatively marked, you should aim to answer as many questions within the time limit as you can. If you will be, you should be much more careful with questions you aren’t sure about. Sometimes it will be better to leave the answer blank.
  • Doing some practice tests is likely to improve your performance in the real thing. Here are some sites that offer some practice tests:
 

Advantages and disadvantages of psychometric tests

Advantages:

  • The tests are objective, removing any element of human bias.
  • They can be a great benefit for those that don’t tend to perform well at interview as the test results will be able to help them stand out.
  • The tests have been proven to give a generally accurate prediction as to how a candidate will perform in a role.
 

Disadvantages:

  • On the other hand, if you are the type of person who gets nervous in the face of exams and tests, you may not perform as well as you could if the process only involved an interview.
  • The results, however accurate, can’t paint a complete picture of a candidate.
  • If you try and give the answers that you think the employer is looking for, the results will be inaccurate.

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How to make your staff tick: 2018’s aviation salary survey analysis

How to make your staff tick: 2018’s aviation salary survey analysis

How does your business stack up?

  Staff retention is a priority in any business, but do you know how well your business compares to others in the aviation industry? How confident are you that your salaries are competitive enough? How happy are your staff? We’ve recently joined forces with Carbon60 to create an in-depth salary survey of the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector to get to the bottom of these questions for the second year running. Market trends surrounding salaries, by sector, gender, and age based on over 1,200 professionals from around the globe have been explored.  

Key takeaways

  We’re well above the living wage – according to the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) report, the average full time employee in the UK earns an annual salary of £28,600 before tax. The aviation professionals who were surveyed however, earn a much more comfortable £43,720 annual salary. Men are from mars, women are from venus – based on the results of this survey (discounting levels of experience, jobs and location) the average female’s salary is 27% lower than a male’s, which is approximately average for most industries in the UK. However, if the recent easyJet gender pay gap was to speak for the airline market with an extremely high 51.7% gap, the MRO industry comparatively seems to be doing a lot better. It is also worth taking into account that only 5% of respondents were women, so it is difficult to draw a fair conclusion. However, the lack of women responding to the survey does highlight that women are still a minority in MRO based roles. Staff spirit is on the rise – The majority of people (57%) positively rated their employer, which has increased by 6% from 2017. The majority of people (85%) believe they also have a good work life balance, and a further 65% of employees believe their employer values what work they’re doing. Realistically, these results highlight that most people are very happy with their job. They seem to be enjoying reasonable working hours, or perhaps even flexible working hours to ensure a healthy work life balance. It’s also fair to assume employers are incentivising their staff and showing appreciation for their efforts.  

Staff retention

  It shouldn’t really be a surprise that staff are vital to any business, so keeping them happy should be at the top of every manager’s priority list. On the whole, the majority of employees are happier with their career, which could be a good indicator that staff retention is increasing industry wide – perhaps the ‘anyone can be replaced’ mentality has had its day… The number of people who agreed they have a good work life balance has increased by 22% year-on-year, showing that it has clearly come on leaps and bounds since the last survey was conducted. In addition, day to day pressure has decreased marginally by 1%. Although this is undeniably a low number, it’s definitely on the right track.  

Is it all about the money?

Considering that salaries are 52.9% higher than the national average, it’s not a real shock that 79% of those surveyed agreed they were content with their salary. However, as aviation professionals are admitting to being happier in their jobs for several different reasons, it may come as a surprise that the average salary of permanent workers in the UK has actually fallen from £48,608 in 2017 to £43,720 in 2018. So maybe the old saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’ rings true – employees are clearly willing to sacrifice a higher salary in exchange for a healthy work life balance.    

What’s keeping people happy?

  In the salary survey, participants were also asked what type of benefits they received. Paid overtime was certainly the most popular, something which not all industries offer, but something that is important within the aviation industry especially. With a commercial aircraft backlog of over 13,000, there’s certainly plenty of work out there. Although it wasn’t the most popular, the most desired company perk is a health plan (28%.) Not only could you contribute to a positive staff retention rate by implementing this, you could save your company thousands in avoiding sick days. According to ‘sickness absence in the labour market 2016’, 137.3 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2016 – averaging at 4.3 days per employee. If your business doesn’t already offer a private health plan, it could be something to consider. Unsurprisingly from the list of company benefits we provided, a vast majority (95%) of people don’t want a non-contributory pension. This is most likely down to the fact that 10% already get a final salary pension and 28% get a contributory pension – both of which are much more appealing. Shockingly though, a fifth of respondents don’t get any benefits at all. The MRO sector could make significant improvements going forward to ensure a more comfortable working environment.  

Next steps

If you’re reading this and wondering how you can go about improving your own staff retention figure, don’t worry, you’re in the right place. Whilst we recommend using this survey as a benchmark, there’s no harm in conducting your own staff survey. Every member of staff is an individual, making each company different. By finding out exactly what your staff are happy and unhappy about could really make a positive impact to your business. But before you do, it’s important to take into consideration these three simple points:
  1. Your survey should be anonymous. You don’t want to make your employees feel as though they could be singled out or punished for their honest opinions of the company. By allowing your employees to remain nameless, you will undoubtedly collect more data and by doing so, be able to create more thorough findings.
  2. Be prepared to take action from the results you find. Don’t kid yourself, 100% of the company will never all be happy, so think ahead and be prepared for any changes you may need to make. Be mindful though – conducting the survey, finding negative results, and then not taking action could do more damage than good.
  3. Be transparent. Honesty really is the best policy. Once you have the findings from your staff survey, you should publish them to the company. Highlight the positives, but more importantly, openly discuss and analyse the negative results with each department, and put a plan together of how to improve.

How to go about carrying out your own survey

Whilst using an external company is probably the best way to conduct the investigation, especially if you have a large company, if you don’t have the budget or resource there are some good alternatives. By using programs such as Surveymonkey, Typeform or even Google Forms, you could conduct a survey free of charge and analyse the results yourself.  

Job hunting isn’t quite something of the past

  Despite staff retention improving industry wide, there are still millions of people worldwide looking for a job on a daily basis. With 1265 job applications being made everyday on Aviation Job Search, it’s clear that professionals are still looking to jump into new jobs for a number of reasons (even when you exclude the number of newly trained beginners entering the industry.) According to the salary survey, 69% of jobseekers are using Aviation Job Search to find their next job worldwide, making us the World’s best aviation specific job site. On the flip side of the coin, it’s important to remember a few points when you’re recruiting for new staff:
  1. It’s clear by looking at the results of the survey that most people don’t want a long commute. When you post your job, be sure to select close by locations to your workplace.
  2. Make sure your salary is competitive. The average salary findings from this report set a good benchmark, but be sure to use a salary checker tool to ensure your job is appealing to the right candidates.
  3. Create a pleasant working environment. Without contradicting the second point, it’s overwhelmingly clear that workers want more than a good wage. Creating your own workplace survey is one way to do this, but in the short term there are a number of ways to do this as well. As a standard, 121s should be done in any company, so why not try collecting feedback from employees on a personal basis?
 

Read the survey in full

  To take a look at all of the survey results, simply download it in full here.  

How we help

  Got a job to advertise? Learn more about using our services by downloading your free online personalised guide today at https://recruiting.aviationjobsearch.com/. Or if you’re recruiting in a rush, you can get started straight away. Post it on Aviation Job Search today from as little as £699 at our online checkout. Looking for a job in the industry? Take a look at thousands of jobs available near you today.  

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Is there a shortage of good Licensed Engineers in the aviation industry?

Is there a shortage of good Licensed Engineers in the aviation industry?

The short answer is yes. Through speaking with hundreds of different types of aviation businesses everyday, it’s not uncommon for us to hear about the shortage of good, Licensed Engineers within the industry. Mike McDaniel, ExpressJet Airlines’ general manager of aircraft maintenance training, echoes this stance. He adds that “the overall quality of [AMT] applicants is not as good as it was 20-25 years ago” – MRO Network. There is a huge demand for talented engineers, as aircrafts are expected to continuously improve and be redesigned to increase fuel efficiency, lessen noise pollution and maintain high levels of safety. Take easyJet for example, they’re not just stopping at flying their new ‘super quiet’ eco plane from Manchester Airport. They’re still aiming to reduce carbon emissions per passenger by 10% by the year 2022. In addition to the ongoing maintenance of modern day planes, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) predicted that in the next 20 years, airlines would have to add 25,000 aircrafts to keep in line with the rising passenger demand for air travel. In fact, Boeing anticipates the world will need 679,000 new MRO technicians over the next 20 years. The most worrying part of this is of course, with a lack of engineers, comes a knock on effect to airlines. With the demand for qualified technicians remaining strong in years to come, as with any marketplace, the supply and demand levels will grow further apart before balancing back out.  

What do we mean by a ‘good engineer’?

When we talk about the shortage of engineers in the industry, what is it that we’re really looking for? Whilst some traits might be more valuable than others, every MRO’s ideal worker would have the knowledge, experience, skill, confidence, commitment and motivation to be a successful Licensed Engineer. Someone who might have the experience and skill, might lack the commitment and motivation to better themselves, and as a byproduct, the company.  

How has this come about?

The decline of engineers in the industry hasn’t just happened overnight. We currently seem to be in a ‘drought’ that descended from the lack of trained engineers during the late 1970s to mid 1980s. This is reflected in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)’s annual ‘engineer license holders age profile data’, whereby 54 year olds currently have the highest number of Part 66 licenses held. The multiple recessions took their toll on the UK, and by doing so, encouraged Margaret Thatcher to introduce National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in 1986. The initial introduction of the new qualification was slow to become a favoured option by employers, so in 1994 the Government introduced ‘the Modern Apprenticeship’.This meant there was an ‘apprenticeship framework’ laid out, enforcing how apprentices were trained and managed. Between 1996 and 2001, the number of apprentices more than doubled in the UK, jumping from approximately 75,000 a year to 170,000. The increase then became more gradual until 2007 (205,000), where a growth spurt in popularity brought the total to 280,000 in 2010 according to notgoingtouni.co.uk. Nowadays, the growth in apprenticeships has seen a range of industries jump on the bandwagon, including health and social care, business and law, and even hairdressing. However, a more stereotypical attitude would still see a ‘traditional’ apprenticeship as something more along the lines of manufacturing or engineering.  

How is the industry correcting itself?

Fortunately, modern businesses are becoming more proactive with addressing the problem. There are a number of companies with successful training programs (both apprenticeships and graduate schemes), such as BAE Systems for example. A company who employs approximately 83,100 people worldwide believes “our apprentices are our future. So we invest in theirs.” That being said, there is still definite room for improvement when it comes to training curriculums. Phil Miholovich, director of maintenance for C&L Aviation Services, says that students are “typically given no more than just a general overall knowledge” of composite structures and advanced avionics troubleshooting, with very little in the way of stand-alone courses specifically focusing on those areas.” Miholovich went on to say, “This is changing, because some Part 147 schools are adding programs in complex avionics. But it is fairly new, and it adds six to 12 months to the curriculum. Because of the time and money involved, not everyone participates.” There is still plenty of room to develop from universities as well – an estimated 58.8% of graduates are in jobs that don’t require a degree according to the BBC. Yes, some of these graduates will have taken irrelevant degrees to their desired job, or had a change of heart along the way, but it’s fair to assume that a percentage of engineers have left university and haven’t gone into an engineering career. This could be down to either students not being educated enough in how to find work, or they’re not encouraged to pursue an engineering career. There could also be more room to encourage college students or school leavers to get into engineering. Typically it’s seen as a male dominated field, and part of the shortage could be solved by encouraging more women into the industry at a younger age. According to Carbon60’s 2018 Salary Survey, just 5% of those surveyed were women. If the industry had just as many women as men, the shortage of Licensed Engineers could potentially be fixed. Some companies have already started to give support to women who are interested in the industry such as Boeing and BAE Systems who are both partnered with The Women’s Engineering Society (WES.) The society partners with relevant employers and educators to work towards “inspiring and supporting girls and women to achieve their potential as engineers.” Whilst many organisations would suggest the number of skilled engineers has been improving though, it is predicted that in 2017 there was as little as 7.2% of skilled workers making up the entire number of aircraft engineers within the whole aviation industry. This is a worrying 2.5% decrease year on year.*  

Top tips for finding your perfect Licensed Engineer

  1. Consider taking on a permanent worker instead of a contractor. While the recruitment process may be slightly longer, you could save your business money. Not only in salary (the average contractor’s salary is 15% higher than a permanent worker according to the Carbon60 2018 Salary Survey), but in cost per hire too.
  2. Look at potential internal applicants. Unfortunately, no one is born with the skills to be a Licensed Engineer, it is all taught. Whether you have an apprenticeship / graduate scheme or not, could your business have the resource to educate some of your staff with transferable skills?
  3. Use a niche job board or recruitment agency. Quality should come over quantity when looking for candidates in such a highly skilled role. By using a generic recruitment method, you’re more likely to attract applicants who don’t have the experience or set of skills to be a fit for the role.
 

You’re not alone

Looking for Licensed Engineers yourself? We hear hundreds of businesses struggle with the same problem. Unfortunately as you’ve read, the issue isn’t just going to go away any time soon. However, here at Aviation Job Search, we pride ourselves on being the World’s best aviation job site (no really, we are.) We have over 13,000 B1 & B2 Licensed Engineers registered with us worldwide, so if you’re looking to hire a new engineer, there’s no better place for you to find one.   Take KLM Engineering for example… “After only a few days of posting the vacancies we were inundated with top quality technical and engineering staff of which many successful candidates were recruited. Aviation Job Search is THE must have tool when recruiting high calibre staff for your business.”  

How we help

Got a job to advertise? Learn more about using our services by downloading your free online personalised guide today at https://recruiting.aviationjobsearch.com/. Or if you’re recruiting in a rush, you can get started straight away. Post it on Aviation Job Search today from as little as £699 at our online checkout. Looking for a job in the industry? Take a look at thousands of jobs available near you today. *Statistics taken from annual reports of registered jobseekers on Aviation Job Search.

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