In a special blog post, we’re joined by George who wanted to share with us his experience as a First Officer for Flybe. Following the collapse, George wanted to ensure the Flybe name lived on, and encourage all of his Flybe family to keep pushing for success in their careers.
What was your official position at Flybe?
I was a First Officer (often referred to as a ‘Co-pilot’), flying the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft, a fleet size of which we had 54.
How long had you worked at Flybe for?
I had worked at Flybe for just over 7 months, I started my Type Rating course with them in August 2019. I passed my simulator training in September and was successful on my initial Final Line Check in early November.
How was your experience coming up through the ranks at this airline?
I had been working to achieve my ambition of being an airline pilot for 8 years, I had finally achieved it. I was only with the company a short time before they entered administration and ceased trading. Literally just days before this happened I voluntarily attended an event at Glasgow Airport on behalf
of the company and gave a presentation on stage along with our Head of Pilot Management in front of over 400 people. As a result of doing this, I was nominated to become a “Brand Ambassador” for Virgin Connect, (a position which I was told was only going to be open to a select set of 10 people
out of the approximately 2000 employees and 600 pilots) this is something I was incredibly excited about.
You told me you had a great time working at Flybe, what did you enjoy about it?
I enjoyed the professionalism and responsibility of being an airline pilot. It gave me a sense of belonging that I’ve never had before and it was genuinely like being part of one big family. I was excited about going in every single day and never regarded it as ‘work’. There was no such thing as a normal day, every day and flight was different even if you were flying the same route for 4 sectors.
What’s your most memorable moment from working here?
There were lots of memorable moments, for me, the best one has to be the first-ever time I flew the real aircraft for base training which consisted of doing 6 takeoffs and landings in total and flying from Newquay to Birmingham. To get to fly a real airliner was something that I had always dreamt of doing and I couldn’t believe that I was actually doing it. It just felt surreal. I will also never forget my first fare-paying passenger flight where I was PF (Pilot Flying) from Southampton to Edinburgh.
Where’s the most fascinating place you spent time in while flying with Flybe?
Personally, I really enjoyed flying into the bigger airports, places such as Heathrow (where there was the opportunity for frequent nightstops), Amsterdam Schiphol as well as Paris Charles De Gaulle. I also spent a few weeks in the city of Belfast and Southampton as well as a couple of days being
based out of Glasgow. But I really enjoyed living in Edinburgh where I moved to for the job, it is such a vibrant, beautiful and historic place.
As an experienced pilot, what skills do you think are the most crucial at present?
Over the years through studies of Crew Resource Management it has been shown that ‘nontechnical skills’ are also an important aspect of being a pilot in the modern day multi-crew environment. This is something which is discussed in great depth during training of Human Performance and during an MCC course. Good communication and teamwork skills are absolutely essential for this role. But you should also have a passion for good customer service, a high level of motivation, professional attitude, good situational awareness and workload management.
Obviously the company is no longer operating, can you speak to that and tell me what you’ll miss most about working at Flybe?
Well, I’ll definitely miss the flying, especially the good old Dash 8 – it’s such a quirky and unique aeroplane with lots of character and I was starting to get rather comfortable with it. I will also miss the fantastic crews who I got to work with and sincerely hope that I will bump into many of them somewhere else in the future one day.
You’re looking for work at the moment like many of your ex-co-workers, what would you say to encourage them to keep going?
All I can say is that we’ve got to try and remain positive, hopefully, the aviation industry will recover from this unprecedented crisis and recruitment will pick up again. It could take months or it might take years but when everything is back to normal and the general public feels confident enough to begin travelling again the regions of the UK will still need to be better connected (despite HS2) and people will still want to go on holidays abroad.
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