Mark

A330 Senior First Officer

    

Previous airline/s:    British Airways, easyJet

Previous role/s (pre pilot training): Test Engineer – Dell (EMC) Hopkinton MA, USA

Uni degree? Electrical & Electronic Engineer BEE

Airline training route:  Modular     ATPL 

ATO/s attended: CTC Aviation


Why did you want to become a pilot? Not to sound too cliché, but I have wanted to be an airline pilot since a young age, the idea for me was cemented when I was on a family holiday back in 1993 to Boston and I had the pleasure of visiting the cockpit on an Aer Lingus B747. Since then I was very keen to pursue this career. My parents gave me full support on the condition I completed my degree in Engineering. In 2001 September 11th occurred which suppressed the industry and I was glad to have listened to my parents: By this stage I had secured a job on a temporary visa  in Boston where I would start my journey and rekindle my desire to be an airline pilot. 

How did you fund your training? Obtained funding through HSBC’s unsecured professional studies loan 


Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge? It was a challenge having only 2 hours of flight training in the US which was completely alien to NZ and UK airspace. I didn’t struggle with the academic side of it, but flying is a fine balance between confidence and being ‘cocky’ I struggled with not getting skills first time in a fast paced ab initio flight school where many of my peers had PPLs and even fast jet experience. It is about perseverance and looking at the end goal, not fixating on the individual sorties and how they may have gone to plan initially. 


What was most challenging? There were many challenges in flight school. I think trying to be a chameleon is one that I struggled with: At times you had many flying instructors with different teaching styles/techniques. They had their own idiosyncrasies and at times you tried to appease them, but in reality if you believe in your own ability and not second guess an instructor it is much more beneficial. Achieving perfection is It is not always key; it is about making mistakes and seeing how you fix them that is sometimes far more beneficial. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? It has to be when you finish meandering the complexity of JFK airport and you advance the thrust levers as the sun is setting and you witness the view of Manhattan. The spectacular views of the various landscapes and, of course, as you cross near the Arctic circle near Greenland you see the Aurora dancing in front of your eyes... sights I never grow old of!

What is most challenging about your job? When you have tech issues and you are operating against the clock and have many distractions and every one in the team wants to just ‘push’ the aircraft on time and you are the last line of defence to mitigate against any errors: You have to able to stop people trying to rush you and at times close that flight deck door and remove all distractions to ensure you do every thing you need to do. This is especially hard when you are operating at 0300 UK time which is out of sync with your body clock. It is about slowing down and not being complacent which is hard to do especially at a Circadian low.


Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you? I think you need to have a ‘sound’ spread across all competencies operating as an Airline pilot. Workload management, communication, and decision making are ones I find quite interesting. Obviously you need all the rest of them to ensure a smooth operation. 


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