Captain - A380
Airline Pilot Experience:
Most Recent Aircraft Type:
Integrated ATPL, MPL
Aviation Specific Degree:
English, German, Scandinavian
Passions, Interests and Experience:
Pilot Competencies, Transferable Skills, Mentoring, Coaching, Evidence Based Training, Competency Based Training, CRM/TEM
Why did you want to become a pilot?
Passion for aviation from a young age
How did you fund your training?
CTC Wings (HSBC)
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
Training was certainly not a breeze and CTC pushed us to the highest of standards, which has served us well going forward into our careers, both at the transition point from flight training to the airlines, and also as we have progressed on to other companies and types throughout our careers to date. I can remember specific examples during my early training where I came up against challenges and learning to deal with the pressure was formative in my attitudes and approach to training & learning in the “flight training” environment. The challenge to one’s confidence and feelings of inadequacy (amongst others) when things did not initially go to plan are actually positive experiences to have in building a more resilient character. Other challenges I remember well were the necessity to budget (both in New Zealand and the UK) and learning new subjects for the ATPL’s in which one had no background, and hence conceptualising topics that one had not encountered before took perseverance. Obviously now, when I look back with fifteen years of flying experience, those topics are much less intimidating.
What was most challenging?
Passing my multi-engine piston check flight in New Zealand on the third attempt. This was the first time (and only that I can recall) during training where I came up against inner thoughts of “can I really do this”, “am I as good as everybody else”, “what is it that others have that I don’t?” Naturally I look back now and view it in a more sanguine context, with the realisation that I was not the only one who faced a challenge during two years of training (to a high standard) and also that such challenges were overcome by perseverance and the correct attitude / mental frame of mind. I do believe that what is seen as a challenge today, is often viewed later on in life as an accomplishment. We become better people for those challenges.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being able to set the tone for the flight / trip. The difference in working for an airline overseas, and especially in the Middle East, is that you are leading a multi-cultural team (even on the flight deck, but certainly in the cabin). Being able to set a relaxed tone - which does not come naturally to all cultures – gives me satisfaction in that I see crew going home at the end of their trip with a smile on their face.
What is most challenging about your job?
There is no doubt that the job is such a large part of your life, and is so intertwined with your life, that it is easy to think that the job “is your life”. In some way, yes it is. In others, we have to remember that we still have husbands / wives, children, fathers and mothers, friends and hobbies. Whilst the job demands a lot from us, we still need to find a balance in our lives and find pleasure in other outlets. This is nowhere more apparent than in long haul flying, where one can be away for a week and then be sleeping at odd hours upon return, whilst the rest of the family is going about their normal activities. It calls for an understanding pilot AND an understanding family. Short-haul also has its own challenges if working an intense schedule.
On top of this, I believe there is a whole set of challenges which are unique to expatriate pilots. Not being in your home country (whether flying or not) means sacrificing things that we would otherwise take for granted. Not seeing elderly parents (who don’t get any younger), missing family engagements such as birthdays, weddings, funerals – they can all lead to a sense of “why am I here and why do I stay here?” Family expectations of how long you will stay, or even where you will go afterwards, can be different. Thinking of schooling for the children, and at what age would be most appropriate to “transition them” back into school at home, deciding whether to buy a family home back in your “home” country now so that you actually have something to go back to one day – these are all thoughts that occupy our minds well before the time comes for decisions to be made.
Which of the Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you and why?
Communication / Leadership & Teamwork / Problem Solving & Decision Making / Workload Management. They seem to be all the “soft skills”!