Senior First Officer - A380
Airline Pilot Experience:
Most Recent Aircraft Type:
Aviation Specific Degree:
Passions, Interests and Experience:
Wellbeing, Pilot Competencies, Aviation Talent, Transferable Skills, CRM/TEM
Why did you want to become a pilot?
I grew up under the Heathrow flight path, so there was never a day when I wouldn’t look up to spot a plane flying overhead and be inspired. However, I think I was truly bitten by the bug when my Dad arranged for me to visit the cockpit of a 747-200 in the days when cockpit visits in the air were still allowed. We were going on holiday, and suffice to say, it was the biggest highlight of the getaway for me. It proved to be a turning point as my family could not get me to stop talking about planes since.
How did you fund your training?
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
Definitely a challenge. But more in a way that it encouraged me to strive harder. The integrated course particularly, requires a great deal of focus, flexibility, time management, and a lot of hard work; which ultimately, is all there to build your resilience to work under pressure.
What was most challenging?
Ground-school. The integrated route was structured in a way that required you to study for and pass your ATPL exams in the first few months before continuing your flight training in an actual aircraft. Sitting in a classroom for up to 8 hours a day, trying to absorb a flood of information, with nothing tangible to apply the plethora of theories to (apart from your instructors and colleagues) was, at times, overwhelming. But there was never a lack of resources to help me understand it all. Although a struggle, it’s definitely not impossible.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
So much to list! It’s a world apart from any other job. There are 2 things that really stick out for me though: The first thing has to be that you learn a lot. When you’re in a flight deck, you are there with the knowledge and skillset to fly your passengers and crew from A to B safely.
However, there is no end to improving knowledge and skills as a pilot. There has hardly been a day when I have not learnt or experienced something new. You fly with amazing crew members from various backgrounds and experiences, and learn a lot from them; absolutely ideal for professional and personal growth. The second: being able to work with such skilled people to formulate a viable plan, execute that plan, and finish the day successfully despite all the risks and challenges is an immensely satisfying outcome. And all that with some of the best office views in the world. I get to experience that most days.
What is most challenging about your job?
When things don’t go according to plan! Disruptions as a result of technical issues, loading/unloading, unruly passengers, slots…anything that can make your day longer and complicated more than you anticipated. These are all things that you can’t necessarily plan for, and it’s where your resilience and flexibility become paramount.
Which of the Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you and why?
Application of Procedures and Aircraft Flight Path Management (AFPM).
All the competencies interact with each other one way or another, and all play an equally important part in operating an aircraft safely. My interest lies particularly in the application of procedures, and AFPM (Automation and Manual Control). Application of procedures lays down a fundamental framework for operating an aircraft and instills a familiar methodology and work flow between crew members that may otherwise not be familiar with each other. Particularly when I was a new commercial pilot, the importance of applying SOPs was an important lesson when sitting in a new type, and with a Captain you've never flown with before. It facilitates CRM by allowing crew members to share the mental model, which further enhances Situational Awareness. Furthermore, it was interesting to see the changes in application of procedures when I moved type from the Q400 to the Embraer E-jets, particularly with regard to AFPM. With the E-jets being more intuitive and technologically advanced aircraft, this change of type encapsulated the transition into increasingly advanced technologies and automation that commercial aviation is going through as a whole, and the importance of maintaining our manual flying skills as a key pilot redundancy.