A320 First Officer
Most recent base: LGW
Most recent Airline:Vir gin Atlantic – seconded to easyJet.
Current role: Project / Programme Management within Aerospace and Defence Industry.
Uni degree? BSc (Hons) Aerospace Engineering with Flying Training and MSc Engineering Business Management – University of Warwick
Do you speak any other languages? Turkish - fluent
Airline training route: Virgin Atlantic MPL with secondment at easyJet
ATO attended: L3 Harris Airline Academy (formerly CTC Aviation)
Why did you want to become a pilot?
My mother is Turkish, and my Father is British. As a result, growing up we constantly travelled back and forth as a family, between Izmir and Manchester. My younger brother and I would always fight over who would get to sit at the window seat! I was fascinated by aircraft and flight, as well as the buzzing atmosphere at the airport. Having previously flown gliders, my Father bought me a 45 min trial lesson in a Cessna 152 for my 17th Birthday, with a young ex-CTC flight instructor-based Liverpool Airport. I was in awe of Darren being able to fly with such confidence in controlled airspace, all around the sights of Liverpool city. Witnessing how Darren expertly and effortlessly flew the aircraft, inspired me to someday want to do the same. Needless to say, from there on I was hooked and there was not a lot else that resonated with me in quite the same way.
How did you fund your training?
I decided to study aerospace engineering with flying training in London and later joined the University of London Air Squadron (part of the Royal Air Force VR). Here I had the most fantastic time; surrounded by like-minded people, learning to fly the Grob Tutor from RAF Wyton and getting involved in a wide variety of sports and adventurous training.
There really are some amazing opportunities to learn to fly for free. I was also fortunate enough to secure a 12 hr Air League flying scholarship, which I completed at Tayside Aviation in Dundee Scotland. Whilst studying at University, I also worked part-time in a number of roles; from Security Guard to Pool Lifeguard to Pipe Welding Labourer. This part-time work funded my flight training to complete my PPL in Michigan, USA.
Having completed my degree in aerospace engineering I then worked in a number of roles in the Aerospace Defence Industry. These predominantly revolved around Systems Engineering, Management Consulting and Programme Management. With a busy work life, I found it difficult to set aside the time to prepare thoroughly and apply to cadet programmes. However, with my determination and passion to fly, I made it my mission. On several occasions, I made it to the final stages with a number of different airlines – close but no cigar! Finally, I got my first big break in 2017. I was selected for the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers MPL Scheme, to train at what is now known as the L3 Harris Airline Academy in Southampton and New Zealand to become an airline pilot.
Having completed our integrated airline pilot training, we were later seconded to easyJet and based London Gatwick to fly the Airbus A320. Here we had a fantastic training experience and became fully fledged First Officers, flying the line all over Europe.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, this all came to a grinding halt. Initially we were furloughed for several months, then later made redundant, due to the huge financial impact on the aviation industry due to lack of passengers. The industry will of course bounce back, and when it does, we will be ready to support.
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
Personally, I was a bit out of focus with studying, having spent several years outside of any formal education. I found the volume of study for ATPL ground school quite demanding with regards to time management and would have much preferred to be outside! I am a big fan of climbing, surfing, sailing and skiing. The training to become an airline pilot is most definitely a marathon, and not a sprint.
At times when things felt tough, I tried to remind myself of the “big picture” and why I embarked on this journey in the first place. Speaking with friends whom had been through pilot training, gave me sound advice and also to know that I was not alone in my thoughts and feelings. This is partly the reason why I want to help mentor other pilots, to support them through their journey to the flight deck. I promise that so long as you keep your fire and passion alive, you will reach your goals; it is only a matter of time!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’d like to think of myself as a people person. I immensely enjoy meeting new people and the fact that every day you fly with somebody whom you haven’t met before, is an amazing opportunity to learn. Everybody has a different story and it is so fascinating to meet and work alongside new people every day. The panoramic views of the alps from the front of the jet are quite simply incredible. Seeing the world change throughout the seasons, all from the privileged position of the birds’ eye view at 38,000 ft, is something you have to pinch yourself sometimes to remember how lucky you are.
What is most challenging about your job?
I would say the most challenging part of the job as Pilots is being able to operate safely and efficiently, no matter the given time of day or environmental situation that we find ourselves within. Whether there are technical issues, sick passengers, poor weather conditions or delays, we can overcome these challenges by working together as a team.
Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you?
Communication forms an integral part of flying. We liaise with Air Traffic Control, Operations, Cabin Crew, Customers, Ground Crew as well as our fellow Pilots on the flight deck. Effective communication forms the platform for a successful flight operation.
Outside of the 9 ICAO pilot competencies, one of the cornerstones that supports all of them in their entirety, as shown by the Resilient Pilot logo, is Resilience and Wellbeing. In collaboration with Warwick University, I am currently researching the subject of Pilot wellbeing, in particular relation to their working environment. Throughout my relatively short time within aviation, I would say I have found resilience to be the number one key contributing factor to success. Everybody faces setbacks in training and within their career, whether they be within our control or outside of our control; moving forward it is how we respond to these perceived setbacks that really define us.
In the ever-changing world of aviation, it is always useful to have a Plan B; and sometimes even a Plan C, D and E! In a practical sense, having skills outside of flying can become very useful for gaining employment during economic downturns and disasters that are outside of our control, such as 9/11, The Great Recession, COVID-19, Volcanic Ash Cloud etc. Also, these skills will likely be transferable to the flight deck, so always useful to develop. Let’s discuss!