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Marginal Gains

Welcome to the new blog series where we see what impact mentoring through Resilient Pilot has had on some of our previous mentees. This month we look at core competencies. Written by Heri, he discusses how he used his experience from discussions around core competencies with his mentor, to put in practice and improve his skills. This ultimately culminated in a very successful IR skills test and getting his dream job with his national carrier. His success story shows how we can all make small improvements in our professional abilities with a better understanding of our own competencies.

The first thing on the agenda was wellbeing. I thought, “Great! What have gotten myself into, yoga poses and meditation”? Turns out wellbeing, doesn't have to be about yoga and meditation, but also about daily choices and discipline.

Discussing wellbeing, we compared my best days to my worst and established the conditions present in those best days. To know what exactly it takes to achieve a peak performance day and deliver one on command is spectacular.

Resilient Pilot helped me most with the non-technical skills, especially workload management, communication and problem solving, and decision making. We discussed the different competencies together with personal experiences, how we reacted and how we could improve.

I had a disaster of a release flight for my IR/ME. I was thrown around by ATC and ended up being pushed into a corner, which I was unable to get out of ultimately failing my release flight. It was a corner which you really cannot expect anyone to recover from as a single pilot under the standards of a skills test, including three runway changes within 10 minutes, a 20kts tailwind, (which I failed to account for) an engine failure, and finally me not retracting the flaps on three occasions. It was on the go-around checklist …

Based on the core competencies and with some real-life experience from my mentor, I was able to determine what went wrong and how I should take control of the situation and be more assertive when I was being pushed into a corner.

On my actual skill test, I was pushed into a corner again by a not very understating and stressed ATC controller who cleared me onto a short approach, different to the one on the ATIS. When the third runway change came, after being cleared for the approach, I bravely reached for the RT button and told the controller “Unable” and requested extended vectors. During the debrief the examiner commended my decision-making abilities and leadership as he had never seen a student do that before. I of course took full credit for the decision.

Resilient Pilot helped me with many other situations throughout flight school and has greatly improved my competencies as a pilot and how I approach aspects of the job, which in turn has increased my confidence in my abilities as a pilot.

In January I was invited to an assessment for a First Officer position with an A320 type rating at my national airline. An extraordinarily rare opportunity that early after the pandemic, and with the marginal gains from my time with Resilient Pilot, I made the cut and now get to apply the core competencies every day in an Airbus.

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