Chris is a pilot with Monarch Airlines. He is a senior first officer based at Manchester airport and he works alongside his captain and cabin crew, flying Monarch's fleet of aircraft to worldwide destinations.
How do you organise your flying duties?
Every trip is split into two sectors – outbound and inbound. The captain and I share the flying. When not flying I do all the other tasks such as radio communications, navigation, checking the weather and other tasks. We also deal with matters relating to engines, air conditioning and avionics (flight electronics) while in the air.
What checks do you need to do before flying?
I report for duty about an hour before the flight. I retrieve and check all the relevant weather and other information for our departure and destination airfields. I give the captain the details to make decisions like how much fuel to carry.We do a safety check before departure, to check the exterior of the aircraft, and we liaise with ground staff such as baggage loaders and refuellers.
How many hours do you work?
We're allowed to fly up to around 100 hours a month and only work up to 14 hours at a time. In a week, I may fly on four or five days, with others being days off or 'standby', which means I have to be available for duty very quickly.
What's it like to work on an aeroplane?
It's like any other office really (air conditioned, with a computer, and cups of coffee when you need them). The only difference is that my office can be 41,000 feet in the air and travelling at 500-600 miles an hour.
How do you keep your skills up to date?
Apart from the initial training, I have continuous checks, examinations and refresher training. This includes sixmonthly simulator checks, where I go into a simulator for two days and run through all types of flight emergencies. This allows me to practise my skills and others that I don't normally use on a routine flight. Every year, I sit exams on safety procedures and equipment, have a refresher course on aircraft technical systems, and attend a course on crew resource management. I also keep abreast of all technical and operational updates on aircraft and destinations.
What skills does a pilot need?
You must have an aptitude for flying and be physically fit. Co-ordination and the ability to process lots of information at the same time are essential. Teamwork skills are crucial. Even in normal flight, the continuous flow of information between the crew is essential.
What is challenging in your role?
Most flights are uneventful, but every so often, the weather or the aircraft will throw something unexpected at you. That's when all the training comes into play and the adrenalin really pumps.
How do you see your work future?
I am looking forward to my first command. Being a captain is a huge responsibility and one that I'll be very proud to undertake.
How to become an Airline pilot?
- Air Training Corps Squadron at school.
- Gliding Certificate aged 16, Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) at 17.
- Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL) at air training school.
- ATP Academy and accepted as first officer at Monarch Airlines.
How do you become an Airline pilot tips
- Join your local Air Training Corps Squadron. You'll get free flying experience and learn many of the basics.
- Seek out airline cadetships by looking at company websites and trade magazines.
Airline pilot related jobs
- Air traffic controller
- Helicopter pilot
- Load planning officer (aircraft)
- Royal Air Force (RAF) officer
How much does an airline pilots earn?
- What is an airline pilots salary? The basic salary for a pilot starts at around £25,000. An experienced pilot earns around £40,000.
- A captain normally earns up to £70,000 and, in some cases, even up to £100,000.
What do you need to become an airline pilot?
- Entry requirements vary, but airlines usually look for at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English, mathematics and science, and two A levels/three H grades, or the equivalent, preferably in mathematics and physics. A degree is also preferable.
- Details of sponsorships, bursaries and scholarships can be found on the British Airline Pilot's Association (BALPA) website.
- Pilots have to be at least 18 to begin training and must pass a medical examination.
- Pilots begin training at a pilot training school, flying simulators and real aircraft.
- Promotion to line training captain can take up to around ten years to achieve.
- Flight instructors at flying schools generally need to have had 200 flying hours before beginning a career in flight instruction.
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