How to know if I want to be an airline pilot?
How is it to fly an aircraft? How is it to be a female pilot? What kind of flight school do you recommend? How does the schedule of an airline pilot looks like? Is it worth it to be an airline pilot?
All these kind of questions I receive on a daily basis and my answer is always: I definitely know in my case it was the best decision by far , but honestly I can’t take the decision for yourself so you will have to take every chance to find out if being an airline pilot is your thing.
So I have decided to write down what made me take this decision and also what tips I would give to a person that wants to join aviation as an airline pilot.
In my case it all started with an aerobatic aircraft take-off that has changed my life. That sound, that feeling I had and the thought that never went away: made me took the decision to be a pilot one day. And I never stopped dreaming about it until it became as real as possible.
So please follow your dreams no matter how crazy they might look or feel because we deserve to be happy , we do!
Lately I have been involved and invited in several Open days for the Pilot Academy in which I had the great chance to meet people willing to join aviation. And many times I got this kind of question: how do I know if being an airline pilot is for me.
Honestly nobody can answer this question but yourself! Being true to our selves is highly important .
So I always recommend taking one hour flight with an aircraft just to know what exactly aviation means. I’m more than sure that after this flight you will find the right answer within yourself.
Also make sure you understand that aviation is more than just glamorous pictures taken specifically for social media as the hard work and dedication behind them is so big that you will have to fully dedicate yourself to a new lifestyle.
Is it worth it? I wouldn’t imagine myself in a better , more beautiful office than the 12,000 meters office which recharges me every single flight. I’m already flying for 17 years and it was a long journey to obtain all the flying skills, non-technial skills, and what matters the most is that I enjoy it all the time. We do simulator checks every 6 months for all the abnormal situations, several trainings all around the year, annual line checks and being always fully dedicated to our passion is part of our daily life.
A day in a pilot life can vary so much depending on the destination, the check-in time ( early, mid-day or late flight), a challengind airport or weather can also be a factor.
Before every single flight we will go meet at the office with the whole crew , six or seven crew members depending on the aircraft type and as a flight crew we do two briefings. First briefing will be done with my cockpit colleague and we will be checking the flight plans, weather at home base, destination and along the route, the Notams( A notice to airmen (NOTAM) is a notice containing information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations).
Afterwards we will decide depending on all the gathered information the final block fuel and provide our handling company all the relevant information for our flight.
The second briefing will be done with the entire crew, after the cabin crew have done already their own briefing. In this second briefing we will provide information about the flight: aircraft registration, inbound destination, number of passengers, flight time, weather , if turbulence can be expected and if we will cross any body of water in order for the cabin crew to perform the Life vest demonstration.
After the briefings are done we depart towards the aircraft in order to start the preparation for the flight.
Upon arrival at the aircraft we check the documents of the aircraft and than split between Pilot Flying and Pilot Monitoring. Pilot flying will be the one flying the first sector and will prepare the cockpit and FMS ( flight management system known as the computer where we instert all the data mandatory for our flight). Pilot monitoring will be doing some cockpit checklist and afterwards will perform the walkaround.
When the the cabin crew will advise us that they are ready we can start the boarding with or withour refuelling depending also on airport policy and if the refuelling hasn’t been finished yet. Once we have all the passengers on board, take off briefing performed and all the documents including the loadsheet we can close the doors, start the engines , do the pushback if necessary and start taxi towards the take-off runway.
For taxi we will contact the Ground frequency and later will be transferred with the Tower frequency in order to obtain the line up and take-off clearance.
Once airborn we continue our climb towards crusing altitude and after reaching it, we will check and monitor all the instruments in the cockpit, maintain radio contact and follow ATC instruction.
Approaching our destination we obtain weather information for both destionation and alternate airport in order to prepare for the approach and landing. This will require a complete approach briefing which will include several factors: landing performance calculations, arrival route( STAR), navigation aids, weather information, use of autobrake and reversers, expected taxi and threats and errors that might be faced during this phase. It is highly important to prepare a detailed briefing in order to cover all the relevant information necessary for our landing.
Then we will start descent towards the destination and confirm with air traffic controllers our arrival route and type of approach. Depending on the weatehr conditions we can do a manual landing or an autoland if low visibility operations are in force or if a simulated autoland will be performed required to remain current.
After landing and vacating the runway, we will follow the Ground instructions towards our parking stand. Once we are parked and do all the relevant checklists, we will start the disembarkation with our without refuelling.
The whole process done before first departure will be started all over again.
Once all passengers are on board and aircraft is fully ready we will start our flight back home.
Being a pilot requires a lot of hard work, dedication , sometimes sacrifices in order but it is so worth it! I can’t describe in words the feeling when you take-off in the morning with the sun rising up and the whole world wakes up for a new day!
Hope you will find the right answer in your hearts and follow it! Give wings to your dreams!