The view is simple. If you enjoy flying an aircraft that is exotic, flies to destinations that demand professionalism, and interaction with individuals who are as driven as you are, then being a corporate pilot may be the path to your success.
WHEN YOU DON’T FIT THE TYPICAL MOLD:
When most people first say they want to be a pilot, 1 of 2 thoughts generally go through their mind. Either they want to be a major airline captain or fly a fighter jet. Occasionally few get the opportunity to do both. But what if you like a little bit of spontaneity, want more involvement with your work but also the flexibility to not have to be stuck in traffic Monday to Friday during rush hour? If that’s the case corporate flying is most likely the flying job that will provide you with happiness and satisfaction from a very rewarding career.
Corporate flying is a very different environment from the airlines. To start there is no set schedule. And if there is it is the rare corporate flying job that does exist. The aircraft that are flown in the corporate world fall under the brand names of Gulfstream, Global Express, Citation, or for the superior wealthy BBJs. That means that you will be flying aircraft that are typically brand new and treated with the same care as that of a new born baby. Unions are not usually associated with corporate pilot jobs. That means that room for advancement is not dependent on seniority but much more on merit and ability. You won’t have to fly a full block every month, and can expect anywhere from 120 hours a year on the low side to 550 hours a year on the high side. That leaves a lot more time for you and your personal life. If you have hobbies or other interests on the side this working lifestyle may be the perfect fit for you.
The biggest disadvantage is that you may not ever know exactly what days you have off in advance. It can make planning for things a challenge as your lifestyle changes. However for some, that is seen as a positive because being overrun with routine can become monotonous and mundane. The other is job insecurity. Often the corporate flight department is one of the more costly departments of a business and is the first to go in the event of budget cuts and redundancies. If you are socially awkward and find it challenging to interact with others on a regular basis this might also prove to be a significant set back not just in obtaining the job but keeping it. Remember with no union the persona that you give off can go a long way in helping you but also has the added effect of hurting you.
HOW TO GET INTO BUSINESS AVIATION
Business aviation is much more about networking then a strict application process. It requires you to gain contacts and have credible people vouch for you when required. In order to make a positive impression on the right people, you need to place yourself strategically so that you are noticed in a non-threatening environment, where if the opportunity was presented you would be ready at a moments notice.
The ideal place to start for this would be FBO’s. Otherwise known as fixed base operations. They provide all the services that general terminals do except these are specifically designed for corporate flyers. They can have lounges with fully stocked fridges and bars, lazy-boy chairs with 60 inch flat screens, luxury cars waiting and customs agents showing up on demand. These FBO’s also need employees to run effectively. If you were able to get yourself in the door with a job in the FBO that would give you unprecedented access to the key people who could grant you an interview to fly the corporate jets.
THE CORPORATE INTERVIEW
This style of interview is much different than a typical airline interview. Preparation is key. If you show up unprepared or hesitate with answers to their questions how are they ever going to trust you with their most valuable assets? The truth is they won’t. And they won’t hesitate to end the interview immediately if they get the feeling that their time is being wasted. You have to think hard before you step inside the boardroom for the meeting. Who do you think is going to be under the microscope more, the CFO of the company or the person responsible for delivering the CEO safely to each meeting or place of destination on the companies aircraft that could be worth upwards of 100 million dollars?