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Upper Limit and SkyWest are Hosting an Aviation Career Lunch

Come Join Us and Learn From Recruiters What It Takes to Become a SkyWest Pilot!

Upper Limit Aviation and SkyWest are giving you an opportunity to take control of your aviation career, by meeting with the SkyWest Pilot and Cadet Advocates at a delicious career dinner and open house generously provided by Upper Limit Aviation and hosted by Robintino’s of Bountiful.

  • Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018
  • Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Location: Robintino’s of Bountiful, 1385 South 500 West, Bountiful, UT 84010

Dinner is provided, so come hungry, and come with your questions for the SkyWest Pilot mentors and Cadet Advocates!

And if you can’t make the dinner, Upper Limit is hosting another lunch event with the SkyWest Pilot Recruitment team, at our Salt Lake Location.

  • Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018
  • Time: 2:00 PM
  • Location: 619 North 2360 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Here are some of the benefits SkyWest Pilots enjoy in their career:

  • More opportunities and more exposure than any other regional airline pilot.
  • New key flying agreements with United, Delta, American, and Alaska!
  • SkyWest has more new aircraft that any other regional airline, and will have more than 145 E175s in their fleet by mid-2018.
  • More than twenty domicile options nationwide.
  • An upgrade time of around 2 years.
  • A strong culture of professionalism, teamwork, and success!
  • Excellent pay, multiple profit sharing programs, bonuses, and 401(k) match!

Don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities. By completing your flight training, from private pilot certificate to commercial pilot license, with Upper Limit Aviation, you’ll earn yourself the skills needed to fly with one of the most globally-recognizable airlines flying today. Call (801-596-7722) or email us ([email protected]) today and start your path to aviation greatness by doing your flight training at ULA. To fly with SkyWest, you should train with the best, and that means Upper Limit Aviation.

And for those who would like to save or share this information with others, here’s a downloadable flyer with all the details as well:

Featured Image: courtesy of SkyWest

Get started with your flight training today!

If you would like more information, you can:

  • Call us at 801-596-7722

Commercial Flight Training for Jet Aircraft: Details Matter

Modern jet airliners come equipped with a multitude of indicators and switches. Strict attention to detail during commercial flight training facilitates the safe carriage of passengers.

Noah Timmins

Becoming a commercial pilot, or an airline transport pilot, according to the FAA, requires 1500 hours of flight time. In the context of working, this would take nine months of full-time work to complete, just to enter the bottommost rung of commercial piloting. Even the most dedicated zero-to-hero first officers complete their generic flight training in 18 months and sometimes spend an extra six months finishing their type rating.

Commercial flight training takes so long because the FAA must ensure that carriage pilots can successfully complete their tasks every time. The act of ferrying persons requires strict adherence to safety rules and regulations in order to be completed successfully. This exposes itself in many different forms: pilots complete their tasks with written checklists, maintenance facilities undergo FAA safety audits, and every person involved in a flight, including ground crew, line technicians, pilots, flight attendants, schedulers, and fuelers, must have extensive and rigorous training on their specialty.

Type-specific Training

Each aircraft operates as a type. A pilot qualified to fly a Boeing 767 does not automatically gain qualification to fly the similar Boeing 777. These two aircraft have remarkably different cockpit layouts, which form a critical component of safe flight. After spending thousands of hours piloting a 767 on long-haul oceanic flights, a pilot jumping into a 777 could reach up and, for example, disable the electronic engine control instead of the yaw damper. The positions of these switches are different in these two airframes, so the pilot’s memory of location is incorrect.

Additionally, two aircraft delivered to separate fleets could even have opposing cockpit layouts. Both Southwest Airlines and WestJet Airlines are delivery customers for Boeing’s 737NG aircraft, but they request slightly different cockpit layouts. While 99% of the cockpit of these two aircraft operators are identical, that 1% difference creates an issue. After all, in-flight accidents only occur when multiple things go wrong at the same time, something commercial flight training is designed to address.

The classic story to illustrate this point is one less-known among the general public. Today, the FAA standard for switch direction requires that to turn a system on, its switch must go up, regardless of where the switch is located. Activating hydraulics on a Boeing 737 entails flicking a switch on the cockpit ceiling up, which is a backward motion. TWA, a vintage airline that no longer flies, requested a cockpit layout from manufacturers wherein all switches pointed forward or up in the activated position. Now, activating this same hydraulic system on the 737 entails flicking a switch on the cockpit ceiling forward, or down.

TWA’s cockpit layout choice here created a major problem for pilots transitioning to or from the TWA fleet. Retraining requires vast amounts of time and money to break the physical habit of switch direction. In an in-flight emergency situation, the difference between throwing a switch forward or backward can seem minute, but could start a chain of events culminating in an airframe loss.

In 1996, a pilot destroyed a Gulfstream GIV when attempting a cross-wing takeoff at Chicago Executive Airport. No one aboard survived the crash. The aircraft veered off the runway into the grass, suffered airframe damage, became airborne, and then impacted terrain next to the airport. The official NTSB ruling points to a single switch in the cockpit that was selected incorrectly.

Large jets have nose-wheel steering through the rudder pedals and a secondary system through a hand tiller, allowing for more extreme nose wheel control during taxi. This particular system, on the GIV, allows the pilot to disconnect the rudder pedals from the steering system, steering only with the hand tiller. This position is intended for use only during a taxi situation. Unfortunately, the pilot – on his preflight – failed to notice this switch, leaving it in the pedal disable position. Thus, during rollout, he lacked the ability to control the nose direction with the rudder pedals, sliding off the runway.

This single selector switch could have made the difference between life and death. Earlier, the GIV had been flown by a different charter company with a different preference for nose wheel steering. Additionally, the pilot in command was relatively inexperienced with the GIV aircraft and may have forgotten about this selector switch. In either event, the pilot noticed the nose veering off the runway, attempted to correct it with rudder pedal input, and did not realize it was disconnected.

This highlights the necessity behind commercial flight training needing to address even the smallest issues. Type-specific training must be in depth and detailed, highlighting every system responsible for aircraft control, no matter how insignificant. In this case, the pilot in command had 16,000 hours of flight time, a remarkable achievement. However, he only had 500 hours in the young GIV type aircraft, meaning that the existence of this selector switch was something that did not exist for 15,500 of his flight hours.

Even Circuit Breakers Are Important in Commercial Flight Training

 

MD-80 cockpit instrument panel

Photo by Kent Wien

Beyond cockpit switches, circuit breakers are a crucial part of any advanced flight training procedure. There is a very specific and detailed procedure for electrically disabling systems by opening circuit breakers and locking them open. This ensures that the system, physically, cannot be reset so it remains open. Pilots and crewmembers must be vigilant in noticing any circuit breaker irregularities and responding to them appropriately.

TWA Flight 841 touches on this issue. The pilot was flying a Boeing 727 in 1979, in level flight, clear skies, with the autopilot engaged. Suddenly, without warning, an odd buzzing sound began and the airplane entered an inescapable right roll, becoming inverted twice with the nose pointing down. Accomplishing every task in the book for slowing the aircraft down, he managed to level off after a substantial altitude loss and later land the aircraft without any loss of life.

This incident occurred for one specific reason: the flight engineer – a necessary crewmember in the old style 727 cockpit – was using the lavatory when the pilot set up the airplane for level flight. One of the classic “cut the corner” strategies employed by cowboy TWA pilots was to extend the flaps one notch with the leading edge slats disabled, extending the span of the wing and allowing for a faster groundspeed. This operation was never approved of or stated in any TWA pilot training documents, but was passed down the ranks through tribal knowledge.

Disabling the leading edge slats entails pulling the circuit breakers controlling their operation. Because of this, the pilot had pulled these circuit breakers but left them unlocked, meaning that any person could have simply pushed the breakers and reset the system. The breakers on a 727 are located behind the pilots and right next to the engineer. Upon his return from the lavatory, he noticed the breakers pushed and simply reset them, without calling out to the pilots or informing them of his decision. This caused the leading edge slats to extend since their control circuits were now energized. However, the extreme speed of the 727 in cruise means that the systems are put under tremendous aerodynamic stress, creating the buzzing sound heard. One slat on the right wing ripped off, causing the roll. This was not established until the aircraft landed and the slat was found seven miles from the incident site.

When undergoing commercial flight training, a large portion of time is spent explaining and practicing circuit breaker procedures. Circuit breakers are electrical safety devices that are required to exist on nearly every electrical system on aircraft. They are designed to automatically open circuits when dangerous situations are possible. They also can be opened manually in order to test or purposefully disable certain systems, such as leading edge slats, weather radar, or lavatory flushers.

Airlines have policies and procedures designed specifically to detail how to properly manually open a circuit breaker for testing, maintenance, or deferral. These procedures exist because situations like TWA Flight 841 exist. By improperly locking the circuit breakers the pilot manually opened, and not telling the absent flight engineer, it seemed to the engineer that these breakers had opened themselves. There was no indication or locking device showing that these were manually opened. Standard procedure is to reset the breakers in this occurrence and monitor them for additional openings, so the engineer did so. This one action almost lead to an airframe destruction and potential loss of life.

These systems’ complexity requires similarly complex training. If the pilot had spent twenty extra seconds to properly follow his training and slip a locking collar on the breakers, the whole incident could have been avoided. A simple mistake involving only a single switch or circuit breaker can result in a complete loss of property and life. Thus, the training procedures for advanced and commercial pilots must cover even the smallest situation possible.

Training Responses To Input

Commercial flight training extends beyond simply where the switches and controls are but also what they do. Pilots must anticipate and find the expected result when undergoing training. A typical trainer aircraft has a run-up check where a pilot tests flight controls and engine controls. The expected response from something like an aileron input or magneto switch is tested for by observing the corresponding gauge or control surface. Pilots are trained to look for these responses and make sure that they match what should be expected.

These kinds of checks are necessary even on larger aircraft. An Airbus A320 operated by Lufthansa named Papa Whiskey exhibited trouble at take off in 2001 at Frankfurt. The pilot could do nothing to stop the left wing from drooping on takeoff, causing the first officer to assume control and fly the plane up to a level flight path at 12,000 feet. The pilots, investigating the issue, found the pilot in command’s control stick was giving backward input compared to the expected response. Pulling it right cause the aircraft to bank left and vice versa.

This specific flight control problem arose from Lufthansa’s maintenance department, where a complete rewiring of the entire interconnected elevator flight control system was required, a total of 420 wires. This is no small task. Once it was accomplished, the maintenance personnel completed all functional checks as required and signed off the plane as airworthy. Interesting, the functional check required by Airbus does not entail physically observing the control surface or forcing the use of both control sticks in the cockpit.

All of the electronic displays in the cabin indicated that the pilot’s side control stick gave correct control input. The pointers all deflected correctly. One would do well to remember that these pointers are only electrical signals received from a computer in the electronics bay of these aircraft. Two wires had been wired up incorrectly during the rewiring, causing the pilot’s stick – and that one alone – to give opposite input to the aileron control systems. Thus, the state of the indicating system in the cockpit and the physical system on the wing were in disagreement.

Lufthansa modified their training and maintenance manuals to add in physical verification of control surface deflection after performing maintenance, specifically to address this issue. The expected response from the control input was not present on the physical airframe itself, but there is no way a pilot can view that portion of the wing from the flight deck without extensive gymnastics. Additionally, the maintenance personnel were trained to look for a response only in the cockpit, which in this case was not sufficient for proper operation.

In Conclusion

Aircraft are some of the most complex vehicles piloted. They come equipped with myriad control switches and circuit breakers, with complicated interconnections and failsafes. Despite this, extensive and deep levels of commercial flight training are required to properly equip pilots and maintenance personnel to recognize the correct switches to operate, how they operate, and what to expect when they do. It is the goal of every airline to equip their employees with the ability to complete these tasks successfully, ensuring the safe and timely carriage of passengers worldwide.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Featured Image: Kent Wien

The Dangers of a Falsified Pilot Logbook

Avoid rattlesnakes and falsified flight log books. Each has a nasty disposition and sharp fangs that bite.

Vern Weiss

In August 2012, a Federal Court in Des Moines, Iowa sentenced a pilot to 4 years probation and fined him for falsifying his pilot logbook hours when going for an FAA instrument rating.1

Federal court! We’re not talking about something that can be taken lightly. It would be bad enough to be taken to task with an FAA action but when you’re hauled into Federal court, you’re really in a big-time quagmire.

In the FAA’s eyes, forgery of a certificate is on a par with air piracy and it is not treated as a simple administrative action. In fact, it is considered a criminal act and the US Department of Justice gets involved. The “bible” used by FAA inspectors is called “FSIMS” which stands for Flight Standards Information System. This manual guides FAA inspectors as to how to handle things that can come up within the scope of conducting their duties. Here’s what it says an inspector should do when an altered certificate is detected: “An inspector should never attempt to confiscate a suspected forged, fraudulent, or counterfeit certificate. Since fraudulent certificates are sometimes used for criminal activities, the person in possession of this certificate may be armed and dangerous. If an inspector suspects that an airman certificate is counterfeit or forged, the inspector should immediately contact the Investigations and Security Branch of the Regional Civil Aviation Security Division or a local law enforcement officer.2

Is the inspector really in the restroom or did he leave the room to phone the cops?

In recent years more and more things aviation matters are falling within the purview of the Department of Justice, including mistruths of all kinds, and things like pilot logbook falsification are becoming criminal acts.

Over in FAR §61.59 the nitty-gritty is laid out for us regarding falsification of a pilot logbook: It’s defined as “Any fraudulent or intentionally false entry in any logbook, record, or report that is required to be kept, made, or used to show compliance with any requirement for the issuance or exercise of the privileges of any certificate, rating, or authorization under this part.” It further warns that “The commission (of such an act) is a basis for suspending or revoking any airman certificate, rating, or authorization held by that person.

But beyond the administrative laws of the FAA, let’s consider how it might affect a pilot in his or her career. When you’re hired by a commercial operator you will usually be required to bring your pilot logbook(s) to the interview. Very often, there is one person in the interview team who thumbs through your logbook. Although they likely do not have the time to actually total up all the columns and determine if the hours stated are accurate, they more often are picking out select flights you made which will surface later on in the interview. For instance, 3 years ago there might be a flight in a King Air from Austin, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas. During the interview, you’re asked if you have any turboprop time and you naturally will say yes. They’ll probe a bit more: “How long ago was this?” “Was it corporate or Part 135?” Who was this for?” They’re zeroing in on one of the details they’ve found and seeing if you are digging yourself a hole that you cannot climb out of or if you’re verifying that the ground is level before building a relationship with them. They may check out the tail number, who owned it and contact the company. If the company never heard of you, you just wasted your time interviewing with them.

There are other ways a falsified pilot logbook can be detected. We’ve all had less-than-sterling simulator check-rides but when someone claims an enormous amount of flight time and flies like a beginner, the logbook numbers become suspect.

Insurance companies have become ravenous vultures of data mining. When you go to work for a company, you will probably have to fill out a form for their insurer and flight time totals will be asked. This data will be entered and disseminated so if you were with Company “A” for six months and joined them with 3,000 hours but when Company “B” offered you a job you entered 6,000 hours, it will flag. You’ll also be tagged as a liar and may have problems for years to come getting an insurance company to believe you are who you are.

When there is an accident which ends up in a civil court proceeding or in a lawsuit, you can bet your logbooks will be subpoenaed and the lawyers will pour over them carefully. The ramifications that come out of this are obvious and not too pretty.

Some years ago I worked for a large pilot training school. Prior to signing anyone off for a check-ride, we had a dedicated session we called “the preflight.” “The preflight” had nothing to do with checking fuel and making sure the wings were attached but, instead, was the administrative portion of signing someone off for their check-ride. During this period, the instructor meticulously went through all the paperwork (this was prior to the implementation of the FAA’s IACRA system) including the student’s logbook(s) and confirmed all the hourly requirements had been achieved and proper endorsements made. One day a gentleman appeared at the school to train for an instrument rating. He carried a brown paper grocery sack with him and in that sack were hundreds of pieces of paper. Every flight of his piloting career was detailed on a small scrap of paper. Every training session he had experienced was documented on a valid receipt. That was his log and it was perfectly legal. Perhaps not every examiner would have been as patient with him as the one used by my flight school but he got through it even by using his non-traditional log-keeping system.

Today such a log style would probably not work. Even though you only have to log those flights that are required to show currency or for purposes of meeting the requirements of an FAA certificate or rating, a sloppy logbook reflects badly on the pilot whether you’re defending yourself in a serious legal entanglement or trying to woo an airline to hire you.

Your pilot logbook should be a matter of professional pride and visible proof of your integrity. Both things are as important for a pilot as safety and competence.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Footnotes and References:

1 – Pilot Sentenced For Making False Statements In His FAA Flight Logbook

2 – Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) 8900.1 09/13/2007 Para. 5-193 SUSPECTED COUNTERFEITING, Federal Aviation Administration.

Understanding How to Fly a Commercial Plane

A vastly different world exists when transitioning from flying small planes to understanding how to fly a commercial plane.

Vern Weiss

You’ve been grinding away making yourself marketable to large jet companies. Until now, your sphere has been light planes weighing only a few thousand pounds. The phone rings. You’ve been selected for an upcoming class of new-hire pilots flying “heavy iron.” “Flying is flying, right? How different can it be, right?” This new world is not dissimilar from that of someone who has driven only automobiles then transitions to 18-wheelers. Welcome to “The Big Time.”

By “heavy iron” we are talking about aircraft substantially larger than small corporate jets and turboprops. In the simplest of terms, the kinds of aircraft I am referring to are those in which you don’t have to bend to enter or walk through the passenger cabin or into the flight deck. Notice I said, “flight deck?” On larger airplanes, the cockpit is customarily called the flight deck. Behind the flight deck is the “cabin.” The place where the coffee pot and food preparation equipment is called the galley and the john/potty is commonly called, “the lav” (shortened form of “lavatory”). The men and women who supervise passengers in the cabin are called “flight attendants.” The “head” flight attendant is either called the purser, lead or in some cases “A” attendant. Obviously, the big cheese in the front end is called the captain and the second-cheese, first officer. “Co-pilot?”- nuh…not used so much.

How to Fly a Commercial Plane –  The Flight Deck

As a first officer, what’s the first thing you’ll probably think about when entering the flight deck? Preflight? Computations? No. Garbage! In light plane flying, the most garbage you probably accumulated on flights was the wrapper from a Snickers bar. On large aircraft, you’ll likely fly multiple legs that are longer and the garbage mounts up. You and the captain will toss out the equivalent of a kitchen-sized garbage bag full of used coffee cups, scrap paper, TOLD cards1, weather/release packages, wadded-up Kleenex, pop cans etc. As such, your first order of “housekeeping” will be to obtain a small garbage bag and hang it on one of the pilot seat levers.
Depending on the company’s policies, as first officer, you might start the auxiliary power unit (APU) if it’s a “dark” airplane. This gets electricity flowing in the aircraft and provides heat if it’s cold or air conditioning if it’s hot.

How to Fly a Commercial Plane –  Preflight

Your company may consider the first officer the designated preflight-doer. This means you do a cockpit preflight by checking switch and control settings and doing a walk-around inspection outside. There are some items on these checklists that will be only accomplished on the first flight of the day and not redone on subsequent legs. FAA Part 121 and 125 companies require an external pre-flight and post-flight “walk-around,” regardless of how hard it’s raining outside.
When both crew members are present on the flight deck, the entire checklist is verbalized. Some items only the captain responds to and other items are reserved only for the first officer’s response. Depending on the aircraft, this verbal checklist recitation is recorded on the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). Ordinarily the CVR begins recording as soon as power is applied to the aircraft either via APU, ground power unit or the battery switch selected ON. While older CVRs only record the last 30 minutes of radio and pilot conversation, newer Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) typically store the last 2 hours of ambient noise and conversation.

Pilots waiting to start taxiing Boeing 757

Photo by: Kent Wien

Once the flight crew receives its load manifest (passenger count, baggage) and has obtained the final “numbers” on fuel load (either through dispatch release or from crew member computations), the engine power settings, V-speeds and minimum needed runway lengths are figured out. This task is usually the first officers. Both pilots electronically or mechanically move little colored markers around on their airspeed indicators to denote important speeds. These are called “bugs.” Glass cockpit screens will “bug” the speeds graphically. It is different from light planes where take-off power amounts to just pushing the throttle(s) all the way to their limits. Because you are dealing with a variety of critical engine limitations, you need to factor in variables like weight, air temperature, and wind speed. Maximum power settings may be required due to available runway length. Use of anti-icing equipment needed for take-off also reduces the available take-off power. Crew computations are necessary to protect against over-torque and over-temp on engines. Noise abatement climbs and “flex” power settings will also require consideration. A “flex” power setting is used at the captain’s discretion when the runways are long enough to use reduced power for takeoff. This reduces noise, engine wear, and maintenance cost. After the “housekeeping” duties are done and you’re within 30 minutes of the flight plan’s proposed departure time, you can radio Clearance Delivery for the instrument clearance.

How to Fly a Commercial Plane –  Taxiing and Takeoff

The flight actually starts with the captain setting the parking brake and calling for the engine start checklist. It is common for the first officer to start the engines. Once the after engine start checklist is complete it’s time to taxi. In large commercial aircraft operations, taxiing is permitted only when all passengers are seated. (There’s always some clod that feels he must stand up to get a roll of Certs out of his carry-on luggage so he can hit on the girl seated next to him.) In Part 121 operations, the flight attendants are required to notify the captain and the aircraft has to stop moving. Obviously, this boogers things up for ground controllers and all aircraft waiting behind you.

In the taxi check list, you set the flaps and trim and the flying pilot will verbalize a takeoff briefing. This briefing is vitally important and delineates who’s flying the leg, confirmation of power settings, climb profile and standard departure procedures to be used. Additionally, planned action in the event of an emergency is included. (“In the event we lose an engine after V1 we’ll continue the takeoff but since we’ll be above maximum landing weight we’ll advise ATC we need to burn off fuel or dump fuel prior to returning to this airport,” or whatever is prudent.)

A Boeing 767 taking off at sunet

Photo by: Paul Nelhams

Let’s say this is going to be your leg to fly. Even so, typically the captain generally taxis the aircraft and lines up the aircraft on the runway prior to takeoff, after which you’re advised to hold the brakes, then, “it’s your airplane.” Once cleared for takeoff, you will increase thrust, attentive to ensure both engines are accelerating equally until you’re close to the target power setting. You may hold full forward pressure on the yoke to place as much weight as possible on the wheels for traction. As you begin to move you will find the rudder/brake peddles are sluggish and won’t become effective until you’re beyond 40 or 50 knots. Meanwhile, believing that you’ve got the power set close to what it should be, you say something like, “SET POWER” and the non-flying pilot (the captain) refines the power settings as you concentrate on the takeoff.

Several call-outs are pretty standard on large aircraft: One is “80 knots” and you respond with “Cross checked.” You’re just confirming that your and the captain’s airspeed indicators agree. Next, the non-flying pilot calls out, “V1.” This is the point of no return: you’re goin’ flying regardless of what happens! High-speed aborts are often disastrous. Even if you blow an engine after V1, you’ll continue the takeoff roll. Shortly afterward, you hear, “Rotate.” You’ll pitch the nose up to the desired attitude and hold it while you wait for the wheels to clear the pavement. Once airborne the non-flying pilot says, “positive rate” (meaning you’ve got a positive rate of climb and not sinking back to the ground) and you’ll respond, “Gear Up.” The captain reaches over and retracts the landing gear. The first time you do this it may surprise you how noisy the hydraulic pumps are and how loud the “ker-thunk” is when the nose gear slams against its uplocks. Depending on aircraft profile, around 400′ AGL you’ll call for the flaps up. Some aircraft momentarily level out around 1,000′ AGL to accelerate at what’s called the acceleration altitude; then resume the climb.

How to Fly a Commercial Plane –  In Flight
Two Pilots in the flight deck of a commercial plane

Photo by: Condor

Use of the autopilot is encouraged after the configuration changes but especially passing through 10,000 feet. Reduced separation requirements mandate that autopilot use is required between FL290 to FL410 (29,000 to 41,000 feet).

You’ll climb to the cruise altitude using your familiar airspeed indicator but at a point called the cross-over altitude2 will transition to flying by Mach number. The reason for this is that, at altitude, the Mach number is limiting whereas your indicated airspeed will be lower than you’re used to seeing and be of little value.

Control responses are slower and take more muscle. The payoff is more stability. Standard rate turns (on which instrument flying is predicated) are no longer are used. Because you’re moving faster you’ll only use half standard rate in turns. In light planes, standard rate requires 15 to 20 degrees of bank angle. In large planes, producing a 3° per second standard rate turn would require a bank angle of 50°. The Aeronautical Information Manual states that turns in a holding pattern should be at 3° per second to a maximum of 30 degrees of bank, whichever results in the lesser bank angle. “Standard rate” in large aircraft typically is no more than 1.5° per second.

How to Fly a Commercial Plane –  Approach and Landing
A boeing commercial airliner landing

Photo by: Roy

As you approach your destination a new TOLD card is needed containing runway length at your weight, speeds and go-around power settings. Landing speeds are “bugged” and ATIS information, approach procedures, and techniques for special conditions such as wet/slick runways and LAHSO3 are reviewed and briefed. The approach may seem to move pretty fast at first. The difference is flying approaches in light planes at 100 knots compared to 120 to 160 knots is conspicuous. But after you get accustomed to it, light plane approaches will seem to take forever.

“Grease job landings do not a pilot make.” In large aircraft, you’re interested only in stabilized approaches and touching down at the desired touchdown zone. It may seem awkward how high you are when landing. Depending on aircraft you’ll actually be sitting anywhere from 20 to 100 feet above the ground when touching down. Good positive runway wheel contact and minimal “wing-wagging” trumps a grease job. Yep, in large airplanes, you pretty much wanna “fly ’em on.”

Thrust reversers are maybe new to you.4 Before using them, it is important to ensure both reversers are equally deployed otherwise you’ll spin around faster than that guy with the Certs does when checking out good looking women after arriving in Ft. Lauderdale.

On landing roll-out, the non-flying pilot may call out “80 knots” which is your cue to begin stowing the thrust reverser levers. At 40-50 knots the captain will say something like, “I got it” or “my airplane” and take over control, taxiing to parking. You’re done with all flying pilot’s duties at that point and resume radio work and the “clean-up,” retracting the flaps, re-setting the trim and performing the after landing checklist.

One thing that is sometimes hard for first officers to understand is that the airplane is the captain’s airplane. It is the captain who is responsible for that airplane and you are there only to
assist. Although it is customary to alternate flying legs, it is at the captain’s discretion only. Privilege in a multi-crew setting is not a 50/50 proposition.

In Conclusion

The difference between small and large plane flying is “bigness.” Its numbers and speeds are higher. Pilots sit two or more feet apart. Its weight is computed with index numbers such as 100.3 instead of 100,300 pounds. There’s at least one extra fold out seat on the flight deck for jump seaters. Center of gravity is a location measured in percent within the wing’s aerodynamic chord instead of inches after of a datum line. But there is one thing that makes learning how to fly a commercial plane worth it over smaller planes, besides the freedom to stretch your legs and walk around, and that is the salary is usually much better and who can find fault with that?

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Footnotes:

1 – “TOLD” cards are take-off and landing distance data cards and prepared for each leg and generally include ATIS information for the airport from which you’re leaving and approaching. Once the leg is complete the TOLD card gets discarded. Sophisticated multi-function displays are also being used that present this information.

2 – Crossover Altitude is the altitude at which a specified CAS (Calibrated airspeed) and Mach value represent the same TAS (True airspeed) value. Above this altitude, the Mach number is used to reference speeds.

3 – LAHSO – Land and Hold Short Operations is landing on one of two intersecting runways requiring precise planning. Pilots are not required to accept a LAHSO clearance to land but it can expedite your landing at busy airports.

4 – In turboprops, deceleration is handled with a propeller reversal called “beta” which also slows the aircraft by reversing thrust.

Featured Image: Wilco737

Commercial Pilot Requirements: Everything You Need to Know

John Peltier

It’s easy to get discouraged from pursuing your dreams when you take a quick glance at the requirements to be a commercial pilot. I went through the same thing. But you know what? It’s really not as hard as it seems. Here we’ll break down the commercial pilot requirements, both from a regulatory perspective and also a practical perspective.

FAA Commercial Pilot Requirements

Here it is, interpreted straight from Federal Aviation Regulations Part 61, Subpart F.

General Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to be a commercial pilot, a candidate must be 18 years of age. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be 18 to start your training – you just have to be 18 years old by the time you go take your practical test. It is possible to get your commercial pilot license the day you turn 18 if you work hard at meeting all of your flight experience for the commercial pilot requirements before you turn 18.

You must also be able to read, write, and speak the English language. There is a provision for those with certain disabilities. For example, if a learning disability prevents proper writing, the FAA may still grant the commercial pilot license with certain restrictions.

A female flight instructor in an airplane cockpit - Commercial Pilot Requirements

Photo by: H Michael Miley

You’ll also need to be endorsed by an authorized flight instructor. The instructor is giving you their blessing that you are prepared to take the required exams. It is possible to learn all of your ground knowledge through self-study, but this doesn’t mean you won’t be spending time in ground school with an instructor. They’ll still need to evaluate all of your knowledge (and they will find holes!) before sending you off for your tests. The endorsements are required before taking your written “knowledge” test and also before taking your practical test – the “final exam”.

While you may be able to do most of your ground training on your own, the flight standards are high and the flight training will need to be done with an authorized instructor. Meaning you can’t take your buddy who is a licensed helicopter pilot, go out flying every day in an airplane, and log training towards your commercial pilot requirements for an airplane.

You will also need to meet aeronautical experience requirements. Put simply, the FAA will not grant a commercial license to a pilot who hasn’t spent a lot of time in the air. It takes a lot of flight time in different flight conditions to obtain skills necessary to be a competent commercial pilot. These are the aeronautical experience requirements – flight time in different conditions, and they’ll be discussed shortly.

As previously mentioned, you’ll need to pass a practical test. This involves an oral exam with an FAA flight examiner and then a flight where you will show him that you are ready to be a pilot at the commercial level.

It should also go without saying that to get a commercial pilot license, you need to hold at least a private pilot license first.

The final paragraph of Part 61.123, Eligibility Requirements, states that you must comply with the sections of these regulations that apply to the aircraft category and class rating. Things like don’t fly while intoxicated, maintain an appropriate medical clearance, wear oxygen masks when required, etc.

Specific Commercial Pilot Requirements

You’ll need to have a good understanding of many different aeronautical subjects. FAR Part 61.125 lists areas of aeronautical knowledge required for a commercial pilot applicant. These are the knowledge areas you’ll be tested on for both your written knowledge test and the oral practical test. I won’t list them all here; the entire list is available in FAR Part 61.125. They include all Federal Aviation Regulations that pertain to commercial pilot operations in your aircraft category and class, accident reporting requirements, aerodynamics, weather, aeronautical decision-making, and night operations.

An R22 Instrument panel - Commercial Pilot Requirements

Photo by: Marg

Now on to the flight proficiency part of commercial pilot requirements. Part 61.127 is about flight proficiency – these are the areas of flight training that you’ll need to do with an authorized instructor. The FAA examiner will test you on these procedures during your practical test. Again, the list is extensive so we’ll just list a few things here. They include: preflight procedures, performance maneuvers, navigation, ground reference maneuvers, and emergency operations. There are different commercial pilot requirements based on if you are pursuing a license in single-engine airplanes, multi-engine airplanes, rotorcraft, powered-lift, gliders, airships, or balloons. Some people pick up these skills right away while others may take a little extra training – be prepared for this and don’t get discouraged!

You will also need to have logged a certain amount of flight time under various conditions. FAR Part 61.29 lists these requirements, and again, they vary between different aircraft categories and classes. Except for gliders, airships, and balloons, they do all require that you log at least 100 hours of pilot-in-command time. This is probably the biggest requirement to get past due to the investment in time and money required. You’ll also need a number of cross-country hours – 50 for airplanes, 10 for helicopters. The FAA also requires a minimum of 20 hours of training with an instructor in the areas of flight proficiency mentioned in the previous paragraph. The good thing is that these will all count towards your 100 hours!

Other Commercial Pilot Requirements

Now that we got all the dry requirements out of the way, let’s quickly discuss other responsibilities of becoming a commercial pilot.

The hard work, dedication, and studying will never end. It’s especially intense while you’re going through your training, but that won’t be the end of it. You’ll constantly have to stay abreast of new technologies and regulations, and study up on the things you may have forgotten. I make it a point to go back and study a subject once a week. It could be airspace weather minimums, emergency procedures, or physiology. The FAA grants you the privilege of flying other people around in compensation for money. Isn’t that amazing? Don’t abuse this privilege and don’t take it lightly.

Along with this is maintaining a clean life outside of your flying as well. Stay out of trouble with the law and don’t do anything to jeopardize your medical clearance. Your job will depend on this!

In Conclusion

Becoming a commercial pilot requires a significant investment in both time and money. Be sure that you’re capable of meeting these requirements before starting your training.

This just about sums up the commercial pilot requirements! There’s just something special about flying – once you get the taste of it, it’ll stick with you forever. And to be paid to do this?! Only in dreams, right? Well, now that you’re starting the journey to become a commercial pilot, that’s one dream that can come true.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

The Call: The Moment When Your Childhood Dreams Come True

Getting “The Call” After Your Airline Pilot Training

Making it through the airline pilot selection process is an accomplishment but successfully completing your airline pilot training is nothing short of awesome.

Vern Weiss

You’ve been submitting applications to airlines for over a year and reading doom-and-gloom on pilot blogs, which is beginning to work on your mind. If you allow yourself to believe what you’ve read, you’d give up. “How can I ever hope to get called-in for an airline interview with my experience?” “What do they want? Space shuttle proficiency?” Sheesh! Simply stated, they seek candidates who exhibit the basic skills required for training, good character, “fit in,” sound judgment, common sense, a positive attitude, compliant principles and professional behavior. They just want quality individuals and pursue neither Einsteins nor dim-wits.

airline pilot trainingNext Step in Your Airline Pilot Training: The Interview Process

Since the 1980s, the field of personality and psychological testing has exploded in American business and even job applicants for low-level, non-professional/non-career jobs can be required to undergo such assessments. Major passenger and cargo airlines are most prone for this screening. Small and medium-sized companies are more content with simplicity in their processes.

The interview process for most major carriers tends to follow a similar format. Dinky little airlines may whip you through their process in a day or two while majors may drag it out to 4 or 5 days and spread it out over several months.

If the airline is actively recruiting pilots and after you’ve submitted your on-line application you may hear from them between a couple weeks to couple months later. Major airlines now incorporate personality and psychological testing along with their on-line applications. While applying, you will be invited to click a link for their personality test. The Hogan Personality Inventory and MMPI are two such tests and consist of 400+ questions to sniff out “the REAL you.” Questions are carefully designed to minimize your “outsmarting” the test. If you are going to be invited to continue in their process, you’ll probably hear within a month.

When invited for an interview the airline often furnishes a non-revenue pass for travel; but not always. Plan a back-up in case your flight cancels. If you can, try to arrange things to arrive the night before and stay at a nearby hotel if even at your own expense. Being slam-dunked into an interview by traveling on the same day can frazzle you, which you certainly do not want.

The interview usually starts with a welcome presentation by human resources and flight operations management. You’re then whisked away to a personal interview with an HR person. They’ll go over your application, resume and ask those “gotcha”-type job interview questions like, “Have you ever had a conflict with a supervisor?.” If you have and spill your guts, make sure the noose is cinched up tightly around your neck before they pull the lever.

Company Knowledge: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

It is very important to do some homework and research the airline because they’ll find out if you’re interested enough to do it. Learn all you can. Know the CEO’s name, their stock value, number and types of planes, their history et cetera. Internet search news stories about them in the last year. When asked if you know anything about them they don’t want you to rattle-off a memorized spiel but if you can casually work in some fact about them it shows your interest and makes a positive impression. (Interviewer: “Why do you want to fly for us?” You:Blah-blah-blah-blah and I understand you’ve ordered 40 new 737s early this year which underscores this as a solid, growing company.” Interviewer’s Voice Inside His Head: “H-m-m-m, this guy’s on top of things. I won’t bother asking him anymore about the company. And maybe for lunch today, I’ll order pastrami on rye.” Interviewers are human, too.)

airline pilot trainingThe Pilot Board or Panel Interview

Another component is a pilot board or panel interview. Expect from one to five management pilots to pelt you with scripted questions. They’re probing. They want to see if you can think on your feet. They’re sizing up your personality to see if you’re the type they’d like to be paired with inside a cockpit for long hours. They’re sampling the depth of your aviation knowledge. They may ask you questions that they themselves don’t even know the answer to like, “I see you are now flying a Beech Baron. What is the maximum takeoff weight of that airplane?” Not one of them on that panel may be able to answer that question but you’d better be able to or, at least, can act like you do. Also, you can expect “What would you do if…” judgment questions. Think through your response before opening thy mouth. They’ve interviewed hundreds like you so don’t blow smoke.

The pilot board interview may be when your logbooks will be scrutinized so be sure they are up to date. The person thumbing through them might pick out something to ask you about: “I see you flew into O’Hare three years ago. What did you think about that experience?” On any questions try to be positive. They don’t want to hear that you screwed-up making a taxiway turn, gridlocked 35 airplanes behind you that were waiting to take-off and got so stressed out that you never want to go back. “Um..,” the questioner might say, “we fly into O’Hare.” Oops. Cinch up that noose a little tighter.

Instead, answer temperately with something like, “It was fascinating to watch how ATC can move so many aircraft so efficiently.” Spin things with an “up” tone. Of course, there are things that cannot be spun positively like violations or accidents. Be honest because it is assured that they will check your FAA records before hiring you. There’s probably no such thing as putting a “positive spin” on a blemished record but we make our mistakes and then move on. If skeletons are in your closet, anticipate dreaded, tough questions and develop honest, humble answers. Mistakes and mishaps might be “softened” by admitting their value as a profound lesson burned into your head that ensures your never again allowing them to happen.

Not All Airline Pilot Training is in the Cockpit: Written and Medical Exams

There is usually a written examination consisting of aviation knowledge questions. The questions are often multiple choice and true-false and similar to those found on FAA written examinations. Such tests are administered both on-line or in person during the interview process.

Large carriers customarily put you through a medical examination and, of course, all airlines are mandated to test for drugs and alcohol. Smaller airlines are normally content just with your holding an FAA medical certificate. Although it was common practice not too long ago there could be a psychological assessment done by a “shrink.” Major US airlines have moved away from this but some foreign carriers haven’t. In one such interview of mine, I entered the company psychiatrist’s office. In front of his desk was a blue chair and an orange chair. I don’t know if it was true or not but word from the grapevine was that whichever chair you chose somehow mattered. Since I was hired I guess they wanted pilots who choose blue chairs. Sigh.

One Last Piece of Airline Pilot Training: The Simulator Evaluation

The final component is frequently a flight simulator evaluation though the majors are abandoning them. Smaller airlines generally use a contracted simulator center at a nearby pilot school or Part 142 training company. Though many times smaller carriers use simulators emulating small general aviation twin-engine aircraft, large airlines conduct the assessment in a simulator for one of their aircraft types. You may find comfort knowing that they don’t expect a non-trained pilot to fly the simulator as an experienced one should. However what they do expect to see is good instrument scan, judgment, prioritizing skills, planning and corrective action if something goes wrong. The simulator evaluator may run the simulator by remote control while sitting in the right seat and serving as your co-pilot.

Important: Use the simulator evaluator all you can get away with!

Have him/her adjust your power settings, dial radio and navigation frequencies, run checklists, set flaps and landing gear. Don’t feel rushed. When it’s time to set up for an instrument approach, tell the evaluator to take the controls while you familiarize yourself with the approach procedure. It’s not expected that you would know their emergency procedures but if something happens like an engine fire, order your “co-pilot” to run “the appropriate checklist.” You don’t have to know what the checklist is called; they just want to see a pro-active reaction from you. This isn’t a check-ride, it’s an evaluation to see if you possess core abilities to be “trainable.” Do your best, be respectful and gracious, shake hands and exit the simulator on your wobbly knees. Then hope for the best.

Waiting and Fitting In

Each step in the interview process may be separated by days or weeks. The waiting is agonizing although applicants disqualified during any phase are usually notified quickly.

When I arrived to interview for one of the majors I wore a tan coat with brown pants but noticed that every other pilot wore either a dark blue or black suit. I was also the only one with a mustache. Somehow, even with my colossal blunder, I got through that day and, obviously, when getting called back for Phase II, my mustache was gone and my suit was dark blue. Silly? You bet it is! Maybe it wasn’t even noticed by anyone at the airline. But why blow this opportunity by with something that may be interpreted as not fitting in? Airlines are not interested in pilots who hear a different drummer. They want discipline, consistency, and players who fit in with the team.

airline pilot training

They say there’s a pilot shortage but leave out that the jobs with good, solid companies still get plenty of applicants. It’s smaller airlines flying smaller equipment with less pay that seem to be having the pilot shortage. Many small-to-medium sized airlines are overlooked great places to work. Even if you land a job with a company but cannot see yourself there for the long-term, it’s never a wasted effort. The time and experience you acquire will make you that much more attractive to the good, solid medium-sized and major carriers than you are now.

In Conclusion

Airline pilots must continually prove themselves and the first proving of oneself is the pilot selection process. It’s a compliment just being chosen but then your effort continues. Next comes the interview process. Slaloming around the pitfalls and potholes of the interview to be offered a job is deserving of all the gratification you’ll feel. But the job offer is just a gateway allowing you to be trained. Airline pilot training is demanding and challenging and successful completion provides another well-deserved feeling of accomplishment. Then, as a line pilot, you’ll prove yourself through PCs (Pilot Checks), line checks, annual ground school final exams, upgrades or transition training and, of course, your frequent FAA physical. Some pilots scornfully view these checks as a game of chance with its stakes being their jobs. Others see these re-qualifications as only routine renewals for the privilege of having a pretty cool job. Though periodic checking is an ongoing requisite throughout an airline career you’ll come away from each with a sense of professional recognition and satisfaction.

But the most satisfaction comes during your quiet moments of reflection. Each day of flying presents hundreds, maybe, thousands of things, each one requiring a perfect plan, a perfect response and perfect handling by you. It is then that you’ll understand that each day is really a check-ride and those periodic ones become nothing more than routine formalities demonstrating what you know, what you do and what you are every other day.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

A Growing Number of Professional Pilot Jobs

Many frequent visitors to Upper Limit Aviation‘s website already know that now is a tremendous time to be a professional pilot. The amount of professional pilot jobs available today has increased substantially, outnumbering any previous time in commercial aviation history. The ongoing hiring boom shows no signs of slowing down, with even greater access to opportunities looking increasingly likely as industry plans for the next year are announced. The aviation industry is in the midst of a tidal wave of transformation, as the industry finds new and exciting ways to utilize the services of pilots and aircraft.

The Expanding Array of Today’s Professional Pilot Jobs

There are many potential career paths for tomorrow’s professional pilots within the modern aviation economy. Whether you are a helicopter pilot or a fixed-wing/airplane pilot, you will find that there is an increased reliance upon quick, effective transport solutions to meet the demands of the increasingly diversified infrastructure of many domestic and global companies. Professional helicopter pilots may find themselves working in oil and gas support in the Gulf of Mexico region. In the same industry, professional airplane pilots can envision themselves working in the field of pipeline inspection.
The reason we’re taking this moment to point out the breadth of opportunities available to today’s professional pilots is because we want to let potential students know that they have an important decision to make. Many of these prospective pilots do not even know that there is a life altering opportunity available to them. So if you have found yourself here out of curiosity, take a short amount of time to browse through some of the information we have on this site about the opportunities available to professional pilots, and know that we are doing everything we can to help prepare our students to meet the demands of the most significant moment in aviation history.
Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Different Pilot Licenses Explained: Sport, Recreational and Private Pilot

In the fixed wing airplane world, pilots often refer to their pilot’s license as a “certificate”. Essentially, both terms mean the same thing and are interchangeable (although, technically, they are slightly different). For the purposes of this article, we intend “certificate” and “license” to represent the same “pilot status”. According to AOPA, the most accurate description of the certificate is a “license to learn”. Below, learn more about the different pilot licences and levels of pilot certificate.

The Three Pilot’s Certificates Explained

Student Pilot Certificate (License to Learn): All pilots registered with the FAA begin their journey as “Student Pilots”. The Student Pilot Certificate allows you to train with an FAA Certified Flight Instructor. Your first step is to learn the basics and fundamentals that will prepare you for your first “solo flight”.

There are several very important steps after your solo flight (advanced training) where a student decides to earn a Private Pilot’s certificate, Recreational certificate, or Sport Pilot certificate.

Each certificate has different requirements and differing pathways. The similarities of these certificates are – pilots are allowed to legally fly under certain conditions, and fly with one or more passengers for fun (no pay).

Private Pilot Certificate: The most popular certificate is the traditional “Private Pilot Certificate”. The Private Pilot is the pathway most student pilots take as they invest time, energy, and money into the process of learning to fly. This license requires 40 hours of flight training.

The Private Pilot licenses is the least restrictive of the three certificates.

The Private Pilot license is the pathway to advanced pilot certificates. Meaning, pilots with a Private Pilot license and are career-minded, can pursue the advanced certificates (Instrument, Commercial, and Certified Flight Instructor Certificates) and get paid to fly.

Getting Your Pilots License and Your First Intro Flight

Instrument and Commercial pilot’s licenses allow pilots to fly at night, fly in bad weather (fly by instrument), and fly multi-engine aircraft. Equally important, pilots with Private Pilot’s license, after advanced flight training, can become a commercial pilot and fly for a living. Private Pilot license holders can then earn a Certified Flight Instructor certificate (CFI), and even a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument certificate (CFII).

The top status of all pilot licenses is the Airline Transport Pilot certificate (ATP). Pilots who want to fly for the airlines, become corporate pilots, or fly charter jets are required to have the ATP certificate. Typically, pilots need 1,500 hours of logged flight time, an ATP certificate, and a college degree.

Recreational Pilot Certificate: The Recreation Pilot Certificate is a limited restricted version of the Private Pilot’s license, and considered to be a step below. Requires a minimum of 30 hours of flight training. The aircraft a Recreational Pilot flies is limited to 180 horsepower, and can only fly at a maximum altitude of 2000 AGL. The Recreational Pilot requires a 3rd class medical.

Recreational pilots typically fly from their “home airport”, fly during the day, and with only one additional passenger.

The good news is that a Recreational Pilot Certificate costs less and takes less time. And, a pilot with a Recreational Pilot’s license can continue training (gaining experience and flight hours) and eventually earn their Private Pilot’s license.

Sport Pilot’s Certificate: This version of a pilot’s license is relatively new (2004). It was created for people who desire to fly one or two seater aircraft that are smaller, lighter, and easier to fly. The main difference between Sport Pilot and Recreational Pilot cerftificates is the type of aircraft you are able to fly. The Sport Pilot is limited to planes with lower take off weight (smaller, lighter aircraft) with no more than two seats. Sport pilots require a minimum of 20 hours of flight training.

Additionally, pilot’s seeking Sport Pilot Certificates are not required to obtain a medical certificate (which is a big deal), but must have a valid drivers license. The Sport Pilot license is a limited and more restrictive pilot’s certificate than that of Private or Recreational. The Sports Pilot certificate prohibits pilots from flying aircraft that are more than 1,3200 lbs at takeoff and landing and 1,430 lbs at takeoff from the water.

However, with advanced training, Sport Pilot certificate holders can take additional flight training, pass an FAA Medical Exam, and earn a Recreational or Private Pilot’s license.

There are some conditions the different pilot licenses all require:
All Pilot’s License Holders Must Be or Have:
  • At least 17 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write and understand English
  • Receive logbook endorsements from authorized instructor who verifies aeronautical knowledge and preparedness for the FAA knowledge test
  • Pass the required FAA knowledge test
  • Receive flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who conducted the required training.
  • Pass the required practical test on the areas of operation that apply
  • Comply with the appropriate sections that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought
Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Top 6 Tips for Student Pilots to Land the Best Aviation Jobs

For most student pilots attending helicopter flight school, it is all about landing the best paying jobs as a career pilot. Why else would anyone invest a great deal of money to learn to fly (as a commercial pilot) unless it was to position yourself to compete for the best aviation jobs?

Therefore, there are certain decisions that student helicopter pilots need to make before they start flight school. In other words, before you move across the country to attend a top flight school, you need to consider the steps successful student pilots have taken to land the best paying commercial pilot jobs. We recommend that you learn from those who have succeeded.

#6.  Personal Branding – Develop Powerful Social Media Presence: Start branding yourself before you start flight school. This may sound presumptious, but there is a lot you can do before you start developing your piloting skills. At the very least, get plugged into the vast network of commercial pilots and helicopter companies.

In the very near future your personal brand will become extremely important. And, it takes time to get your personal brand established (e.g. Social Media). When it comes to your current and future commercial helicopter pilot career, you need to establish and then promote your personal brand (your professional image). Imagine “branding” success when the brand you’re promoting is YOU!

What is a personal brand? “You’re a brand. I’m a brand. We’re all brands, whether we try or not”.

Personal branding is the purposeful process of managing and optimizing the way that you are seen by others, especially potential employers.sam-cribbs

The benefits of developing a powerful online personal brand.

1. Being seen by the right people (prospective employers), seeing you in the best light.
2. Build positive network associations – building your brand reputation.
3. Develop beneficial associations (connections) within your industry
4. Generate greater credibility and value
5. Create recognition and prestige through your associations.

Effectively designing social media profiles is the best way to promote and manage your personal brand. You can either control the narrative (the information), or be controlled by it.

Just how vital is your personal brand strategy? We recommend that you do a Google search of your name. Trust me, your future employers will Google your name before they schedule an interview. After Googling your name, what did you find? Is it positive? Does it represent you well? Will the info that comes up when Googling your name help you compete against others, helping you land the best aviation jobs?

The top search results should be from your social networks; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Google+. If you’re serious about promoting yourself professionally, people should also find images, videos, and blog posts that you have written and published online. Next, when clicking on your social media accounts, is your professional image proprely presented? Does your social media presence help you to stand out above the rest?  If not, it’s time to get started.A helicopter association conference - Networking is a big part of landing the best aviation jobs.

Your social media presence (and content: images, video, blog posts) can be the backbone of your personal branding strategy – helping you to get your foot in the door and effectively compete for the best jobs.

#5.  Networking – Attend Aviation Association Conferences: You will hear the following over and over again… “its not what you know, as much as it is who you know.“ Mastering the art of “networking” is how most people get the top jobs in the aviation industry. For examples of top paying “Tier 1” industry jobs, click here.

Networking is hard work and takes skill and patience. Networking is not brown-nosing or schmoozing. There’s actually an art to it. When done properly, with authenticity, integrity, and honesty, networking will open doors like nothing else can.

#4.  Find an Experienced Mentor: Most employed commercial pilots can identify at least one person who took them “under their wing”, helping them to advance their careers. Before you get your start in the aviation industry, we recommend that you find a flight training program stacked with mentors.

r-44-feedAn effective mentor is an experienced pilot (or pilots) who will contribute to your overall success as a commercial pilot. A good mentor will educate you, through wisdom and experience, so that you can plot your career path before it ever gets started – and then be there as a guide as you advance your career towards the best aviation jobs.

At its most basic level, mentoring is a process in which an individual with more experience or expertise provides encouragement, advice, and support to a less experienced colleague, with the goal of helping the person being mentored learn something that he or she would have learned more slowly, less effectively, or not at all if left alone (definition by Chip Bell as written in “Manager as Mentors”).
Webster defines a mentor as, “a trusted counselor or guide.” Mentors will make the difference between getting a job and being unemployed.

Mentors, people with industry experience, will not only help you start your career, but also open some doors when you are ready to land your first industry job.  The aviation industry is small, and competing for good paying jobs is all about “who you know.” Through a well-connected mentor you can get your resume to the top of the stack.

If you have a family your spouse must be 100% behind your career. Before starting flight school your spouse has to know what you are getting him/her into – your spouse needs to know everything about becoming a commercial pilot (how long it will take, the time commitment, the cost, the career opportunities, the salaries and wages, location(s) of the jobs, and the type of work schedule). This commitment is a shared commitment (all family members), and without the spouse’s support it will become a nightmare.

Choosing the right flight training school is the first step to your commitment. Do your homework – don’t choose the first school that comes along.  Your flight school will determine your value and worth as a pilot, so make an informed educated decision. The flight school you choose should help you with all six of these “6 Tips”.

#3.  Total Commitment and Focus: Experienced pilots will tell you, that in order to become a commercial pilot (especially pilots with the best aviation jobs), you need to be 100% committed and focused on your training and career development. Becoming a commercial pilot means that you must be a professional pilot – with a big emphasis on “professional”.

A commercial pilot is not a part-time recreational endeavor.  Learning to fly can be fun, but to become an employable commercial pilot it takes tremendous sacrifice, persistence, and total commitment. Total immersion is required.

Becoming a commercial pilot is very similar to becoming a doctor or a lawyer.  Your training and education is very important, and not very forgiving. Meaning, as a student pilot you can’t afford to make mistakes. Your mind, energy, and focus must be completely funneled toward your training. If you are not ready, or able, to commit everything toward your training – don’t start.

#2.  Know the Industry: Before you start your journey toward becoming a commercial pilot you have to make the right moves from day one (i.e., choosing the right flight school). Your career depends upon making the right choices at the right time for the right reasons. Therefore, before you start training, you need to know the industry.

We recommend that you do your research. For example, call a few of the Helicopter Tour companies in Las Vegas. Tell them that you are serious about becoming a commercial pilot and you are conducting some research. Ask to speak with a Chief Pliot, or the Chief Instructor. You need to know the answers to the following question:

  • “What pilot jobs are available?”
  • “What is a good career path as a professional pilot?”
  • “What makes a good pilot?”
  • “What are employers looking for when hiring pilots?”
  • “What experience will make me more employable?”
  • “What is the typical cost for flight training?”
  • “How long is training going to take, and what personal commitment must I be willing to make?”
  • “What are some of the mistakes others have made that hurt their careers?
  • “What are the choices of high paying pilots that advanced their career?”
  • “Do I have what it takes?”

Once you have a pretty good idea about the questions above, start looking for a flight training school that will present a path towards the best aviation jobs. When interviewing prospective flight schools they should answer each one of the question above exactly in the same way that the Helicotper Tour companies did. The school’s answers to these questions should jive with the best Tier 1 Employers answers. If they don’t, move on to the next school.

#1.  Choose the Right Flight School – Do Your Homework: Have you ever noticed that most presidential candidates graduated from Harvard or Yale? The same is true with Wall Street executives and CEO’s of top corporations –they’ve all graduated at the top universities (there are always exceptions). The point is, to get the top jobs in government or private business you need to attend a top school. The same is true with getting the best aviation jobs.

Your flight training and education will matter. It will make you or break you. The type of training you receive, along with “who trained you”, will either advance your career or hold you back. Our recommendation is that you carefully explore your options and make an informed choice. Go so far as to visit at least three flight schools before you enroll. Interview the people who will be training you. Look deeply into their results… meaning, “Where are their graduates? Where are they employed?”

Related Articles

Tier 1 Helicopter Pilot Jobs

Landing a Tier 2 Helicopter Pilot Job

Types of Tier 3 Helicopter Pilot Jobs

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Top Three Myths About Becoming a Commercial Pilot

Have you always dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot, either flying Helicopters or Fixed Wing Aircraft? Is it your dream to become a commercial pilot and fly for a living? Before you invest time and money into becoming a pilot, there are a few things you need to know.

You’ve probably heard that there is a high demand for pilots, and this is the perfect time to become a professional pilot – and it is. We talk to dozens of prospective flight school students every day. There are many myths and misconceptions that we attempt to correct. Below are the top 3 myths about becoming a commercial pilot.

Myth #3: There is a High Demand for Pilots.

This is perhaps not so much a myth as it is a controversy – the demand for qualified pilots. The controversy starts and finishes with the term “Qualified Pilots”.  In 2012, Boeing forecasted that 70,000 pilots will be needed in North America between now and 2031.

In 2012, Boeing forecasted that 70,000 pilots will be needed in North America between now and 2031. However, on July 10th, 2013, the FAA released the final rule for the Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations. This ruling requires pilots to hold an air transport pilot certificate (ATP) in order to fly for an air carrier (which is a good thing). However, this made it harder to become a commercial pilot. The point is that fixed wing operators are looking for “quality pilots” to fulfill the forecasted demand.

To apply for an air transport pilot (ATP) certificate, applicants must have at least 1500 flight hours. Although there is a large demand for pilots presently and in the near future, the demand is for “experienced pilots” who are qualified to meet the FAA’s new ATP requirements. It is important to note that this FAA rule change only had an impact on Air Carrier Operations. Helicopter companies, looking to employ helicopter pilots, do not operate as “Air Carriers”. For this reason, helicopter operators were not affected by the FAA change.

What about commercial helicopter pilots? Is there a demand for commercial helicopter pilots? The truth is that experienced helicopter pilots who are well trained are in high demand – no doubt. There are incredible opportunities for helicopter pilots who have the right training and solid experience. The key factor is “where did you get your training?” If you have graduated from a reputable flight school, you will find that there is a demand for your services, and you will be positioned to get the best jobs.

Myth #2: You Can Begin a New Career as a Pilot in Mere Months.

There is a belief that someone who has never flown before, can get a Pilot’s License (Certificate) and start a new career as an aviator in mere months. While there is some truth to this myth, we need to clarify that it takes a great more to begin a career as a professional pilot. The truth of the matter is yes, a person can get a pilot certificate within a few months of training. However, the first certificate you will receive is a Private Pilot Certificate. This certificate does not allow you to fly for compensation or hire. If you want to fly for a living and start a new career as an aviator, you will need additional certificates and ratings.

The Ratings and Certificates needed for a top level aviation career will likely include:

•    Private Pilot License (PPL)
•    Instrument Rating (IR)
•    Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
•    Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)
•    Certified Flight Instructor of Instruments (CFII)
•    Air Transport Pilot (ATP)
•    Misc. Add-On Ratings (Airplane, Rotorcraft, Multi-Engine, Type Ratings etc…)

Everything listed above is not required to begin your aviation career. At a minimum, you will need a Private Pilot’s License and a Commercial Pilot’s License in order to legally fly for compensation. The Aviation Industry is a highly competitive field, so do not expect to get offered a job with the bare minimum. A new student pilot will have to dedicate 1-2 years to his or her flight training.

A new student pilot will have to dedicate 1-2 years of training in order to get the necessary certificates and ratings desired. You will then need to work an entry level job for 1-2 years, or more, as you build proficiency and gain flight experience. Before you know it, you will be ready to market yourself as a qualified pilot for many of the better paying jobs. Be ready to pay your dues before you start making the good money.

Myth #1: Instead of Becoming a Commercial Pilot, You Are Better Off Getting a Traditional Education Like Your Parents Did.

The average young adult, after dedicating 4-6 years of their life to college studies, can walk away with the once coveted Bachelor’s Degree. However, they quickly realize that it is tough to find a job in just about every field of study: Employers want ‘experience’ among other things. Well, where do you get that experience? Today, more than ever, you start from the bottom and scratch your way to the top. Get ready, it might take awhile.

All too often today’s college graduates have invested a great deal money to gain an education that they may never end up using. Many college grads are taking any job they can find. Simply type “College Grad” into a Google search window, and the results are peppered with entries about how tough it is for college grads to find jobs. The number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs in 2012 was nearly 71 percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest figures. I’m sure the 2013 figures are much worse.

However, aviators with a college degree are finding jobs.  As a matter of fact, college educated aviators are in high demand. There are many different degree choices for professional pilots. Plus, from day one, as a student pilot in a college program, you will be logging flight hours and gaining the experience needed to launch your new career. Student pilots go to class in the morning and fly in the afternoon (or visa-verse).

Can you imagine a Law Student or Medical Student stepping into the courtroom or emergency room on day one of law/medical school? Neither can we. Both law and medical students take Labs as a part of their course work. But these labs don’t put the students front and center into their respective fields. Meaning, they are not in court trying cases or working with patients. Commercial pilots, on the other hand, start flying in their “lab” courses right from the start. Student pilots start building flight hours in week one of flight school. That’s why today, more than ever, deciding to launch an aviation career is one of the best choices you can make!

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

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