24 Aug PRIVATE JET PILOTS
When people see a small private jet they wonder if the qualifications to fly that are the same you need to fly a Boeing B737.
Today I would like to talk about pilots, there training, lifestyle, money, etc…
I started my career back in 1992 flying a Cessna Citation I business jet. As a private jet pilot I flew for 5 years flying the Cessna Citations and Dassault Falcon 900 plus some Turbo Commander in between.
I then joined the airlines and flew for a start-up airline flying Regional turboprop called a Dornier DO328 and then the Dornier 328Jet. From there I qualified on Boeing B737 and flew low cost airlines, a charter airline and a national flag carrier.
There are two types of professional pilot licences: one a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) and one an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL). The CPL is a First Officer licence while the ATPL a Captain’s licence. You need a minimum of 1,500 hrs to qualify for an ATPL. Cost of getting a licence these days is close to EUR 100,000 and getting more expensive too.
Airline Pilots these days work very hard, most clocking-up close to 900 hrs a year. One of the biggest challenges these days is dealing with fatigue. This was one of the struggles I had when flying for a Middle Eastern carrier. We were flying 22 days a month of which 8 were at night and the roster was a big mix-up and it was getting unsafe to the extent that I used to go sick 3-4 days a month to stay safe. So next time you fly with the airlines and it’s through the night just hope the pilots are well rested…
As an Airline Pilot you get to fly with many different people and you do more take-offs and landings. This is a good foundation to have. Training with airlines is standardized and you learn to fly a simplified system that works for and with everyone.
As a Private Jet pilot you fly usually around 300 hrs a year and sometimes less. It all depends if you fly for an individual or for a charter company. A jet owner will usually hire 3 pilots and use maybe a fourth freelance guy when the others are on holiday.
As a private jet pilot you get to interact with the passengers and you are also involved in the management of the jet itself. I prefer this type of flying, it gets more personal and you are valued as a person. With the airlines you end up becoming a number.
Some Private Jet operators standardize their pilots and this is good because the quality is good and overall safety enhanced. However, there are quite a few cowboy outfits out there, so when chartering a private jet do your homework.
Salaries for pilots over the last 15 years haven’t really changed, which means they have decreased. An Airline Captain is taking home around £75K-80K a year, while a First Officer around £45-50K. On a Private jet you can expect, or should I say you should expect 20% higher. You are doing more work and the job is more challenging as you don’t have a Flight Operations Department manned with 30 people organizing fuel, handling, hotels, etc. for you.
One of the advantages of owning your own Private Jet is that you get to know your pilots well. If you look after them, they will look after you. I remember one gentleman I flew for always made a point of us staying in the best hotels and eating in nice restaurants. This made us really feel good and we always fell over backwards to do a great job. However, I have heard of pilots paid peanuts and staying in B&Bs.
In every industry if you pay your people well and look after them, you get top performance. As a good friend of mine Giorgio Misani, Chief Pilot of Diesel Group on their Dassault Falcon 7X always says,” You pay peanuts, you get the monkeys…”
I am sure you wouldn’t want a monkey flying your $20M jet…