My Type Rating, the specialisation course for the Boeing 717, started in January 2015, a month after I got the good news. The timing was perfect, on my last day at work we finished the project we had been working on for a year. All my colleagues were so happy for me as they knew I was going to achieve my dreams.
When you’re hired by an airline as a pilot, you will need to do a specialisation course for the type of aircraft you are going to fly. It will start with theory about the airplane, about all the systems and the Standard Operational Procedures that you have to follow. How to set up the cockpit for a flight, how to do the system tests and how to work with the FMC (the Flight Management Computer, the little computer where you insert the desired route and all performance settings of your take off and landing).
In September 2014, less than a year after graduation, I got an e-mail from my flight school to ask if I could send my CV. Volotea was visiting the school to go through the CVs of graduates. I sent my CV immediately and a few weeks later I was invited for the selection in Volotea. I asked for days off at work and went with my roommate Ruben, who was also invited for the selections, to Barcelona. We went a few days earlier to study together and be fully prepared for the interviews.
After you finish flight school, you have your licence in your pocket, it’s time to apply for jobs! For some people it’s easy: if they finish at a good time, where there are many pilot jobs available for low-experienced pilots or maybe if they know someone in a high position in an airline.
This post is meant for the pilots that are not so lucky. I am writing this from my own experience, so I know what situation you’re in. You are so ready to start working as a pilot, it has been your goal for so many years and now that you have your licence, all you want is to find a job and start flying!
After Ruben and I passed our MCC exam, we officially finished the integrated ATPL course. I moved back to Holland and received my licence. It felt very strange to be back in Holland, I missed Spain a lot. A month later, on 10 December 2013, I was very happy to go back to Madrid for a few days: I was going to receive my pilot wings!
So here we are, at the final course of flight school: The Multi Crew Cooperation (MCC) course! So far, you’ve learned how to fly single and multi engined aircraft, but even though you were often with your instructor, these planes are all single-pilot aircraft, which means that they can be flown by one pilot only.
Big jets such as Airbus and Boeing aircraft require a minimum of two pilots. One that takes care of the flying whilst other one talks on the radio, checks the fuel and aircraft status and fills the flight plan. In case of a system malfunction, the Pilot Not-Flying – PNF (or Pilot Monitoring – PM) tries to solve the issue using the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) and the Pilot Flying (PF) continues to fly the aircraft.
After my CPL exam, a whole new challenge came up: I was going to fly the Piper Seneca, a slightly bigger airplane with two engines! We did 25 hours on this new type of plane in order to get the Multi Engine Rating.
It was a different type of airplane, so the cockpit was significantly different with regards to the location of the flap handle, the engine start buttons and other avionics (electronic items in the aircraft).
The last two flying exams of the pilot licence are the Multi Engine and the Instrument Rating.
To prepare for the Instrument Rating, you start in the simulator. There, you will learn all the basics of Instrumental flying. You will learn to use VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) Radio Beacons to navigate without seeing outside for visual reference.
After my first solo, I continued flying with instructors to learn how to navigate visually (VFR – Visual Flight Rules), to practice engine failures and advanced manoeuvres such as stalls and steep turns. When my knowledge and skills were good enough, I had my Private Pilot Licence (PPL) exam. I flew with an examiner and he let me do a visual navigation, do some simulated engine failures and show him some manoeuvres. I passed the exam and received my very first pilot licence. A very valuable step in my career as a pilot!
After the theory exams and the Private Pilot Licence exam, you will prepare with an instructor for the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). With a CPL you are allowed to fly commercially, which means that you are allowed to perform flights for a company and you can earn money working as a pilot. The CPL exam is quite similar to the PPL exam.