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Now that you finished your line training and got released as a First Officer (A New Pilot), we can call this phase "The Stable Phase". It's a rewarding one after a long journey of studying, starting from flight school.
This is the third article of a series named "The Complete Guide To Becoming A Pilot".
If you haven't read the previous article, then please click here.
If you want to find all the articles in this guide, then please click here.
What Should You Expect/Do As An Airline Pilot at This Point?
- A massive responsibility boost on your shoulders.
- Expect to fly a lot! Many sectors (4 Daily), especially in summer if you work for a low-cost airline.
- The need to improve constantly.
- Get used to flying with captains who may not be as strict as line training captains. If you flew with captains who don't adhere strictly to the procedures, don't fall into the trap and let them mould you into becoming like them! Fly as the book says, not as what a particular person told you to do!
- Learn from experienced captains tips and tricks on how to fly properly. Tips about the aircraft and tips about certain airports.
- Read your manuals thoroughly but slowly, go through the FCOM, FCTM, AFM again but this time very slowly but thoroughly.
- A messy sleeping pattern.
- At this point in your career, married pilots, especially those who have kids, might find it very hard to balance work and family life; it will take some time to get used to. Just be patient! (Not from personal experience, but from what I've been told and what I observed).
- You might fly with 'cocky' captains who look down at you and don't let you fly because they don't trust you because you have just been released. That's part of your learning curve; assert yourself cautiously within your limitations and company procedures, don't let them "steal your work". Don't be afraid to report them if they go beyond the limit. Just be friendly and finish the flight as these captains are usually few. Some of them will take it very personally if you confront them, which is not safe for the passengers!
At the end of the day, the flight is not a show about You; the main goal is to fly the passengers that they trusted safely to their destination.
- Network with experienced First Officers and ask them to give you tips.
- Write your logbook either after each flight or at the end of each week. Don't let it accumulate, please!
- Expect your days off to not be on the weekend, which I personally love as you can enjoy your day out when it's not packed and full of people like at a standard weekend.
- Expect free tickets (limited per month) for yourself (Not all airlines have it) and discounted tickets for your family (Again, airline dependent).
- Night flights where it's all peace and quiet outside. Sometimes when I was flying at night, I just get hit by the realization that I'm 36000ft in the air above this city on this flying machine at a speed of 0.76 Mach.
How will your typical day at work looks like (An Airline Pilot's Typical Day - Very briefly):
- You get your schedule a month before, of course, on your company's platform/App.
The Day Before Your Flight:
Take a look at your schedule on where you are going the next day.
After you check; take a look at the destination airport, expected weather, are there any special documentation/Procedures for that airport.
After you have an overview, sleep and set your alarm (Personally about an hour before the time that I'm planning to leave the house on).
The Day Of The Flight:
Wake up the next day, have breakfast, and look once again at your destination airport. You do the same as the night before, but in more detail as the flight plan should usually be ready. Check weight, weather, fuel, Notams, check your bag to make sure you have the necessary items. Wear your uniform, and head to the airport.
At The Airport:
At the airport, you go to the crew room where you meet your captain, chat for a bit and brief the flight, decide on the fuel and who's going to be PF (Pilot Flying) and PM (Pilot monitoring) for the first leg (I personally prefer to be PF on the first leg of the day/First two sectors if it's a four sectors day).
You go to the aircraft to prepare your FMC and all initial procedures while the captain goes for a walk around.
After that, you Start-up the aircraft, go towards the runway and flyyyyyyyy, land at your destination airport, you swap the roles, you become a PM and the captain a PF or the other way around depending on how you agreed in the crew room.
The PM goes for a walk-around while the other crew member prepares the aircraft, and then you start up and flyyyyy back home.
Of course, it's not that brief. I skipped a lot of details but just wanted to give you a taste of what a typical day would be.
After some time as a First Officer, you start to become comfortable. At this point, you deserve to relax from studying a tiny bit. Still, don't get too comfortable as you have to start preparing for captaincy! Yes – Preparing for captaincy should be early in your career as a First Officer, so when your time comes, you will be more than ready to pass your tests!
The following section will be a short one where we wrap up the guide!