Regular commercial or business jet airline pilot – which type are you?


With the growing predictions of the global pilot demand in market there are no more questions whether pilot profession is worth considering for your occupation. It is both prospective and exciting choice for your career. Period. However, once you get this question resolved, more things must be considered. One of the main questions is – which type of aircraft to choose? There are many aspects to choosing the type, such as market needs, desirable region or airlines to fly, aircraft type itself and etc. But have you ever considered which type of pilot you would like to be? Would you like to be a regular commercial or a business jet airline pilot? Because there are significant differences between them and you should know about it.

Different levels of pilot flexibility do exist

Being a pilot, as it is, requires being flexible and sacrificing, what should be called, a normal life routine with your family at home. However, there may be different levels of that flexibility too. If you think that it is hard to be away from your growing children and your family during important celebrations while being a regular commercial airline pilot, then think again – because being a business jet pilot is even harder.

When you work at airline, you have your schedule – even though you are required to be flying on weekends or holidays, it still allows you to plan things. Usually, you have a certain schedule of your working days (with clear destinations and flying time) along with your days off. While being a business jet pilot you also have SOME kind of schedule of your work days. However you will never know exactly which day you will be called on duty, what destination it will be, and how much time it will take. Even if your client will tell you that he will need the aircraft in a few days, those “few days” suddenly may turn into few hours or a week. No matter what, your responsibility is to be available to operate the aircraft. Even if that means just sitting and waiting – you must always stay sharp.

What about different levels of experience?

Let’s start from the fact, that choosing one or the other pilot type does not require any additional pilot qualification courses – you get your CPL, then choose your type and get all the qualifications as usual. However, if you would ask other pilots, they would admit, that working as the business jet pilot requires more qualification. Why? Let’s assume you are working as a pilot at a regular commercial airline. Most likely, you have your regular destinations, with same airports and same routes. What is the difference working in business aviation? Well, everything is different: every flight may be a new flight for you, with new destinations, new weather conditions and new airports, and basically – everyday is a new challenge.

More work does not mean more hours

Another aspect worth your consideration while choosing which job would be more applicable to you is the work load. Being a business jet pilot you will have more work before and after the flight compared to the regular commercial airline pilot. A jet pilot is responsible for the aircraft that he operates. The pilot must prepare it for the flight, inspect its technical condition, make all the calculations for the fuel, water, toilet needs, load client luggage and etc. For example, it may take around 1, 5 hour of preparation before the flight and 1 hour after the flight while the entire flight duration was only 3 hours. All in all, it means that jet pilots work more hours, although only part of them has a real value when talking about the logbook. This is the reason why, if you choose to be a business jet pilot, you will gather less flight hours in the same time period compared to the regular commercial airline pilot. And we know how important hours are in this job.

Differences in getting THE job?

Getting a job is always a challenge, no matter if it’s an office job or a pilot’s job. It is A JOB, with the interviews, your skill assessment, stress and etc. However, there is a difference if you are applying for a business jet pilot job or a regular commercial airline pilot job. Why? First of all, as mentioned before, being a business jet pilot requires more qualifications. So if you are a fresh pilot, with recently obtained type rating it might be a real challenge for you to get the job that calls for such requirements. It would be easier to get a business jet pilot seat after gaining some experience at a regular airline. In addition to that, business jet community is relatively small and closed. Everybody knows everybody. At this point knowing certain people may open you the door, so be proactive while meeting new people and keeping good relationships, because you never know what might happen.

What’s next?

So if you are really persistent in getting your first pilot job at a business jet airline we would advise you to start… from the bottom. And what we have in mind is try to get any kind of job at business jet airline. And we do mean any. Because once you are in that is only up to you to take this opportunity and turn it into your dream job in the cockpit.

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