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Corporate pilot lifestyle

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Corporate pilot lifestyle

Old 30th Oct 2011, 18:05
  #1 (permalink)  
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Corporate pilot lifestyle

Hi, I have very recently finished the commercial training and will be looking for jobs soon (good luck to me, I know...)

Whilst I have a pretty good idea of what is involved in being an airline pilot, I am not so clued up about what it's like to be a corporate one. It would therefore be great to hear a short description of what 'a day in the life' of a bizjet pilot is like (UK preferably, in case it significantly differs) when compared to the airlines. It will help in guiding me on deciding whether to go down the airline or corporate route as both are currently options.

DarkSoldier is offline  
Old 30th Oct 2011, 18:25
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Beats working for a living...... but dont make ANY plans in your social calender beyond...errr, tomorrow!
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Old 30th Oct 2011, 19:11
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Good question!

When i was flying in the corporate industry typical characteristics were: based abroad away from friends and family. No social life, no girlfriend (no relation), shitty dutyroster which was changing all the time, a lot of waiting while on the road, an managment always patronizing the pilots, no chance to create stability.....
Thats'swhy i left aviation. Yes i miss the flying, but all the rest........no way
Good luck in your endevours!
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Old 30th Oct 2011, 19:22
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Dark Soldier,

It depends on who you work for.
I work for a fractional operator and I know when my days off are up to 2 months in advance. The roster is typically 6 on, 5 off. When I am working, I don't expect to get home during the tour.
I can start on day 1 any time from 0100z (I haven't done that yet but 0200z have happened) and can return home up to 2359z on Day 6. Very rarely has it gone to Day 7.

Tidy the aircraft. Vac etc if required.
Minor stuff like upload the e-charts and FMS stuff.
Our Dispatch dept has emailed out flight plans/PLOGs. Usual stuff of wx, notams etc.
Check the aeroplane for serviceability, MEL items etc. If time, check the onboard stock dates and quantities.

Catering. Check and store it. Sort it out if not correct.

Meet and greet the owners. Load their bags. Give the safety brief. Make them welcome and comfortable. Explain the catering and offer preflight drinks if time permits.

In flight. If time, go back and check the owners are comfortable. Check for last minute transport changes. Advise of weather etc for the arrival.

On the ground. Escort the owner to their ground transport. Check the cabin for forgotten items. Unload the luggage.
Tidy the cabin and get ready for the next flight.

No two days are the same. That makes it interesting and fun.
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Old 30th Oct 2011, 19:33
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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I'm a corporate pilot in the UK and I absolutely love my job (been in this one 18 months). I've just had 5 days off and I am genuinely excited to be getting up at 4:30 tomorrow morning as I really have missed working.

I think there is a huge amount of difference in jobs within "corporate", it really depends on the owner/operator as to what you will experience. I chat to other crews both in our hangar and when we're away and there is a real mixed bag out there.

I'm quite fortunate in that I have a rosta up to two weeks in advance, although this does change. I fly to destinations all over the UK and Europe. I'm at home most nights, a few times a month I'll be away for a night or two. I've never been away for more than 5 nights.

When we're down the line we stay in reasonable hotels and have a reasonable allowance to spend on the company credit card.

We operate modern aircraft which are very well maintained and I get well looked after by the company. The owners treat us with respect and will often make a bit of time for a chat.

When we're flying we operate to company SOP's, and having since seen some airline SOP's ours are very similar.

I genuinely love my job and right now would not want to be doing anything else.
corporate-pilot is offline  
Old 30th Oct 2011, 20:30
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Without wanting to pry it depends so much on what the options actually are.

Airlines vary massively. There are 5/4 patterns where you are flogged on your days on but guaranteed to be left untouched on your offs. Then you have night freighting turboprop style where you'll wonder what happened to that thing you had called a life.

Corporate is the same. You have the massive outfits where things are run more or less like a nice stable airline but with a lot more focus on Customer Service. And in nice new machines to a massive variety of destinations in good hotels. You'll see most of the Cities in your area of operation whilst if you took the airline route you barely have time to even get out your seat. Then you have the two bit outfits who will threaten you with the boot if you aren't on 24/7 standby, regardless of what your roster said. In old machines where people are perhaps less willing to snag faults.

Each career path has so many variations it is hard to generalise.

I used to work for a regional Turboprop outfit and really enjoyed it. I fell into corporate work by accident and love it also, but for different reasons.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:56
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Hi there,

Silverknapper has pretty much hit the nail on the head. If you're going down the corporate route try to get into a company where its a bit more airline orientated and they have rosters. With a roster of some kind, it can be the best flying career there is. The flying's varied, you get to talk to the passengers, you get to stay over in your destination a lot of the time. What's not to like ?

Without a roster, you just end up having to accept that the job will be your life. The flying will still be great, but you will find it very difficult to maintain a home life with all the advantages that has.


Last edited by FlyingGasMain; 1st Nov 2011 at 12:48.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 10:07
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SpecialBrew is corect as far as he went, but he should have added, Don't plan on your "Rock solid job" to be there after tomorrow, don't plan on being upgraded, or the fleet getting bigger.

In short, don't plan on anything!

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 10:10
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"Fractionals" are a name for airlines where the pilots fly really small aircraft, have to toss the baggage, and scrub and tidy up the interior.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 11:02
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My take is it, that there are not 2 similar jobs in this field of aviation.

I used to fly for air taxi companies for 17 years (3 fixed contracts, 14, 2 and 1 years duration) and now I do fly for a large coorperation. Iīve seen something like 8 (Iīve probably forgotten some) operations as a freelancer, and common thing was that they were different. Some are very strucutred, almost like an airline (if they still are !) and some are pure chaos. The rest is somewhere in the middle...

I still do some freelance for owners and other coorperate FDs and none is like the other.

Coorperate Aviation is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get... as one dude once said...
His dudeness is offline  
Old 31st Oct 2011, 14:55
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To qualify I am mostly familiar with this industry in the US but perhaps my remarks are relevant.

Some of these comments are fairly accurate, however, to a newbie the general tone might sound discouraging. Too bad, any job has a down side or ten, that's why we call it "work".

I've been at corporate aviation for 23 years. 3 jobs, at year 8 on current job; a GLEX position. All good jobs. All newish aircraft. Stayed in the same area the entire time. Worked for some very nice people who have all treated me with respect. Most other crewmembers I've worked with have been good team players but the 10% rule applies here as with anywhere.

It is assumed one can fly the plane safely. This is the easy part of the job.

The big thing with corporate, and the one thing some guys have a hard time adjusting to or coping with, is that the customer/boss/owner needs to be taken care of. We don't have to be a toady all day long but the job is defined by getting someone who's time is important to the destination as efficiently as we can. The guys who gripe about this are the same guys who don't understand this concept and usually those same guys bounce from job to job and make poor choices along the way. I've seen it many times and often hear it on this forum too.

I've never been an airline pilot but considering the state of that industry this decade, and the one before that, and the one before that... I'm glad.

Good luck.

Last edited by ksjc; 31st Oct 2011 at 15:19.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 18:33
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See all of the above.

There is no such thing as a "typical" corporate pilot lifestyle, the combinations of pay, T&C's etc varies a lot.
Personally, I've just flown 3 days in a row, and thats the first time i've done that since June 2008! The most i've ever flown is 250 hrs a year, & at the moment about 150 hrs pa. I like it that way. I fly an aircraft that is clean, both technically and hygienically. I'm only away 1-2 nights a month on average and if its a long stopover we usually come back pax on airline then fly out again when required. 2 jobs in 11 years with a bit of freelancing in between (not recommended)

Last edited by Private jet; 31st Oct 2011 at 18:44.
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Old 2nd Nov 2011, 17:07
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I fly corporate and it comprises everything besides the actual flying: flightplanning, organising catering, checking the bills, organising/monitoring maintenance events, cleaning the aircraft, update for e-charts/FMS etc.

As the meetings where we fly to are mainly from monday to friday, thatīs when I fly so the weekend is almost always free for social activities. The downside is that there can be weeks without flying! All in all, itīs ok!
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Old 3rd Nov 2011, 08:56
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One more...

...you get to see cool hotels and can enjoy that for 2-3 days! :-)

(I will start a new thread for that subject!)
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Old 3rd Nov 2011, 10:55
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I never know when I'm working, where I'm going or when exactly I'll be back and I love it.

Girlfriends rarely last more than six months though. THEY want to know when I'm working, when I'll be back and whether I'll be able to go to their friends dinner party with them in three weeks time
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Old 3rd Nov 2011, 11:03
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Being a corporate pilot certainly beats having a life !!
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Old 3rd Nov 2011, 11:37
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...you get to see cool hotels and can enjoy that for 2-3 days! :-)
Luckily no two jobs in our business are alike (as others have already pointed out). My job interview went something like this (after having flown for a small express cargo outfit for some time where you checked in for duty monday morning and never knew if you would be home again on tuesday, thursday or saturday...):

I: "Do you stay away overnight often?"
Future employer: "Rarely, maybe two or three times per year."
I: "OK, I'm your man then!"
Future employer: "Don't you want to hear about the salary?"
I: "No, you already told me everything I need to know!"

I hate staying in hotels. Always did. Regardless of the hotel. I haven't gone on holidays for ten years because I hate hotels so much.
On average I have less then three overnights per month (including the sim recurrents!). And few of them for my employer himself, only for the AOC-holder that manages "our" aeroplane and borrows us (the aeroplane and myself) when they need us (on very short notice, which is the only downside of my job).

And regarding the original question: One of the principal virtues of a corporate or business-aviation pilot is patience! If you don't have a lot of that, you will soon hate the job and the life that comes with it. Being able to wait patiently is an integral part of our work. For hours and hours and hours in some drafty and dark corner of an almost deserted airport building where you can keep the taxi stands in sight without freezing to death. Calling dispatch every half hour to delay the flight plan(s) and negotiate slots. And then being forced to do some "creative" paperwork to make it all stay within duty time limitations.

If you have a choice, look for a corporate employer who has placed his aircraft under an AOC. This takes away most of the paperwork from you and gives you some protection against excessive duty times.

Happy landings,
what next is online now  
Old 3rd Nov 2011, 16:55
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: germany
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Patience required!

I agree on that with whatnext: itīs not only the waiting when you are on the road (or rather in the air) but also you have to pass sometimes weeks or even months without flying because...new pilots doing their supervision or aircraft in maintenance longer than expected plus any other reasons.

In other words, you should not feel uncomfortable being home a lot doing nothing or even worse being in a room at your homebase doing nothing. It is rarely mentioned but this is the other extreme of being away all the time!
In my former company, a citation ultra was grounded twice, each time for five months due to mainteance reasons; fortunately, that was not the aircraft I flew on!

As already pointed out several times: each operation/job can be completely different!

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Old 5th Nov 2011, 12:09
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Some great advice - thanks for your input. I understand that no two corporate jobs will be the same but having had little knowledge so far of what biz jet work involves it all helped.
DarkSoldier is offline  
Old 9th Nov 2011, 16:58
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Join Date: Oct 2011
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It shakes out like this for me..

An airline guy is gone two to three weeks out of every month, corporate usually does a few overnights a month.

Who's banging their wives and girlfriends more?
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