Furloughed airline pilots are taking jobs flying private jets. Now, they have to adapt to a reality of carrying wealthy passengers’ bags.

Private jet

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Furloughs in the airline industry are forcing pilots to find new work in other aspects of aviation, including flying privately-owned aircraft. 

Private aviation is in the midst of an expansion that’s seeing aircraft operators invest in more planes to bring in a new market of first-time private flyers who are abandoning first class thanks to the pandemic. A fleet of new planes requires more pilots to fly them and as the airlines contract during the downturn, private firms are looking to hire former airline pilots with plenty of experience. 

It may seem like an easy transition since flying a plane is the same whether it be for an airliner or private charter company, but the workload and lifestyle couldn’t be any different. Instead of flying a plane full of passengers, a private aviation pilot caters solely to the wealthy and powerful, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s a challenging job that requires a pilot to go above and beyond, at times, according to Sean Scialfa, a 31-year airline pilot who has spent time on both sides of the industry. Unlike the airlines, private aircraft pilots deal with problems head-on and face to face instead of from behind a locked cockpit door and through a public announcement system.

Here’s how flying private aircraft is different than flying for the airlines.

1. Wearing many hats

Pilots on this side of the industry are very much the face of the operation and frequently interact with guests, which is why private aviation CEOs look for pilots with personality and a customer-service oriented attitude. It’s not a job where pilots can show up a few minutes before boarding and not speak to a passenger the entire flight.

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When an airline pilot shows up at the airport, the expectation is not to greet passengers in the gate area before a flight, scan their tickets, and load their bags for them. All that is done by the army of support staff that airlines employ to service any given flight. 

But those tasks are routinely performed by a private aircraft pilot who typically arrives at the airport about an hour before their flight to prep the aircraft, which can include getting it fueled, stocked, catered, and cleaned. Once the passengers arrive at the plane, it’s the pilot’s responsibility to cross-check their identification with the manifest, load their bags, and even give the safety briefing if there is no cabin attendant for that flight.

2. The cockpit door is always open

Access to the cockpit on a commercial airliner became highly restricted after September 11, 2001. Cockpit doors were reinforced and locked to prevent any undue entry and only opened if the crew needed to use the restroom or receive their meals with no passenger access to the flight deck on most flights.

On the private side, however, the cockpit doors are normally left open. Passengers can see everything that’s going on and come visit during the flight. Some private aircraft don’t even have cockpit doors with most light and propeller aircraft, namely, having open …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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