So, maybe your saw my post yesterday about the fact that I’m having an interview with a BA pilot.
I just had it and have some answers for you guys:
- The hiring of pilots in the future and the BA Future Pilot Program
At the moment airlines are beginning to ramp up hiring of pilots. The problem for them is that many senior pilots are retiring. So for example BA who have 4,000 pilots, are expecting 1,200 of them to retire in the next 4 years. So they are looking to bring in 400-500 pilots a year. It seemed to me like they were getting quite desperate, as many other airlines are beginning to have the same problem. The BA FPP is also expanding, it essentially sponsors you through flight school (either in Oxford, New Zealand) and once completed they put you on a two month conversion course to their Short range airbus fleet. He said that places in the FPP will be increasing this year, by double. He also said that many people who get accepted in the FPP go on to fly for BA (80% of them) and to be accepted into the program requires you to have shown an interest in aviation. (Joining a local flying club) He did stress that having a private licences DOES NOT help you get selected to fly for British Airways and is very expensive. In addition to this if a job with BA is not available (although this is unlikely given the circumstances) you will probably start flying with BA Cityflyer and take another conversion to be able to fly the embraer aircraft.
A small note, for EU airlines you dont need to go to uni. The pilot I spoke to told me that just last week he flew on the 777 with a copilot who was 25. He joined the BA FPP at 17 years old and graduated to BA at 19, flying the A320. But the BAFPP stays open until you are 55.
- What is salary like and benefits
He told me to ignore what I have read on the internet regarding to this. The starting first officer salary at British airways is a whopping £50,000. This is the base salary. In addition to this you get £12 an hour while flying. So you could in your first year receive an extra £10K. And if the ariline does well during a period you also recieve a small share of the profit. In addition when in the longhaul fleet as he is they normally have stopovers. For e.g a LON-HKG route may in fact last up to 6 days. And during that time you get put up with an all expenses paid trip. In the Sheraton hotels (Located all around the world). In addition to this after 6 months of working you can buy 90% discounted fares + Airport taxes. This can be in any class (not first). Even if you buy an economy fair it is likely that you will get upgraded at the gate (if there is availability) as you know the gate workers. In addition F/O get 8 Single Free PE tickets a year and Captains get 8 Tax Free CW single tickets a year.
- Fleet Options
When you join BA normally you will start on the A319/20/21 You are fixed to this aircraft for 5 years. You may then:
- Stay on the short haul fleet and become a captain.
- Apply to train on a conversion to another larger aircraft. You become a first officer for 5-10 years and then become captain on that aircraft.
- You are able to convert to another aircraft after 5 years of serving on the previous one.
In regards to the BA1 and BA3 routes LCY - JFK there are only 5 crews that fly it. And it is based on seniority. So if you have just joined the airline you are number 4000. But if youve been at the airline for 20 years or whatever you may be number 1000. The BA1 and BA3 routes are usually flown by the most senior.
- Everything Else
Firstly he says that there are many misconceptions about pilots. They very rarely fly with the same crew and during those longhaul flights have relief crews. In addition while in the cockpit they often are serverd meals, but they still handle ATC/ avoid storms/ route plan/ monitor autopilot. They 777 itself has a very relaxing rest area. There a 6 seats in the area. All the equivalent to first class. Pilots may choose to sleep, talk, eat, watch movies.
When arriving in the morning for the flight they must be at the terminal 1.5hrs before departure and they meet in a crew centre. They discuss the route and then walk out through security. and into the terminal. They then walk to the gate and pass through using swipe cards. Then they inspect the aircraft, do a security check before welcoming people on board.
Also interestingly when you buy a ticket it will say a time on it for departure. However, this time is not the time that the aircraft takes off, but the time they aim to be off the gate and taxiing.
His personal preference was the LON-Cape Town route, but also likes flying to Hong Kong and New York.
Funnily enough I did ask him about infinite flight, and he was unsure about it at first. But he ‘suspects’ that his children may be playing it at home on his ipads.
This is all I can be asked to write at the moment. If you have any questions leave them below and I’ll answer!