It’s funny when I update my friends on what I’m doing at work, some of them immediately respond with “oh hello Captain!” or “so where have you flown? Is it fun to carry passengers?”.
The only thing that bugs me is that we’re not a captain yet, we don’t carry passengers, and we’re only flying around the local airport.
The truth is, it is going to take a very long and arduous journey before we can even carry passengers, let alone become a captain.
So here, let me share with you a little bit about my job…
The programme starts with the basic flying which tests one’s aptitude, and ground school in Singapore. The ground school leads up to a frozen Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). It is frozen because we wouldn’t have had enough flying hours to get the full ATPL. This phase lasts for about 6 months.
The programme then continues with full-time flying in Australia for about 9 months. Completing this, we will obtain the Commercial Pilot License (CPL), which technically allows us to charge people money to fly with us.
This is then followed by a jet training, also in Australia, which will take up about 4 months.
After this phase, we’ll serve as Second Officers in the company, which will take up another 9 months. This is the stage where we actually carry passengers in real commercial flights.
Only after this will we serve as First Officers, and after a couple years of flying and command training, will we become Captains. I don’t have the numbers for the number of years needed to become a Captain, but it probably takes about 10 years.
So adding up the numbers, it seems like it only takes 18 months to serve our first passengers, right? The thing is that this is the case only in ideal situations. The truth is that some trainings may be delayed or extended, say due to weather, for one batch, and this delay will snowball down to subsequent batches. In reality, the training leading up to the Second Officer stage where we start to carry passengers will take up about 2-2.5 years.
So there you have it. No I’m not a Captain yet, not until at least 10 years later, I’m still flying around the local airport, and no I haven’t carried any passengers yet. 🙂