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Orescan: Moving to Corporate and Charter Jet Flying

The world of multitasking just got a whole lot bigger.


September 27, 2007
By Chris Orescan

Topics

Learning to fly light and medium jets for corporate and charter
airlines should be an easy transition for someone coming from the
on-demand charter world, or so you would think. The reality is that it
is a very different world from that of flying Air Taxi or even Commuter
operations in Canada and it comes with a whole new set of challenges. I
am not referring to basic flying skills such as how you conduct an
approach or rotate an aircraft off the runway, but rather the
operational side of the equation.

First,
the most obvious fact is that you’re dealing with very different
aircraft, some with very critical wings, much faster speeds, and
generally more advanced systems. You’re coping with high altitudes and
its associated weather and hazards such as CAT. Sadly, we have seen a
rise in the rates of runway overruns and CFIT accidents with these
types of jets; PDM skills, training or lack of training and a lack of
good role models are some of the major contributing factors here and
with the continuing demand for crews, I don’t see these rates
decreasing anytime soon.

The second biggest element is the type
of flying that you’re doing, namely nationally and internationally,
which introduces for many a whole new world of complications. You will
be faced with fairly new regulations and operations including RVSM
airspace, TAWS, transatlantic crossings, and required equipment; this
alone can keep a pilot busy trying to stay abreast of all the changes.
Security and terrorist threat have made air travel into other countries
much more challenging as well – customs and traveling into the U.S
alone can be a nightmare. It’s not that uncommon for different customs
offices in the U.S to require different documents or forms from one
location to another and that may change with the nationality of your
passengers. Failure to meet these requirements can result in fairly
hefty fines not only to the company but also to the PIC. Therefore,
flight and trip planning can become much more timeconsuming for the
crews of these types of jets (crews for the international airlines have
operations personnel to take care of these issues.)

There’s a
distinct difference between flying for a corporation which owns and
manages its own aircraft or a fleet, and that of a charter operator
which flies light to medium jets. Depending on the corporation, the
flying, just as the aircraft, can be quite varied: it may consist of
very localized or international trips; you may fly into new
environmental areas with related hazards such as, for example, very
high altitude airports (8000 or 9000 ft.), or near volcanoes with their
associated ash; you may fly quite regularly, or may fly as little as
ten to twenty hours a month. And, although you may fly very few hours a
month, you may still be away from home a great deal of time which can
be very taxing on your family life. As an old friend first told me,
“the bigger the aircraft, the bigger the suitcase you’ll need.”
Generally speaking, the larger, newer, more advanced corporate aircraft
travel further and thus you’ll find yourself away from home a lot.

On
the other side, flying for a charter operator, you will most likely be
exposed to a different variety of operations and situations such as:
fractional ownership, managed aircraft, airambulance, HOPE programs,
and flying multiple types of aircraft. With each of these situations
comes a set of unique challenges. Flying air-ambulance for example will
require you to be on call to transfer patients or organs to or from
other cities or countries, which allows for extended duty days of up to
seventeen hours in Canada. Depending on the charter operator and its
scope of customers, the trips will be varied and broad in nature: you
may be piloting oil crews one day, and a CEO or celebrity the next.

Just
as with corporate flying, the crew needs to be able to multi-task, and
they must develop the skills to wear different hats; they are
responsible not only for managing the aircraft, its systems and the
trip, but they also need to act as baggage handler, flight attendant,
server, aircraft groomer and information provider.

The
transition to flying light and medium jets for corporate and charter
airlines requires a whole new set of skills. However, it will be and
should be an enjoyable challenge – to become proficient at these new
skills and to take pride in doing a great job is very rewarding.