In our post “Air France opens selections again, should I apply ?”, we established that applying for Air France was a no-brainer for a low hour pilot. But what about the more experienced ones of us ?
Indeed, the matter may be more complex as one will have to wait for 10-15 years for an upgrade… and then, how much will one have left to enjoy the end of one’s career in the left hand seat ?
So the question really is linked to your personal situation. Your actual experience, your age. Whether you’re already a Captain / have already been a Captain or not, and whether being one soon again is critical to you, whether you’re a military pilot and have never flown civilian before, and more broadly, what your personal goals are.
If you’re at the end of your career, and have pretty much done everything there is to do : Been a large jet Captain, done a bit of instructing… well you’ve done it already. Being a co pilot at Air France will, mostly, be easy and in fact probably quite relaxing most of the time. You’ll ace your sim whilst the Captain will be the one working the hardest, and all will be well. You’ll bring home a nice financial package, even as a copilot, and more importantly, one you’ll know you’ll be able to keep until you’re 65… I’d say it’s a pretty good deal.
Now of course, depending on which airline you’re coming from, some of their working practices may surprise you. Extensive handlyfing and the use of visual approaches, which we all know generate a lot of ASRs, are more common at Air France than in other airlines. This may not be overly comfortable at first.
Whilst all this hand flying continues, with varying degrees of success as we could see from the B777 incident on April 6th, the pilot culture of the airline itself is conversely excellent. Air France listens to its pilots. And they have been asking to preserve the ability to handfly and still “be pilots”. Air France has kept pilots in the center of its equation and this is commendable. As a pilot, I’d much prefer to be focal to the airline’s interests, than to be managed, broadly speaking, in accounting terms.
The issue of handflying is not the center of the debate here… personally I feel that mastering the automatics is not easy, and is equally if not more important. The optimal solution is probably in the middle, and allowing civilian pilots to have access, like their military counterparts, to the simulator as much as they want for practice….
This opens the discussion to our military readers. For the most they will be in their mid-30s or early 40s… they’ve had amazing careers and transitioning to civilian will be an exercise requiring time and patience. I feel that 10 years in the right seat at Air France after 15+ years in the military is probably a good deal. It will also offer their families much better stability than, say going to Ryanair and hoping for a fast upgrade, only to change bases constantly, or even worse, going for a second row airline and destabilizing one’s family life. Also, Air France welcomes military pilots very well. I feel that whilst those pilots could adjust anywhere, Air France is such a good fit. We love military pilots at ASP, we love to hear of their experience and their amazing stories. I could only recommend they come and visit us for an ASP course and prepare their selection with us.
We’re looking forward to meeting all of you.