Monday, May 09, 2005

From Mammal to Mammoth

I got in touch with my Air Canada mentor. (I could mammalize Air Canada, but it is just too mammoth, and mammoths don't burrow. It was once government-run and has never escaped from its bureaucratic underpinnings). He agreed with Steve Badger's assessment of my probable tenure at a small airline.

"Over the next couple of years," he told me, "Air Canada is going to hire six hundred pilots."

"How am I going to get operational IFR experience?" I asked, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.

"You'll get that on line," he said.

When he says "on line," he's not talking about a network of flight simulators on the internet. He means while actually flying a large Boeing full of passengers for Air Canada.

"Are you saying I could go from small piston airplanes to glass cockpit jets in one step?"

That's what he's saying. Current senior pilots came out of the bush with no IFR time and learned to fly jets in the 1970s. And no one can pretend that those new airplanes Boeing has on order are not easier to fly than DC-9s. He's serious. He doesn't think I should stress over the mammals, that I'll be hired straight out of where I am.

Sometime in the near future, you may be a passenger on a brand new airplane that is made of plastic and is flown by pilots who just learned to fly it (because it's brand new, and everyone just learned to fly it). The captain will be pushing sixty, and looking forward to retirement next week, while beside him is a first officer whose previous flying experience mainly involves airplanes that would fit in the baggage compartment. Enjoy your flight!


Anonymous said...

If passengers trust their lives to a commercial pilot flying as a one-person crew in simple (often single-engine piston) planes out of bush strips in all weather, where two heavy suitcases in the wrong place could spell disaster, why should they not trust the same pilot as part of a two-person crew in a huge transport jet with redundant everything, flying in and out of big, well-maintained airports with lots of support from ground crews and dispatchers?

It seems to me that your hardest flying is already behind you. If your skill and judgement are good enough for what you're doing now, they should be more than adequate for the right seat of an Air Canada jet in a year or two.

Anonymous said...

I'd be more than happy to know that you were up front when I'm with the cattle in the back.

Anonymous said...

Glass half full, that's the spirit!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, your personally drawn career roadmap didn't show the roadblocks on the apparently direct path along Mammal Parkway. Fortunately, you've reached a point where there are regular onramps to Air Canada Highway. Unfortunately, they're gated onramps. Fortunately, you have the key.

So says mentor guy, and I see no reason not to celebrate his advice. I wouldn't assume that "every two days" is the right tactic, but he should be able to help you there too.

Aviatrix said...

Hey anonymous, I'm supposed to be the one abusing the metaphors around here.

Yeah, he's in at work on Tuesday and is going to get back to me with names of the people to bug. Shall I make them ungulates, colours, or arboreal mammals?

Anonymous said...

Interesting trilemma. As much as I enjoy the word ungulate, of those three, colors strike me as most appealing.

silver horde said...

If I ever fly Air Canada, unlikely, I would like to know you were at the pointy end!!
I've only flown once with an aviatrix.
My FIL flew Concorde, sadly I never got the chance to fly with him. He drove my mini once, and forgot he needed to use the clutch to change gear,opps!!
ttfn Jane