Private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Private jet pilot versus airline pilot
30/04/2017 pilotpatrick
private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Time literally flies. In 2010 I began my aviation career as a first officer on a private jet and it is already a half a year ago that I started my new job on the Airbus A300-600. My line training is not yet over and continues for another 40 flight sectors. I take the upcoming Labor Day as an occasion to share my first impressions about the new cockpit job.

„The bad new times flies the good news you are the pilot“

airline vesrus business aviation

Private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Last December I revealed my new aircraft type to you and explained my reasons switching to a different employee. As much as I love the General Aviation, I decided to move on and to accept a new occupational challenge with a totally different operation. It was definitely a hard decision but in the end, I have to say that I decided correctly. As I promised to I will compare both types of operation and show you the differences of a life as a private jet pilot and airline pilot.

Flight hours

Airline

  • approximately 450 flight hours a year

Business Aviation

  • 250 – 500 hours

Usually, airline pilots fly more hours over the year. At my first job in the business jet company I only flew about 250-300 hours a year. This is about the average for this branch. Later I flew about 500 hours in one year on the Citation XLS+. (not common for this type of operation) Now I will fly about 450 hours in one year even though it is an airline. Especially low-cost airline pilots fly up to the maximum of 900 hours a year. This is great to gain flight hours in a minimum of time. The total flight hours entirely depends on the type of operation (private, charter, commercial) the airline is doing.

pilotpatric Citation XLS +

Citation XLS+ Private Jet

Destinations

Airline

  • network primarily within Europe
  • fixed routes and destinations

Business Aviation

  • flight primarily within Europe
  • always varying destinations
  • no fixed routes

As a private jet pilot, I got to know a lot of different airports within Europe. I have been to over 100 different airports. Since the performance of the smaller business jets allow landing at shorter runways you get to approach many more destinations compared to an airline pilot. The customer decides which route he wants to fly and where he wants to land. I think almost every duty block I flew to a new airport I have not been to. The advantage to a have a limited network is that you become much more familiar with the airport, which helps a lot during adverse weather and high workload conditions.

Sunset at Tivat airport

Schedule / Roster

Airline

  • Fix monthly roster with exact flights
  • Duty days stay but flight schedule may change
  • Publication of the new roster one month
  • ahead
  • Off days are your off days
  • Off request system
  • Additional off days over the year
  • Extra duty days are paid
  • Switching flights with colleagues possible

Business Aviation

  • Monthly roaster
  • No fixed flight only either duty day or off day
  • High flexibility expected
  • Publication of the new roster only shortly prior
  • Off days may be changed last minute
  • Off requests are possible
  • Company phone so they can reach you anytime
  • Ad hoc flights and daily flight schedule changes

Working in the business aviation requires you to be highly flexible during your duty days. You have to expect Ad hoc charter flight and last minute changes. The schedule itself is usually not as stable as the one of an airline. Now I have a monthly roster which shows me my flights and exact times and destinations. Previously I only had a roaster showing only stating duty or off.  Like in my previous company I am working maximum 7 days in a row. But I know from other business jet company where pilots work up to 20 days in a row. To sum it up you can plan your social life much better with an airline.

private jet versus airline pilot

A300-600 cockpit

Layovers and Hotels

Airline

  • Hotels and transport organized
  • Fixed crew hotels with discounts on food
  • Hotel room available for your entire stay
  • Usually only one night at a destination
  • Fixed duty check in times

Business Aviation

  • Hotels and transported organized by crew
  • Had to stick to check in and check out times of the hotel
  • Consecutive nights at one destination
  • Early crew reporting times

At first, I was a little overwhelmed that everything is already organized for you. Hotel and transport are booked by the company and after a flight, you leave the aircraft already 15 minutes later. This is quite relaxing if I compare to my previous job. After a day of flying, we had to book a hotel within in a budget ourselves.  Not easy during summer at a hot spot location. On the other hand, I liked it to decide in which hotel I was going to stay. This way we could decide if we stay in the city center or stay rather close to the airport to have as much rest as possible.

private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Layover in Helsinki April 2017

Aircraft and Training

Airline

  • Wide-body Airliner (170t)
  • Complex aircraft
  • Extensive training
  • Extensive documentation
  • Regular Simulator flights

Business Aviation

  • Small business jet below 10 tons
  • Less complex systems
  • Training on type

I am feeling honored having the chance to fly the legendary A300-600. The aircraft is complex with its numerous systems. An extensive training including a type rating is necessary to be able to fly the aircraft. The airline puts a lot of emphasis on well-trained cockpit crew. Therefore every pilot goes to the simulator two times a year. I have the impression that the documentation is more extensive and all guidelines are written down.

At the beginning of my career I did all my checks on ferry flights, so the company wanted to save on expensive simulator flights. But the training effect was definitely not as good as in the simulator. As I mentioned before the weight category of aircraft is important for one’s aviation career. That is why accepted the new occupational challenge on the big Airbus. The A300-600 needs to be flown very precisely. Especially the landing feels different since you sit up much higher and approach the runway at the faster speed.

pilot interview advices

A300-600 engines

Conclusion

I have to emphasize that I am only talking about my personal impressions and opinions. The operation of another airline might sound totally different and fellow pilots would share with you a completely different opinion.

For planning reasons, an airline pilot life is the better choice. Your duty schedule is more consistent and you can plan with off requests days better ahead. This gives your social life a better quality. In the business aviation, I liked the fact that I flew to much more destinations and that I sometimes did not know where will be on the next day. I really loved those surprises.

On the other hand, a much more stable roaster lets you plan your rest time during layovers much better. In 6 years business aviation I only visited downtown London only twice, even though I stayed there 100+ nights. Either there was not much time or I did not know when the next flight was going to be, so I was on standby in the hotel. Now I know my exact departure time which already allowed me to do sightseeing in Paris and London.

There is a lot of waiting time in the business aviation. Either for the passengers, the fuel, for the hotel room, next flight, or the taxi. This can be quite tiring. I liked the fact that you could wait and rest in VIP lounges. The preparation time in the private aviation is much longer and after the last flight, you can not leave the aircraft straight away. You still need to get everything back in shape again and maybe refuel this can take up to an hour. Additionally, in the business aviation, you have to go on many more commercial flights to start your duty where ever the jet is currently located.

In my opinion, an airline makes you a better pilot, since the training is more extensive and the standards are set to a higher level. The operating procedures are laid out in detail so every pilot operates the aircraft in the same way. In the business aviation, I have seen pilots which were not strict about procedures and interpreted regulations their own way.

In my opinion, the life of an airline is much more relaxed since a lot is already done and organized. Honestly speaking I can not tell which operation I favor because they are so different, but I admit that I definitely miss some aspects of the business aviation.

Let’s see how my point of view will be a couple of months later.

Which operation would you prefer? Airline or Private jet?

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

 

 

17 Comments

  1. Robert 7 months ago

    Always nice to read your stories! I wanted to be a pilot too but because my mathematics was not that good I had to skip my dream…. That is why I like to read your stories
    Hope there will be lots of beautiful pics too!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 months ago

      Hello Robert,
      thanks a lot you are enjoying my post. That is sad to hear. I hope you achieved some other great profession that makes you happy.
      Happy landings and sorry for my late reply.
      Patrick

  2. Natasha 7 months ago

    i enjoyed the detailed report you have provided in this current blog. I am a fan of travel but if I were to imagine being a pilot I would chose to start with the big commercial airlines and then go with a private company. In my line of work no two days are alike and I can be in a different location so I think being a private pilot would work for me. Have a good day!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 months ago

      Hello Natasha,
      two very different operations in the same industry. But both have their advantages and disadvantages.
      Great that you enjoy traveling.
      Happy landings again 🙂
      Patrick

  3. cristiane bento 7 months ago

    Simply loving your blog work,l have admiration for you,l intend to get there too✈️

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 months ago

      Hello Cristiane,
      awesome to hear. All the best for your career. If you have questions please let me know!
      Happy landings
      Patrick

  4. Polina 7 months ago

    Hi, Patrick!
    I’m not the first this time…(
    This time the article is so huge and it is a lot of information!! You are well done!
    It’s great that you have a choice and you can choose what is best for you.
    „The bad new times flies the good news you are the pilot“ is a very good quote, it gives me food for thought.
    You wrote this quote in a very needed moment for me. Thank you so much)))
    Good luck, Patrick!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 months ago

      Hello Polina,
      thanks for your nice comment. I simply love this quote and I wanted to share it with you.
      All the best to you and please let me know if you have any further questions!
      Happy landings
      Patrick

  5. Maria 7 months ago

    Hello! I really enjoyed the details you give in this report.I aprreciate that you give advices from your past experience.I am also pilot,but a liitle one.I just get my PPL license ,and enter the ATPL frozen course.I am only 18 years old and I am a girl so that I like to know more and more about my future job.
    I would really aprreciate if you would give me some training advices.

    Great landigs!!
    Have a nice day!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 months ago

      Hello Maria,
      that’s awesome to hear. I love to fly the small airplanes as well! I try to help you as much as you can. In case my blog posts do not answer you questions please let me know. Then I will write one with a specific answer or I leave a comment.
      Sorry for my late reply this time.
      Happy landings!
      Patrick

  6. Yasmin 6 months ago

    Hi Patrick, I want to be a pilot. After high school, should I go to the pilot section? After finishing school, do I have to take flight training? What makes more sense?(sorry, I don’t speak english well)

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 months ago

      Hello Yasmin,
      I did not understand your question. I think you mean if you should go to flight training after high school or continues with college first.
      If you are still young and have time and money I would suggest that you finish a degree before you start your flight training. You definitely have to improve your English skills. This English is the number one in aviation!
      Hope I could answer your question. Happy landings!
      Patrick

  7. Amelia Mareta R. 6 months ago

    Hi, Patrick.. I am Amelia from Indonesia. I grew up in Aviation Family.. My mom and her relatives work in Aviation.. But, I did not take any class or aviation school.. I am a bachelor of psychology and just finished my master degree of Economy & Tourism Management.. And I have been working in Airport since 2013 until now. Its hard for me to change my mind from medical stuffs into aviation stuffs.. Right now, i am working as a safety inspector and officer (Airport Safety Management System & Occupational Safety Health) in Ahmad Yani Int’l Airport of Semarang-Indonesia. And i would love to ask about aviation and learn it from others 🙂
    today, 08.07.2017 I held a meeting of Runway Safety Team.. we discussed about One Wheel Lock of Main Gear.. we are now doing overlay of our tarmac. We only have 1 turning area that is concrete in RW 31. But we found that we got damage on our tarmac in RW 13 because mostly pilot do one wheel lock. Our RW width is 45m.. I want to ask you about :
    1. Why does pilot do one wheel lock?
    2. Is it ok if they did not do one wheel lock in main gear?
    3. Is it possible for them to do turning in width 45m of my runway? Or they need more width?

    I would love to hear your answer to help me get more knowledge as I told you above that I dont have any skill from Aviation..

    Danke, Patrick 🙂

  8. Amelia Mareta R. 6 months ago

    And we already wrote the regulation in our AIS.. that pilot doesnt allow to do one wheel lock.. but they still do it.. so we asked, why…

  9. Mav 5 months ago

    Can I order a poster of you in your uniform to hang on my wall?

    It would be so cool.

    Thanks!

  10. Amos Jaison 4 months ago

    Hello pilot Patrick sir,
    This article is very helpful to have an idea about the difference between the private and commercial airline.
    Thanks for your work..
    As an aspiring pilot your article and lifestyle inspired me a lot.
    May God bless you in your career..
    Happy landings…..

  11. Markus 3 weeks ago

    Great post.
    I have a PPL with total of 220h.
    After a long career in the digital design field (I am 46), I am considering to follow my passion and become a commercial pilot.
    I am quite intrigued flying private jets, rather than airliners.
    In a nutshel, what steps would you recommend and what timeline and costs you reckon am I looking at.

    Liebe Grüsse
    Markus

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