What Military Pilots Need to Know About Transitioning to a Commercial Airline

You’ve hit that mark in your ADF career, you know, the one when they “promote” pilots to a desk job.

Whether you’re a Fast Jet, Herc or PC9 pilot, most of you pretty much want to continue to fly, not always possible in the second half of your ADF career.

So 12-14 years in, many seek to transition into a commercial flying role.

I have had the pleasure of working with a great many of you, resulting in jobs with Air New Zealand, Qantas, Emirates, ANA and Virgin to name a few. Through that I have discussed in detail your areas of concern about moving into the civilian world.

Some of those concerns:

  • The difference in salary and benefits;
  • The recruitment process itself and thinking about it from the airlines point of view;
  • How your experience relates to the commercial aviation world;
  • Fitting into the team and culture of the airline Flight Crew;
  • Operating in a traditional multi crew cockpit (particularly for fast jet pilots).

All of those areas we address thoroughly when we prepare you for your Airline Assessment Day. Nothing there is a deal breaker. It is our role to provide the framework to ensure none of those areas disadvantage you as a candidate.

What I can say is, the calibre of ADF pilots is excellent.

Without exception, you learn easily and take direction well, you have well-developed communication skills and extremely high standards around training and hand flying. Most airlines appreciate and understand this, they do however, still require you to verbalise those things.

There is an old recruitment adage “we can see the ability is there, but if you don’t tell us, we cannot assess you”.

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Here are a few things to consider when going into your preparation:

  • Minimise the ADF lingo and acronyms;
  • Ensure you recalculate your military flying hours into commercial hours using the correct formula (your recalculated hours total should be on your CV);
  • Your experience does relate to an airline, it’s our job to help you define that;
  • The recruitment team is thinking “do I want to sit beside this pilot for 12 hours”, talk to us about building rapport;
  • The airline may require you to relocate, even if you have moved 12 times in the ADF, that is not their concern;
  • China Airlines may be paying the big bucks but they have changed their requirements and that excludes military pilots;
  • How you perform in the Group Exercise is crucial, get your strategy right;
  • They know you can fly an aircraft, the non-technical skills will get you over the line (ego maturity, broad mindset, customer focus and many more);
  • You may be entitled to CTAS funding through the ADF (“Career Transition Assistance Scheme”), look into it;
  • All airlines use the “behavioural interview technique”.

I could go on, but suffice to say, you make outstanding candidates and once you know what is required by the airline your ability to transition successfully will be excellent.

We are here to help and even if it’s just a chat, that’s ok.

Get in touch: Kirsty@pinstripesolutions.com

Kirsty Ferguson

Founder, International Aviation Coach and Author


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