By Melissa King
A flying-mad British Airways Cabin Crew member hopes that his piloting career will take off, and follow his life-long dream of sitting in the left-hand seat of the cockpit in a passenger airliner.
Michael David Loasby from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, began training for his pilot licence in March 2013, and obtained his full licence in January 2015. He describes the difficulty newly qualified pilots have finding jobs in the flight deck, and his personal difficulties that set back his desire to fly passenger aircrafts.
“I learnt to fly with CTC Aviation, now renamed L3 Airline Academy. I can fly the Diamond DA42 and the Piper PA-28.”
He said, “Getting a job in the cockpit can be very difficult. For some it takes a matter of weeks, but for others, you can be waiting years!” Experience is crucial in the industry, with most airlines requiring experience to get a job, despite a shortage of pilots in the aviation industry. “Once you get the first job and get experience, its plain sailing from there, but whilst you have little experience, it’s very difficult.”
The aviation industry is struggling to supply pilots, and not meeting demand for them. Airliners, such as Ryanair, cancelled 20,000 flights after admitting they did not have enough pilots to fly all passengers without significant delays, due to arguments over working conditions and pay. Aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, has warned that 558,000 commercial pilots will be needed globally by 2034, equating to an extra 28,000 extra jobs a year.
The 24-year-old struggled to pass examinations, stating that illness and his youth affected it. “I joined the course pretty much straight out of school, aged 19. A few months in I got really bad tonsillitis. I then got complications from it and ended up having a heart condition called myopericarditis.” Fortunately, Michael made a full recovery from this condition.
Despite making a recovery, Michael was put onto a new training course, due to his failed medical. “I lost my medical for several months, and got put on a new course, and was studying by myself, which was difficult, and made my performance suffer as a result.” He also adds, “I think if I was older, and didn’t have these issues, I would’ve performed a lot better.”
In order to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), or a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), it can cost over £100,000. Some airlines, however, offer financed training themselves. Training can often take two years, and pilots are required to have qualifications, as well as 150 hours of flying time. Qualifications include: The Integrated course, providing flight simulation and classroom
theory work, or Modular training, which is similar to the Integrated course, but carried out in separate sections.
Finding it difficult to get a job in the flight deck, Michael cemented his love of flying, and is currently a member of British Airways Cabin Crew. Michael began his Cabin Crew career at Thomson Airways, now TUI. “I saw that Cabin Crew was being advertised. I applied off the cuff, and ended up getting the job. I worked on a summer contract. I really enjoyed the job, and made lots of connections that will hopefully get me in the flight deck!” He then applied for British Airways once his contract with Thomson Airways ended.
Although his dream is to become an airline pilot, Michael enjoys his job as Cabin Crew. “The best part is the people you work with. A trip you go on can be made with a good crew. For me, the best place I’ve been to is Shanghai. I love looking at my roster and be surprised where I’m going to. Although, a nine day Singapore-Sydney would be something I’d be really excited about getting!”
Cabin Crew is not all glitz and glamour, as Michael revealed that he has had some problematic passengers. “There was a group of lads on a lad’s holiday to Majorca. They were mouthing off and swearing at the crew, and drinking their own alcohol. We confiscated the alcohol and warned them of their behaviour. If they continued, we told them that we would have to issue a Condition of Carriage document. They stopped after that.”
In his spare time, Michael enjoys “watching football, playing golf, and embarrassingly, playing flight simulator.” Michael has a deep passion for flying, regardless whether he’s sitting in the cockpit, the jump seats for Cabin Crew, or behind the screen on the computer flight simulator.