My A320 and IR rating were about to expire so I went to Berlin to revalidate it. The first minutes were a bit odd as I was not use to fly anymore; for example, just adjusting the seat with the side levers or adjusting the arm rest felt bizarre. It took me maybe 5 minutes to be comfortable again recover my ‘habit’.
It felt so good to sit in a cockpit, even-though it was just a simulator! Every action came back quickly and I felt like it was yesterday that I was flying passengers. I was at ease during my simulator session because I’ve worked a lot during the 2 previous months. To be honest I didn’t study at all until the end 2020 and when I booked the sim for my revalidation it was time to get into it and get the dust away from the checklist! I used Microsoft Flight X with an add-on called Fly sim labs. It is quite old (graphics are not beautiful at all) but it is really perfect for training! The first time that I launched a flight I couldn’t remember anything. It has been 8 or 9 months since my last flight so I forgot most of the checklists, memory item and so on. I think it took me 3 hours to do everything in the right way to get the engine started. I was reading each step on the OM-B (Operations Manual) and reading more details in the FCOM (Flight Crew Operating Manual). It took me so much time to ‘re learn’ everything that I decided to study every Wednesday the manuals of the Airbus A320 and also to do a 2 hours sim, just to stay in the loop.
So what I did on the sim was something like: start in cold and dark (aircraft completely shut down), cockpit preparation, take off (sometimes with an engine failure set just after V1), shoot some approaches, VOR, NDB, ILS, RNAV etc. And maybe once per month I just did a normal flight from A to B just to do every actions that I would normally do every day at work. Doing this helped me a lot to prepare for my next sim that was booked at the end of the year 2021, but more on that later.
Summer 2021 was approaching and flights predictions were not that great but of course they were far better than 2020. In the end airline compagnies flew quite a bit during July and August but that was it. After the summer we saw the first signals that the market was slowly getting better and recovering, hopes were great for 2022. It started on LinkedIn where we saw some job offers; it was not a lot but it was a first since March 2020. Then companies started to slowly call back their former pilots but it was one by one. You could see LinkedIn post about pilots really happy to get back and looking forward to fly after one year off.
Then we saw companies hiring lots of ground personnel such as talent acquisitor, new hire coordinator, commercial executive, internal communication channel and so on. Even cabin crew jobs were offered!
My former company did the exact same thing so of course rumours started saying that the market is recovering, there will be hiring soon so the mental was positive, we were hoping for the best. COVID19 figures were getting low, it seemed finally under control. All of that was confirmed by an email that I have received, at the end of the summer. I was invited to an interview for a Hungarian low cost airline. So I studied a lot from the ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence), reviewed the technical parts of the A320 such has hydraulic, electric, failures etc. I had another morale boost when I received an email from my former employer asking if I wanted to join back the company in 2022. Basically it said that IF there was any opportunity (depending on COVID) they might call us back. But when and how many will be lucky to get a call? Will we all be joining back? But it was a good news and after one year and a half waiting, this email was a relief even-though it didn’t mean anything concrete.
There was almost zero job offer since the pandemic started (let’s say in March in Europe) until early 2021. I sent a few applications to airlines but I knew I wouldn’t get any answer. We were 15 000 pilots looking for a job.
In October and November, there were more and more offers; they were not great but it was something. At the end of the year I have sent around 30 to 40 CV throughout Europe and even some in Asia. Most of them I didn’t have the minimum requirement.
By the end of the year I was invited to 3 interviews; I had WizzAir, Eurowings and Aegean Airlines. In fact, I even had an interview with a French corporate company in September but I was not thrilled by it. I went to Paris to do the interview, just to get the feeling of it and to train myself, getting some experience in order to be better for the next interviews. I failed the interview because I didn’t want it, the conditions were really bad and I had a feeling that I will have better opportunities (I was right with the 3 interviews coming up!).
While preparing these interviews, it was also time to revalidate my licence (it is once a year). I was ready to do the simulator thanks to my Wednesday study routine! I went to the sim in Madrid this time. The examiner was a Captain of my former company and he was quite positive about our chance to get back with the company. There were some rumours that aircrafts will be added to some bases in Europe. Anyway, the sim went really great, thanks to my studies once a week, I felt really at ease. It went so well that we had some extra time to fly and prepare some failures or some approaches that we could have for the upcoping interviews.
2021 was almost ending when FINALLY, some pilots were called back from my company. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t one of the luck ones but a close friend of mine got the precious email! I was so happy for her and a bit jealous I must say. It was really good news and we were all excited.
But we saw that the COVID was not really over with the new variant. Will it be a setback for us? I guess I will have to wait early 2022. In general companies start to offer jobs around the end of the year up until February (more or less) that is when most of the offers I made, well that is what I have noticed. They are preparing for the summer season in advance in order to be ready.
Ready, I was. I was waiting, hoping to be called while studying and preparing the interviews that will take place in January and February.