Pilots are highly trained individuals who have a broad range of skills and attributes which enable them to carry out their duties to the highest of safety and quality standards.
Skills acquired through aviation are unique for a number of reasons, but the most intriguing thing about them is that it can be difficult to explain the skills to someone who isn't involved in aviation. After all, how easy is it to explain the skills involved in manually flying an ILS into a low minima airport, on a gusty day with low visibility? Those involved in flying know what it takes to handle such an environment, but it can often be difficult to quantify and single out the skills involved. The key is to analyse a specific task often completed in the cockpit, and think about what is involved in that. For example, in the aforementioned ILS, whilst manually handling the aircraft, the skills being shown here are; a high level of hand-eye coordination, the rapid scan involved in controlling the descent which shows immense workload management, and teamwork & leadership demonstrated in the monitoring of the pilot flying, and completing checklists as a crew in a Multi-Crew environment.
Whether it's at 35,000ft over Europe or 35ft in a 2nd storey office, these skills can be transferred over to the 'outside world'. They are a group of very Trainable individuals, which is one of the many invaluable skills a Pilot possesses. This enables them to learn processes quickly and effectively, take on feedback well, improve and carry out their tasks to the highest of standards. They understand that the learning process never stops, whether a cadet fresh into training, or a senior captain with thousands of hours of experience.
We have witnessed the chaos and heartbreak caused by the Covid situation, in that many quality pilots having been taken away from their seats in the sky and forced into looking elsewhere for work. Any organisation that takes on a pilot as an employee will gain a useful asset and be rest assured that they have a well rounded, intelligent and proactive team member on their hands.
Communication - Being a Pilot requires the highest levels of communication so that an open atmosphere of communication is fostered and everyone is on the same level. Pilots need to be able to voice their opinions confidently and precisely, as well as being great listeners so that the information received can be processed well in order to maintain a safe and optimum environment, even under stressful situations. This is regardless of if it is liaising with fellow members of the Flight Deck, the Cabin Crew, Passengers, Ground Personnel or Air Traffic Control. The high level ability of being able to voice, listen and process is one which will prove invaluable to any working profession.
Leadership & Teamwork are crucial in a flying environment because being able to work well with your colleagues is conducive to safety and harmony. The aviation industry is a chain made up of many links, and all must be connected and in sync for everything to work smoothly. Excellent teamwork and leadership will ensure that workload management is of the highest standard and that each Pilot's capacity limit isn't being reached. This will contribute to situational awareness being maintained. Pilots are able to spot signs of high workload and communicate this to their colleagues so that workload levels are balanced. On an airplane where there is a big steel door which separates the cockpit from the cabin, teamwork between pilots and cabin crew is vital to ensure that everything on that aircraft is running smoothly. Leadership is not just something that is associated with captains, but first officers too, because they must be ready to take charge of the situation if needed. On many sectors where the First Officer is the pilot flying, they have to demonstrate leadership and assertiveness when managing their flight. Captains have the highest levels of leadership qualities, which is why they are in charge of being in command of an aircraft, passengers and Crew. In any job which requires either or both leadership or teamwork, Pilots will be very well suited.
Problem Solving is part and parcel of flying, because situations can change without much or zero notice, and pilot must be ready to quickly, yet without rushing, diagnose, assess and rectify the situation, while safely flying and navigating the aircraft. A whole array of issues can crop up, whether on the ground or in the air, and the ability to think fast, and find the best and most appropriate resolve is vital for the safe and effective management of the flight. It could be a thunderstorm up ahead, technical issues or a medical incident onboard that requires a diversion. As you can imagine, there isn't any room in the air for pilots to be "umming" and "arrring" not knowing what to do. This skill can be transferred seamlessly into a ground based working environment across any profession.
Being able to remain Calm Under Pressure and not succumb to stressful or high workload situations is valuable in order for Pilots not to act hastily, ineffectively or make panic decisions. There are measures and procedures for anything which pilots face during a flight, and knowing how to apply these appropriately will provide a safe situation. It could be a technical fault, a delay, lost baggage, weather diversions or last minute changes to the flight plan. This is where Flexibility And Adaptability proves useful as well as both complement each other nicely and ensure that no matter how quickly things can be throw at you, the situation can be approached in the correct way.
Ability To Follow Procedures is important as having a well structured set of procedures ensures safety and effective operations, and having the strict discipline and understand in following them enables there to be standardisation, therefore everyone will be reading off the same script. It means that any Pilots can fly together for a flight with the knowledge that the operation will be conducted in the required way set out by the operator. This is also vital in case a pilot strays from procedure and the other pilot/pilots can spot it and challenge. It ensures that there are several layers of safety.
Any workplace has in place a range of procedures which the company goes by, such as methods of operation, customer service, health & safety and legal regulations etc, and knowing how to follow these with discipline, yet being able to deviate from them in the interests of safety is important. It is a 'common goal' principle.
A Pilot without excellent Time Management may as well not be a Pilot at all. To put it short and sweet, in aviation, time equals money and reputation. This applies across the whole profession, in every department.
For a flight, an On-Time departure is imperative to achieve the smooth running of the whole operation of an airline. Everything is reliant on the 'Critical Path' (assigned timings from crew brief to aircraft departure) being adhered to as even any minor delays can have a huge knock on affect further down the line, so a couple of minutes here, can add up to a couple of hours later on, or even a cancelled flight if an air traffic slot is missed. Whether or not it's an early morning start or a late night start, punctuality is vital.
In a cockpit environment, Multi-Tasking is needed so that a variety of tasks and objectives are handled and various flight parameters are achieved and maintained. This could be talking to various ground and crew personnel prior to departure, whilst organising the flight computers, or on approach to landing where the Pilot flying is handling the speed, attitude, altitude and flight path of the aircraft to ensure a safe approach and landing. Multi-tasking also has to be done under various high pressure situations as well, but also this brings us back to the teamwork and leadership part where if things get too much to handle, it is good practice to delegate tasks to your colleague and thus promoting optimal workload management. In any working environment and even in everyday life, multi-tasking is a skill that is invaluable.
Airline specific training requires Pilots to undergo basic First Aid Training prior to commencing employment, and is usually refreshed every year during recurrent training. This includes CPR and using a Defibrillator machine. It goes without saying that having the knowledge of First Aid is greatly useful both within and outside of a working environment.
As you can see, all of these skills can be useful in any workplace, and the list is not exhaustive, but these are the main skills. By breaking down flying into tasks and the skills involved in said tasks, it becomes easier to start to extract key words and skills involved in day to day life, which are imperative to a standout CV (both aviation and non aviation roles).They are all related and inter-connected, regardless of what role is being undertaken and be used in everyday life and not just in a workplace environment. It can be rest assured that a Pilot will approach a task or situation with calm, diligence, open-mindedness and professionalism. This is why those who have flight crew experience will fit into many job roles very well, quickly integrate and contribute to the process safely, efficiently and expeditiously. You could also reverse the process and search for skills required for non-aviation roles, such as Sales, Customer Service or Management, and immediately notice that they're ones which Pilots have acquired from training and employment. You'll find more than you think!
Below is a list of many of the Behaviours and Attitudes, in addition to the above Skills, which Pilots possess, that are conducive to both a Flight Deck environment and any workplace environment.
Confidence, Resilience, Empathy, Self-Awareness, Attention to Detail, Humility, Desire to Learn, Situational Awareness, Intelligence, Decisiveness, Passionate, Self-Discipline, Technically Minded, Proactive, Innovative, Quick Thinking.
Also, break times will seldom be boring as pilots usually have interesting flying stories to tell!
Thank you for reading,
Varon & Sahir