Air taxi versatility poses piloting dilemma

July 11, 2017 in News for Clients

Air taxi versatility poses piloting dilemma

King Air - Air Taxi

Air taxi services are a key column of corporate and VIP aviation (CVA).

Versatility is probably the sector’s most notable asset for customers. But, it’s this same feature that makes adequately staffing an air taxi provider with skilled pilots a challenge.

Let’s take a look at the factors that make air taxi pilot hiring so different from other fields of commercial aviation. And, how air taxi providers should approach pilot recruitment to ensure the best results.

What makes air taxi services so different?

Air taxi services are a subset of CVA that focuses primarily on short-haul flights on demand.

The size of the aircraft is usually smaller, with light jets, propeller-driven planes and helicopters making up the majority of the global fleet. This provides access to a larger portion of airports due to the increased accessibility of smaller aircraft.

What constitutes an ‘air taxi’ in terms of aircraft type differs worldwide. In many countries, this definition includes all:

  • Commercial single-engine aircraft
  • Multi-engine helicopters flown by one pilot under day visual flight rules (VFRs)
  • Multi-engine, piston aircraft with nine or fewer passenger seats and a maximum take-off weight of 8,618kg or less

The sector’s unique selling point is the degree of choice it offers customers, who can select their preferred aircraft, flight times, departure/arrival locations and in-flight services. In fact, larger providers frequently oversee fleets containing comfortably more than 100 different aircraft types. This can be especially useful for business travelers who cannot access a traditional airline route.

On top of this, air taxi pilots are expected to be versatile enough to adapt to last minute scheduling changes and requests, as well as providing a VIP-grade on-board service.

How should air taxi providers approach pilot recruitment?

All this means that you’ll probably have your work cut out if you’re ever tasked with hiring new air taxi pilots.

But, by keeping a handful of fundamentals in mind, you can optimise this process and keep your pilot roster brimming with talent. These are some of the key traits to watch out for:

Type Ratings

Start by auditing your fleet to check how many pilots are able to fly each type or class of aircraft. Identify where your need is greatest, and focus on finding applicants with the relevant type/class rating.

Applicants who hold multiple type ratings are the most valuable by far, as they give you scope to operate with added flexibility.

Adaptability

Look for pilots familiar with the CVA model, or those who have demonstrated an ability to work flexibly, and at short notice. Ideal candidates will be low-hour pilots who have recently qualified and completed training to a high standard. They will be keen to develop and build their experience and appreciate the flexibility required by a CVA company.

They should be willing to regularly work over weekends and holidays and show high levels of flexibility, especially during the summer months. But, they should also be able to sustain themselves during the off-season.

Experience

Air taxi pilots require as little as 150 hours but likely to have reached at least 200 hours. But, more experienced staff are more likely to be able to deliver the level of service your VIP passengers expect.

The person in the cockpit should have the people skills and professional manner needed to put your passengers at ease. Look out for pilots with previous experience in related sectors, such as air tour operators.

Recruiting the right blend of air taxi pilots to keep your fleet in the air and your customers coming back for more is a balancing act. But, by using these simple tips, you can start to make the process easier.

Call on AeroProfessional to gain access to a pool of qualified, pre-vetted pilots with all the skills needed to look after your VIP clients.

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