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So you want to be a corporate/charter pilot?

Career profile by Jock Williams – first published summer 2002

Learjet 25

Jock Williams with Skycharter’s Lear 25 at Pearson International. (portrait by Mike Barrett)

CONGRATULATIONS! By making this decision, you have chosen to immerse yourself in one of the most diverse and challenging areas of Canadian aviation. You have created for yourself the possibility of flying into far more interesting airports and localities than any of your scheduled airline colleagues and of operating a wider variety of aircraft types. Much of the boredom potentially implicit in repetitive operation over the same routes will be removed. The opportunity to meet exceptional people and to work in conditions of greater personal satisfaction will be enhanced. You will emerge a better pilot and a more rounded individual.

Isn’t that what aviation is all about and why you got started as a pilot in the first place? Or had you forgotten?

It’s always difficult, and perhaps ill advised to generalize. And in attempting to discuss most aspects of corporate/charter aviation in one article, the subject encompasses a field of aircraft ranging from the Piper Navaho to the Bombardier Global Express, destinations from Iqaluit to Vancouver, and clients who include the executives of small but growing corporations to the richest individuals in the country. Still, there are obvious comparisons to be drawn and differences to be highlighted.

The flyers
Obviously, to get started in this industry a minimum requirement is the possession of a commercial licence, an instrument rating and a multi-engine rating. Sure, you might get a VFR or a single-engine-only position, but it is unlikely that any pilot would long wish to accept the limitations that either of these restrictions would place upon a career. On the other hand, doubtless there are island-hopping jobs to be had in the Bahamas or equivalent areas that would demand no more than the single-engine land rating that comes with the most basic licence.

In Canada, however, with our often inclement weather, sometimes short daylight periods and often rugged terrain, most clients are likely to demand the multi-engine reliability the manufacturers advertise, and the dispatch flexibility offered by IFR operations. So, you will need the multi-IFR rating to get in the door of a potential employer. Also, the more hours of flying experience, the better.

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