Yeah! Is so excited to get this gentlemen on board to share with us more about the Pilot’s Life In The Cockpit. The Cockpit door is always lock and secure, so what is happening back there? Curious? Johan Farid Khairuddin; TV Host, Music Producer & Radio DJ now flying the Airbus A330 as a commercial airline pilot.
From Entertainment Showbiz to A Full Time Commercial Pilot.
What is it like in the transition?
The industries may seem very different but really it’s the same thing, if you look at it objectively. In the entertainment industry, I was always there to “entertain” and to make/keep people happy but by playing music (while on radio), or hosting tv shows etc — In the aviation world, as a pilot, I often do the same thing but with a different scope.
Flying airplanes aside (we are not just talking about safety and the technical aspects of flying), we are talking about the human element in this answer — pilots, although are paid to fly safely from point a to point b, we are also human and being human, we want to give our best “service”, to keep people happy. This is more than just “announcements”, this is about keeping passengers comfortable and giving them the confidence that they will always be in safe & trustworthy hands.
What is the most Misconception about being a pilot by the public?
This is a personal opinion because if you asked different people, they would have different misconceptions but, to me, the biggest misconception about pilots is — “we want to purposely delay flights.” It’s like, whenever there is a delay, or the pilot refuses to “take off now” or “land now”, although “other airplanes are taking off/landing”, apparently the pilots want to do this for the fun of it. This is far from the truth! Pilots have families too. We too want to get home to our families and want to do our job efficiently etc — but one of the (many) golden rules of flying is, to never let our emotions come between your airplane. Safety has been and will always be the number one priority. Example, if it takes 2 hours for a flight from point a to point b, but because of a thunderstorm between that journey, the pilots have to deviate another 30mins around it, there would have been a 30min additional time added on to that original 2 hrs right? Just imagine the repercussions for the returning sectors etc.
Pilots Life in Cockpit
How long before does a Pilot need to Standby / Prep prior to a flight at airport?
Different airlines have different policies, but usually when crew are on standby, they need to be at the airport in the “fastest” available method which is safest for everyone. No “speeding” on the highway etc yeah! Also, A rule of thumb is, 1 hour to get from wherever you are to home, 1 hour to get ready at home, and 1 hour to get from home to the airplane (not the airport) but again, that’s just a general rule for most airlines. And mind you, there are VARIOUS systems in place to make sure the crew being called up, is not having the whole airplane wait on him/her! Example, other crew assigned to go elsewhere can go to that earlier airplane and the crew coming to the airport can then replace that person etc. This is why operational centres have very tight procedures and policies to ensure smooth operations of an airline. Again, this is in general and in no way representative of any airline. This information is also widely available on the internet if you search for airline operational due diligence procedures etc.
- What is Actually Happening in the Cockpit during the entire flight from Point A to Point B?
So much. I don’t know where to start. The last thing you want people to think is that pilot’s fly with “auto pilot” so that there is nothing to do when in actual fact there are countless amount of items that need to be done as the flight progresses. As an example, and mind you this is just ONE of the millions of examples, “weather for alternates”. Pilots need to know that at every moment in time, “should there be a problem”, they need to know where to go and what to do and how long it takes to get there and how the weather conditions are at that destination plus the amount of fuel left etc. The list I just mentioned is not exhaustive and there a lot more to it than meets the eye (pun intended as this is in an email form), just know that many variables change when in flight and the pilots need to always constantly check to make sure that if something happens whether technical or non technical (example a sick passenger?), the plane can land safely and render the necccesary action to address the situation in the most safest and efficient manner possible.
Aside from Communicating with ATC, what else does a pilot do during cruising? Stretch and Chill Out?Thinking where to go once landed? Chat with Co Pilots? or is always a serious mood in the cockpit?
I think I explained most of this above and yes you are right except about the serious mood part. Situational awareness is a key trait to any good pilot. The ability to know whats going on “around you” even when you are not looking at things. Example, pilots could be having a conversation about an airport’s weather and maybe joke or two amongst themselves about the local cuisine etc — but when suddenly they hear something that is not right on the air traffic control radio (even at low volume), they pick it up and know whats going on. Another example would be to always be able to relax and breathe even when things seem as if it’s going bonkers, for example, when passengers start to get rowdy because we are running late and you know that no matter what the internal/external pressures are – you are not going to have anybody push you into a situation which is unsafe. Personally rather be late than have to go through a storm!
Define On Time Departure & On Time Arrival (is the moment of push back or take off / landed or parked at gate)? Does On Time effects a pilot performances review ?
On time departure is the time the airplane closes it’s doors and pushes back. On time arrival is when the airplane touches down. And the pilot’s performance review is based on fuel economy, green procedures etc — safety is EVERYONE’s responsibility so there are no “extra points” for being “extra safe”.
Flying required constant communication with ATC
Does ATC play a huge role in on time arrival / departure / emergency?
Air Traffic Controllers run the skies and their traffic management and constant communication with them is key. Arrival time and departure is set prior based on slots. However there are always other variable factors that will affect the arrival time and departure during a flight.
Have you encounter fun or problematic ATCs? how you go about it?
Flying general aviation, I have had controllers who have saved my life. I was in a small airplane flying alone when I had engine trouble. They took the time to “guide me” through the skies and point me in a more direct track (while clearing the skies) so that I could land with a priority sequence. So yes they are awesome.
How much / to what extend rights are given to a pilots to make decision during flights for best possible on time record or emergency management?
Pilots make the call. Lead by the captain. And input through various crew members including cabin crew, company, air traffic controllers etc. This is part of what we define as CRM – crew resource management. CRM is towards a safe and efficient flight. All the time.
In what is a hugely responsible job, what is the toughest part of being an airline pilot?
The constant study and self empowerment fact that I always want to improve, I always want to get better, I always want to be more efficient and stay safe — while having to raise a family. Haha
What’s your biggest annoyance when it comes to passengers?
I don’t get annoyed at passengers. We are in service industry and we should know how to manage our passengers. If the flight is expected to be delayed for instance, I always just apologise and explain why we were late. Each airline has its own policies and procedures for flight deck access however most of them are strictly off limits when in-flight
Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and individuals and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any airlines or government agency.