We recently caught up with a Captain for Air Europa Express to discover more about his career in military and civil aviation, what he loves about the job, and his thoughts about the future of the industry.
How long have you been a pilot? Tell us a little bit about your career so far.
I entered the Air Force Academy in 1988. I stayed for 15 years in the Air Force, atached to the 35th Wing and 45th Group flying VIP flights in Falcon and B707. In civil aviation, I flew for Air Nostrum ATR 500/600 and CRJ 200/900 for 13 years.
Currently, I fly for Air Europa Express as Captain, Instructor, Examiner & Fleet Supervisor in the Embraer 195. I’m ATR 42/72 500/600 SFI as well!
Did you always want to be a pilot?
When I was a child, my parents lived pretty close to Manises Air Base in Valencia, Spain – in fact, below the entering visual traffic of the Mirage III. I knew that the only thing I’d want to do was to be up there.
I studied hard to join the Spanish Air Force Academy and got in. I’m pretty lucky to have flown 1,2,3 & 4 jet engine aircrafts in my life in the military, and in civilian aviation.
What do you love about the job?
Nowadays, what I like most is to transmit my experience and knowledge of the last 33 years to the new generations of pilots. Standardise, train and check the pilots (in my company) is my job.
I’m proud of all my colleagues, their professionalism, and the interest they show, even in this difficult time we are passing through now.
What’s the hardest part about the job?
The time we spend separated from the family. Our sim is in Amsterdam or Gatwick, and our base is Madrid. I spend a lot of time in Amsterdam. It’s hard to be away from home, but the job I do is wonderful so it’s worth it!
If you weren’t a pilot, what profession do you think you’d be in?
If I didn’t enter the Air Force Academy, my plan B was to become an architect.
How do you manage to balance a demanding job and your home life?
Due to the Covid-19, sadly we don’t fly too much nowadays, maybe a couple days per month. I’m lucky to stay active because of the sims, but as I mentioned, the sim is far from home.
My wife is a purser in a different company, so she understands my job perfectly. She is in charge of doing the schedule/calendar on the fridge, to see who’s at home every day according to the roster.
Does being a pilot affect your relationships with friends and family? If so, how?
For sure. I love to do different things, such as ride my Harley during the midweek days. My non-pilot friends are only off on weekends – when I would usually work.
Would you encourage your children to become pilots?
I have three children and they are free to choose their own careers! The oldest one is becoming a lawyer, the second one wants to be a pilot, and the young lady wants to be a flight attendant like her mother – but these two are still young and they have time to change their minds.
I think that aviation is the best job that anyone can do, but it is true that labor conditions have been degraded a lot in the last 20 years.
What’s the one thing about being a pilot which no-one knows?
I think that we are the only professionals who are checked every 6 months! It means we must spend our whole life studying!
What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened to you during a flight?
I have had 5 engine failures- one of them with severe damage during rotation! At those moments you appreciate the training and preparation you get.
What is something you wish you’d known about the profession when you were starting out?
The complicated roster I have had. To wake up at 4 o’clock is very common in my roster, as well as night sessions in the sim.
Who did you turn to for advice throughout your career?
When I was 16, my father introduced me to a Lt Colonel that prepared me to enter the Air Force Academy. I had classes from 8:00 to 17:30 from the age of 18 to 22, to prepare me for the exams for the Air Force in a dedicated Academy. I was exhausted afterwards!
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I’m proud of being a Captain for the main authorities of my country when I was in the VIP Squadron. Nowadays, I love being a trainer and examiner at my company.
What are your thoughts about the future of the profession?
This is a very deep crisis and some things will change forever. Meetings for ratings and recurrent courses will probably stay virtual forever, and only sims will be essential.
A lot of pilots are unemployed nowadays – but people in general want to fly so as soon as everyone is immunised, Covid will hopefully be under control. Then, airlines will be start to contract pilots again – it’s important to be ready.