Matthew Ross AMRAeS – EASA fATPL(A), Time-Critical Charter Executive at 26AVIATION & Senior Flight Ops

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Matt Ross – Background

After finishing my A-Levels in 2015 I decided not to go to university and instead applied for an apprenticeship in Newcastle with a small business jet operator called Naljets. I didn’t really decide not to go to university so much as my results decided for me. I started working in flight operations and instantly loved it. We had a small fleet based in Newcastle and Leeds and the business was small and family-like. Over the course of 18 months I had the opportunity to learn all about the corporate jet industry, which was a shock to me as I had only ever dreamed of flying for an airline – now that was changing I was enjoying seeing my friends and colleagues fly around Europe on a completely ad-hoc basis. In 2016 the management team started a flying school based at three airports in the North of England; I worked in a dual-role, splitting time between the business jet operation and the newly formed ATO.

It was at this time that I started training for my PPL, after work and on weekends. In Feb 2018 I passed my skills test and spent that summer hour building, flying all around the UK mostly, but I also ventured to France and Italy. I started my ATPL theory in September 2018 and sat my first exams in April 2019. At this point I was pretty worried because the last exams I had taken were my A-Levels which I wasn’t too proud of. At around the same time as I sat my first exams, the business was taken over by Air Charter Scotland and the business jet operation grew substantially. I worked as a senior flight operations coordinator in a small team managing a fleet of 12 private jets based in London. Once again, this experience was incredibly useful and I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to work in ops before I get to the flight deck.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 I was just about to finish my final ATPL exams. Although delayed, I managed to get them done in July and went straight out to Poland with Brics Aviation to complete my CPL ME/IR training which was incredible. Upon returning to the UK, I was offered a job by Brics and I now work for them part-time as Regional Manager for the UK & Ireland, assisting future commercial students in their training. I completed my APS MCC course on the Boeing 737NG at VA Airline Training in October and gained my Frozen ATPL(A) licence allowing me to apply for first officer positions. Although not yet successful, I am confident that something will come in the next 12-24 months and that the aviation industry will bounce back faster than some fear. Especially the business aviation sector which has already seen a significant return to flight, albeit hampered by the most recent lockdown at the start of 2021.

I am currently working full time as a time-critical charter executive at London based air charter specialist 26AVIATION. My responsibilities include introducing the company to potential customers via introductory calls, managing ‘go-now’ charter enquiries and coordinating booked charter flights by sourcing suitable aircraft, executing both airline and customer contracts, and overseeing the charter operation from aircraft positioning to flight completion.

 

Typical Day & Key Skills

My role as a charter executive involves dealing with time-critical and urgent requests from clients around Europe. These charter requests are often very specific, be that small automotive parts getting shipped to factories in the UK, or large project-shipments using Antonov An-124s to transport wind turbines to the far east. In my role at Brics Aviation, I spend most of my time speaking to students and discussing the various phases of training. We specialise in commercial training, so often there are technical questions about the course or aircraft, and more recently, questions regarding Brexit and how that effects licensing requirements between EASA and the UK CAA. I thoroughly enjoy both of my roles in different ways.

At 26AVIATION, the key skills to arranging daily charter flights world-wide include dealing well with pressure and problem-solving. Many of the requests we receive are for urgent shipments, so often there is significant pressure from the customer to ensure a suitable solution is found quickly. However, to find that solution often we need to consider options that others may not – this is especially important when dealing with large, out-sized cargo.

At Brics Aviation, key skills may include communication and personality, as well as organisation and time-management. It is important that all communication I have with students is clear and concise. This training is a big part of their journey to becoming a commercial pilot and ensuring they have all the information they require is imperative. As it isn’t my full-time job, working my time talking with students and liaising with approved training organisations can be difficult, but with organisation and preparation I enjoy the challenge.

 

Advice for new entrants

Perseverance is important in aviation. There have been plenty of times when things haven’t gone my way. Most recently, with the pandemic and job market, my newly acquired commercial license feels practically useless and it is easy to forget the long-term, which is that things will recover, and soon enough the demand for pilots will return.

Aviation is so unique in that almost everyone involved is truly passionate about what they do. From pilots to ground handlers, and air traffic controllers to cabin crew – I think everyone is involved in aviation for the same reason and when things get difficult it’s good to be able to rely on your friends and colleagues you’ve met along the way.

Aerostories #Pilots #Engineering #Operations

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