Have you ever wondered what life is like for a business jet pilot? Compared to commercial aviation flight crewmembers, who usually follow a fixed roster, the lifestyle of those who choose to pilot a business aircraft is often deemed far more fascinating. After all, bizjet pilots get to experience layovers in some of the world’s most luxurious locations.  

There are many perks to working in business aviation. The sector is synonymous with glamour, and pilots are given the opportunity to explore a lavish lifestyle through travel. Kristupas Sulija, an experienced business jet pilot, agrees. However, he also notes that, much like pilots in commercial aviation, the reality of executive jet flight crew members is focused on customer service. Bizjet pilots must provide high-quality service to VIP passengers in order to retain customers and to achieve market share and profitability.  

Here, Kristupas shares his insights into the life of a business jet pilot, explains how the role differs from that of a commercial aviator, and reveals some tricks of the trade.  

A bizjet first officer Kristupas

Source: First Officer Kristupas Sulija

What does a flight roster for a bizjet pilot look like? 

Kristupas began working in the business aviation sector in 2017. As a result of his role as a first officer of a mid-size twin-engine Hawker 800XP corporate jet, Kristupas now has invaluable experience in the sector. 

He reveals that most people are unaware of the vast difference between the roles of corporate and commercial pilots. He suggests that, when first starting out as a pilot, it is necessary to look at both sectors to see if they align with your career objectives.  

“Before choosing piloting as a career, a person needs to decide, what is aviation from [their] perspective,” Kristupas explains. “I think flying could be either a lifestyle or a job. If it is your lifestyle, it is better to relate your further career prospects with business aviation. If it is a job, then it is better to choose commercial aviation.”  

He continues: “One of the major differences between both pilot lifestyles is the flight roster. If piloting is just a job for a person, they can dedicate their life to commercial aviation, where companies typically provide their employees [with] a stable work schedule with five duty days and two days for rest per week. It means that a commercial airliner pilot has a designated base, where he operates a flight and returns home every day. This gives [them] an opportunity to build a particular routine in both [their] personal and professional lives.” 

A bizjet first officer Kristupas

Source: First Officer Kristupas Sulija

In comparison, the work schedule for a pilot in the business aviation sector promotes an opposite way of living, Kristupas says. In general, a bizjet pilot will be required to work for two weeks in a row before being allowed 14 days off. Unlike its commercial counterpart, business aviation connects various small local airports and provides air connectivity services to fit the needs of a specific customer. Kristupas has never been given a designated airport as a base. This has often meant that each time he is called for duty, he hardly ever flies the same routes.  

“Although duty hours are strictly regulated in the same way, [the] working day of a business jet pilot doesn’t look the same,” Kristupas reveals. “You never know where your aircraft would be parked and what destinations you will visit during these 14 days of duty. Everything depends on a customer.”  

He adds: "I’m glad [to have the] opportunity to fly the most exotic routes and land at the most remote places, where commercial airlines don’t fly, and what I would probably not have done otherwise. While the private jet charter segment provides our customers with seamless flexibility, pilots [can take] advantage of traveling the world as well as take longer rests than an airline flight crew.” 

A bizjet first officer Kristupas

Source: First Officer Kristupas Sulija

Unconventional duties 

Kristupas was attracted to the role because the lack of a set routine made it exciting. The clientele for private jet charters usually consists of wealthy individuals, such as celebrities, politicians, sportsmen, entrepreneurs, and top-level executives. Kristupas reveals that a bizjet pilot’s role often includes duties that are not common in commercial aviation. 

He says: “While the flight crew of a commercial airline usually starts flight preparations in the already awaiting aircraft, bizjet pilots have other ground handling-related tasks to fulfill before entering the flight deck for documentation and other procedures.” 

Sometimes a bizjet pilot will need to complete tasks such as removing safety pins from mechanical parts of the jet, as well as taking care of other ground handling services such as loading passenger luggage ahead of their arrival, maintaining the appropriate service of the jet waste tank system, and even clearing snow from the plane.  

A bizjet first officer Kristupas

Source: First Officer Kristupas Sulija

“Unlike commercial aviation, we take care of almost everything that is needed to be done to get the jet ready for take-off as soon as possible,” Kristupas says with a smile.  

The quality of passenger service on board a business jet is noticeably different when compared to a commercial airliner. Nowhere is this more evident than with the communication policy onboard a bizjet.  

A bizjet first officer Kristupas

Source: First Officer Kristupas Sulija

“If on a commercial aircraft the flight crew members barely talk to passengers, we communicate with our customers significantly more,” Kristupas says. “For instance, before passengers get on board, we greet them outside and continue to keep the contact throughout the flight if they need to.” 

He continues: "The jet I fly doesn’t even have any doors between the passenger cabin and a flight deck, just a small curtain which we close if passengers ask for privacy.” 

So, do business jet pilots enjoy a glamorous lifestyle?  

Kristupas has no doubt. “Absolutely,” he says.  

While there is certainly plenty to do before and after each flight, Kristupas reveals that the hard work is repaid a hundredfold.  

He says: “Even though we are responsible for literally everything from the safety of flight, [including] flight planning, flight plan filing and all issues related to passenger comfort, as a bizjet pilot, I explore life through traveling to various places. I enjoy the most luxurious hotels and meals from the best chefs. But the most important thing is that I do what I feel the most passionate about, I breathe aviation.”  

A bizjet first officer Kristupas

Source: First Officer Kristupas Sulija