2017 has seen more movement in the aviation than I don’t know, the last 3 years. 

Post two economic downturns, zero or low growth worldwide, various airlines sliding into voluntary administration or ceasing operation and passenger fear at an all time high due to terrorism and global instability,  2017 burst forth in an abundant and excitable manner.  2018 looks set to extend the same bountiful gifts.

Airline and fleet growth has clearly opened more opportunities for pilots, experienced pilots, not only to grow their careers but to move to new types and aim for the Mainline full-service carriers.  Many of whom have not recruited for some time.

As more wide-body jets come into play globally, pilots who were happy commit themselves long-term to a narrow body career are now considering second officer roles on the wides.

Don’t get me wrong, while the opportunities and choices are here, it is essential that you meet the required standards on the Assessment Day.  Just because they need pilots does not mean that they will relax their standards.  At Pinstripe we have seen a recent influx of pilots who went into airline assessment processes with “perfect fit” experience but little or no preparation.  The unsuccessful response is difficult to swallow when you are a good fit, so I will say again, preparation is key as they assess you on your performance on that day.


Kirsty Ferguson


Interestingly, sideways movement across carriers has been frequent during 2017, not only as competing carriers want type rated pilots, more so, the key enticement has been culture.  The positive values and team culture of an airline have driven pilots to reassess their seniority number in their current role in favour of an environment they may be better suited to and feel more valued within.

It is two-sided, if pilots are happy at their airline then most would stick with it, seniority is important so there have to be contributing negative factors leading to having a sticky beak elsewhere.

Let's consider historically what those negatives have shown themselves to be:

  • EBA negotiation difficulties

  • Communication difficulties between management and pilot body

  • Takeovers or airline merges that redistribute seniority

  • Pilot conditions, fatigue, OTP requirements etc

  • Pay disputes

  • HR support and problem resolution

  • Time to command due to lack of growth

All of the above effect culture and an unhappy pilot body is infectious.

Airlines that place a high focus on culture are attracting those candidates who have become frustrated and feel undervalued.  Let’s be real here, as pilot remuneration is not what it used to be, those carriers with the ability to throw $$$ at candidates will also attract their fair share, if only, as we are seeing, for shorter terms such as 2-4 year contract periods.

What pilots are telling me about their core reasons for looking elsewhere;

  • Lack of progression due to stagnated growth

  • Negative or toxic team or management culture

  • Remuneration

  • Lack of diversity of flying or fleet options

As a pilot, it’s a great time to go after that dream job or simply a new job, just as important it is also an excellent opportunity for airlines to take a good hard look at their culture.  Those who have already done that are ahead of the game and top of the pile in attracting candidates.

Exciting times, big decisions to make.


18 years into running her interview coaching business, Kirsty has published a multitude of Career Workbooks, written hundreds of blogs on life, love and career and reached Expert Status on Linkedin.

She has coached in over 20 countries and our clients range from Bankers to Pilots, Doctors and the Military.