I started to learn to fly in 1991, mostly in the Mid West of the USA. Back in the UK with a frozen UK CAA ATPL my first airline job was at just over 700 hours total time flying unpresurised passenger turbo props mostly across the North Sea, four sectors a day. I will always consider my first airline job as my largest career break although I have been lucky since. On the turboprops we did lots of sectors (normally four a day) in busy controlled airspace on a simple forgiving multi crew aircraft that was an ideal introduction to airline flying, after that the numbers and complexity increase but the basics are the same.
Next career move was after about a year (1600TT in the log book) onto my first jet, the BAe146 that was a delight to hand fly beneath 10000 feet. Again the BAe146 flights were generally of sector lengths of about one hour with about the longest flights being just under three hours. With this job I spent a lot of time away living out of a suitcase in Continental Europe that was good at the time but you can have too much of a good thing! After a few years, an ATPL and a prospect of command I left to join Monarch Airlines, more of a long term career airline move bearing in mind the long term seniority in the airline industry. Monarch has also proved to have a far more stable future.
At Monarch I started as a First Officer on my first EFIS aircraft, the Airbus 320/321. On the A320/321 fleet I'm home most nights and do a mixture of charter flights and Monarch Scheduled flights that are mostly down to the Iberian Peninsular at present. Sector flight times have increased again, most being just over two hours unless it is a flight to the Canaries(4 hours) or Eastern Mediterranean. The longest flights we do are to Egypt and Israel (6/7 hours each way). All of these 320/321 flights are with a one hour turn around and then straight back home. The only overnighting we do on the 320/321 is at UK bases. The number of night flights on the 320/321 is a lot less than I feared when I joined the company and seems to be decreasing. Most of the A320/321 flights are two sectors long. I prefer the 321 over the 320 because it seems just a bit more refined in everything it does. After several years of flying the 321 I'm still astounded by how little fuel it uses, more than double the number of passengers and quicker than the BAe146 and yet it burns about the same amount of fuel an hour in the cruise.
The A330 is fleeted from pilots on the 320/321 fleet on a seniority bases and the commonality allows us to fly all three types. This gives a really nice mixture of flying that could include in the space of only a week, a flight from London to Tenerife and back on the A321 followed the next day by a London Gibraltar return flight on the A320 and then at the end of the week a London to Goa, India, night flight (A330) and hotel stop followed by a return to the UK. Sometimes long haul wise we end up with more than a single night down route, sometimes up to a week that people either love or hate depending on personal circumstances and destination (although they do all tend to be holiday destinations being a holiday airline). Ideally, I get on average one or two long haul flights a month and some short haul flights. Monarch and the tri fleet flying, although demanding, gives a great mixture of flying, short haul, long haul, narrow body, wide body, busy airports, airports where you are the sole aircraft and it is a visual circuit to land. This variety of flying also gives to me a good lifestyle. There are not many airline jobs that allow this variety but also stability of a sound company and although the career progression is slow, particularly compared to some European low cost carriers, there is a far greater mixture of flying. In the last year I have flown to airports in Bahrain, Barbados, Canada, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Maldives, Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA to name just a few and fly about 750 hours a year. Command when it eventually comes will most likely will be back on the A320/321 although it could be on the A300 or B757. As well as the A330 Monarch is also introducing B767s that are crewed on seniority from the B757 fleet giving a dual rating.
At present the airline is in expansion mode, normally pilots join from October to April and most do not leave, that says a lot for Monarch. Although like all employers Monarch are not perfect, I have no hesitation in saying they are the best employer I have worked for by quite a long way in almost every respect. Lifestyle in Monarch is very dependent on fleeting and basing.
I hope the above has been informative and useful. Good luck to everyone pursuing their dream flying career!
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