All professionals in the airline industry should set their sights on a job that they want to achieve as the pinnacle of their professional life. While these goals can be lofty and often times difficult to achieve, it is important to set an ultimate goal which can lead toward a stronger commitment to a current job. One of the loftiest goals for a pilot in the airline industry is to become a fleet captain. While it is important for a pilot to have such a goal, it is equally important that they understand the value of going after such a high position.
Fleet captains are highly ranked airline pilots who are in charge of training, staffing, and administrating entire fleets of a particular airplane for an airline. For example, a European airline may have several types of airplane including the Airbus A330. A fleet captain is a pilot with significant flight experience, typically several decades, which is familiar with this particular airplane and can sufficiently administer over its use by an airline. As well, fleet captains often end up as the public face of an airline, presiding over press conferences about safety issues or the unveiling of a new fleet of airplanes.
Pilots who want to become fleet captains need to commit themselves to a full understanding of the airline industry. It is understandable that many pilots are concerned solely with their particular airline and their specific airplane, as that is the context in which they work. But experience and longevity in the airline industry are not the only two ingredients that lead to advancement to fleet captain. Fleet captains often have records of exceptional service, including active pursuit of professional development and further education on the airline industry. As well, a commitment to the success of an airline can go a long way toward advancement.
Young pilots also need to understand that this hard work will at the very least lead them towards higher positions in the industry. Pilots with a decade worth of experience and an exceptional record will rise to the position of captain, which allows them to gain more control over their flight crew. As well, experienced pilots can move from the cockpit into the executive offices by moving into administrative positions. Finally, many experienced pilots move on to teach and run flight academies in order to get back to their roots. Indeed, the goal of reaching the fleet captain position can lead to many unintended positive consequences.