Review Commercial Pilot Position Commerce Essay

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This portfolio will examine the job details of a commercial pilot position within the British Airways company. In this paper the researcher will look at the importance of a commercial pilot to the overall business activities of the organization, including his responsibilities, required qualifications, the selection process and the role of the HR department in the hiring and assessment of new employees for the position.

Airline pilots are responsible for flying passengers and cargo on a national and international basis for different purposes, such as for business, leisure and commercial activities. There are different career paths that a pilot can take. For example, there are those who enter into passenger scheduled services, passenger charter services, freight services and business (or general) aviation.

An aircraft is usually operated by two, three or four pilots depending on the type of the aircraft in question and the length of the journey that they have to take. There is a point person called the captain who is the pilot-in-command. He is in charge of the safe and efficient operation of the entire aircraft and its personnel.

Job description for commercial pilot

Duties and responsibilities

Airline pilots are responsible for flying passengers and cargo on a national and international basis for different purposes, such as for business, leisure and commercial activities. There are different career paths that a pilot can take. For example, there are those who enter into passenger scheduled services, passenger charter services, freight services and business (or general) aviation.

An aircraft is usually operated by two, three or four pilots depending on the type of the aircraft in question and the length of the journey that they have to take. There is a point person called the captain who is the pilot-in-command. He is in charge of the safe and efficient operation of the entire aircraft and its personnel. The pilot is also expected to report at the liaison office of the company before and after every flight, to ensure that all flight details are in order and to update the dispatcher on any problems or issues encountered with the aircraft and the personnel.

Eligibility Checklist for British Airways Pilot/Person Specification


Passport allowing unrestricted worldwide travel

Entitled to live and work in the EU without time restriction


Full UK issued JAA/CAA ATPL or Frozen ATPL

Current JAA/CAA Class 1 medical

Language Skills

Spoken and written fluency in English

Clear diction


Physically fit, currently well and in possession of a JAA/UK CAA Medical Licence (Class 1).

Height between 1.57m (5'2") and 1.91m (6'3") with in proportion to height, (height is accurately determined during the assessment process). Qualified pilots who are taller than 1.91m may submit an application but will be required to undergo a functionality check to confirm their ability to meet the requirements of the seating positions in the British Airways fleet of aircraft.

The role of HR

Some people might mistakenly think that because pilots spend so much time alone manning their assigned aircraft, they are very rarely connected to the organizational goals and responsibilities that their company has given them. In fact, even though pilots enjoy a good amount of autonomy, they have still have to remain faithful to the organizational and international work standards that required for their profession. The HR department is responsible for keeping company pilots up-to-date on the latest professional aviation safety standards as well as any technological developments that will enable them to carry out their work more efficiently.

In terms of ensuring good work-life balance among pilots, the HR department is also instrumental because it is in charge of determining how to schedule the flight assignments of all the pilots in such a way that they would enjoy more or less the equal number of work and leisure hours.

A good work-life balance is important for positions like the one discussed in the paper because it ensures that the employees will not get too burned out or stressed at work. Pilots especially spend a lot of time away from their families, so it is but necessary that the company provide benefits in the form of extended leaves and mandatory breaks in between long flight assignments. The HR department must play an active role in determining when a particular pilot should receive paid leave, without having to disrupt the harmonious work dynamics within the organization.

Despite the unstable work hours, some pilots-especially those who work for short-haul airlines-are still able to maintain a harmonious work-life balance by having their shifts a month or two ahead of time. This is in contrast with pilots who are employed in long-haul airlines who have to cross greater distances and so must stay on duty for longer period of time. As a further consequence of their duty, long-haul pilots have to train themselves to function competently across different time zones.

Due to the highly stressful nature of their job, pilots are restricted to flying only a maximum of 900 hours a year, giving them the rest of the time for their family and other personal pursuits. Pilots usually work in pairs in almost all the airlines, except for really small aircraft that can be manned by just one person. In the past, men have dominated this profession but women are now beginning to enter this particularly lucrative and competitive field.

According to Hayward (2006), the idea of giving importance to work-life balance is a fairly recent one, even as it has become one of the most popular buzzwords in the human resources arena. The North Dakota Employment Law Letter (2008) also noted that work-life balance concerns in the corporate arena have been relatively unheard of in the past. Nontraditional workplace and scheduling activities were reserved for a few fortunate people or as a temporary accommodation for an employee who is undergoing too much stress. All in all, neither corporations nor employees considered work-life balance to be a possible facet of the latter's job satisfaction and performance indicator.

Recruitment procedure

Selection procedure

At British Airways, the assessment process consists of three steps (in some cases, only two) to ensure that only those who are properly qualified for the respective positions are entertained and given a chance to be a part of the company. The first stage involves the submission of the application form. Once an aspirant satisfies specific criteria for the job, he moves on for the one-day second assessment stage that consists of group exercises, interviews, psychometric exams, and presentations, among others. Some roles require a third stage, which may include additional exams and exercises.

There are two modes by which pilots are able to apply for the position of pilot with British Airways-the sponsored pilot training scheme and the direct entry pilot scheme. At present, only the latter is open. The assessment process for this position starts with the application form, which should be as comprehensive and relevant as possible in order to reflect the applicant's entire range of experience in the aircraft industry. Successful candidates will be invited to have their names listed in the company's hold pool, which is a reserve list of experienced pilots who may be hired by British Airways on short notice for future operations.

Delaney and Huselid (1996) noted that corporate firms have a choice of three ways for improving their human capital-they can focus on improving the quality of individuals who are accepted in the company, or on enhancing the skills and knowledge of their current staff, or they can do both at the same time. However, a highly skilled employee is not automatically a company asset, because there is still a need to motivate him or her in order to maximize his or her potential to contribute positively to the organization. Training is also important in order to build on his or her existing knowledge and update him or her on the newest best practices in the industry.

Thus, British Airways is more concerned with creating a rigid and highly specific job description and selection process. The company has chosen to accomplish the first suggestion by Delaney and Huselid (1996) such that it limits its recruitment procedure to only qualified individuals. This makes it easier for the HR department to thoroughly assess the strengths and suitability of each aspirant for the position in order to choose only the most qualified candidate.

Draft advertisement

British Airways is looking for dedicated, passionate, and highly professional men and women to join their prestigious rank of cabin crew members. At British Airways, we ensure that all our employees enjoy a high quality of training to prepare them for the competent delivery of services that our clients expect.

British Airways believes in maintaining a good-work life balance, because too much work and no play makes the employees dull and insensitive to their personal commitments. We offer the highest compensation in the market in terms of real value-enough time for your family and other personal pursuits-without compromising their ability to deliver the best quality services to all our clients.

Because you are working with one of the world's finest airline companies, rest assured that we will provide you with only the top-of-the-line training and continuing education with the help of the latest technological developments in aviation. The training will not consist only of professional and technical know-how, but also practicable measures for day-to-day relations with the passengers and crew members. At British Airways, you are placing your future on the right track.

The draft advertisement outlined above will be used for online media such as the company's website, as well as print advertisements in the newspaper and job directories. This will ensure that the job opening will reach as many qualified individuals as possible. It is then the job of the HR department to narrow down the list of suitable candidates by creating strict set of standards for assessment.

Selection procedure

As we have already noted above, the default selection procedure for pilots at British Airways involves the submission of the application form (downloadable from their website). If the applicant satisfies the preliminary requirements, the HR department will then decide to invite the applicant for the next phase of the process, namely the interview, exams and group dynamics. The interview committee will be composed of the HR department head, one HR staff and a senior pilot with at least three years' stay in the company. They will be responsible for checking the references of the applicants, such as past employers and/or the flying school from which they graduated, professors in the aviation industry and other applicable references.

Interview Questions

1) Why do you want to work for British airways?

2) What motivates you to deliver great customer care

3) What business challenges does British Airways face? How can you overcome these challenges as a pilot for the company?

4) Tell us about a time when you had to deliver sad news.

5) Tell us about a time when you have responded to someone else's cultural needs.

6) Tell us about your weaknesses.

7) Tell us about your interests and hobbies.

8) Explain a situation when you where unhappy with the performance or attitude of one of your colleagues. What did you do?

9) What communication skills do you have?

10) Tell us about a time when you have delivered customer services beyond that of your job description. Why did you choose to take this particular course of action?

11) Tell us about a time when you felt under pressure. How did you handle the situation?

12) Tell us about people in your group exercise.

13) What was your role in that group? Do you feel that you could have contributed more for the success of the group? How?

14) Describe what you think would be an ideal co-member in the cabin crew.

15) How does being a pilot help your growth and development as a person?

16) What is the feature of the piloting career that you dislike the most? Why?

17) How do you maintain (or propose to maintain) a good work-life balance once you are accepted into the company?

Sample letter for successful applicants

Dear ______:

Good day.

We are pleased to inform you that you are being invited for the second phase of the recruitment process for the position of commercial pilot. Please contact our head office to schedule your interview and exams at your most convenient time.

Thank you.

Sample letter for unsuccessful applicants

Dear ______:

Good day.

We regret to inform you that you have not been chosen to proceed to the next phase of the recruitment process for commercial pilots. Thank you for submitting your application form. We will in touch with you should any position that matches your qualifications be available.

Thank you.

Justification for the procedure

As we have already noted above, the job of a pilot is demanding not only professionally but also personally. There are certain sacrifices that the pilot has to do in order to do his job properly. This is why, as the human resources officer in charge of recruiting new personnel for the company, it is important to note not only the professional caliber of the applicants but also their ability to perform their jobs well alongside other people.

At the end of the day, it is actually more useful for the company to know about the personal lives of the job applicants instead of attempting to gauge the extent of their professional knowledge and experience. The battery of exams and the application form itself would adequately reflect such information. For the interview stage, what is important is for the company to get to know the individual who is seeking entry, and for the latter to know more about the company that he is applying to. In this manner, both will have a clearer grasp of what is expected of them once they agree to close the deal.

For the purposes of this interview, the recruitment staff is more interested in determining not only the professional behavior of the aspirants but more importantly their personal values and their attitude towards work and their co-cabin members. Thus we are looking for the following criteria during the interview itself:

Their verbal inflections, facial expressions and hand gestures during the interview

Clarity and coherence in answering the questions

Degree of honesty and truthfulness in responding to highly personal and/or value-laden questions.

Ability to communicate under exceptionally candid circumstances such as the interview setup.

Ability to quickly answer verbal questions and support them with factual and logical examples.

Ability to relate their professional experience to their personal life and their demeanor towards the profession and their co-workers.

Ability to critically analyze the current situation of the aviation industry and their role in it, along with other members of the cabin crew.

Part of the reason why the recruitment staff is interested in these parameters is that we need to have something more substantial to support the objective claims made by the applicant in their application form and the exams that have been given to them. The interview is a good way for the recruitment staff to personally observe the demeanor of the applicants in order to determine if they are indeed fit for the job.

The job of a pilot is personally taxing because he needs to deal not only with the cabin crew members but also the passengers who are under his care for the duration of their flight. Thus, he has to be able to possess a certain level of leadership and management skills that necessarily comes with the everyday tasks of his job. The interview will be given a weight of 30 percent, the exam results 40 percent, and the other requirements 30 percent. This criteria aims to give almost equal emphasis among the different required assessment steps to give the applicants a chance to show the various aspects of their personality and professional skills.

Benefits and compensation

It has been generally accepted that the piloting career is very financially rewarding, but this is true only to a certain extent. The salary of pilot depends largely on the airline they are working for, the type of aircraft that they are flying and their personal experience measured in terms of hours of flight. Pilots employed in smaller firms can earn as little as $18,000 per year, but the amount can go up to as much as $140, 000 for an experienced captain who is doing long-haul flights. The salary increases for every year of service to the company, although as already mentioned, there are certain parameters that have to be met before a pilot earns a comfortable enough salary. Moreover, they are provided with uniforms, benefits packages, regular training and other perks.

Apart from the financial compensation, employees in the aviation industry also enjoy unique discounted travel opportunities and allowances that give them chances to explore the world. But all these comes with a price-because pilots have the all-important job of moving people and cargo from across the world, they have to follow a rather unusual work schedule. It is not a desk job that has fixed work hours, which means that their work day can vary in length depending on their particular assignment and destination. Moreover, because of this uneven working arrangement, pilots usually have to live near the airport so they can quickly be called on duty when the need arises.

The starting salary of a commercial pilot will be pegged at $30, 000 a year, with a travel package, requisite 90-day paid leave, and maximum limit of 700 flight hours annually. The newly-hired pilot will also be required to pay a bond of $150,000 upon signing the employment contract in exchange for staying with the company for at least 1 year. Pilots requiring rigid and regular training, and it will be disadvantageous for British Airways to hire someone who will quit the job a few months after being employed. The company's investment in the form of training employees must be taken into consideration designing the remuneration package. The bond will be a safeguard against the pilot transferring to another airline company after learning the necessary basic skills and training from British Airways.

Performance management

To ensure that the applicant chosen for the position will acquire the necessary skills and experience for the job, the HR department has to work on preparing him for the actual tasks and responsibilities that he will take on during a flight.

This is called employee development, which is an ongoing collaborative effort between employee and employer to improve the former's skills, knowledge and abilities for the mutual success of each. Employee development requires striking a balance between the worker's career needs and goals and the organization's need to get work done as efficiently as possible (University of Minnesota 2008).

According to Torokoff (n.d.), organizational learning and knowledge creation are basic concepts that a company must apply if it wants to improve the performance of its personnel. Learning in the organization is not confined to the individual knowledge accumulation of the employees, but is rather more comprehensive in scope because it ultimately reflects the positive changes in quality that the company can offer.

Motivation is also an integral part of the way companies are able to control and reward the efforts of their employees. Motivation in the workplace can be defined as the individual employee's inner drive to accomplish personal and organizational goals (Lindner 1998). The HR department's ultimate purpose is to keep the employee motivated enough to encourage him to more productive performance.

Feedback during the first year of employment is also a very important component in order for both the employee and the HR department to know where each stands on certain work-related issues. The HR department is therefore tasked to periodically assess the performance of the newly-hired pilot, monitoring any problems during the flight, issues with the cabin crew, and difficulties with the plain equipment. The feedback system is also one of the bases that the HR department will consider when assigning leave credits, performance bonuses and promotion, if applicable.