During the coronavirus pandemic, many people are now working from home. This can include people who have always worked from home, as well as those who are new to the concept.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to work from home during this time of crisis, kudos to you!
But what if you want to be a pilot and work from home? The often joked about job of “Flying a Desk”… Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
There are many reasons why someone might want to work from home. Perhaps you live in a remote area and the nearest airport is several hours away. Or maybe you have young children and can’t afford child care.
Yes, its a bit weird to think about a pilot working from from home! It counjours up images of fully-uniformed pilots sitting at a desk or on the couch at home to fly a drone remotely.
In reality though, it is much more simple with most pilots working from home in managerial, education, compliance or administrative capacities. And whatever the reason, there are plenty of opportunities for pilots who want to work from home.
How I began to work from home as a pilot
During the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, flights were grounded. Many pilots were forced to change careers completely. My employer similarly had a knee jerk reaction to ground the fleet, and all crews were sent home to wait out for further information.
I actually spent about 3 months not doing much (thankfully on base retainer pay, although I did unfortunately lose all travel, overtime and meal allowances) which gave me time to think about ways I could work from home.
I resonated with pilots like Phil McCain who wrote articles on how he adjusted to life at home, after spending what feels like a lifetime in the air and on the road living out of hotels and airport lounges. And I knew for at least a while, too, I would have to fly a desk.
I studied some extra skills while at home…
I studied as much as I could while I was home-bound. I hung around maintenance a fair bit, as well as smaller GA operations where I could (Covid-rules permitting). It was fascinating brushing up on engines and aircraft maintenance.
But after a while I kinda got sick of it and I began to wonder if becoming a pilot was worth the cost? Were there other ways I could make money?
As you might know from reading this blog, I had worked through the eBusiness Institute Digital Investors program, and created my Pro Aviation Tips blog. During this time I began to share tips about Aviation and Flight training.
When the work tempo picked up again, my level of work on the website naturally reduced. But the time I spent on it was invaluable. It really helped increase the amount of content on the site, and I connected with a great writer who was passionate for aviation. I continue to employ him to write high quality aviation articles for the blog.
Work from home opportunities for pilots
Work from home opportunities for pilots can be found in different parts of the aviation industry.
For example, many flight schools are looking for qualified pilots to give ground school lessons online.
There are also opportunities to work as a contract pilot on private jets, flying people or cargo on demand. You might not realise it, but for most of the year, these private jet pilots do indeed work from home being ‘on call’.
Flight instruction – providing pilot theory lessons
Pilots working from home can educate their students via Skype or Zoom, as well as 1:1 private coaching and tutoring. Many airlines and flight schools are looking for ground theory providers so this is a great way to work from home as a pilot.
Working as a contract pilot for an aircraft charter or private jet company can be done from home, with the pilot being ‘on call’ when an aircraft may be required.
Management, compliance and administration
Many aviation businesses and airlines are now looking for experienced pilots to manage their flight operations, compliance and administration remotely.
Most conventional employers are now embracing remote work as a cost reduction and flexible employment strategy. And the aviation industry is no different.
There are significant administrative and regulatory burdens to flight operations, such as reviewing:
- Orders and instructions
- Company policies
There is always something that needs to be done. Having the expert eye and experience of a pilot familiar with these operating procedures would be very desirable.
Tips for pilots working from home
If you’re thinking about working from home as a pilot, here are some tips to get you started:
Talk to your employer
Talk to your employer about the possibility of working from home. Many employers are now open to the idea of remote work and may have already implemented policies or procedures – there may be particular tasks such as publication or instructions which need to be revised or updated, and this is a perfect opportunity for a pilot to work from home.
Use online training tools
If you’re a flight instructor, there are many online pilot theory platforms that you can use to give your students lessons. Speak to your Chief Flying Instructor and Chief pilot about your company’s policies and what is appropriate.
Set up a designated work space
When working from home, it’s important to set up a dedicated workspace and establish a daily routine. This will help you to stay focused and productive.
Make sure you stay connected with your professional network. Attend online events and webinars, and participate in online forums and discussion groups.
Keep working on your flying skills
Don’t forget your core flying skills. You should try to maintain currency and proficiency in flight operations, so continue to:
- Chair fly
- Run through your checks and procedures
- Stay up to date with publication amendment cycles and regulations,
- Culminate your regular cyclic flight simulator sessions and assessments
Setting up a work from home space
As I mentioned earlier, when working from home, it’s important to set up a dedicated workspace. This will help you to stay focused and productive.
Your work from home space doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be comfortable and free from distractions.
Here are some tips for setting up your work from home space:
- Choose a quiet room in your house where you can work without distractions.
- If possible, set up your workspace near a window so you can enjoy natural light.
- Make sure your desk and chair are comfortable and ergonomic.
- Invest in a good quality laptop or desktop computer.
- Make sure you have basic office supplies, such as a printer, paper and pens.
- Consider purchasing a sit stand desk, a gel standing pad and comfortable shoes. This will ensure your back and neck has the least strain.
- Remember to take regular breaks, as you are probably used to sitting for long periods of time without moving.
- Ensure you continue your usual fitness program. Keep an emphasis on neck, back and leg strength to keep you fit to fly.
- Finally, try to create a space that inspires you and makes you feel good. Add some personal touches, such as photos, plants or art.
So if you’re a pilot who wants to work from home, there are plenty of options available to you. The key is to do your research and find the right opportunity that suits your needs and qualifications. With a little effort, you’ll be well on your way to working from home as a pilot.
Do you work from home as a pilot? Or did you think this wasn’t even possible? Let us know in the comments below!
Ken is a professional cargo pilot who has been flying for more than half his life. He also works from home on his successful blog to provide professional aviation tips to other pilots. He is passionate about helping them reach their potential in their career and wants to provide his aviation knowledge to the next generation of pilots.