In the latest of our series on the UK professional pilot recruitment scene, we speak to Stuart Fitch, Chief Pilot at the Mission Aviation Fellowship.
What are MAF’s plans for pilot recruitment over the next 12-24 months?
MAF recruits on an ongoing basis for pilots due to regular staff movements in MAF programmes overseas. There are a consistent number of vacancies on each monthly bulletin which reports on roles available in each MAF region around the world. Currently we have vacancies for experienced level pilots (1,000+ hours flying time).
What requirements do you have from applicants in terms of experience and the types of licence and rating held?
In the UK, MAF can only recruit staff who are legally entitled to live and work in the UK. This is because part of the pilot’s role is fundraising and publicity in the UK.
As a Christian mission organisation, there is a genuine occupational requirement for the postholder of all roles overseas to be a committed Christian and able to show agreement with MAF’s statement of belief.To apply pilots must as a minimum hold an ICAO-based CPL, IR and Class 1 aviation medical.
From where do you source your pilots?
MAF pilots come from a range of backgrounds, from those who have specifically moved career and trained to work as a pilot for MAF, either full-time or while holding other employment, or those who have come from a forces background. All will have carried out at least some commercial work.
What type of work will the pilots be expected to do?
MAF pilots are responsible for conducting safe and efficient mission flights, caring for customers and representing MAF to the public. This involves the pilot in every aspect of the flight. We are involved with either supervising or personally doing the following: immigration and customs for passengers and cargo; filing paperwork (e.g. flight plans); loading and unloading cargo and passengers; refuelling from fuel bowsers and hand pumping fuel from drums; reconfiguring seats – sometimes several times a day; hand calculating weight and balance and take-off performance before each take-off; in close liaison with flight ops departments planning each days flight, routes, refuelling stops, diversion airfields, duty time etc.
Will your pilots be expected to hold the relevant type ratings or will MAF pay for these to be completed?
Job related training, such as licence conversion and aircraft ratings, once appointed as a member of staff, will be paid for by MAF.
What types of aircraft do you operate?
Cessna 206, Cessna 208 / 208B Grand Caravan, Amphibious Cessna Caravan, Cessna 210, GA8 Airvan, Pilatus PC12, Twin Otter, Kodiak 100.
How long do pilots stay with MAF?
The shortest length of assignment for a pilot is four years because of the extensive nature of the orientation for pilots once accepted. Discussions take place towards the end of each assignment about renewal
Do pilots use their role with MAF as a stepping-stone towards working for the airlines?
MAF encourages all pilots considering working for the organisation not to see this as a stepping-stone in their careers. In many ways working for MAF will take them out of the commercial flight career progression. The type of flying MAF pilots do is not necessarily seen as advantageous by airlines recruiting, in the same way that extensive airline experience is not always a good predictor of success as an MAF pilot.
What rates of pay can MAF pilots expect?
MAF pilots are asked to raise a minimum amount of financial support per year. They also have allowances available from MAF central funds. They then receive a monthly salary to cover living costs, plus allowances which cover things like accommodation, shipping, medical and pension.
Where are the pilots based?
We have programmes in 30 countries around the world e.g. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, South Africa, Mozambique, Indonesia, PNG, Northern Australia, Haiti, Bangladesh, East Timor.
This interview first appeared in Flyer, November 2010.