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Tips for pilots working abroad

Here’s an interesting article which deals with the current topic of pilot migration, with many pilots choosing to move east for airline jobs. Have a read and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

With accelerating pilot migration around the world, it becomes a common rule for many pilots to change their work geography several times a year. It may seem to be fascinating, but moving and working abroad is a serious decision in one’s life and career. What should pilots consider before accepting a job abroad? How should they act while working for a foreign company? How to ensure the best possible conditions away from home?

The first and most important thing to consider is whether you are psychologically prepared to relocate. This not only includes the separation with the family issue, but also the cultural factor. For instance, living in Middle Eastern countries requires a certain level of discretion from a foreigner. If you are capable of accepting the traditions of other nations then you are already a half way to an international career. In some cases, whether you’re a perfect pilot or not, you should still be able demonstrate acceptable behavior either at work or outside the cockpit.

Another impact which might affect a decision to move abroad may be culture shock and homesickness. Nowadays with technology such a Skype, online chat services and the relative affordability of internet camera equipment, staying in touch with people in your home country is easier than ever. Remember though that time difference is a big factor – if you are always trying to have conversations when one or the other should be sleeping, it’s likely to try your patience and lead to tension. Discuss a a fair arrangement with the people back home, so both parties get their equal share of ‘normal’ time phone calls. If you’re based in Shanghai, seven hours ahead of the UK, your calls might not be always at a convenient time, so make room for compromise and make time for phone calls home.

Another factor is one’s professional skill and the relevant documents. One should always think of their career for a year ahead. Different employers and authorities have different requirement for the documents’ validity. Since a pilot may never know when they may suddenly be approached with a tempting job proposal, it is always advisable to keep one’s licence up-to-date, as well as to pass Class 1 medical clearance in the country of one’s inhabitancy. Furthermore, a pilot should objectively evaluate their Aviation English knowledge. Working in an unfamiliar area, communicating with other foreigners (not English native speakers) may imply extra stress at the beginning, and you can work to ensure that you can express yourself and understand others with no limitations.

“Medical issues are one of the most common within the pilot community. Relocating to Asia, Africa or any other location may frighten some pilots due to different climate or sanitary conditions. However, one may always consult with both his recruitment agency and the local medical institution concerning possible health issues while working in a certain region. And as long as the pilot passes all the medical checks and is properly vaccinated – there is nothing to worry about,” comments Knyzaite.

Should a pilot make the decision to relocate and work abroad, they should always pay attention to working and living conditions, provided by the employer. A pilot should have minimum tolerance for any improper actions from the employer and/or unsatisfactory accommodation conditions. Though a pilot-foreigner is usually a union-free employee, still they should always remember that pilots have someone to rely on. If a pilot was employed through a recruitment agency, then it is their first choice to address the agency should any issues appear in the employer-employee relationship.

If you’re a qualified pilot and would like more information about jobs oversees, consider the Direct Entry Pilot Career Day on 2 October, an event where you can find out about career progression opportunities that are currently available and get the expert advice you need. Visit the event website for more details.