FAQ 2: “Do you have any Winter jobs for me?”

It’s surprising how often this question comes up.  Especially this time of year when those pilots who’ve been on summer / seasonal contracts in Europe have about 4 to 6 weeks of scheduled work left and are anxious to line up that next role.   It is important to mention that this can be very much a “European problem” where non-EASA pilots in the rest of the world do not seem to be so much at the mercy of seasonality in terms of aircraft utilisation.   Certainly, there are big ramp ups at specific airlines for specific events like Haaj, but generally the carriers in Asia and the Middle East will keep pilots, and aircraft, at optimal utilisation for much more of the year.

About 7 or 8 years ago there were some interesting “back to back” contracts available where pilots would fly peak season in Europe and peak season in Canada each year and cross back and forth – for example from Sunwings to JetAirFly – every 6 months or so.  I’m not sure if this happens anymore – I was on a Tui holiday last year and the aircraft and crew were all Canadian – the safety briefing audio was in French and English and half the passengers were exclaiming that we were about to leave Spain not France and asking if the pilot knew where he was! 😉  It would appear (based on that one flight I took anyway) that maybe Tui now take a full ACMI from Canada instead of swapping excess crews.

In any case, the opportunities to work during winter only are becoming fewer and fewer every year.   Several European airlines now offer a 9 month contract where pilots are effectively furloughed from November through January or paid a pitiful basic salary for those 3 months and brought back in February then for a refresher course before the madness all begins again.   Some pilots love that big chunk of downtime and the fact that it falls over the Xmas holiday season suits those with young families for example.    But many pilots need a steady pay cheque all year round and can’t take big periods of non-flying so easily.

Unfortunately, the short answer to “Do you have any winter jobs for me?” is “No!”

It is extremely unusual for any airline who is using agencies to hire pilots for short term 3 to 6 month contracts at this time of the year. It’s not that the airlines don’t want or need the pilots!   This is usually a function of the local limitations in terms of onboarding fresh hires.     If we look at the markets with the biggest pilot requirements – for example Asia – most countries have long and onerous processes for validation or full conversion of pilot licences.  In Japan, for example, the induction courses are about 5 months long to include schooling new recruits for the Air Law exam and JCAB check for example.   In other parts of Asia the application process itself can take a long time – the average for China being about 9 months, the average for India being about 4 months all included (waiting for that DGCA security clearance is a pain!).   So there are airlines who would just LOVE to have a cohort of highly experienced EASA pilots on their line for 6 months but by the time they’d get you ready to legally fly for them they’d be booking your ticket home!

What we would recommend to pilots who are NOT happy with seasonal contract work, or who can’t afford to be effectively furloughed for winter each year (even if still getting a low basic payment), is to have a good hard think about what next career move they might make in getting a FULL TIME role and what their top priorities are.

So often pilots will know already what their priority is – that is great! If you’re not sure then have a good think and chat to your family members and really decide what you need moving forward.    If the reason you’re doing a summer contract in Europe is because you want to be home to see your family most nights then maybe you need to look at some of the excellent commuting options now available (e.g. 2 weeks on 2 weeks off) and consider whether it’s better to see the family for a couple of hours a few times a week or to spend two solid weeks with them each month!?!    If the reason you’re doing a summer contract in Europe is because you didn’t have enough hours to apply for the job you preferred then hopefully you’ll have done a good 80-100 block hours per month all summer and be in a better situation now to apply for full time roles – speak to your recruiter about minimum requirements and what gaps you might need to address.    If the reason you’re doing a summer contract in Europe is because the pay was really great (and it is often higher than normal to “counteract” the fact that it’s short term) then think about the kind of salary you’d like to be earning ongoingly and what options you’ve got to achieve it – if you are young enough and wanted to earn a million dollars you’d go to China (it would take 3 years) but if you don’t need THAT much money you can look at all options out there you’ll see there are plenty of roles that strike a good balance in terms of salary and roster/location.

A320 Captains – Roadshow in Madrid

Our client Capital Airlines is coming to Europe!

If you can make it to Madrid between 9th and 11th October let us know ASAP and we’ll secure you an assessment slot!

Don’t forget this is the airline which still has openings at SANYA base.    As a reminder that’s the “Hawaii of the Orient”  (look up images of Yalong Bay).  It’s a truly amazing place to live and work on the southernmost tip of Hainan Island.  It’s very close to Vietnam and Thailand but because it’s still technically China you can enjoy “Chinese salary levels” of up to USD290,000 per year after tax!

August 2019 – Photo of the Month

Staving off tough competition Captain Liam Kennedy took home the prize for August with this hilarious entry!

Why Do Pilots Fail Assessments?

Our CEO Frank Collins took to LinkedIn this week to answer an all important question – “Why Do Pilots Fail Assessments?!  With almost 200 reactions we thought it was an article well worth sharing here too!



We typically see failure rates of anything between 50% to 90% – why is that? How come pilots who are flying for one airline fail interviews and assessments when going for jobs with other airlines?

One might think that an experienced pilot who has obtained their licence from a competent authority, gets a type rating and passes the recurrent check should be able to pass an interview and assessment when going for a job with a different airline, but the statistics say otherwise.

The first thing to bear in mind is that you are competing against a number of other competent pilots also applying for the role. So, it’s often not a case that you are not good enough to fly for the airline, but that someone else was deemed a better fit. Almost all airlines are looking for the top 10% of pilots to work from them and certainly no airline is looking for the bottom 10%. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t stack up overall, there is a worldwide shortage of qualified quality pilots. There are just about enough pilots coming out of flying schools to meet the demand for pilots and in some areas around the world there are not enough new pilots coming along. Hence, we see a number of airlines starting to get involved at the flying school level again. So, if there are just enough pilots to satisfy the overall demand, how can airlines ensure that they get the best?  One way, and it doesn’t actually seem to make sense, is to interview ten to pick one – that way you can tell yourself you are getting the best 10%.

What can you do to improve your chances? The application form is the start and the airline is really just looking at your experience (hours), your licence types and previous employment history (who else you have flown for). That and nationality, age and contact details is enough, they don’t want to know your pet’s names or that you have raised money to build a local school. They want to see if you can fly a plane safely, will get on with your fellow pilots, will be a good employee and that you will stay with them for a reasonable period.

These really are the important things. First and foremost, you are going for a job as an employee with the airline and therefore the interview is about trying to find out why you want to join their particular airline and if you are going to stay. They also want to see if you will fit into the airline culture. One question often in the back of the assessor’s mind is “would I want to spend 10 hours in the same cockpit with the candidate”?

The Simulator assessment is much more than checking out your technical flying skills.  The assessor is also trying to assess your soft skills. They are checking your communication skills, leadership and teamwork, problem solving and decision making skills, workload management and situational awareness. All of these will be tested regardless of what type of simulator you are in.

Thankfully most pilots approach the interview and assessment process in the correct frame of mind. It is a job interview and the airline is only going to offer the position to the person they feel is the best fit for the company and is going to make a positive contribution to the airline and the team around them. If you fail to persuade the airline that you are that pilot, or, unfortunately, if another candidate does a better job at persuading the airline, then you may find that you will fail the process. Does this mean you are a bad pilot, no of course not. It just means that airline may not be the best fit for you at the present moment.

Do your homework on the airline, prepare in advance and go into sell mode at the interview and don’t forget to show the soft skill competencies that make you the pilot you are. Its often the simple things that can made a difference:

  • Make eye contact with interview panel
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the HR team, talk to them as well as the pilots interviewing you
  • Give the positive reasons why you want to join the airline
  • In group interviews don’t try and dominate the conversation. Communication skills involve listening and talking. Don’t forget to show that you can listen.
  • Show you can fly the plane and follow procedures.

Every airline has their own culture and push and pull factors for attracting and keeping pilots. And likewise, all pilots are individuals and have their own motivations for working. The interview and assessment process is about trying to match the pilot with the airline to ensure the best fit for both and to ensure that the pilot does in fact have the necessary skills to fly safely, albeit, this is almost assumed as they have a licence and are flying for another regulated airline. If they weren’t safe and competent what are they doing flying for someone else!

FAQ 1: “Can you negotiate the package for me please?”

The first Friday of each month we are posting answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions we get on our social media feed.  The first one was:


FAQ 1: “Can you negotiate the package for me please?”

Answer: Unfortunately, within Aviation Recruitment there can be a misperception that your consultant has the same kind of bargaining capacity as a consultant working in General Recruitment.

This is not the case. When a person applies for a job through an agency – let’s say an office-based role in IT or admin or marketing for example – the recruitment consultant can negotiate with the hiring company to agree on a package and benefits. Since there are entire fleets of aircraft at airlines with sometimes hundreds of pilots employed to operate them, airlines have (understandably) a consistent and inflexible pay scale and benefits offer for flight crews.

A pilot joining an airline on “Year 1 salary band” will earn less than a pilot who has been working there for many years. It is quite unusual for pilots to skip a few years and join on “Year 3” or “Year 4” rates. Wherever that IS possible we will include that in our Job Description and overview of terms and conditions – it is usually based on experience or PIC hours.   In some airlines, the salary levels are the same regardless of the length of service but there are the length of service or loyalty bonuses payable at set intervals in time – e.g. after 3 years, after 5 years, etc.   Again, this means that candidates applying to work at an airline cannot avail of those bonuses or increments until they too have put in the time.  As a recruitment consultant we always want to get the best possible new role for our candidate – if a candidate is not happy with the package on offer (and that includes roster, sector pay rates, travel benefits, etc. too of course) we would encourage the candidate to consider alternative roles altogether because airlines are ultimately not open to negotiations. If you want the salary from Job A and the roster from Job B then we’ll always try to find you a “fit” with Job C which combines both. If we don’t have anything to match your needs and preferences, we’ll tell you straight up!

There is no point in us giving candidates false expectations about certain Terms and Conditions being flexible or negotiable when, 99% of the time, that is simply not the case.

Roadshow in Sao Paolo 2nd to 7th September

Our latest client Capital Airlines is going to Brazil next month to meet A320 and A330 Captains.   

We are holding SIM and Interview in Sao Paolo, Brazil from 2nd to 7th September 2019.   Travel is fully reimbursed by the airline.  This is a fantastic opportunity to partially complete assessment without having to prepare for the medical test or ATPL exam at all!   Truly a unique opportunity.   If you are successful and impressed by the airline then you can take your time and we will help you to prepare fully for the medical and ATPL in China at a later stage.

There is limited capacity for Sao Paolo assessments so we are accepting candidates on a first come, first served basis – please apply as described above to reserve your slot.  If you’ve got questions that aren’t covered in the job specification please let us know via email or book a call with me using the button below – you can choose the time that works best for you!


Comandantes do A320 do Brasil

 Você gostaria de trabalhar 4 semanas com 4 semanas de folga?

 Você  gostaria de ganhar USD290,000 por ano livre de impostos?

 Você gostaria de escolher a partir de bases que incluem Sanja – “o Havaí do Oriente” na ponta sul da ilha de Hainan?

 Por favor, entre em contato conosco hj para mais informações. Temos avaliações em São Paulo, Brasil, de 2 a 7 de setembro e adoraríamos ver você lá!

 Email flightcrew@nobox.ie – por favor não atrasar

New Airline Client! How about being based in SANYA?!! :-)

We are proud to announce our latest Chinese airline client – Capital Airlines!

Package highlights are:

  • Fantastic salary – ranging from USD16,000 to USD24,000 per month
  • A320 Captains:  Opportunity to transition to A330 fleet after 1 year of service
  • A choice of four rosters – residential, 6:2, 6:3, 4:4
  • A choice of four bases – Sanya, Qingdao, Hangzhou and Beijing
  • Amazing ticketing benefits – unlimited ID80 tickets for domestic routes and ID90 for international routes plus 30 return tickets for their immediate family members (applies to all HNA Group operated routes)

What’s really awesome about this role (if you’re an A320 Captain) is that the much sought after base of SANYA is available.   This base is extremely attractive.  It’s known as the “Hawaii of the Orient” and with good reason – look up images of Yalong Bay and you’ll see that Sanya is a truly amazing place to live and work on the southernmost tip of Hainan Island.  It’s very close to Vietnam and Thailand but because it’s still technically China you can enjoy “Chinese salary levels” of up to USD290,000 per year after tax!

2 out of 2 – Peach Aviation Now Hiring via Nobox!

After our Japan visit last month we announced we wanted to work with BOTH carriers in the LCC market there.

Today we are very pleased to say that this is now a reality.

Peach is our latest client and we look forward very much to discussing the opportunity to work there with A320 Type Rated and Non Type Rated Captains alike.

The roster pattern is great, there’s an attractive salary on offer and Osaka is a bustling, exciting city to spend 18 days a month in!

If you have 4000 hours total time and 1500 PIC on commercial jets get in touch with us for more information about this vacancy.

The Nobox family of clients is growing – watch this space to see where we go next….. Vietnam, Thailand, Africa, Middle East – we’ll keep you posted! 🙂

Jetstar Japan Now Hiring via Nobox!

When we sign a new client at Nobox we like to fully explore the package, terms, practical aspects, etc. before we go live.   Having been liaising back and forth with Jetstar Japan for the past two weeks we are delighted to call ourselves experts now on the opportunity and we are launching our advertising campaign today.   Go ahead – ask us anything! 🙂

This role is based in Nagoya which is a wonderful city with a lot to offer expats.   All crew members can avail of a 20:10 (18:12) roster pattern.

A320 Type Rated Captains and First Officers can apply now

Non Type Rated First Officers will also be accepted!

Japan Visit 2019

We headed to Japan last week to visit with potential client airlines.   Japan is poised to become the first market in Asia with significant low cost long haul narrowbody operations following commitments from two Japanese airlines (Jetstar Japan and Peach) to begin operating A321neoLRs in 2020 enabling the two biggest LCCs in Japan to expand in the Southeast Asian market.

We were excited to find out more about their expansion plans.  Low cost long haul narrobody is a relatively small but fast growing segment.  Most operators thus far have been doing trans-Atlantic flights (Norwegian already and Aer Lingus from 2020).  The A321neoLR will be a real game changer in Asia.

With strong backing at both airlines (Jetstar Japan being a JAL / Qantas joint venture and Peach backed by ANA) we were keen to find out about expat pilot needs and the strength of the packages on offer.    We were not disappointed!   Both carriers have taken a pragmatic and long term approach to their expat hiring needs with really great lifestyle rosters on offer – 20 days on 10 days off with extra leave added on making even 18:12 possible each month!  The salaries must be low in that case we thought – that’s practically a part time roster – but no!  – the salaries in each case are averaging about gross USD15,500 per month.   We spoke with both airlines at length about their current expat cadres, their future plans, their management style, sample rosters, how assessments work, etc.

We look forward to continuing discussions over the coming weeks and very much look forward to signing up both of these carriers to the Nobox family in the near future!    With Osaka and Nagoya both on the table there’ll be something for everyone 🙂