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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How To Be A Captain

David Wallace started upgrade class on the Monday, Jan. 30th!

“Yayyyy Me! I knew this moment was coming so I have been trying to prepare myself for it ever since I returned from furlough. I have been studying my operating manual and my systems book. However, I am sure there is more to being a captain than knowing these two books. What else should I be reading or practicing?”


Be a CAPTAIN: 

Communicative: Captains listen to their fellow crewmembers, enlisting feedback, then they communicate their decisions, decisively. They speak loud enough for all to hear, with the confidence that they have made the right decision. They create a plan with their crew, and then they communicate that plan with dispatch, ATC, and their cabin crew. They let everyone know what they intend on doing. They know there are people on the plane and in the system who need to know what is happening "after" they deal with the emergency. After they have a plan.
Assertive: Captains know that being assertive with ATC is essential. Assertive is not the same as aggressive, but more the strength to communicate what they want, and need. They do not allow controllers to lead them down the path of no return. When a captain is not ready for an approach, he or she asks for radar vectors, or a holding pattern, until they are ready. If dispatch tells them to do something that doesn’t feel right, they have the strength to override that decision.
Procedures: Captains are perfectionists in themselves and their performance. They know all procedures better than the back of their hand. They know standard operating procedures, set-up procedures, emergency procedures, departure and approach procedures, and with practice will perform them with precision. Knowing procedures, and checklist responses is essential to good performance.
Think: Captains think ahead of the plane. They plan for all contingencies before they step into the flight deck. When they brief the abort, they have taken into consideration the weather, the stopping distance, and any contingency that may limit stopping ability, as well as those that may limit the ability to fly. They think beyond the plane. Instead of being reactive, they are proactive in their thoughts and actions.
Attitude: Captains have an attitude of leadership. They are confident, communicative, willing to listen, and support their fellow crewmembers. They are positive, and encouraging and appreciate the feedback from their team. They instill in their crewmembers a feeling of importance as to the safe outcome of the flight.
Instill confidence: Captains instill confidence in others, by being confident in themselves. They instill confidence by being honest, upfront, and forthright.
Not afraid. Captains are not afraid to be human. They know that we all make mistakes and they encourage their fellow crewmembers to be comfortable in speaking out if they see something wrong. They are not afraid to say thank you, or to be humble.

David tells me his class is one week long, followed by an oral. Seven simulator sessions in the BE-1900D. His checkride might be all in the simulator, or possibly 85% in the simulator, and 15% in the plane. IOE (initial operating experience) will follow, and finally his Fed ride.


What Captain advice do you have for David?
David, you’re going to make a Great Captain! Keep me posted on your progress.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOXX Karlene

18 comments:

  1. Ah I love this and will keep this for future reference!
    May even give me brownie points on an interview..we'll see about that one though haha!

    All good points, but especially love the difference in the usual wording in this: They know all procedures BETTER than the back of their hand.

    Thanks and congratulations!

    Blue skies & runways in sight!

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    1. Thank you for the great comment. I know it will help with an interview. You're going to do great.

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  2. I agree completely, especially with Attitude. In fact, I wrote a blog on this exact topic recently. And the same things that make great captains make great leaders, too. Here's the link: http://lifesflightplan.com/2012/01/17/the-key-to-being-a-great-leader-or-great-captain/

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    1. Korry, That's an excellent blog! Yes... great leaders and captains are the same thing. And pilots of today have exceptional management skills too. Thanks so much for the comment!

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  3. I think the best captain is one who leads instead of solely managing. A leader inspires you to close the gap between what you're willing to do and what you're really capable of. Instead of treating the flight crew like a bunch of robots to press buttons at given times, the captain needs to really inspire everyone to work together. Safety of flight comes before everything else, and sometimes it's easy to let the pressures of rigid scheduling and financial implications to cloud that line of thinking. If all the crewmembers know they're working toward the same goal and that their captain isn't just there because he has to be, things will not only run more smoothly but will be overall safer and more efficient as a result. Good luck to you. :)

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    1. Christine, this is so true! I love the part about inspiring and keeping that external pressure of airline life out of the flight deck.
      Thanks for the great comment!

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  4. Very nice, I like that a lot. and it's fully applicable to leadership in almost any occupation. Captain, My Captain!

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    1. D.B. So true. We can all be captains of our life, despite what profession we're in. Thanks for the great comment!

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  5. This is positively spectacular! Thanks Karlene!

    I've been putting a lot of thought into what I personally think being a Captain means. As i am completing my upgrade training this week, I think I have reached my conclusion:

    A Captain is like a an orchestra conductor. Every musician, every crew member, is an integral part of the day's symphony. Really, it's like a big musical production where every note, every rythm and every instrument counts towards making the production.. perfect!

    A captain's job is not unlike the conductor's - tying all the team members together and leading them through the changes in rythm, calling on some more than others during particular phases. In the end, it's all about tying the team together and leading them to success by knowing the symphony like the back of your own hand, in order to confidently and safely navigate the different parts of the flight.

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us!

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    1. Jean, this is beautifully written. I was so excited to learn about your captain upgrade too. You've waited long and worked hard for it, and you are going to make an excellent captain, conducting the orchestra of your life. Thank you for the great comment!

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  6. What a great list of positive attributes. I think it can be applied to a few other jobs too.

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    1. Angela, so very true! Which means, we can all be captains! It even applies to being a parent. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. I LOVE this! I'm going to show it to my hubby. Not that he'd be a captain of a plane, but it applies to leadership in general. Thanks!

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    1. I would love to here what your hubby says. I'm thinking a leader is a leader, despite what job we do.

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  8. I am happy that now I know some of the things I need.It is not late to start to train and practice these skills.Thank you so much for sharing experiences!!
    I won't forget CAPTAIN!
    Best wishes,
    Jun

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jun. Not to worry, you can use them when the wind calms down and you start flying again. They're good for flying small planes too.

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  9. Great post, I'm bookmarking this too for the future!

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    1. Hey becoming a pilot... I normally don't just post comments with links, unless I know the person. But... popped over to your website and so glad to have you join the aviation club. Keep me posted on your progress! If you ever need anything, just give me a shout. Happy Flying.

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