INTERVIEW: Boeing 717 First Officer in Spain!


Dear Mark, would you please introduce yourself to the visitors?

Hello everybody! I am Mark 24 years old and flying as First-Officer on the fantastic Boeing 717-200 with a Spanish airline. I graduated in 2014 at CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Brussels.
After high school I immediately started my flight training. This was not an easy decision since most of the people entering a pilot school have already a higher degree. I took the final decision to follow my dream and start my flying career. After graduation I could not find a job in the first year and a half. First, I started an IT job and after I worked as a ramp controller at Brussels Airport until I was hired by my current company.

Why did you choose this flight school?

Choosing a flight school is not an easy task but well worth to take some time which school suits you the best. After I visited a couple of flight schools I decided to start my flight training at CAE Oxford Aviation academy, former Sabena Flight Academy. Mainly because of the professionalism and high employment percentage after graduation.
I started with the ATPL theory in Belgium combined with the basic flying course.
The basic flying course teaches us how to fly an aircraft with a pitch and power table combined with exercises to increase our multitasking. After the ATPL exams in Brussels we could finally leave to Arizona to start flying. Starting with the Diamond 20 afterwards the Diamond 40 and ending with the Diamond 42 twin – engine. After coming back to Belgium we started the acclimatisation training to prepare us for the instrument rating and multi-engine check and also the airline preparation program on the 737-800 NG simulator in Brussels.

What did you think when you knew that you might never find a job? (prior to start your pilot training)

I have always dreamed to become a pilot already on a young age so my first concern was to become a pilot rather than to worry about a job, but when you start your training you realise that the competition among the students is high and getting the first job is really not going to be easy, despite many flight schools are saying. When I graduated the market was definitely not the same as today, only a couple of airlines where hiring. Nowadays things are different with the expansions of all the low cost companies, new graduated pilots are more welcome than ever before!

How many resume did you send after the completion of your pilot training?

I think you would not believe how many resume’s I have sent. It was almost a full time job at the beginning. I didn’t get a lot of answers because I only had 250 flight hours and no type rating. Until one day my current company invited me to do the selections. After the ATPL test, interview, simulator and psychological tests I succeeded and could finally start my dream !

Prior to your training, was your idea of being an airline pilot correct, now that you know what it is all about?

I was a bit privileged, my parents knew a captain and I could ask questions to him. So I had an idea of how a job in the cockpit look like. Of course you have to experience it by yourself but I really like it.

What do you think about the Boeing 717, it is not very usual to start a career on this aircraft!

I am really happy that I could start my career on the Boeing 717. I think it is one of the best airplanes to start flying on as a low timer pilot. You can fly it manually or as automated as an Airbus and that makes the 717 very interesting. I have learned a lot on the line and as we fly regularly to small and complicated airports your flying skills are growing fast.The systems are modern especially if you know that it was designed in 1998. The airliner was created and originally marketed by McDonnell Douglas as the MD-95, a derivative of the DC-9 family. Capable of seating up to 134 passenger. Later Boeing took over the MD-95 and named it the Boeing 717.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what are your next goals?

First of all I am really happy that I could start flying with an airline company because some friends of mine still have no job in aviation. In 5 years a lot can happen but I hope to have a bit more stable life and a base closer to home.

What would you say to the visitors willing to become airline pilot

If you have always dreamed to become a pilot then I would say go for it! But of course before starting your flying career you have to consider a couple of things. It costs a lot of money and you have to be prepared to have an irregular lifestyle. Nevertheless for me flying is the best job in the world! I hope I could give you some more inside information and wish all the future pilot reading this the best of luck!

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