INTERVIEW+VIDEO: First Officer at Swiss International Air Lines

INTERVIEW: First Officer at Swiss International Air Lines

INFO! Every Month: A very special interview!

Hey Tom! Thanks for taking the time to realize this interview! Could you please introduce yourself to the visitors?
Hi there Eric. I’m Tom, turned 30 a few months ago and I have been a First Officer at Swiss International Airlines for about 3 years. I flew the Airbus A319/320/321 for 2 years, started on the A330 in January from this year and just yesterday I have been checked out on the A340 so from now on, I fly the A330 and the A340 (mixed fleet).

Could you explain quickly how people become airline pilots at Swiss international Air Lines?
They usually go through a selection which contains about 5 steps including computer based training, basic simulator, interview, group exercises, medical test and so on… Once they’ve succeeded, they start the training in Zurich, which lasts about one and half to two years and when it is finished and succeeded, they start the line introduction on the A320 until they become First Officers.

Can you describe a typical flying day at work?
About 1h30 before departure, I meet with the Captain (or the Captain and the second First Officer for the long flights) and we go through all essential papers required for our flight: weather, state of the airports we fly-by and state of the aircraft. We decide the amount of fuel required for this flight and then we meet the cabin crew and go to the aircraft. After the cockpit preparation, loading of the fuel, fret and passengers, we finally take off. During the flight, we check the weather of the airports surrounding us, to be able to land in case of emergency, we perform some fuel and systems checks every now and then and enjoy the view if it’s a day flight. After 7 to 13 hours, depending on the flight, we land at our destination and are taken by bus to our hotel. Then, it’s time to enjoy the layover!

What is the longest flight you ever did and what is your favorite destination?
During my line introduction on the A340, I went to San Francisco and this was already a quite long flight but I’m going to beat that tomorrow, since I’m flying to Singapore and I’m really looking forward to discover this amazing city.I think that my favorite destination is New York, because there is always something to do and since I lived in this city for a few months, I know it quite well. But also because this is our only long haul flight starting from Geneva (instead of Zurich, like all others long flights), which is the city I live in. That way, I don’t have to commute to Zurich.

You have been flying the Airbus A320 two years ago, then the A330 and now you are rated on the Airbus A340. What is your favorite aircraft and why?
They all have their advantages: The Airbus A320 is kinda “fun” and very maneuverable (for a liner). The Airbus A330 has a lot of power, looks nice and is modern but I think that I have quite a crush on the old lady, the Airbus A340. It’s stable, can fly very far and with four engines instead of two, you always feel more comfortable when crossing the Atlantic!

What is the next step for you at Swiss International Air Lines?
In a year, I will take the CRP course (crew relief pilot), which will allow me to replace the Captain on the left seat once he will go rest in the crew rest compartment. This happens during the very long flights, when we are 3 pilots on duty (2 are working, 1 is resting). It’s actually kind of a big deal, since at that very moment you become the “boss” and have to decide and take the responsibility if something goes south, until the Captain comes back on the flight deck. It’s a good training to prepare the next step: becoming a Captain myself. And it could already happen in a few years.

What should people do if they want to become a pilot in Switzerland?
Well, I suggest that they go and visit this website:

Do you want to share some pictures with us?
Here are some pictures I made as well as a documentary that Swiss realized during my training on the Airbus A340.

Tom didn’t forget to say “Hi!” from his Airbus A340

I would like to thank Tom for taking the time to make this interview possible! I wish him all the best and a very nice winter season!

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