Tyler operates a privately owned Gulfstream IV based in the UAE as a Private Jet First Officer and has very kindly shared his story, to help inform & hopefully inspire other pilots
Position & Base
Private Jet First Officer on the Gulfstream GIV-SP – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Job role summarised
Apart from being the right seat driver, my job role as a private jet First Officer is rather vast. I am part of a small company that consists of only the Captain and myself, to which we manage the aircraft that we fly. My job role involves anything and everything between the nose cone to the elevator trim tab.
Between the 2 of us, we organize the aircraft maintenance, flight clearances and permits, flight routings, runways analyses, flight planning, Nav database updates, all associated aircraft costings, aircraft restocking, aircraft cleaning, pilot training, civil aviation matters. Pretty much everything for A to Z relating to an aircraft.
Insight into “a day in the life” of a Private Jet First Officer
Typical flying day, starts off usually 3-4 days in advance. We find out from the Boss where he would like to go – the where, when what! Then approach our flight planning company and we assist with all necessary documents for our permits and clearance applications for the route that has been requested.
Approaching 1-2 days before the flight, I’ll usually head over to the aircraft, power the baby up and make sure all the avionics and NAV databases are up to date and the aircraft is in fine working order before our departure. I will also go through all the aircraft stocks; drinks, snacks, glassware etc. and make a list of things that we will need to get for the flight. It’s fun times as we usually don’t fly with a flight attendant so I have to put on the skirt every now and then … haha.
The night before the flight, we will receive our crew briefing with all our route clearances, fuel required etc. This allows me to jump on Jepperson or Foreflight and plug in the route, checking the weather, NOTAMs and all that Jazz.
Finally the day of the flight, the crew heads to the plane usually 2-3 hours prior to departure. Between the Captain and myself we usually alternate flying legs 50/50, which is a real treat. This obviously depends on the challenges of the flight, perhaps short landing distance, heavy loads or shocking weather. Nevertheless, setup the aircraft for the flight, refuel, refill the sweetwater tank and the loo of course as well as arrange bits and bobs in the Galley. Then it’s just a waiting game.
Cleared for Takeoff and off we go. Upon landing at our destination airport it’s usually a quick process to clean up and put the plane to bed. Climbing the ladders, putting covers on and filling in all the paper work is just about all that happens after the flight. Then we wait . . . to do it all over again.
Why did you choose this job?
This was quite an easy decision coming to the think of it. I was supposed to start a C208 Bushing flying job in Botswana but then COVID had other ideas for my aviation career. I was left without work for close to a year then things started to develop on this aircraft, started sourcing planes to purchase, going though legal agreements and developing a plan on how this whole operation was going to work. To my surprise I got offered a position to actually fly the aircraft, an absolute honour and no brainer for me, as this was my chance to get my first Jet Rating.
What’s your favourite part of being a Private Jet First Officer?
I would say I have a couple favourite things about being a private jet pilot, hard to name one that’s for sure.
Starting off, the routes are awesome, flying into all sorts of cool and busy airports. Never in a million years would I think my most common route would be Dubai to London and second to that being the Maldives.
Secondly, it’s a great honour to be flying with the Captain, he is actually my old man which is a rare thing to come across these days but truly special.
What do you find the 3 most challenging aspects of being a private jet first officer?
This is a tough one, firstly I would say the big C (Covid), I know everyone is in the same boat and I hate to mention it, but it terms of organizing flights with every changing travel restrictions and entry requirements. It can be a real pain in the numpty somethings.
Ramp Checks . . . I know everything should be in order so you should have to worry about ramp checks but putting that all aside, there is nothing worse than landing after an 8.5-hour flight and then seeing the authorities waiting on the ramp to come and check the whole aircraft. Generally, the folks are all friendly and happy, however it is quite a lengthy process as the tear the aircraft apart from emergency lights to techlogs. All in all, they are alright I guess, it’s just that extra hour/hour and a half added to your day that you just didn’t need.
Lastly, I would say perhaps when it comes to flights and everything is time sensitive before departure, for the example the fuel truck arrives late, clearances haven’t come through etc. It’s a collection of different parties all coming together in unison to not allow any delays. I guess it all works itself out the in the end but I tend to panic as we try and pride ourselves on “on-time” departures.
Most surprising part of being a private jet First Officer?
Sounds a bit of a cliché but I do find it mind boggling how my job as a private jet first officer involves me flying intercontinental and it’s all in a day’s work. One trip we did, we flew to 4 different continents, 6 different countries over the space of 5 days. It’s crazy to see how aviation makes the world a smaller place!
One great thing about your company…
Again, to many to name just one, I would say these:
1. The Principle is actually on time, so not too much waiting around
2. The off-time – we get quite a lot of it
3. My family gets to join on most of the flights and trips we do
4. Exotic Destinations
5. Finally, being based in Dubai
Most memorable day on the job?
First Flight on the Gulfstream aircraft – My first flight with my hands on the control of a jet was one to remember. We had to pick up the aircraft I am currently flying from a small town in the US called Perryville, Missouri. It’s a tiny place with a population of around 8,500 people. From Perryville with had to fly over Memphis, New York and Boston to our destination in Bangor. This was a first time to the US for me, let alone first time flying in it. It was one for the memory book, hands down.
If you could go back to the start of your career as a private jet first officer and do anything differently, what would it be and why?
Hmm, I am pretty happy with how far I have come with my career so far and really wouldn’t change a thing.
If I had to though, I would say I would have loved to have done a little bit more bush flying. What I am doing now is out of this world and would never wish that away. But the thrill of bushing flying in Africa is a chart topper, I used to love coming in for a runway inspection on a small dirt track (the runway), buzzing past whilst trying to scare the Buffalo and Zebra out of the way.
Any common myths you’d like to dispel about being a private jet pilot? /Any common questions you get asked?
Question – Can you fly bigger aircraft like you see in the Airlines?
Answer – Yes, getting a PPL/CPL pretty much allows to fly any aircraft of any size, I mean look at John Travolta flying his own Boeing 707 on a PPL (If I am not mistaken).
Don’t get me wrong, I know in our everyday world this is not really possible, there is a whole world of restrictions on it, biggest being insurance and type ratings, but figuratively speaking if you had a way to overcome these restrictions like not fussed about the excessive insurance premiums and the massive cost of type ratings you could fly anything from a C150 to a Boeing 777.
Would you recommend your career path to budding or current pilots? Any advice for them
I would recommend my career path to other pilots, I think it teaches you a whole different aspect of aviation, it is challenging, it’s always something new (new airport, new country) and it’s always different, no 2 days are the same.
My advice for new pilots to the game – patience and persistence, as the current industry goes it’s rather difficult to get a flying job that is ideal, but no matter how hard you work and how many CV’s you send out, you have to keep doing more. Be willing to graft the hard yards even if it’s not ideal or something you don’t really want to do, whether it’s sweeping the hanger or working in operations, it’s all going to pay off in the end and be absolutely worth it.
I would also say to ignore ‘bigger is better’! Everyone in aviation has interests in different sectors of the industry whether it’s bush flying, barefoot flying, corporate flying, airlines etc. I remember when I was just starting off in the industry a lot of people (most of them not even in aviation) kind of spoon feed you with “bigger planes are better” and “when are you going to be a professional pilot in an airline”. In my honest opinion none of that matters, obviously if you want nothing other than to fly for an airline, then go for it! But what I am saying is enjoy your aviation journey, you don’t get to go back and do it again, you only have one and its yours nobody else’s. Don’t feel like you have to rush onto something bigger and better just because that’s the thing people think you should do. Fly everything and enjoy every flight.
Never compare your career progression to anyone else’s, everyone has their own situations and everyone is looking for something different in this beautiful industry.
Rough flying hours per month as a Private Jet First Officer in the UAE?
+/- 30 hours a month
What’s your future plan?
Ultimate dream is to have my own aircraft management company, still a long time running and a lot of hard yards to get there but I am working on it. Otherwise, with the piloting stuff, I would love to move my way up the BizJets – Gulfstream G650 or Global 7500 would be most ideal.
What does a “bad day at work” look like for you
Any day that I am not flying – Paperwork, Expenses, Budgeting and Maintenance Planning. I guess it’s all a days work though.
What does a “great day at work” look like for you
Any day that I am flying – Any new destination, good weather and an on time departure are all added bonuses.
We wish Tyler all the best on his journey as a Private Jet First Officer in the UAE and his path to Command. Thanks for sharing your story! 😊
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