Would a Pilot by Any Other Name Still be as Qualified?

Ask a pilot whom he or she flies for, and you may get a simple answer such as commercial or private. Then they may state an actual company name; they may operate aircraft for multiple companies. While many passengers may be picky with whom they fly, not many are familiar with who is doing the flying.


So, what makes the commercial pilot more qualified than the next? Alternatively, is it the private pilot that is better as you can become more familiar with the individual?  With the "Pilot Shortage," being a mainstay in aviation for many years, it's more important than ever to know if your pilot finished the top of his class or was the last man standing.


At Mira Vista Aviation there are vital components every pilot must have to qualify as a Pilot in Command or Second in Command. This includes total flight time experience, hours in a multi-engine, ATP rating as well as other ratings and many more qualifications to meet Mira Vista's safety standards, however, as it is with any company, it's more than just what can be read on paper that makes a good pilot. 


Company culture plays a significant role in hiring at Mira Vista, as a boutique company, we can be more particular about the personalities that join our team. We believe you should enjoy whom you work alongside. Pilots serve a public role, often becoming the face of the brand and who our owners and clients most commonly interact. Thus, making astute flying skills a mere piece to what makes a pilot. The pilot must have a distinct service-driven skill set that delivers professional and competent interactions in any situation.


A majority of Mira Vista Aviation new hires come from referrals. Referrals are an excellent way of seeking out team players and allow us not only to hire a pilot our clients will love, but someone his or her fellow pilots will enjoy flying alongside. 


Geoff Makely, Vice President of Mira Vista Aviation, explains further why referrals are a proffered first sorting process.


"Fortunately, employee referrals have been the main source of applicant resumes received by us," Makely said. "Due to our current employees understanding that culture is of utmost importance in the successful growth of any company, the vast majority of applicants that are referrals already have the soft skills we are looking for in addition to maintaining strong flight skills that are required for a pilot position at Mira Vista."


While the referral does weed out some potential issues, it doesn't take care of all. There are always, "Red Flags," companies look out for when hiring and Mira Vista is no different. To operate as a steady company, the organization must be filled with stable employees. An in-office interview with someone other than a friend or former co-worker provides this opportunity.


"Red flags that we continually look for are applicants that frequently bounce from job to job, never spending more than a year or two at any given employer," Makely started. "If an applicant has an instance where they had a relatively short duration at a particular job, we provide them the opportunity in the interview to discuss the circumstances that led to the relatively short period at any one company. In addition, we look for examples in the conversation where the candidate will describe in detail at least one instance of their conflict resolution skills on the flight deck that has occurred during the course of their flying career. 


"Lastly, we look for clear indications during the interview process, where the applicant reflects clear, honest, and open communications throughout their career as well as during the interview itself.  If we encounter specific circumstances that do raise a red flag, we move on to the next applicant."


Having a guideline laid out as to whom Mira Vista would hire is one thing, finding a pilot to fill the role is another. As any other sector of business knows, not every candidate is indeed a candidate making the hiring process more painstaking. The Pilot Shortage mentioned at the beginning of this read is a well-known phenomenon that has been taking place for some time in aviation. This shortage is created through the delicate balance of supply and demand met by economic success nationally and internationally. 


While not all candidates are top-notch more of the public is flying than ever. This transportation-need met by the commercial and private airline sector is also factored against available seats, routes, and aircraft. Pricing is the most crucial prominent factor in flying. Most recently, the United States has seen an economic splurge. Of course, what goes up must come down, making a recession inevitable in the future. This recession will induce a slowed demand and thus make the pool of pilots a bit larger than it currently stands. Life is all about pros and cons. 


"From my perspective, the shortage still has a pretty long shelf life for our industry," Makely said. "If some of the pool or applicants are not truly hirable, we have a diminished number of desired applicants to choose from, which makes identifying good fits even more challenging. Currently, the airlines are a bit slower in their hiring, particularly as they await approval to begin flying the 737 Max aircraft. 


"With those planes still on the ground, those hundreds of crew members are now fulfilling their flying duties on other 737 aircraft which likely has slowed the hiring pace for those airlines in particular that were flying the MAX 737. In addition, I think we will get some relief during this pilot shortage when the recession begins to take hold as route expansion and flight schedules will likely be significantly diminished alongside hiring." 


The hiring process, in any manner, has never been an easy one. When hiring, it takes a mix of understanding of what is happening inside your company culturally and systematically out in the world. A good company must always have its thumb on the pulse. 


"At Mira Vista Aviation, our main way of leveling the playing field has, and will continue to be, by offering a good cultural experience, balanced quality of life, and by mentoring our pilots in such a way as to further each of their career aspirations," Makely said. "Whether a pilots' goal is to fly for the commercial cargo and passengers' operators ultimately, or to progress into larger business jets, we help facilitate those pilot goals. In exchange, our pilots make candidate referrals that meet with our company expectations in a way that dramatically cuts down on time spent recruiting and filtering through the numerous resumes that any company would receive."