The role of a technical pilot is a complex one – think commercial pilot, plus liaising with manufacturers, being involved with engineering works, and you kind of get the picture. We caught up with technical pilot Stephanie Goodwin to find out a bit more about her and her role.
Hi Stephanie! Tell us a little bit about you – how long have you been a pilot for, and what made you want to become one?
I have worked at Monarch for 2 ½ years now and have been a commercial pilot for 5 years.
I have always wanted to pursue a career as a pilot. Ever since I was about 8 years old, I used to go and watch the Southend Airshow every year as a child, and I think that’s what sparked my interest, as no-one else in my family is in aviation.
I applied to the RAF when I was 16 but unfortunately failed the medical assessment due to my arms being too short! After this I thought that my dreams of being a pilot were over. So I did university degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Business Management, then became an engineer at GE Aviation developing and manufacturing Aviation systems for civil and military aircraft. After 4 years in engineering, my desire to be a pilot was still as strong as it had ever been, so I decided to change my career, and went off to New Zealand to do my Commercial Pilot Training and I have never looked back!
What are the main differences between a ‘regular’ commercial pilot and a technical pilot?
I still get the benefit of doing my dream job of flying, but now I have a mix of office work at Luton and flying from Gatwick, which makes for a hugely varied work life- it is a great balance of the practical element of the job, and really getting involved in what goes on behind the scenes, liaising with different parts of the business such as engineering and operations. The technical pilot role involves ensuring that operational procedures to allow pilots to do their job are optimised, and that all the correct documentation is in place. We deal with crew’s technical queries, and liaise with the aircraft manufacturers on a range of issues. We also work with Engineering to look at the impact of any aircraft modifications, and ensure that all the technical data available to pilots is accurate.
How often do you fly?
The frequency in which I fly is entirely dependent on the season. In the height of summer we can be working every day for 5 or 6 days, with a couple of days off in between. There are very strict rules on the amount of hours we can work to ensure we get adequate rest. In quieter periods, I might only fly a few times a month.
What are the best bits of the job – and the worst?
The variety is definitely the best part- even if you go to the same destination two days running, no two days are the same, as there are so many factors involved. I get to work with different people every day, and fly thousands of people every year on their holidays, which is really rewarding.
I have also been involved in pilot recruitment and really enjoy bringing enthusiastic, motivated people into our company.
The worst part is the early morning alarm calls – getting up at 3am never gets any easier!
Working in a male-dominated industry, do you get any reactions from passengers?
I do get a fair few comments from passengers especially when I say farewell at the end of a flight – the majority are positive, or merely surprise as they have never been flown by a woman pilot before.
That said, I have also been blamed for turbulence, the condition of the runway and delays because ‘it was a woman pilot’, thankfully you can’t reverse park an A320 so they can’t blame me for my parking skills! I have also been told that surely I cannot have been allowed to land the aircraft, or that I can’t be qualified. I think there is still much to be done in educating people that gender is not a barrier to this career.
Stephanie’s office view
What’s your advice to other women considering being a pilot as a career?
Go for it, as long as you have the aptitude and the personal qualities that airlines are looking for then I couldn’t think of a more rewarding career – what’s better than getting paid to do something you love!
Thank you Stephanie! And finally…what’s your favourite destination to fly to?
I fly routes across all of the Monarch network, which includes Europe, North Africa and Israel. My favourite destinations are the winter ski destinations such as Grenoble and Geneva. On a fine day, the Alpine scenery is stunning, and the challenges that come with operating in wintery conditions in the height of the season, make for a busy but enjoyable day out.