Become a Drone Pilot: Case Study – Resilient Pilot
Resilience is key in today’s industry; it’s a vital characteristic for pilots and a ‘buzz word’ in airline recruitment and training. Resilience is developed by improving confidence and competence. In the absence of the support of the normal working and training environment (eg. during a period of furlough or displacement, and whilst awaiting employment opportunities). With the aviation industry being knocked by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to shed some light on drone pilots who are embracing change.
I think we can agree that over the past 10 months, we have all had to be resilient at one point. In this weeks blog we spoke to Karen Bath, CEO and founder of Resilient Pilot to hear about how they are trying to help pilots who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recovering from a Crisis: Resilient Pilot
Resilient Pilot provides industry connections to help develop effective strategies to maintain competency and confidence, and build resilience.
Resilient Pilot focuses upon three main elements: Pilot Competencies, Wellbeing and Diversity.
Competency or Evidence Based Training has been widely adopted by the airline industry. ICAO and other bodies promote 8 Competencies, and EASA has opted to include ‘knowledge’ as a 9th core competency. The Resilient Pilot concept focuses on helping pilots develop, embed and sustain these competencies. At the heart of Resilient Pilot is an absolute focus on maintaining WELLBEING and helping to encourage DIVERSITY.
We wanted to find out more about what Resilient Pilot is, and how it can help drone pilots in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tell me the story of Resilient Pilot, what are the aims of the organisation?
“Resilient Pilot provides a mentoring service for the pilot community who have been impacted by the current climate. I am a founder and the CEO of Resilient Pilot. It was set up between myself and Stuart Beech. I have worked within the airline industry for over 30 years, and Stuart was a trainee pilot in the company I previously worked for called CTC Aviation (now known as L3 Harris). Stuart is now a British Airways Senior First Officer; we had stayed in touch over the years and spoken about different projects we potentially wanted to work on together.
“When Covid hit, it was clear that Resilient Pilot would need to come together quickly. Stu had been asked to mentor a member of cabin crew who wanted to become an airline pilot and it was that approach that led us to establish a mentoring service to help cadets in training and newly qualified who were graduating at a time where, all of a sudden, there were no jobs available in the field they had trained and invested significantly in. We wanted to help them remain motivated and inspired to remain connected as we will need them in the very near future as our industry recovers.
“We got in touch with pilots who we knew would be good mentors and set up a really small team initially to provide a free service to support cadets and newly qualified pilots. And then the reality of Covid started to set in; Flybe went bust and airlines around the Globe began announcing significant pilot redundancies: It was clear that Resilient Pilot wasn’t just needed by the cadet pilot community, but for the entire pilot community.
“Resilient Pilot has evolved from a very small group of individuals who wanted to help, to 60 mentors around the world, but mainly focused upon the UK, Europe and Middle East. Providing a free mentoring service is very much at the centre of what we do, but we also offer free webinars on a range of topics and a portfolio of courses and workshops to help pilots stay up to date.
“Our aim is to keep pilots supported, connected and current. Everything we’re doing is to achieve one or all of those three things. Support comes in the mentoring; the current is creating packages to keep pilot licenses current and the connected comes from holding webinars, providing links to resources and, ultimately, we want to connect pilots with jobs.
“We have also set up #AvTalent which is for those pilots who are looking for alternative careers – either in the interim or as a long-term solution. We are trying to encourage recruiters to recognise the different talents that pilots have and the skills that they can bring to different industries, such as using their pilot and aviation skills to become a drone pilot.
“As the aviation industry starts to recover, we like to think ‘connected’ will mean that we are able to connect people with flying jobs again, but until then we will provide a portfolio of workshops and webinars that can keep pilots motivated and connected. Most of our work is free, we are a not-for-profit organisation.
“A few weeks ago, we had a pilot who had been previously qualified as a pharmacist and had been made redundant from his airline job. Resilient Pilot put a post out an appeal asking if anyone knew any pharmacists and through our network, we found a pharmacist who is willing to take him on!”
How many people are involved with Resilient Pilot at the moment?
“At the moment, we have 60 mentors who are all volunteers. The majority of them are pilots who have been made redundant, some of them are still working or furloughed. They come from a variety of different operational backgrounds. We also have a number of specialist mentors, but all have an aviation background.
“When we first set up Resilient Pilot, it was about supporting pilots through mentoring, but we have also developed our own mentor community. We have fortnightly team zooms and do regular training sessions. A strong team spirit has developed amongst our mentors now which is proving equally important.
What are the future plans for Resilient Pilot?
“Statistics are suggesting that the airline industry may not fully recover until around 2024. At the beginning of 2020, we were discussing issues about pilot shortages! The airline industry will always come back stronger, which has been proven after events such as 9/11 and the Gulf War – it has always come back stronger!
“Resilient Pilot will be needed at least for the next three or four years in its current format. We are looking at funding solutions to see if we can keep the service going. We want to provide training for our mentors, so they get some return for their personal time and upskill to provide a greater support service for the pilot community. Peer Support Programmes will be a mandatory requirement for AOC holders from February 2021 which shows the value placed upon supporting each other to help cope with challenges and maintain wellbeing. Resilient Pilot can provide that same support for pilots not currently employed by an AOC and therefore not otherwise able to benefit from a PSP.
“We have begun to establish collaborative partnerships with a number of like-minded businesses who offer discounts to Resilient Pilot members and we are keen to strengthen those collaborations and build more.
“We are also working to develop an interactive resource library and our portfolio of ‘FlightPlan’ workshops, courses and webinars which will all help to maintain wellbeing and ensure pilot competencies are refreshed. We want airlines to be aware that if a pilot has been through a Resilient Pilot programme, they have tried their best to stay as connected and up to date as possible, thus demonstrating their resilience and employability.”
How has your experience been working with Coptrz?
“I first became aware of Coptrz through a cadet graduate I had previously worked with. He’d just secured his first airline role at the end of 2019 but was unfortunately made redundant early in 2020 as a result of the impact of COVID. He is a very resilient individual and quickly secured employment with Coptrz. As a result of his enthusiasm for what Coptrz offer, I invited Coptrz to speak at one of our webinars to promote the idea of drone flying as an alternative career option for pilots currently out of work. It was one of our most popular webinars and Jamie presented the topic brilliantly. He certainly knew his stuff, was very engaging and able to answer any question thrown at him from our diverse audience! He certainly convinced me and his audience of the credibility of Coptrz and I hope some of our Resilient Pilot members will follow up by training to be drone pilots with Coptrz.”
Looking to become a drone pilot in 2021?
There has never been a better time than now to utilise your potential with drone technology. If you are a pilot who is wanting to use your aviation skills in another area of the industry, contact us today and start your journey to becoming a drone pilot.