A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CARGO PILOT
Its not a shocking moment during this Covid-19 pandemic, that the only surviving pilots are cargo pilots. There are some of passengers who still fly but not as much as the cargo pilots who were not affected by the lockdown and travel restriction.
WHEN IT COMES TO PILOTING, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING A CARGO PILOT AND BEING A PASSENGER PILOT?
Often working late at night or early in the morning, a cargo pilot’s job involves transporting and delivering cargo to and from various locations. Mail, industrial supplies, electronics, food, disaster relief materials, and anything else that has to get to its destination faster than land-based transportation is capable of accomplishing is included in these shipments. Cargo planes, like passenger planes, are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from small one-person aircraft to enormous freight planes.
Passenger pilots also deliver cargo, which is typically in the form of bags, but they place a higher priority on the transportation of people and not allowed to transport most of the dangerous goods. Many pilots who are qualified to fly one type of aircraft are also qualified to fly another. Both professions require a pilot’s licence, which is required for both positions.
The cargo planes have special permission to handle dangerous goods unlike every other passenger plane. For an example the transportation of covid-19 vaccine requires the use of dry ice. Dry ice is considered as dangerous goods and can only be delivered via a authorised courier.
In response to the increase in demand for air freight, cargo carriers’ pilots are among the select few in the aviation business who are today busier than they have been in years. They’re also leading a strange lifestyle, flying into and out of vacant airports and through airspace that’s almost completely devoid of aircraft. Mr. Jacky Hew, a cargo pilot based in Malaysia who narrates his life in the air on his Instagram account, consented to speak with me about his flight and his experiences.
WHAT DOES A CARGO PILOT DO?
The job of a cargo pilot is to transport goods or freight for a company. A cargo pilot occasionally handles special or dangerous materials and checks cargo lists and storage systems to ensure everything meets transportation safety guidelines. These pilots may fly at night, remain in a cockpit for several hours at a time, and sign paperwork when they deliver the products to a destination. Most fly solely between airports of various sizes while following a schedule set by the company. Doesn’t matter that how big is the size of the company and plane, the responsibilities of a cargo pilot are as important as a passenger pilot. The qualifications you need to become a cargo pilot include a commercial pilot license.
Both pilots, either cargo or passengers, have the same purpose and mission – to transfer the content of their aircraft hull securely, from one point to another. That is why the training remains the same and so do the skills. Once you decide to become a passenger or freight pilot, you will need to earn a suitable licence. This can be achieved through three training routes – modular, integrated or cadet programme with an airline.
For example, by choosing a modular commercial pilot licence (CPL(A)) curriculum, you can divide your studies into modules. In this course, a Private Pilot Licence (PPL(A)) comes first and then you start with ATPL theory study. The second alternative is to choose an integrated ATPL(A) software to obtain a frozen ATPL. This curriculum is intensive and, as a result, the fastest option to start your Type Rating.
TYPES OF AIRCRAFT ( FLEET)
Both passenger airline pilots and freight pilots use the same fixed-wing aircraft types for their operations (Boeing 737, 747, 767, 777, Airbus A300, A320, A330, etc.). The sort of aircraft you use is determined by the organisation to which you are applying. The most popular models of Boeing and Airbus, which are also used for passenger aeroplanes, are preferred by the majority of freight carriers. As a matter of fact, practically some of the cargo aeroplanes in service today are modifications or conversions of passenger aircraft. They are often intended and retrofitted for freight transportation rather than passenger transportation.
The one I am flying currently is B767-200. Based in Subang Skypark.
As a cargo pilot, you will be required to fly on a range of different schedules throughout the year. Domestic, international, 1-day trips, 14-day journeys, all-daytime flying, all-night flying, and any combination of these are all accessible on a variety of airlines.
The most significant distinction between cargo and passenger airline pilots is that cargo pilots typically fly at night, which means that they must work outside of their normal circadian cycle, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy level of alertness and concentration. Fortunately, cargo pilots tend to obtain extra vacation time as a result of the situation. They typically work in a week-on/week-off routine, which greatly aids in their recuperation time. Cargo pilots are often of the belief that the most satisfying feature of their work is the fact that they get to spend a significant amount of time at home.
The question “Do cargo pilots get paid better than those who fly for passenger airlines?” may arise after examining some of the contrasts between cargo airline pilot jobs and airline pilot positions for passengers. Actually, the answer is quite traditional – it all depends on the circumstances. Among other factors, the salary of cargo pilots is determined by how long they have been in the business, how many hours they have flown, whether they are FOs or PICs, and what sort of aircraft they fly. A substantial contrast exists between operating a small aircraft and operating a large aircraft that is capable of crossing oceans and earning a significantly higher profit.
CARGO OR PASSENGER?
Choosing between a job as a passenger airline pilot and a career as a cargo airline pilot is ultimately a choice of personal preference more than it is a matter of financial reward. Given the supposition that the requisite information, abilities, and training are the same for both, your decision will be based on your point of view. If your interest in aviation extends beyond “flying” and includes the “people” component of aviation (other crew members, passengers, gate agents, and so on), then working in passenger operations may be a better fit for your skills and interests.
Cargo piloting may be the greatest option for you if you appreciate transporting race cars with a Boeing or Airbus Freighter to destinations that you have never heard of before. If you have the correct mindset and take pleasure in what the job has to offer, it could be the most gratifying moment of your life