Mis à jour : 3 juil 2018
Many times, I was asked how I made it to an Air France cockpit. This whole new website with the its blog will allow me to answer questions in a developed way, in both English and French. I'm trying, as much as I can, to answer to all Instagram/Facebook/Youtube messages, but it's really hard to do it correctly, in the view of the followers growth.
When I was dreaming about this job, I would have loved to have an airline pilot taking the time to direct us, and make us dream, us, the future generation of pilots. That's why I've decided to take the time to support you, take the global and recurrent questions, and answer to them in a more precise way.
That question I was asked so many and so many times: “How did you become an airline pilot?”
Let's begin with the beginning.
Friday, December 7th 1984: Birth in Carcassonne, in the French “Aude” (department). My family isn't in the aeronautical world at all, but, when I was a little boy, I was already attracted by the sky, the space, and the world that surrounds me. After I moved to Montpellier, this urge to become a pilot (fighter pilot, initially) never stopped growing and growing even more.
December 1998: For my 13th birthday, I had the opportunity to make my first flight, at the Hérault flying club; I'll never thank my parents enough for allowing me doing it. It was aboard a two-seats Robin HR200, school-plane, with as my instructor Jacques Guasch, which I'll find again later in professional school. With this flight, my parents thought they would kill the urge to become a pilot in me… Well, that isn't what happened at all!
Beginning year 2000: 15 years old, first solo flights, first felings of freedom… and this, one year before being allowed (in France) to drive a car with a parent sitting next to me! My parents were terrified about that!
Beginning year 2002: 17 years old, I obtain my PPL (Private Pilote License), as well as my Scientific Baccalaureate, physics / chemistry option, with the “Pretty Good” mention (13,9/20). I precise this to destroy the sacred aura surrounding the importance of this “mention” that we often hear about. I had lot of abilities, which I wasn't exploiting, maybe because of a lack in maturity...
June 2002: Here I am, my “Bac” in the pocket, as well as my PPL. But what can I do? The aeronautical market is really shaky, but I don't stop believing, between all the people trying to discourage me. I'll always remember my physics teacher, telling me that “seeing your behavior, you'll never end more than a dustman!”. Never let you demoralize because of people who, most of the time, don't have any clue of what they're talking about…
I could (and should) have gone to a PCSI (Physics-Chemistry – Engineer Sciences) preparation school, to prepare to the Air France's Cadets / ENAC (National School of Civil Aviation), even if the amount of hiring was very low back to then. I think that my overflowing urge to become a pilot made me choose the private sector, to finish in a cockpit, whether it was in a light or in an airline aircraft.
I strongly recommend you to take your courage in your hands, and try all the free possibilities before putting a credit on your back, as I did.
January 2003 – December 2003: I join a modular formation, at the age of 18, to pass my ATPL Theorical exam (Airline Transport Pilot theorical license). In one year, with all the modules in my pocket, I'm beginning the practical phase.
June 2002 – January 2004: Maturing phase, to obtain the minimum amount of hours to integrate the practical phase of the ESMA (aviation school), which was, back then, the school of the (now disappeared) “Air Littoral” company.
January 2004 – May 2004: IR (Instrument Rating) exam, followed by the CPL (Commercial Pilot License). I decided not to pass the MCC (Multi Crew Coordination), because the employing market was really bad.
May 2004 – September 2004: 19 years old, I'm preparing the “cadets” competitive examination as a “Pro Cadet”. Indeed, back then, if you were below 23yo, with your ATPL, CPL and IR, you could apply for it. I couldn't miss this opportunity, even if the chances were really slim. I'll soon come back, with a long post on the blog about my experience in this “Cadets” selection, as this structure is coming back this year.
September 2004 – February 2005: Air France's selection process. I'll talk about this in an upcoming post.
December 2004 – February 2005: Here I am, in Perpignan (French city), at Aéropyrénées, to pass my FI (Flight Instructor) exam. It was the only way to build my flight hours, waiting for the first opportunity.
Summer 2005: For many months, I'm at the OISE, Bristol, in a host family. This school (which I highly recommend) also welcomes the future ATCs promotions. It allowed me to significantly improve my English, as well as validating the level I didn't manage to have at the exam. You need to be aware that the English taught in the French schools isn't enough to pretend to this job. There's no secret: to improve, you need to travel, especially for your speaking/listening skills..
October 2005: Back in France, voluntary instructor at Nîmes-Courbessac, working here and there, which learned me loads of things. This was necessary to me, it permitted me to gain in maturity, and to always have in mind the value of money.
February 2005 – September 2006: Waiting to be integrated at the Air France's Cadets school, for kind of a “back to standards” training, which will last a couple of months. I'll come back about this on the Cadets' post.
September 2006 – September 2007: Entry at the Cadets' school, my training there. Post coming soon.
October 2007: 22 years old, I'm certified on Airbuses A318/319/320/321: I'm the happiest man on earth.
Mid 2013: 29 years old, switching to long-hauls A330/340.
Beginning 2016: First steps on social medias, moving to Paris!
Year 2018: 33 years old, soon flying the long-hauls Boeing 777-200/300/F.
I hope that this small career text answered some of your questions.
In next articles, I'll talk about how I remember the Cadets' selections, as well as the development of the training back then.
Thanks to Loïc Abbé-Fouillet for this english version.