I am a new /low time pilot and like many of you have spent many hours behind the wheel to try and land my first job. I’ve spent the better part of two years doing this knowing that one day I’ll make it happen. In the mean time I have bills to pay, so I started working at the Esso Avitat in Vancouver.
As Linecrew I’m responsible to provide professional service to everyone visiting our FBO, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Everyone from the Pilot of a Cessna 150 on up to the crew and passengers of a BBJ or chartered 727, they all get the same attention. This means fueling, ground handling, ground power, water and/or lav services, catering, ice, coffee, newspapers, even umbrellas when it’s raining.
You might end up working days or nights or even a combination of the two. Generally there are 3 busy times throughout the day: the morning rush, the lunchtime rush, and the evening rush. Unless of course it’s summer. Then the day is just one arrival/departure after the next. It’s not unheard of to sell upwards of 50,000 liters of fuel in a day, which is a lot for an FBO. The nights can be just as busy. Although there is reduced traffic, only 2 Linecrew are scheduled at night. We try to plan things in advance so everything goes smoothly. We work together to complete the night duty list, handle arrivals/departures, fuel cargo aircraft and medevacs, and fill trucks for the next day. If things do slowdown, day or night, we are either assigned, or more preferably take the initiative, to do a little housekeeping around the facility; washing hanger floors, windows, cleaning the parking lot, or lending a hand to the maintenance supervisor.
As Linecrew/Pilot, the Avitat offers a flexible work schedule which allows me to continue to pursue leads and make road trips. As part-time you can expect to work between 30-48 hours a week, shifts are 12 hours long and might be spread over 3 or 4 days leaving the rest of the week open to job hunt, build hours, or even work another job. Full-time will get you 48 hours, at 4 days on 4 off. My ramp manager has been understanding and occasionally changes shifts to allow me the opportunity to find flying work. The rest of the crew is also very professional and a great group of guys. The average experience is 4.5 years as linecrew and some have put in much more time then that. From talking to some the other ramp crews around the South Terminal I’d consider the pay to be average if not slightly above. The best way to make it count is to work hard and pick up as many shifts as you can. My record is 9 -12 hour shifts in a row.
Of course the best part of the job is working with the variety of aircraft and operators that use our facility. It’s always motivating and inspiring. My primary role, to provide professional service, always comes first. But usually there are always a few moments to talk to and hear the insight of our tenants and visiting crews. It may be unrealistic to think that I’ll end up in the right seat of a Citation by talking to someone on the ramp but that doesn’t stop me from developing a relationship with them. You never know where the conversation will go. They may know someone who has an entry level position or some day they could have a position open to you. They all started at the bottom, most remember and are glad to help you reach your goals.
Working in a ramp position may not appeal to everyone but it has given me a solid platform and the opportunity to make the most out my career as a pilot. I suggest that new pilots or people thinking of a career in aviation should give it a try, even if only for a short time.
Good luck to everyone out there. However you start your career
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