“What do I do now?” It’s a question many pilots are asking themselves right now as they face the reality that they may not fly for a while. The good news is that the flight deck isn’t the only place a pilot can put their knowledge and skills to good use.
Patrick Botter from CAE talked to Judy Choi, a Simulator Flight Instructor at CAE Hong Kong about her transition from airline pilot to CAE Instructor and the day-to-day of her work, and how networking, learning, and staying current are key to moving forward.
Patrick: Tell us about your background and how you ended up becoming an instructor at CAE.
Judy Choi: It started when I was a kid seeing my father work at Kai Tak International Airport as a Customs Officer. I used to go to the checkpoint and plane spot. And when I was old enough, I went through training and then joined one of the local airlines in Hong Kong.
Patrick: And what was the reason why you became an instructor at CAE?
Judy Choi: Actually, I was injured on a hiking trip when I was on leave and I saw the CAE Hong Kong facility right across the road from me and I thought, why not? I’ll explore being an instructor. And for the past three years, I’ve worked as a part-time simulator instructor with CAE on the A320 and A330.
Patrick: You went from airline pilot to flight instructor. How was that transition?
Judy Choi: Suddenly the workload is heavier and you have to take a back seat because you have to take care of the Captain, the co-pilot and assess the synergy of planes and how you can get the session going.
Patrick: There are several customers with different cultures and various airlines at CAE Hong Kong. How do you adapt to each customer?
July Choi: You have to prepare a lot. As a pilot, you’re used to flying for one airline, but as a simulator flight instructor you have to know many aircraft like the back of your hand.
Patrick: How does CAE prepare you to become an instructor?
Judy Choi: CAE provides a lot of training and tools that are required to become an instructor. We’re also given a lot of opportunities to practice and there’s a support network too. I can always ask for advice from my colleagues and learn from them.
Patrick: What about training on teaching skills specifically? Does CAE have courses that focus on developing skills as an instructor?
Judy Choi: Training takes two to three weeks based on your background. Ground school is about one week, which covers the basics of flight simulator training and refresher courses on aircraft you have flown. Then, after ground school training you’re taught how to actually stand up and teach, how to carry out a brief at briefing sessions and specifics on full-flight simulators.
Patrick: What would you say are the most essential qualities for an instructor?
Judy Choi: The most essential qualities are the three pillars of being an instructor at CAE, which are teaching skills, communication skills and style and adaptability.
Patrick: What’s your typical day like?
Judy Choi: My day starts with preparation and going over all my notes and any updated manuals to check to see if anything has changed or not. Then I go through all my training slides to make sure nothing is left out followed by starting the training session. After that, I finish up with my reports. In many ways, there are a lot of similarities to being a pilot.
Patrick: What the best thing about your job?
Judy Choi: The best thing about my job is having the opportunities to learn…and to make mistakes!
Patrick: There are a lot of furloughed pilots out there now wondering about their next move or new students. What do you have to say to them?
Judy Choi: I would say find a way to stay motivated and keep building your resiliency and you will get through this environment and get back to doing what you love.
This article is a transcription of the CAE Pilot Podcast Episode 9: A Pilot’s Place isn’t Always in the Sky.
The CAEpilot podcast brings together aviation professionals to discuss life as a pilot, training and career advice. Listen and subscribe here https://www.cae.com/caepilot-podcast/
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