Pilot Interview Questions
Here are some questions I found, I don’t remember where, the PDF file was on my computer. The questions are taken from an actual interview for airline pilots and answering them can improve our airmanship skills. Hope you find them useful and feel free to post answers as comments. I will try to get some more interview questions ASAP. Preparing for an interview is very important when applying for new job and is not considered cheating at all 🙂 Have fun and enjoy 🙂
Standard HR Questions:
- Tell me something about yourself that we cannot decipher from your resume or application?
- What is one accomplishment that you are very proud of?
- Why should we hire you here at XYZ airlines?
- Why shouldn’t we hire you?
- Why did you choose XYZ?
- Have you applied to any other companies?
- What, in your opinion, makes a professional pilot?
- What is one quality/personality trait, given the chance, you would change about yourself?
- How would you describe yourself in one word?
- Tell me about the toughest crew you had to deal with?
- Tell me about a time you went outside company policy?
- When was the last time you had an FAA/JAA/CAA inspector on board and how did it go?
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with a stressful flight?
- Tell me a time when you witnessed a crewmember do something unsafe?
- Tell us about a time you had to use your leadership skills to resolve a problem?
- Have you ever failed a check ride, and if so tell me about it?
Jepp Charts are used industry wide and it is strongly encouraged to study the charts in grave detail prior to an interview.
- Know how to Brief an Approach or finger fly an approach
- Be able to answer what any symbol is on a low altitude chart, approach plate, SID/STAR
What airplane are you most familiar with?
- What is the max Takeoff weight, Landing weight, and Ramp weight?
- What is the fuel capacity?
- Can you explain to me how the landing gear system works? (if applicable)
- Can you describe the pressurization system? (if applicable)
What is blue line?
What is V1? What is V2?
What is the difference between stating minimum fuel and declaring and emergency?
What is a balanced field?
What are the alcohol consumption regulations?
What is the IFR fuel requirement?
At what FL does RSVM begin and what are the requirements to operate within?
Be able to talk through a departure or Arrival procedure, what to do in case of lost communications, final altitude, and flight path.
Conflict Resolution Questions:
The proverbial drunken captain question, may be asked in various forms and also be ready to roll play the scenario.
- What would you do if during the van ride to the airport your captain smelled like alcohol?
- What would you do if you ran into your captain drinking within less than the regulatory 8 hours bottle to throttle?
What would you do/say if your captain (flying pilot) was 5 knots slow on Final Approach? Again this may be role played.
Cost index (CI) is a number presenting the ratio of the time-related cost of an airplane operation and the cost of fuel. The value of the CI reflects the relative effects of fuel cost on overall trip cost as compared to time-related direct operating costs.
The formula may look simple enough but getting the numbers in it isn‘t quite simple.
Each company must determine its fleet CI in order to fly as efficiently as possible. It is work that should be done when forming the basic strategies of the company. It is a lot of work and is not as simple as it looks. Most of the manufacturers provide a default CI based on the average prices of fuel and time related cots but CI for a specific operator may be very different for another. Sometimes the CI of two airplanes of the same type model or variation may have different values.
Time related costs (TRC)
The TRC are basically the costs you can save by saving one hour of flight time.
When determining the type related costs for a trip, you must take into account every cost you pay by time. Such costs are leasing, maintenance, engines, auxiliary power units and all other items you replace by the hours. Also some companies pay their crew by the hour, or provide a bonus by the hours, If this is the case those expenses should be included in the CI.
The leasing of the airplane can be paid by the actual flight time or by fixed period of years. If the first is the case then leasing is directly included in TRC if the case of your company is the second then a more complex calculation based on lease period is required to determine the how it affects the TRC during the lease period. When the lease is paid then this cost can be removed by the formula.
The hourly price of leasing can be determined by dividing the lease price by the hours, you want to fly in order to pay the airplane.
Maintenance price is the price you pay for every scheduled maintenance of the aircrafts and its items. This price can be easily evaluated as most maintenance is hourly scheduled. When there is cycles based maintenance it doesn‘t add value to the TRC as it doesn’t change with changing the flight time between two cycles.
Fuel costs is the price of fuel your aircraft consumes by the hour during flight. It looks straight forward but in fact this costs are subject for complex calculation. The varying fuel price, fuel tankering and fuel hedging can make a lot of difference when calculating the fuel costs.
Avery simple example is given below
Airplane lease 10 000 000$ planned to be paid in 10 000 hours equals 1000 $/h
Calculated maintenance 50$/h
Resource limited Items (such as Engines APU etc.) = 100 $/h
TRC= 1150 $/h
Average consumption = 2000 lb/h
Fuel price500 $ per 1000 lb
Fuel Cost Per Hour = 1000$
This means that if you can save one hour by flying faster and burning 2000lb more you will save 150$
The number of the cost index varies with each manufacturer and a way to determine it is provided in the manuals. Once calculated it can be inserted into the FMC and the computer will do the complex calculation and give you the optimum speeds and performance in order to get most of the airplane resources. CI changes all the time and modifications should be made with each change in costs.
Flying efficiently is very important in commercial aviation and is sign of good airmanship.
AF 447 Final Report Analysis
In July 212 BEA published the final report on the accident with Air France Flight 447 over the Atlantic Ocean. This report gave light to a mystery which was not so mysterious, but no one wanted to believe that the assumptions were correct. Basically the cause of the accident was blocked Pitot tubes for a short period of time and lack of basic airmanship skills.
Here I’ll give a short summary of the report which can be found in BEA’s website at http://www.bea.aero/en/index.php
The images to the left are from the analysis of the FDR and the CVR of AF447. After the AP disconnection they show deliberate climb inputs to the stick on the right side. The speed indication in the beginning was faulty due to blocked Pitot tubes, but speed were regained 30 to 60 seconds after AP disconnection. Ones the speeds were up again the FD engaged in VS and HDG modes. VS mode was in climb 1600 fpm to 1400 fpm due to several disconnections of the FD when speed was lost again, during the stall. It is very probable that the PF was following blindly the flight director commands without having situational awareness for anything else. This is probably the explanation why he climbed from FL350 to FL380 without doing anything to correct the flight path. Several times the PNF called out that they are climbing but there was no actual reaction in the control inputs by the PF. This is a major problem for modern aircrafts, if FD hadn‘t show up probably the PF would have noticed the 3000 ft level change. FD gave a false goal to the PF and if his mind was overwhelmed with something else it would have been the only thing to follow.
A lot of people blame the Captain for not being there, but who would think that two experienced FO with 8000 hours flight time can bring an airplane to a stall. There were some CB clusters en-route but 8000 hours are quite enough to cross ITCZ on your own.
Here is BEA‘s Conclusion as published in the Final Report for AF 447
The obstruction of the Pitot probes by ice crystals during cruise was a phenomenon that was known but misunderstood by the aviation community at the time of the accident. From an operational perspective, the total loss of airspeed information that resulted from this was a failure that was classified in the safety model. After initial reactions that depend upon basic airmanship, it was expected that it would be rapidly diagnosed by pilots and managed where necessary by precautionary measures on the pitch attitude and the thrust, as indicated in the associated procedure.
The occurrence of the failure in the context of flight in cruise completely surprised the pilots of flight AF 447. The apparent difficulties with aeroplane handling at high altitude in turbulence led to excessive handling inputs in roll and a sharp nose-up input by the PF. The
destabilisation that resulted from the climbing flight path and the evolution in the pitch attitude and vertical speed was added to the erroneous airspeed indications and ECAM messages, which did not help with the diagnosis. The crew, progressively becoming de-structured, likely never understood that it was faced with a “simple” loss of three sources of airspeed information.
In the minute that followed the autopilot disconnection, the failure of the attempts to understand the situation and the de-structuring of crew cooperation fed on each other until the total loss of cognitive control of the situation. The underlying behavioural hypotheses in classifying the loss of airspeed information as “major” were not validated in the context of this accident. Confirmation of this classification thus supposes additional work on operational feedback that would enable improvements, where required, in crew training, the ergonomics of information supplied to them and the design of procedures.
The aeroplane went into a sustained stall, signalled by the stall warning and strong buffet. Despite these persistent symptoms, the crew never understood that they were stalling and consequently never applied a recovery manoeuvre. The combination of the ergonomics of the warning design, the conditions in which airline pilots are trained and exposed to stalls during their professional training and the process of recurrent training does not generate the expected behaviour in any acceptable reliable way.
In its current form, recognizing the stall warning, even associated with buffet, supposes that the crew accords a minimum level of “legitimacy” to it. This then supposes sufficient previous experience of stalls, a minimum of cognitive availability and understanding of the situation, knowledge of the aeroplane (and its protection modes) and its flight physics. An examination of the current training for airline pilots does not, in general, provide convincing indications of the building and maintenance of the associated skills.
More generally, the double failure of the planned procedural responses shows the limits of the current safety model. When crew action is expected, it is always supposed that they will be capable of initial control of the flight path and of a rapid diagnosis that will allow them to identify the correct entry in the dictionary of procedures. A crew can be faced with an unexpected situation leading to a momentary but profound loss of comprehension. If, in this case, the supposed capacity for initial mastery and then diagnosis is lost, the safety model is then in “common failure mode”. During this event, the initial inability to master the flight path also made it impossible to understand the situation and to access the planned solution.
Thus, the accident resulted from the following succession of events:
- Temporary inconsistency between the airspeed measurements, likely following the obstruction of the Pitot probes by ice crystals that, in particular, caused the autopilot disconnection and the reconfiguration to alternate law;
- Inappropriate control inputs that destabilized the flight path;
- The lack of any link by the crew between the loss of indicated speeds called out and the appropriate procedure;
- The late identification by the PNF of the deviation from the flight path and the insufficient correction applied by the PF;
- The crew not identifying the approach to stall, their lack of immediate response and the exit from the flight envelope;
- The crew’s failure to diagnose the stall situation and consequently a lack of inputs that would have made it possible to recover from it.
These events can be explained by a combination of the following factors:
- The feedback mechanisms on the part of all those involved that made it impossible:
- To identify the repeated non-application of the loss of airspeed information procedure and to remedy this,
- To ensure that the risk model for crews in cruise included icing of the Pitot probes and its consequences;
- The absence of any training, at high altitude, in manual aeroplane handling and in the procedure for ”Vol avec IAS douteuse”;
- . Task-sharing that was weakened by:
- Incomprehension of the situation when the autopilot disconnection occurred,
- Poor management of the startle effect that generated a highly charged emotional factor for the two copilots;
- The lack of a clear display in the cockpit of the airspeed inconsistencies identified by the computers;
- The crew not taking into account the stall warning, which could have been due to:
- A failure to identify the aural warning, due to low exposure time in training to stall phenomena, stall warnings and buffet,
- The appearance at the beginning of the event of transient warnings that could be considered as spurious,
- The absence of any visual information to confirm the approach-to-stall after the loss of the limit speeds,
- The possible confusion with an overspeed situation in which buffet is also considered as a symptom,
- Flight Director indications that may led the crew to believe that their actions were appropriate, even though they were not,
- The difficulty in recognizing and understanding the implications of a reconfiguration in alternate law with no angle of attack protection.
At the end I can say one thing which is so many times told to every pilot FLY THE AIRPLANE FIRST.No mather what, we have one responsibility – to control the flight path of the airplane. When this is assured, then we can start solving other problems.