I have an opportunity to fly a cirrus SR22T for a private owner, part 91 ops. For background, I am graduating college in a month and then moving back home to start the gig, so I have some time to prepare.
I have a handful of questions, however I’m going to list the ones I think are most important.
Training!! As much as I want to get right in the plane and fly, I will obviously do training. There are a few options for me to train at my local airport. I’m more so looking for other options and things I can do before showing up to the plane. I’m aware of cirrus approach and all of the courses there and have some YouTube videos I am watching. I’ll take any recommendations!
Rates (am i allowed to ask this???) I’ve seen mixed numbers so just curious if there are any other contract pilots who fly cirrus aircraft that have more input.
any other tips, tricks, & advice will be listened to! I appreciate all input as I transition into this role!
You might want to check with the pilot requirements as set by his/her insurance company to make sure that you are insured for operating the aircraft. You might also want to get your instrument rating. When you are flying for someone who cannot fly themselves, they tend to not understand the legal and safety requirement when flying into questionable weather.
I don’t know your background and for all I know you’re a way better pilot than I am (probably a safe bet), but I can tell you this: with the benefit of hindsight, at 300 hours myself with a fresh commercial and HP/complex time as well, I was in no position to be flying someone around on their timetable and making safe go/no-go decisions. Really think about what you are committing to, and all the things you have yet to learn simply through time and experience.
I’m sorry, because I know that sounds patronizing, but I also know how it can feel like the opportunity of the century to fly a nice shiny new plane on someone else’s dime. What often doesn’t get considered is the flip side of that: staring at a sketchy prog chart/CIP/whatever and contemplating ruining someone’s business trip or vacation. Just be smart about it, take it slow, and consider getting some more time under your belt (especially in a Cirrus, if that’s what you want to fly) before you add on all the stress of being someone’s uber driver.
No patronizing! I totally understand why someone who I presume has lots of experience would question or take an extra look when they hear a low-time pilot operating for someone in a private, high-performance, aircraft. I take no offense!
I’ve already coordinated training time with an approved instructor in the exact aircraft I’d be flying. The agreement currently is I will not fly with just the owner until I feel comfortable flying the aircraft. Which possibly might never happen. But I doubt that to be the case. On top of that, what I wasn’t able to log is about one month’s worth of shadowing a King Air 200 pilot that allowed me to sit in the right seat of his aircraft for every flight he was going on (since it wasn’t required to have a SIC) and was able to get a small glimpse into the mind of a seasoned pilot and what goes into the go, no go decisions. I genuinely do appreciate the comment and will take it all to mind.
From time to time I serve as an expert witness for one of my clients. If I feel like I will be unable to tell them “NO” during the coarse of the investigation/ mitigation or trial, then I set myself up to do a disservice to the us both.
You are in the same boat here; but with bigger consequences.
I know some people that do that for owners. The most difficult part is the no-go’s. A lot of owners don’t understand the risks of flying a small airplane, and don’t take well the fact that they put $1m into an airplane that can’t take weather like the airliners do. That pressure is dangerous for everyone.
If you are committed to doing this, I might sit down with a more experienced pilot who has done some charter work and lay out some expectations to share with the owner/boss. I’ll gloss over the pay/work rules/benefits part of discussion but cut to the safety side…
Start with “Its not my job to get you there. My job is to get you there SAFELY. I will be the sole judge on any flight if I can do that or not…”
–Have set wind limits. I will not dispatch to a field with greater than xx crosswind component.
–Have set ceiling and vis requirements for takeoff and arrival fields. Have an alternate–and plenty of gas–for ANY trip you dispatch on VFR or IFR. Tell the boss that if things look bad you will divert to that alternate. Does he/she have a backup rental car/uber plan in that case? If you have a plan–then a divert is not longer a stressor for you or the owner
–No icing in cruise. If you cannot fly in clear air–FIKI or not–enroute then you need other arrangements. I’m not saying FIKI is worthless. What I am saying is 300 hour pilot doesn’t need to fight ice in a piston plane. This 10,000 hour pilot learned that in 2019 over the Wasatch in a story I previously shared, but just take my word for it. Ice can overwhelm any piston plane quickly if you don’t make a timely escape. You don’t need to go building data points at your experience level.
–Accept no overweight/out of CG conditions. Ever.
–Limit night operations to VMC only. Night+IFR is a full plate. Add weather, ice, or terrain and no offense–you are outmatched as a 300 hour piston pilot.
If owner says “yeah yeah…makes sense…” then Godspeed and good luck. If he flinches at any of that–move on. Go get a CFI/CFII and you’ll fly 100+ hours a month and be at an regional airline in 12 months or less.
Now–for you–my company has helped over 30,000 pilots in the major airline industry. We’ve done this for over 20 years. I know LOTS of pilots who have lost/quit jobs because they told a boss “no” and got fired or quit rather than do something illegal or dangerous. That won’t stop you from a great career. Most will read it as a badge of honor indicating you have standards. On the other hand, having an accident, incident, or violation because you needed to “make it happen” puts a black mark on your record that you have the rest of your career. I urge you–as emphatically as I can–do NOT take this job if you aren’t prepared to quit it if your limits are pushed. There’s a serious pilot shortage out there, and there are a lot of good opportunities available in part 91, 135, and 117 (formerly 121) operations available. Don’t let a rich plane owner who makes his living in another career trash your career before it even begins.
You have gotten really solid advice here. Best of luck. I think it comes down to knowing yourself and learning to lead your boss/customer,.
Knowing yourself comes down to balancing:
The desire to please….to prove your skill….to build hours….to get paid…
Accepting pilot in command responsibility and accountability….go/no-go calls must be yours.
Demonstrating humility on the bottom of the learning curve….its up to you to set limits and write them down. @Albief15 gave you a good start
Learning atot more about maintenance than you know so far…what happens to you when (not if) airplane is AOG.
Leading your boss is about expectation management, negotiation, and having the integrity to walk away without feeling like a failure. @mfdutra stated the problem: the owner might have an expectation of jet-like dispatch in a $1M single engine piston, while hiring you…right out if the box…to deliver that performance. That would be the definition of “bad fit.”
“Fit” is everything here. Even if you generally agree, can you disagree agreeably and can you negotiate with him without feeling you’re over a barrel? Don’t fly mad with each other. Don’t be talked into something you aren’t ready to do.
Integrity is about being willing to walk away. Can you do this without feeling like a failure? You might have to do so at some point if you just can’t agree.
What part of the country would you be based in and does the owner have a few typical trips they do or would you be roaming all over the country? And what is the owner’s deal and prior experience with aviation? There are configurations of options here that are all but guaranteed to fail and others that might work out better.
With all that said if your goal is to build hours get thee a CFI and get cranking.
Not might. It will happen. I’m sure if you’re in communications with @thomdonaldson you’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly.
Training. Go to learning.cirrusapproach.com,
Get your owner to pony up the bucks for the SR22T Advanced Transition Course. Then hire @thomdonaldson or @EdWatters, @turrisi or ask herein for a referral. You’ve got a good start with Tom. Pay them whatever they charge, their experience is beyond great, it is priceless.
Invest your own $100 in a COPA membership. The collective wisdom is also priceless. We all just got through discussing an interesting IFR NORDO scenario that I would think super valuable to a newly minted Commercial pilot.