Training’s not what it used to be! And I’m thankful for that

by Cláudio Alves on Jan 07 2020

Hi! My name is Cláudio, senior Captain for Azores Airlines, and I am originally from Madeira Island, Portugal. As of this year, it is 20 years since I first stepped into Aerocondor flight School, now known as L3Harris European Airline Academy. I am also celebrating ten years since I was promoted to Captain within Azores airlines.

I believe a real pilot starts their training during childhood. It is a journey which requires dedication and determination, which for me was fuelled by my childhood dreams I was unwaveringly devoted to making into a reality. The beginning of a pilots’ career can be a struggle, but if you are driven, it can become a reality for you as well.

My journey began straight out of high school. Back then flight training was quite conventional compared to the technologically advanced systems and facilities that support training nowadays. Planes where all equipped with a standard six pack steam gage style instruments, whilst products such as EFIS’ were forbidden items that we could only dream about. Our aviation manuals came in the form of printed books, rather than simply accessing data on iPads. For me the most interesting technical advancement of the time was PC based flight simulation, which was at a very early stage of its life with decent graphics and realism only starting to sprout. I was interested in the use of this new technology and started to recreate my instrument flights the day before a flight. It worked so well that soon I had all my classmates invading my dorm room.

After getting my frozen ATPL, I spent some time building at my hometown aeroclub while I waited for recruitment opportunities with local airlines. During this time, I was advised to undertake a Type Rating course that could give me an advantage in future openings. I decided to attend a Boeing 737 classic Type Rating course, and a few months later an opportunity arose. I will never forget the day I was contacted for my first job, which was a short term contract with EuroAtlantic Airways. I was overwhelmed with excitement and I almost couldn't believe that I was stepping into the real world of commercial aviation. It was a childhood dream come true!

A year later, I received a summer contract flying for TACV in Cape Verde, before finally landing a permanent job with SATA Internacional, now known as Azores Airliners, in 2003. Since then all the major steps in my career developed within this airline, having logged more than 10,000 flight hours in three different Airbus aircraft, and being based in several different locations.

In my opinion, a major quality that a pilot should have in their early stages should always be modesty. It is one of the keys to success in this job. One of my favourite aspects of the job is encountering a variety of weather, cultures and languages. To all the aspiring pilots, never give up on your dreams, keep it simple and fly safe!

Find out more about ATPL