What could be better than having your hobby for a job? Efstathios Tsagaratos, Chief of Flight Instructors and Examiners at Avion Express, became a pilot because he refused to be “grounded” and decided to pursue the career of his dreams. He is happy he chose this exciting profession and shares his career journey, dreams, and challenges. Efstathios is glad to be providing service to an international company now, which lets him spend his free time with family in Greece and always keep up to date with the highest professional standards of aviation.
What is your current role at Avion Express?
I joined Avion Express 6 years ago and after a while, became a member of the training department, initially as a Line Training Captain (training the newcomers), later I provided services as simulator instructor (TRI) and examiner (TRE) on top of my day-to-day line duties as a captain. I am now the Chief of Flight Instructors and Examiners of the company.
My main responsibilities are supervising and managing company policies, rules, procedures, and instructions governing the standardisation of Flight Instructors and Examiners. I am keeping close contact with all departments related to Training Operations within Avion Express.
It is a new challenge for me but at the same time an amazing opportunity for my professional development. With the support of the company management and my colleagues in the Training Department, I am positive that we will bring the Standardisation to the highest level possible. My “moto” is “ONE company – ONE Standard Operating Procedure” to be followed by all the pilots.
What led you to aviation?
I made this decision at the age of six. My parents still laugh when they remember that 6-year-old boy who declared ”I want to become a PILOT! I want to fly into the blue skies.”
I was one of those kids looking at the sky and dreaming that one day, I will be up there “driving” these big iron birds, as I used to call them.
Back in the late 80s for someone who did not have any aviation background or did not have relatives in the aviation industry, it was not easy at all.
At the age of 18, I “grounded” my dream to become a pilot and decided to study Computer Science instead.
However, whenever I was looking out of the office window, I was flying… My passion for aviation was still there.
One day I woke up and got rid of all the “weights” of my routine life and I announced to my colleagues and family that I had decided to go to the USA to become a professional pilot. It was the biggest decision of my life. I never regretted it. 32 years later, I am still in love with this “job”. I still feel the same excitement and I have this strange feeling that someone pays me to just do my “hobby”.
What do you like most about your job at Avion Express?
Flying for an ACMI company is a challenge by itself! It is a unique style of operation compared to a regular airline operation. We are flying all around the world. Very often we operate in new airports, allowing us to gain more and more experience compared to other pilots flying only in a region. We have a chance to visit and stay for a while in counties we never thought we will visit. We make friends from all over the world. I can easily say that I never get bored in Avion Express.
What positives do you find about working here?
After all these years in the aviation industry, I think it is safe to make this statement: “There is no ideal company in the aviation world”. All of them have “pros” and “cons”. It is up to an individual to make his/her research and decide on what suits him/her.
What I do like here in Avion Express, is that even though the company is based in Lithuania, we are an international company. Having colleagues from all over the world helps in the multi-culture and multi-national philosophy of the company. Avion Express offers an attractive pilot roster. I am Greek and I love to spend consecutive days with my family and friends in Greece during the summer. I have never had this opportunity when I was working for other airlines. Here I can!
Non-punishment culture in Safety Department is something that I cannot ignore. Pilots are humans and they make mistakes like all the other people. The approach of the Safety team here is so professional. The point is to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. And this is the behaviour of the people in our Safety Department. We are expanding day by day! This expansion gives opportunities to pilots to upgrade.
If you ask me, if I would encourage someone to become a pilot, the answer is so simple. YES!!! It is one of the most fascinating and attractive jobs. Imagine being seated in the captain’s seat, inside the cockpit of a modern airliner. You are at 39.000 feet travelling at 900 km/h and you have the wonderful Mother Earth beneath your window. You may observe part of the amazing globe by having a nice hot cappuccino coffee on your movable table in front of your seat. The sun is shining and playing with reflections on your dashboard. The only thing you can say is: “THANK YOU DEAR LORD for letting me become a pilot!”
Today we celebrate World Pilot’s Day and I want to take this opportunity to wish all my colleagues, happy, enjoyable, and safe flights. Keep your knowledge updated and stay healthy. For all future pilots and future colleagues, I encourage them to never give up, always follow their dreams and never allow anyone to “ground” them.
People say that being a pilot is one of the best jobs on the planet. I couldn’t agree more.