I met Robbie_Cockburn first officer with Loganair at #Scotair17 on Sunday while the rain was making mischief with the flying programme. As I had briefly considered chasing a career with that particular airline back in the day, I was keen to discover what I had been missing, it was only after we chatted for a few minutes that I realised the Robbie was something of a celebrity already in more ways than one.
I had always liked the idea of flying into small airfields in interesting locations amid beautiful scenery. When Robbie told me that he was also the youngest pilot flying with Loganair, I though he would be the ideal man to tell me whether my perception was accurate, happily he agreed to an interview.
So Robbie who did you do your training with?
I did all of my training in Scotland with ACS aviation in Perth, pretty much full time. I worked as well to help with the financial side of things, it took me two years between 2014 and 2016. The only other external bit of training that I did was the MCC and JOC course which is a requirement to be an airline pilot and I did that in Simtech over in Dublin.
After that, just a few weeks after getting my licences back from the CAA, I got a job interview with Loganair. Very shortly after that I was out in Stockholm in Sweden doing my type rating on the Saab 340.
What is the MCC, the multi crew licence?
The MCC is the requirement to work in a multi crew environment and the JOC is the Jet Orientation Course, it lasts 10 days, certainly the one in Dublin does. It’s as close to a type rating as you will ever do, it is about learning the standard operating procedures, how you communicate properly and how you manage and work with another pilot in a flight deck. How to talk to each other properly and really the logistics of being an airline pilot. Everything before that is about being a single pilot in a single engine or perhaps a light twin. Its about getting the real feel of what it’s like to be an airline pilot.
How did that course prepare you, how realistic was it, now that you have actually sat in the cockpit?
A lot of
pilots think that the MCC/JOC is a tick in the box exercise, a lot of people do
view it that way. I think realistically that course was one of the most
valuable things I ever did to prepare me for an airline job as that’s the
environment that I work in now. It’s second to none for taking you from that
single pilot environment to the multi crew. I still use that training in my day
to day job, so it’s very, very valuable. It’s really much more than just a tick
in a box, it is really one of the most important things in an airline.
So when you started training did you have any experience at all?
No not really, when I was fourteen I did some trial lessons and some experience flights, just a few flying lessons. Because of my age I took a break, otherwise I’d just be plodding along at like a lesson a month and it wouldn’t be very productive.
To do a first solo you have to be sixteen, so while the hours do count, you can’t solo until sixteen so it would have been pointless.
Coincidentally some of my first lessons were with an instructor that is one of our Captains now, so when we go flying it’s like being back in the day, it’s great, such good fun. It’s amazing it really is, some of the most fun days at work are with him.
So I started at 14, took a break to be realistic and started full time training once I was 17 at Perth.
Being Loganair’s youngest pilot, what age did you have to be to get that record?
You can get an airline pilot’s licence at 18, I think the youngest airline pilot around the block is about 19. I might not be their youngest ever pilot, but right now and for the last wee while I have been the youngest, which has been great , I get to do all the PR; Lots of newspaper articles, I think it went out into about 20 newspapers and I got to do the news on TV too, yeah it’s been great.
Is that something that they picked up on or did you court that?
They knew and I kinda knew so I asked our director of flight ops, just kinda nudged them and he said “Yeah, you’ll be hearing from the Daily Mail soon.” That’s exactly what happened, they did a big article. It feels amazing, I don’t quite appreciate that I am the youngest but it’s great, a nice accolade to have. I never play with it at work and say I’m the youngest I just turn up and do the job.
So you can’t say I’m only wee leave me alone..?.
Yeah that’s right, I can’t do that job, you need to do that one, have you seen how old I am? So yeah I got the job when I was only 20, it’s pretty cool.
No slack cut for you eh?