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Jim Stewart OBE

Jim Stewart OBE Chairman

Be Inspired Series

Paul Montgomery

Chief Pilot
BMI Baby

Attended Methodist College, Belfast from 1976 to 1983. Joined bmibaby as a cadet in 1991. Became a Captain in 2002, an Examiner in 2006 followed by Chief Pilot in 2010.

What does your job entail?

Having recently been promoted within my post to chief pilot, I have taken on new responsibilities in my role, as well as continuing with my flying career. In my new position, I manage the pilot workforce, including compliance with various European and National regulations.

Another part of my role is training and pilot welfare. Part of this includes flying in the bmibaby flight simulator as an examiner with the airline's trainee pilots. The great thing about my role is that it is so varied; one day I could be flying to Portugal, the next I might be helping with the induction process of new pilots of bmibaby.

How did you get into this line of work?

I was always interested in aeroplanes from a young age, and grew up watching them fly across Belfast Lough. Starting as a hobby with the RAF Air Cadets, my love for flying simply developed into a career.

What makes working in the aviation industry interesting and challenging?

No day is ever the same; I could visit several different countries in one week. As bmibaby adds more routes to its network, it means that I get to see more of the world, and flying above the clouds is an exhilarating experience that nothing can beat. In my new role as chief pilot, it allows me to pass on my passion to our new pilots, and I can get involved with the training side of the business.

What does your typical working day involve?

I am mainly based in our offices at East Midlands Airport. Here my job involves managing my team, attending meetings, producing safety reviews, and dealing with daily operations.

I still fly as well -- this can be up to four flights a day, and could be East Midlands to Belfast and back, followed by East Midlands to Faro (Portugal) and back, which is quite different to being in the office! bmibaby also fly from Belfast International Airport to Birmingham and Manchester.

What skills do you need to fly an aeroplane?

All pilots require a reasonable level of coordination. A science-based education is also essential, accompanied with a good background for technical understanding.

Due to the nature of the role, common sense and level headedness is pertinent, as the day-to-day role can be challenging.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career as a captain?

Be sure you really want to fly, and I would recommend taking some flying lessons before you commit.

Plenty of flying schools have links with airlines, so I would choose one of those. Be prepared to work hard -- you can't be a captain straight away!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I try to play golf and enjoy watching rugby. Spending time with the family is also extremely important to me.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

I grew my own chilli plants from seed this year!

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