A whole world of new places to see
Published: 20 Sep 2017
After earning his stripes with airlines in Africa and South America, Alex Patino Acosta joined business aviation services company KlasJet, where he spends his days piloting the Bombardier Challenger 850
What sparked your interest in aviation?
When I was 10 years old, I took a flight with my family from Istanbul to Barcelona. The weather was awful and the plane was bouncing up and down. When we landed, I told my parents that I wanted to become a pilot. They thought this was very amusing as I was a pretty timid child, but from that moment on, I knew I was born to fly. I have been fascinated with aviation ever since.
Tell us about your career to date
In 2006, I trained to be a pilot at CESDA university, in Reus, Spain. It was really hard at the time to find a job in Europe. I applied everywhere and I finally secured my first job with an airline based in Libreville, Gabon. I then worked for different airlines across Africa, South America and Europe, and for a short period of my career I switched to piloting cargo planes, but I didn’t like it. Then came an opportunity to enter the world of business aviation, which I loved from day one. I am now in my eighth year piloting business jets.
What have been the highlights?
Business aviation is unique. It gives you the opportunity to explore the world, seeing its beauty and variety, growing personally when facing new situations, taking decisions under challenging circumstances and learning to be flexible – which comes hand-inhand with this sector.
Tell us about your current role?
I work as a chief pilot on the Bombardier Challenger 850 for KlasJet, a European business aviation services company. Being a pilot is all about travelling, meeting people, getting to know different cultures, embracing challenging, exciting and unforgettable situations. Every day is totally different and unique, and I always expect the unexpected, if that isn’t a contradiction. From my privileged position in the cockpit, I have experienced so many wonderful sunrises and sunsets, and memorable take-offs and landings. Life outside the cockpit can also be exciting and varied. In the morning, you can be having a Turkish coffee by the Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, then jump on a plane and dine on the shores of Phi Phi island in Thailand. These are the priceless moments that a pilot never forgets. Sometimes I can be on shift for two weeks or more. This can be tiring, but the experiences I gain make it worthwhile.
Are there any downsides?
Well, like any job, there are some moments which can be tough and stressful. Unexpected flights, fast decisions, night flights, sometimes long duties or lack of sleep can make it exhausting. Being a chief pilot means dealing with different people, crews, passengers, other pilots and company representatives. You need strong customer relationship management skills to resolve potential conflicts and make everyone happy. Dealing with demanding situations is all part of my personal and professional development. My biggest challenge is being away from home for long periods of time. It can be hard to balance home life with my passion for work, but thankfully my family understands and respects my choice of career.
What are the major challenges facing commercial pilots?
Many inexperienced pilots find themselves in a difficult situation today. Most jobs require a minimum level of flying experience, but you can’t gain this experience without getting the job first. Employers won’t pay for the additional training, so many inexperienced pilots are paying training schools to gain the extra commercial flying experience and build the necessary hours required for the post.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Still working in the business aviation market. I would love to fly the new generation of long-range business jets, such as the in-development Bombardier Global 7000 or Gulfstream G600. Not only would this give me a new challenge, but it would also broaden my expertise.