Careers in Aviation

Updated on 5th September, 2016
Careers in Aviation

Aviation Careers

Most pilots love their work and helicopter pilots are no exception. But what happens if we lose our medical fitness and subsequently lose our flying licence. This is not a nice thing to think about but we should all think seriously about this and have a backup plan.
One of the best backup plans you can have is to have a qualification. As you are already interested in flying, then it seems logical that you would also be interested in all things related to aviation.
I have compiled a short list of courses available in Ireland that may be of interest. Many thanks to Adam (one of our students at Weston) for suggesting this post and for helping me compile this list.

Aviation is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As the demand for air travel increases so will the demand for aircraft maintenance engineers.

  • Dublin City University (DCU), B.Sc. Degree in Aviation Management with Pilot Studies. This course is designed for those of you who wish to pursue a management career in aviation. With this course, you can choose to do your ATPL written exams in college (if you choose to add “pilot studies” to the degree). You also have a module in the PPL MCQ in the first year. In 3rd year you are given work placement in an airline.
    Dublin City University
  • SkyWest Aviation. If you go on to get a CPL(H) you can also get an Instructor Rating FI(H). This is a very useful qualification to have. If you lose your medical, you will still be qualified to be a ground instructor for theoretical knowledge training. Instructor course details can be found at SkyWest Aviation.
  • University of Limerick (UL), B.E. Degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering. This degree course also provides you with 8 months work experience in the industry which could prove extremely valuable in getting your first job.
    Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Degree
    Youtube link
  • Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), B.Eng Degree in Aviation Technology. This course prepares you for a career in the aviation industry. Aviation Technology
  • Dalmac offer courses in Ireland and all across Europe. They specialise in training cabin crew. A list of their courses may be found at Dalmac Courses
  • The International Academy of Travel offer courses in Cabin Crew, Passenger Services, Holiday Reps, Travel Agency and more. Further information on these courses can be found at International Academy of Travel.
  • Waterford Institute of Technology offer a BSc (Hons) Degree in Airline Transport Operations. This course combines flying and theoretical knowledge training. You end up with a CPL and a degree. Further information is available at WIT Airline Transport Ops Degree.

These courses are not a definitive guide to careers in aviation. Other courses are available but you need to look for them. My advice to anyone intending to take up an aviation career is to get another qualification also. This way, if things don’t work out, then you have something to fall back on. For those of you looking for work, check out This site seems to be kept up to date and has global coverage.

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Updated on 5th March, 2017

FogWhat is Fog?

We all know that fog keeps us on the ground when we want to be flying. But are you aware that there are different kinds of fog? Do you know the conditions that are required for fog to form? Do you know about radiation fog, advection fog, frontal fog, sea fog and hill fog?

This post should refresh your memory or perhaps even enlighten you.

Mist and fog occur when tiny water droplets are suspended in the air causing a reduction in visibility. Mist is very similar to fog and differs only by definition:

When the visibility is less than 1000m – FOG exists. Relative Humidity = 100%.

When there is reduced visibility but visibility is greater than 1000m – MIST exists. Relative humidity < 100%.

Water droplets come into existance due to condensation which causes the water vapour in the air to condense out as a liquid. This normally occurs when the air is cooled by an underlying cold surface or by the interaction of two air masses.

Different Types of Fog

There are three different types of fog and they form under specific conditions:

  1. Radiation fog
  2. Advection fog
  3. Frontal fog

Radiation Fog

The conditions required for the formation of radiation fog are:

  • Moist air – (high relative humidity) that only requires a small amount of cooling to reach its dewpoint temperature.
  • A cloudless night sky – This permits the earth to cool and this cold, earth surface subsequently cools the air in contact with it.
  • Light winds – (5 – 7kts) to mix the lower levels of air slightly and thereby thicken the fog layer.

These three conditions are commonly found in a high pressure system.

If the wind is absolutly calm, only a very thin layer of air will get cooled by the cold earth surface. This causes dew (or frost in the winter) to form directly on the surface. Fog will not form above it. Dew will form when the temperature remains above zero degrees Celsius and frost will form when the temperature drops below freezing point.

If the wind is greater than approximately 7 knots, the extra mixing of the air will prevent fog from forming at the surface and instead, a low layer of stratus clouds may form.

Radiation fog is much more likely to form over land than over sea. This is because the land temperature varies significantly and the sea temperature by comparison remains relatively stable throughout the year.

Dispersal of Radiation Fog

After sunrise, the earth’s surface begins to warm up. The air in contact with the surface will also begin to warm up and this causes the fog to disperse. In a spring morning in Ireland, this normally occurs at around mid morning. If the fog has not dissipated by 1400hrs, it is unlikely to clear. The thicker the layer of fog, the slower the earth surface will warm up and therefore it will take longer for the fog to dissipate.

Advection Fog

When I hear the word Advection, I think about a parcel of air moving HORIZONTALLY across the surface of the earth. Imagine a warm, moist parcel of air moving over a colder surface. It will be cooled from below. If its temperature reaches its dewpoint, then fog will form. Fog formed in this way is called advection fog. It can occur very quickly during the day or during the night.

Sea Fog

Sea fog is a type of advection fog. It can be caused by:

  • A tropical maritime air mass moving towards the pole over a colder ocean or meeting a colder air mass: or
  • An airflow off a warm land surface moving over a colder sea; or
  • A warm, moist maritime air mass moving over a cold land surface. This can lead to coastal fog that lingers along the coast line.

Frontal Fog

Frontal fog forms by the interaction of two air masses in one of two ways:

  • Cloud that extends to the surface during the passage of a front. This forms mainly over hills and is called Hill Fog.
  • The air becomes saturated due to the evaporation from all of the rain that has fallen and the vapour condenses out into its liquid state to form fog.

These condition may form in the cold air ahead of a warm front or and occluded front. If this occurs, the fog may cover a very large area.


Now that you know the different types of fog and what conditions are required for fog to form, you are in a much better position to plan your flight. You can now read between the lines of the meteorological forecasts and anticipate the possibility and probability of fog forming. Knowing about radiation fog, advection fog, frontal fog, hill fog and sea fog will make you a safer, more responsible pilot.

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Radiotelephony – Numbers

Updated on 5th March, 2017

Helicopter Radiotelephony

Pronouncing Numbers

During a recent flight I was cleared by ATC to climb to “fifteen hundred” feet. If you are an aviator, you should be aware that the number “fifteen” is never used in standard radiotelephony. I decided to make this post to let you know how to transmit numbers  when using the radio.

Transmission of numbers is frequently done incorrectly and this post should make you confident in how to do it.

Transmission of Numbers

Numeral                Pronunciation

0                              Zero                              Bold Text shows correct pronounciation

1                               One

2                               Two

3                               Tree

4                               Four

5                               Fife

6                               Six

7                               Seven

8                               Eight

9                               Niner

Decimal                  Decimal

Hundred                 Hundred

Thousand               Tousand


Almost every number transmitted to you by ATC must be repeated back (with some exceptions).

All numbers (with a few exceptions listed below) must be transmitted by pronouncing each digit separately.

Check out a preview of my New RADIOTELEPHONY Book HERE

General Numbers

When transmitting messages containing aircraft callsigns, altimeter settings, flight levels (with the exception of FL 100, 200, 300 etc. which are expressed at ‘Flight Level (number) HUNDRED’), headings, wind speeds/directions, pressure settings, transponder codes and frequencies, each digit shall be transmitted separately; examples of this are as follows:

Type                       Number                  Transmitted as

Aircraft Reg.              N3456S                    November Tree Four Fife Six Sierra

Flight Level                FL 100                     Flight Level One Hundred

Flight Level                FL 130                     Flight Level One Tree Zero

Heading                     130 Degrees            One Tree Zero Degrees

Speed                         85 Knots                  Eight Fife Knots

Frequency                  121.85                      One Two One Decimal Eight Fife

Squawk                       0234                        Zero Two Tree Four

Altitude, Height and Visibility

All numbers used in the transmission of altitude, height, cloud height, visibility and runway visual range which contain whole hundreds and whole thousands should be transmitted by pronouncing each digit in the number of hundreds or thousands followed by the word HUNDRED or TOUSAND as appropriate. Combinations of thousands and whole hundreds shall be transmitted by pronouncing each digit in the number of thousands followed by the word THOUSAND and the number of hundreds followed by the word HUNDRED; examples of this convention are as follows:

Number               Transmitted as

10                               One Zero

100                             One Hundred

2,300                          Two Tousand Tree Hundred

12,000                        One Two Tousand

22,000                        Two Two Tousand

NOTE: Decimal points are NEVER pronounced as “point”. ALWAYS as “decimal”.


When transmitting time, only the minutes of the hour are normally required. However, the hour should be included if there is any possibility of confusion. Time checks must be given to the nearest minute. Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) MUST be used at all times, unless specified. 2400 hours designates midnight, the end of the day, and 0000 hours the beginning of the day.

Number                 Transmitted as

0923 Hours              Time Two Tree OR Time Zero Niner Two Tree

1400 Hours              Time One Four Zero Zero

1743 Hours               Time Four Tree OR Time One Seven Four Tree



If you study this post carefully, you should have no problem pronouncing numbers correctly on the radio. You will occasionally hear other pilots and Air Traffic Controllers pronounce numbers incorrectly. They are wrong. You will know that they are wrong. You will make mistakes – just like me. Put your mistakes behind you and strive to keep a high standard. Remember – “Practice makes perfect”.

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Modern Fuels

Refuelling with Avgas or Jet A1Updated on 5th March, 2017


Avgas (aviation gasoline) is an aviation fuel used to power piston engine aircraft. Avgas can be distinguished from Mogas (motor gasoline), which is the everyday petrol used in cars and a lot of microlight aircraft. Unlike mogas, avgas has added tetra-ethyl lead (TEL), a toxic substance used to enhance combustion stability.

Avgas is used in aircraft that have piston engines. Gas turbines can operate on avgas, but normally do not. Turbine and diesel engines are designed to use kerosene-based jet fuel.

Avgas has a density of 6 lb/U.S. gal at 15 °C, or 0.72 kg/l, and this density is commonly used for weight and balance calculations. Density increases to 6.4 lb/US gallon at -40 °C, and decreases by about 0.5% per 5 °C (9 °F) increase in temperature.  Avgas has a lower and more uniform vapour pressure than automotive gasoline, which keeps it in the liquid state at high-altitude, preventing vapour lock.

The actual mixture in use today is the same as when it was first developed in the 1940s, and was used in airline and military engines with high levels of boost supercharging. The high octane ratings are achieved by the addition of tetra-ethyl lead (TEL), a highly toxic substance that was phased out for car use in most countries in the late 20th century.

Avgas is currently available in several grades with differing maximum lead concentrations. Since TEL is a rather expensive (and polluting) additive, a minimum amount of it is typically used to bring it up to the required octane rating and actual concentrations are often lower than the maximum.

Many older grades of avgas are designated with a dual number, such as 100/130. This indicates that the fuel’s octane or performance rating is 100 at lean settings and 130 at rich settings, which is why rich settings are normally used for take-off when full power is used.

100 LL

The most commonly used aviation fuel is dyed blue for easy visual identification. 100 LL contains a small amount of tetra-ethyl lead (TEL), a lead compound that reduces gasoline’s tendency to spontaneously explode (detonation or “knock”) under high loads, high temperatures and high pressures. Sustained detonation will cause catastrophic engine failure.

TEL is known as an anti-knock compound. TEL’s effect on detonation resistance is known as the “octane rating,” derived from comparing performance of the gasoline under test to mixtures of iso-octane and normal heptane in a special test engine. If the product tests like 90% iso-octane and 10% normal heptane, it receives a “90 octane” rating. As higher levels of anti-detonation capability were required, the curve was extended beyond 100% iso-octane and called “performance rating.” Example: a 118 octane rated gasoline is more detonation resistant than an 87 octane rated gasoline.

In Ireland, 100 LL can be identified at fuel facilities by its label. White writing on a red background.


Jet fuel is not avgas. It is similar to kerosene and is used in turbine engines. Confusion can be caused by the terms Avtur and AvJet being used for jet fuel. In Europe, environmental and cost considerations have led to increasing numbers of aircraft being fitted with highly fuel-efficient diesel engines; these too run on jet fuel. Civilian aircraft use Jet A, Jet A1 or in severely cold climates Jet B. There are other classification systems for military turbine and diesel fuel.

The most common jet fuel is a kerosene/paraffin oil-based fuel classified as JET A1, which is produced to an internationally standardised set of specifications. In the United States only, a version of JET A1 known as JET A is also used.

The only other jet fuel that is commonly used in civilian aviation is called JET B. JET B is a fuel in the naptha-kerosene region that is used for its enhanced cold-weather performance. However, JET B’s lighter composition makes it more dangerous to handle, and it is therefore restricted only to areas where its cold-weather characteristics are absolutely necessary. JET B is not available in Ireland.

Both JET A and JET B can contain a number of additives:

• Antioxidants to prevent gumming usually based on alkylated phenols, eg. AO-30, AO-31, or AO-37;

• Antistatic agents, to dissipate static electricity and prevent sparking; Stadis 450, with dinonylnaphthylsulfonic acid (DINNSA) as the active ingredient, is an example

• Corrosion inhibitors, eg. DCI-4A used for civilian and military fuels, and DCI-6A used for military fuels;

• Fuel System Icing Inhibitor (FSII) agents, eg. Di-EGME; FSII is often mixed at the point-of-sale so that users with heated fuel lines do not have to pay the extra expense;

Military forces around the world use a different classification system of JP numbers. Some are almost identical to the civilian named fuels and differ only by the amounts of a few additives:

JET A1 is similar to JP-8

JET B is similar to JP-4.

JET A and JET A1

Jet A is the standard jet fuel type in the U.S. since the 1950s and is only available there. JET A is similar to JET A1, except for its higher freezing point of -40 °C. JET A1 has a fairly high flash point of 38 °C, with an auto-ignition temperature of 410 °F (210 °C). Jet A can be identified in trucks and storage facilities by the UN number, 1863, Hazardous Material placards. Jet A1 trucks, storage tanks and pipes that carry Jet A1 will be marked with a black sticker with a white “JET A1” written over it, next to another black stripe. Jet A1 will have a clear to straw colour if it is clean and free of contamination. Water is denser than Jet A1, and will collect on the bottom of a tank. Jet A1 storage tanks must be sumped on a regular basis to check for water contamination. It is possible for water particles to become suspended in Jet A1, which can be found by performing a “Clear and Bright” test. A hazy appearance can indicate water contamination beyond the acceptable limit of 30ppm (parts per million). The U.S. commercial fuels are not required by law to contain antistatic additives, and generally do not contain them.

Military Fuels

Other military fuels are highly specialised products and are developed for very specific applications. JP-5 fuel is fairly common, and was introduced to reduce the risk of fire on aircraft carriers. Other fuels were specific to one type of aircraft. JP-6 was developed specifically for the XB-70 Valkyrie and JP-7 for the SR-71 Blackbird. Both these fuels were engineered to have a high flash point to better cope with the heat and stresses of high speed supersonic flight. One aircraft-specific jet fuel still in use by the USAF is JPTS, which was developed in 1956 for the Lockheed U-2 spy plane. Jet fuels are sometimes classified as kerosene or naphtha-type. Kerosene-type fuels include Jet A, Jet A1, JP-5 and JP-8. Naphtha-type jets fuels include Jet B and JP-4.

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