My name's Katie and I'm a First Officer based at Birmingham. I joined Monarch nearly 4 and a half years ago. As a First Officer, I support the Captain, and we are responsible for safely operating the aircraft.
Before a flight, we assemble the paperwork for the route, checking the weather and airfield notices. We determine the fuel needed for the sector, and meet with the cabin crew. Generally, we fly a two sector day at Monarch, and so one pilot will fly the outbound sector, and then we'll swap and the other will fly the return journey home.
Aside from the technicalities of operating the aircraft, pilots will also liaise with the despatcher and ground crew, and help ensure everything comes together so flights leave on schedule. There are many parties involved with the operation of a commercial flight - cabin crew, passengers, handling agents, fuel providers, air traffic control, airline operations etc. Flight crew will deal with all of them. So being a pilot requires you to manage all aspects of the operation, and the people involved, as well as actually flying the aircraft.
Compared to being stuck at a desk in an office all day (which I've done in the past) it's all relatively exciting! We see things regularly that most people rarely do. It's great to fly over cities like London on clear days and spot all the landmarks. Or have dinner whilst passing over the Alps or tracking down the Croatian coast. Sometimes we're lucky enough to see shooting stars, and it can be quite spectacular to watch distant thunderstorms at night and see clouds lit up with bolts of lightning.
I still find the whole concept of what we do exciting; meeting up with the rest of the crew at the start of the day, and being given a very expensive aircraft full of passengers to look after. Then it's down to us to get on with the process of safely jetting off somewhere many hundreds of miles away, before turning around and bringing a different set of passengers back home. It's a bit of an adventure.
It's exciting to fly into airfields that perhaps have unusual approaches, or beautiful scenery, or anything that makes them a bit special. I always enjoy flying into places such as Nice. The approach is good fun to fly, and you get lovely views of the French Riviera on the way in.
Monarch is a relatively small airline. This means we have a very friendly culture, and you get to know a lot of people quickly. It's really nice because it often feels like you're working with friends, and not just colleagues. From day one, you're treated as an individual and welcomed into the airline. You'll find that people (including management) are very approachable and willing to offer help and advice. I have always found that the people here really are Monarch's greatest asset.
From more of a flying point of view, the route network is varied and interesting. We've also got the prospect of a brand new fleet of Boeing 737-Max aircraft arriving in the next few years, meaning we'll have one of the most modern fleets in Europe.
My Tips for joining Monarch are; do your homework - research as much as possible about the airline, the routes, future fleet plans etc. You need to show that you're genuinely interested in becoming part of the company. Have a think about how you can best demonstrate your skills and experience during selection and try and find examples to back-up everything you say. Most of all, let your individual personality shine through.