Freelancing is not a new concept as we well know, it has been around for years in many industries and seems to be more and more popular in the modern world, as people are choosing to make their work fit in around their lives and not their lives around their work. Freelancing in aviation has also been around for many years but seems little known in Europe, across the pond our American cousins have led the way, freelancing permanently or at least on a regular basis.
Why freelance in aviation?
There are many that choose freelance aviation as a permanent career path that allows them freedom to work for who they want when they want; but it does come at the cost of funding their training, medicals etc. themselves. The most popular form of freelancing comes from those who want to earn a little extra by working on their down days, maybe doing a different kind of flying or flying to different locations - most pilots just love flying, so why not?
Many light jets that operate with a single pilot for private purposes, seek a safety pilot for a particular trip. For this you don't have to be type rated and it’s a great way to experience a different aircraft type and operation. Owners of small prop aircraft, doing longer journeys outside their normal operating areas, often want another pilot to share the flying and to profit from their flying knowledge.
Who can freelance?
Pretty much anybody. Flight Attendants are probably the best placed as it is easier for them to switch aircraft types without the cost associated with a new type rating.
Where to Freelance?
The business jet world attracts many freelancers as rosters can allow for long periods of days off. The examiners world is largely freelance. Flight schools are good places to start. You will not be earning top dollar, but you do get to fly something different and share your experience with aviators of the future.
The airline world may seem an unlikely place to freelance, but with the forecast global shortages of pilots many airlines may have to turn to freelancers. Asian aviation has grown significantly over the last decade and is offering very lucrative packages to western crews, but if they can't fill all the positions on permanent contracts they still need to fill those cockpit seats.
Is the RyanAir model of self-employed first officers the real start to the freelancer of the future?