So, why do pilots find it difficult maintaining relationships?. This might seem to you as a very funny topic to you. But I myself is sitting in this huge luxurious hotel room , hundreds of miles away from home and worried about certain issues in my family.
Can I do anything about it siting here?. Am I allowed to go back home whenever I want?. The answer is “NO”. The reason to this lies in the lifestyle and workload. Let me break it down for you..
The job as a Pilot
First of all let me tell, to fly, is a privilege but also alot of responsibility. Every time we takeoff there are lives at stake!!. So needless to say, its a very stressful job as well. The unpredictable timings of work, long waits at airports and also the food patterns adds onto the stress. And eventually the stress seeps into personal relationships. Other than that its also a very glamorous job which also brings in room for jealousy and doubts.
Lets first talk about Airline Pilots, now they are in for short and long hauls.
Short haul pilots of many airlines goes to work and mostly returns the same day. Although he/she could fly through the night, but returning home without halting at a hotel. So in this case the job is more like standard, variable shift work.
The shifts he/she does can be day/night. It can be quite long and tiring. In terms of days, 8-12 days off a month is expected. These may be just single days off.
Long haul pilots have a different life, they will always get more days off in a month as they need more time to destress themselves if they have flown through multiple time zones.
In long haul flying is every time you go to work, depending on the kind of company you work for, you stay away for 1-2 nights or anything up to 10-14 nights. A typical long haul pilot will work for 3-5 days on a average, and will be off for at least 2 days.
Incase of a helicopter pilot life is very different and much more unpredictable. But normally a helicopter pilot works for a maximum of 6 weeks and gets an off for 3 weeks. But this is not the case for everyone, some have to work for 6 days and then take a day off or 14 days and take 3 days off as per rules of DGCA/FAA/EASA.
Incase of life saving/rescue/emergency flying, which helicopter pilots mostly do, they might have to fly during the off time as well. Generally it is compensated with necessary rest period.
So finally when we look at the lifestyles of both Airplane and helicopter pilots, life is very unpredictable. Due to this, we are never present in most of the family functions, get together with friends, festivals, birthdays etc. I hope my partner reads all of this, as she always complains, “your never available for me!!”.
Half of a pilots life goes in trainings. Now as per the regulatory authorities a pilot has to undergo many recurrent trainings every year. Its very time consuming but necessary. We spend alot of time studying and going through flight manuals and journals as well. A pilot has to keep updating himself o stay in the game. Even the route a pilot flies is revised and checked by instructors every year. So just tell me, after sitting in class all day, listening to things you heard last year and the year before. If your parents want you to go shopping with them or your partner wants you to take her for a movie!!. Will you be in the mood?.
Pilots spend alot of time travelling too. Let it be travelling from their base station to their hometown or let it be driving back from the airport!!. It is exhausting, especially after flying through the day. So, when you reach home, your body is in a different timezone or your worn out physically and mentally. As a result, when your kids are expecting you to come play, your just preparing to sleep and do nothing else!!.
I would like to conclude that, I know of many pilots whose marriages have worked and well I know many who’ve had a disastrous relationship with families/partners/friends. For a pilot, marriage can be complicated, and many with non-flying partners wish that they understood our issues better. It would be difficult for families and friends to understand what we are facing while they are on trips or having fun at a party!!. But I would end this article saying that, family, marriage and friends are very important, but its difficult when you have to balance it with flying. After all, it beats sitting behind a desk, and comes with a fantastic view.
Further Information on www.dgca.nic.in