The job of a factory demonstration pilot, or the “demo” pilot is to showcase airplanes to prospective customers or to their representatives.
Brandy Hearting, Manager at Textron Aviation’s Pro-Ownership program, had been a demo pilot herself for the turboprop, piston and turbine products from the company. She now hires pilots who want to make a change to this position.
Here she explains some features of this exciting career.
What is the job profile of a factory demonstration pilot?
The job of a factory demo pilot is to make potential customers familiar with the features of the aircraft, mainly through a demo flight. This familiarization can also be at the aviation events where the aircraft is on display.
In case of an executive demonstration, the customer may sit in the cabin, or the person may be a pilot and may sit along with demo pilot during the flight.
The demo flight is usually taken along the route that is usually flown by the potential customer. The job profile of a demo pilot involves significant travel and they may get the chance to see different places around the world.
Who Hired Demo Pilot and What Certification and Academic Requirements they need to have?
Every aircraft OEM will find the need for a demonstration pilot. This designation is visible on their business cards. According to Hearting, along with an aviation degree, OEMs prefers nontechnical and management degree graduates, as compared to those having engineering or aeronautical science diplomas. The latter is more suitable for the position of factory test Pilots. They should have all the certifications and commercial ratings for the platform they will be operating on.
What other qualities are looked by OEMs?
Hearting says that focus on customer needs to be above and beyond as to what is required in other flying roles. Interpersonal skills carry a lot of importance in the list of qualities that are looked into.
The demo pilot should have the ability to develop relationship with the customers. Flight instruction experience will come as added value. Such a pilot will have the ability to communicate effectively as an educator.
Do Demo Pilots Undergo Any Training?
Training varies with different OEMs, but an aspirant usually work in different functions of piloting where they garner knowledge about the products of the company before serving in the role of demo pilot.
Textron runs pilot development programs and is looking for entry-level pilots currently, CFIs those who have 500 hours of flying experience. The opening is for the position of single-engine piston group. The pilots will be put on a career path that will lead them to the position of demo pilot.
Are Internship or Networking Opportunities Available?
Aviation events where aircraft are displayed by many OEMs is a great place to make contacts and network. Hearting says that she encourages pilots to attend airshows such as Sun ‘n Fun, NBAA regional events and Oshkosh.
Talk to demo pilots and learn about their experience, and let them know about your ambition. Major OEMs, such as Textron run internship programs which provide valuable experience on a number of functions. It makes it easy for pilots who wants to make a career in demo positions.
What about the Money and Progress?
The salary of demo pilots vary widely. In 2015, the median annual wage for commercial pilots was just over $ 76,000 in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, as one move higher up the ladder, they can earn up to $148,000.
Demo pilots have the opportunity to climb to different management positions, be it in flight department or in other areas. With progress, the amount of flying will reduce, but managers will have latest know how about the company’s product.