Inside Job: Emirates' First Officer, Yusri Abu Bakar on the long and fulfilling journey to becoming a pilot

Inside Job: Emirates' First Officer, Yusri Abu Bakar on the long and fulfilling journey to becoming a pilot

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Yusri Abu Bakar, First Officer, Emirates, hailing from Singapore and having served in the RSAF, tells us about life in the skies and on the ground, as well as the upskilling journey to becoming a pilot.

Emirates, the world’s largest operator of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, has relaunched its Accelerated Command Programme (ACP), inviting Captains with Airbus fly-by-wire experience to rev up their careers and live in dynamic Dubai.

The ACP is primarily designed for Airbus Captains who currently command narrow-body aircraft on regional routes and wish to dial up their careers by working with a global airline brand. The airline also continues to recruit First Officers across its fleet.

With the aviation industry picking up speed and passenger traffic rebounding to pre-pandemic norms, this is an exciting time to get a glimpse into the life of an Emirates First Officer.

In this edition of Inside Job, HRO interviews Yusri Abu Bakar, First Officer, Emirates (pictured below), hailing from Singapore, who tells us about life in the skies and on the ground. Prior to joining Emirates in 2018, Yusri flew with the Republic of Singapore Air Force before moving onto commercial airlines.

Q What drew you to the airline industry?

I’ve always wanted to be a pilot growing up and I had the honour of starting my flying career as a military pilot, where I trained to protect my country. After serving the nation for many years, I wanted to experience the full spectrum of the aviation industry, including the airline sector. Seeing the Airbus A380’s performance at the Singapore Airshow, back in 2008, piqued my curiosity in wanting to fly the aircraft and I’m grateful for the opportunity to join Emirates in 2018, and now be able to fly this amazing aircraft.

yusri abu bakar first officer emirates

Q What does your everyday look like?

Being a pilot requires us to always keep ourselves updated on our technical and general knowledge and be well-rested for our flights. On days I’m preparing for my flight, I’ll study weather trends and the destination city’s procedures. As we fly across international airspace, I take time to study the respective country’s rules and regulations in detail. I also prepare by reviewing company guidelines and ensuring I’m well-rested before my flight.

A typical month may consist of one or two Ultra Long Range (ULR) flights which take up to 16 hours, like Auckland, and a couple of medium-haul flights which are three-eight hours long (for example, Dubai-Singapore). I also do some turnaround flights which are up to three hours in each direction.

On my off days, I mainly catch up on my rest or focus on my hobbies like reading, cycling, golfing, running, and more.

Q What would people be shocked to know that goes on behind the scenes in the cockpit?

A lot of processes and coordination take place in the cockpit, as we coordinate with the other departments that support our operations. From transportation to meal preparation, our colleagues work equally hard behind the scenes to ensure that our customers enjoy flying with us. Indeed, it is a massive team effort that requires diligence and clockwork precision, to provide a smooth and pleasant journey for customers onboard.

Q What advice do you have for people aspiring to be a pilot?

The journey to being a pilot is long and arduous, but a fulfilling one. It requires determination and grit. Stick to your goals, be tenacious and never give up. Be inspired by other pilots and prepare well for your duties – from training and simulators, to actually flying.

For those who may not know where to start, The Emirates Flight Training Academy (EFTA) in Dubai is a good place to kickstart a career in aviation. With massive, state-of-the-art facilities including 36 classrooms, a training fleet of 27 aircraft, six full flight simulators and top-notch trainers, the EFTA provides a suitable training environment for pilots to begin their journey.

Q What is the most rewarding part of your job?

For me, ensuring that our passengers arrive at their destinations safely and efficiently is the most rewarding part of my job. Through Emirates’ robust, in-house training programme, we pilots are well-trained to perform our jobs to deliver the highest standards of safety on all our flights. And it feels good to know that I am a part of that.

Q Beyond the technical skills what are some other important soft skills people might not realise are essential to being a good pilot?

It is important to be able to work well in a team and to remain calm under pressure as a pilot. We need to synergise our efforts on the flight deck to ensure safety and efficiency during a flight. Being calm under pressure comes with knowledge and preparation, which Emirates’ training programmes equip us well in as we experience various scenarios through simulations and computer-based training.

Q Technology has impacted a lot of industries how has it impacted yours and what are some of the positives and negatives?

Technology has benefitted the aviation industry in many ways. From advanced technology in watching the weather trends to a more ergonomic cockpit, it has made flying a joy for both aviators and passengers. The drawback to technology may be the over-reliance on automation, but Emirates’ training ensures that we are well prepared and that pilots do not rely fully on automation.

Q What does the future of work look like for pilots? The past couple of years saw a lot of disruption. What upskilling needs to happen to make you more agile if you wanted to change industry or career?

The aviation industry, as with many other industries, took a massive hit due to the global pandemic. Thus, airlines had to scale back operations. This allowed us to diversify our skills and upgrade ourselves in other areas. For me, I maintained my flying licenses and focused on other areas of interest. For instance, I took a course on Digital Sales and Marketing and was qualified as a Personal Trainer, both of which have come in handy.

Q Could you talk a bit about the Emirates ACP programme and why it's important for airlines to have these kinds of programmes for pilots coming through the ranks?

Emirates launched the Accelerated Command Programme, (ACP) where Captains with a minimum of 1,500 hours of Airbus fly-by-wire (FBW) experience and other eligibility criteria, can apply to join as A380 First Officers on an enhanced salary package. They will be eligible for an accelerated command upgrade after a minimum of 700 flying hours and two successful rounds of checks. Typically, Emirates pilots achieve these milestones in a little over a year as we fly a mix of ultra-long, long- and short-haul routes.

We also have a Direct Entry Captains programme for the A380 designed for those who have a minimum of 3,000 hours of recent command on Airbus FBW widebody like the A340s, A350s and A380s.

Such programmes are tailored to allow pilots to hone their skills and upgrade themselves in this role in a timely manner.

Q What advice do you have for travellers to make for a smooth flight?

Arrive at the airport on time, be well-rested before your flight, and remain hydrated. Try to stretch and move every few hours onboard, and of course, enjoy Emirates’ ice, our award-winning inflight entertainment system. I wish everyone travelling to have safe journeys and pleasant skies!

You're reading HRO's brand-new section, Inside Job, where we sneak a peek into some of the most unique roles and skills that are being developed across Asia. In the spirit of lifelong learning, we firmly believe every job is interesting and we all have the opportunity to pick up a thing or two from how things are done differently across sectors. So we hope you'll enjoy this new segment! 

ALSO READ: Inside Job: VES' Dr Sebastien Monier on nurturing professionals for the pet healthcare and veterinary sector in Singapore

Lead image / Shutterstock
In-line image / Provided (featuring the interviewee)

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