Evangelos Zachos is a Greece based pilot with years of instructor experience under his belt. Zachos has trained abroad in the United States and has earned various pilot licenses over the years. He has flown for private aviation companies and for commercial airlines including Olympic Airlines. Currently, he is the flight operations manager and training manager at Amjet Executive. Amjet is a European air charter company operating business jets headquartered in Athens.
Zachos took a moment to sit down with All About Aviation to tell us about his varied accomplishments in Greek aviation and about the challenges he faces to inspire and teach the next generation of Greece-based pilots.
All About Aviation.gr: You have worked for some of the largest airlines in Greece, how does your current experience compare to working for a commercial airline?
I believe that reaching the commercial airline level is the ultimate level a pilot can accomplish in his carrier. Everybody at the commercial level works under very strict procedures in a very demanding environment. That’s important because it allows for safe travel of passengers and the safe transport of goods around the world. Also consider the regulations enforced for both pilots and maintenance staff.
I used to say that the transfer from private to commercial aviation is that in the begging you learn to fly and as you transfer to commercial you learn why this is happened.
All About Aviation.gr: What inspired you to start a career in the aviation industry?
It’s kind of unknown! I was born in a family that had nothing to do with aviation. My father was in the restaurant business. For me, aviation was part of the unknown, so it was challenge to jump into a career that was unlike anything I was ever exposed to.
All About Aviation.gr: Do you face any challenges in recruiting and training staff? Tell us some of the greatest issues that you face.
As an instructor I taught students during their final phase of training. My philosophy was to push them more. I encouraged them to study more deeply and fly more precisely while reducing errors as much as possible. During an early morning session my two students at the time arrived in the training facilities of Olympic Aviation looking very stressed. I asked them what was wrong. They told me that they had doubts and that they felt they perhaps were not good enough to graduate. My answer to them was that if you don’t love it you cannot get it. They graduated. They got it.
A couple of years later one of them got a job in an airline company, and he went for first time in type rating training. After his final session he called me to thank me for the motivation. For me, being an instructor was a challenge because I truly wanted my students to earn the highest of aviation standards.
All About Aviation.gr: How does the new generation of pilots compare to the previous generation, are there any traits that are different?
To be honest everything has changed since I graduated with a pilot’s license. I cannot judge what is best or what is wrong comparing the two generations. I was expecting the candidates and the aviation industry to be more focused on the quality and creativity instead of sales and income.
On the subject of training, I believe the industry should focus more on manual flying and be less involved with automation. I think this makes a difference to prevent accidents in the aviation world.
All About Aviation.gr: What are the greatest challenges in the Greek aviation industry today?
Unfortunately, this economic crises in my country has affected also in aviation business. I think the challenge is to focus on the incoming charter flights in the Greek islands. I believe the seaplane is also a challenge to tackle as well as conference tourism. These are some points that we can work together on and meet new goals to improve the situation.
All About Aviation.gr: Give us your top three favorite airports to fly into and why?
I’ll name airports that offer challenges as a pilot.
I think one of those airports is London Heathrow due to congesting air traffic in the area. You are able to enjoy flying during approach or departure phase and see how precise. I see how clearly the procedures are set up along these routes with London Control Area. Note also that weather is a factor.
Another airport coming to my mind is Samos airport due to the difficulties of the mountainous area there. The mountain landscape produces unexpected tail winds and cross winds during the approach phase. For the pilot, such unexpected changes can be difficult to control leading you in a decision to go around and give a second try. A lot of companies operating at this airport complete special training for the cockpit crews before they are released to operate with passengers.
Innsbruck in Austria is also a challenging airport. Specific training for the pilots is necessary before they operate regularly at the destination. At this airport you can see the limits of the pilots as humans, and of course, the limits of the airplane as well.