This profession isn’t only about flying planes; it’s about flying people to destinations safely; An interview with Capt. Pradeep Shrestha
There are a few professions that make you feel as alive as being an airline pilot. Cruising at incredible altitudes and covering continents at a time, this profession is at the forefront of technology and its integration into our lives. Flying can be a very rewarding career, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction, but it is important to know both the ups and downs of the profession.
With continual advancement in the field of aviation, a pilot’s career is never stagnant. Training, improving and growing one’s knowledge is a career long undertaking. There is always room to improve in this profession and with the responsibilities that one undertakes every time they sit in the cockpit, nothing less than the best is expected.
Whether it is on the ground or in the air, a pilot must always carry themselves in a professional manner that earns them the respect of their crew and passengers. The uniform they wear doesn’t just represent the airlines but all the hard work, commitment and training that were required to earn those wings. This profession isn’t only about flying planes; it’s about flying people to destinations safely.
AviationNepal has the privilege of sharing the experience of one such individual who, throughout his career, has strived to be the finest model for this profession, proudly carrying his nations name wherever he goes – Captain Pradeep Shrestha, Senior Captain at Ethiopian Airlines. His journey is an inspiration to many who are just beginning their careers in this field, giving them the guidance to reach even greater heights.
How do you define yourself and your profession?
I am one of the fortunate few who can say that they love their job. I have been an airline pilot for the better part of my life and I have no intention of stopping. A day in the office for me is at 35,000 feet, there isn’t much more I could want from a job. As a profession, this is much more than a means to put food on the table. It is the culmination of my goals, ambitions and hard work, and the satisfaction it provides me is a blessing every day. People, places, cultures, diversity are all synonymous with this profession and every day I am out there, it is an adventure.
Where is your home town in Nepal?
My home town is Dharan, Sunsari. That is where my ancestral home still is, but I moved to Kathmandu at a young age.
Can you tell us about your journey in short in the aviation world?
It all began at the Moncton Flying College, Canada, where I acquired my PPL and CPL. This led to an opportunity to fly with our national carrier, Royal Nepal Airlines, now Nepal Airlines Corporation. I joined Royal Nepal Airlines on September, 1982, and yet it feels like yesterday. After 30 years with NAC, I took the skills and knowledge I had acquired to provide support to the remote areas of Nepal. I did this as part of a team, establishing Air Kasthamandap and bringing in brand new planes to country.
Which International airline did you join first?
The first international airline I joined was Ethiopian Airlines, with whom I am currently a Senior Captain.
What major differences did you find comparing flying with your own national airline and other international airlines?
The biggest difference would be the international standards. The systems and procedures in a major airline is very different to what I was previously used to. To give you an idea, Ethiopian Airlines currently has 78 aircrafts in its fleet, with another 42 on order. This includes some of the most advanced aircrafts, the 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350. Certain differences you cannot prepare for; you can only adjust to it when you start working with it.
Do you recall any good memoires working on NAC back then?
Flying the national flag carrier is still one of the proudest moments in my life. I remember my time with the airline very fondly and the memories are part of my existence. Our comradery whilst working there is something I miss. Everything was at a more personal level in NAC and it was where I established myself as a pilot.
Have you ever done any emergency landing?
I have been fortunate enough to not have to declare an emergency landing so far. However, we are always prepared for any situation that may arise and are highly trained to respond to it. As a senior captain, there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and I strive to lead my crew to provide a safe and comfortable environment on board my flights.
How it feels when you look at your first officer in the cockpit sharing same space with you?
It takes me back to when I first started. Getting an opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge with them is one of the joys of my role. When the first officer is enthusiastic and willing to learn, it only makes its more enjoyable.
What suggestion would you like to point out to fresh newcomer pilot of Nepal?
With your job, you don’t only carry your dreams and ambitions, but the trust of many people and their families. Every day is a new beginning, with new people, and new places. Look beyond your critics, learn all you can from your seniors and don’t stop growing professionally and personally. Bring everyone home safe and don’t forget to enjoy yourself while doing all of this.