Eduardo Velazquez started his career in aviation when I was born, in 1976. First he joined a mexican airline as a cabin crew. For the next 4 years he flew and in the same time studied to become a pilot. Slowly he work his place up, as a pilot in executive aviation and for four years was the pilot of the former president of Mexico. Even if these days he is not flying anymore, he has an aviation related business in the same city he lives, in New Mexico and he is the Flight Operations Director.
What motivated you to become a pilot?
I am a very happy person and I like to help people. My career as a pilot is something that fascinated me and filled me with satisfaction. Since the day I started to fly, never is the same. Since I was a child I was always fascinated by airplanes, but I had promised my father that I would finish a university, get my degree and that later I would study what I always liked: aviation. I studied in two schools, one located in Mexico City, School of Aviation Mexico (where I studied to become a private pilot) and later I went to Opaloca, in Florida, to get my commercial pilot licence at Flight Safety School.
How do you motivate future pilots to be as good as you?
First I always answer their questions and talking about my career. I encourage them to be good students and I even find it motivating the walk arounds. I take them to see different types of planes, showing what has to be done in the cockpit. Of course I will mention different events I passed through during different flights I did.
Which are the steps in order to pass an interview as a pilot for a private airline?
Being able to fly on an aircraft depends on many factors:
1.Holding the commercial pilot license
2.Pass medical aptitude tests
3.Have the necessary flight hours
5.Fluency in English as well as in any other language
6.Knowledge of navigation charts (Jeppessen)
7.Knowledge of the aircraft you fly.
8.Passed flight exams (aptitude and knowledge).
Can you tell us some of the qualities that a professional pilot should have?
The qualities that a pilot must have are love and affection for your profession, always strive to be professional in your job, keep a record of excellent grades on your exams
and above all, study continuously. In aviation is always very important to study different languages in order to have better communication with the control tower personnel, mechanics, crew and most important with our VIP passengers since they may be of different nationalities from ours.
What does VIP customer service means for you as a pilot?
For us, as pilots, all executive aviation passengers are always VIP so we just have to maximize security and provide them with comfort.
Have you ever deal with a crew or VIP conflict ans how did you managed it?
In my years as an executive aviation pilot, I had only once a problem with a professional boxer who had won in Las Vegas and flying him and the team back to his state. I contacted our dispatch and control office to tell them what happened and that from my side I would no longer fly with him, as we considered him being a code red passenger.
What have you found to be the toughest aspect of the flight deck-cabin crew or VIP passenger interaction?
There should be harmony between pilots and the flight attendant on any flights, not only executive ones. We must have a pre-flight meeting (CRM) so we know each other, we give to the flight attendant information about the route conditions as well as the flight time. This is also for the guest benefit, so that in case the passengers is asking anything, the crew will already know the information.
What do you think is the greatest threat to the airlines/aviation these days?
The biggest threats right now for aviation are: the rate, low cost airlines and undoubtly the Covid 19 pandemic.
Which was the most dangerous situation that you faced during your career?
During my career I had two incidents that marked my life. Flying from Los Angeles to Mexico City we were notified by radio that it was reported a bomb on board. So had to call and direct the chief purser to prepare and do the emergency protocol, prepare his crew and passengers for a planned emergency. The second was an elevator discrepancy with 3 degrees difference arriving at SEA. The mechanics told us that luckily we had arrived on time, since this could be the cause of a severe accident.
We know that some benefits of working with VIP passengers are amazing. However, can you please tell us any?
In executive aviation, for me there are not much different benefits for working with VIP passengers. The only ones are staying at luxury hotels, be able to eat what you like and enjoy life in amazing places and famous beaches or ski resorts. When having several days layover we can do much more, like going around to get to know the place and visit museums.
Could you share with us what is the difference between flying as a pilot on a commercial and on a private airline?
There are many differences since in a commercial airline you have monthly flights, established routes and per diem established by low-cost and high-cost routes. In addition there is a departure time as well as the schedules established by the aeronautical authorities and you have the protection of a union. In executive aviation we are governed by the departure time of the VIP passenger. He decides when we take off. We do not have all the exact information as VIP might change his plans regarding a flight even if we are up in the air. We have much less established routes in the executive. We fly according to the needs of the VIPs and there is no union to protect the crew if the private company considers that you made a mistake..Both types of companies have their Non-Disclosure agreement, but in executive aviation it is stronger and diplomacy and discretion is the most important thing.
I know you have this Non-Disclosure agreements active even years after giving up flying for a private company. Could you still tell us some of the VIPs you haa on board?
Of course I will gladly tell you. I had the opportunity to fly with top executives of Mexico, mexican Secretaries of State, artists, with a former President of Colombia and his family, with different athletes and finally for 4 years commissioned with th former President of Mexico.
Does an amazing income comes along with flying famous people around the globe?
There are no other extra income in private aviation in Mexico or at least in the company I flew for. I signed a contract that specified my salary and that was all.
Are the VIP customers allowed to sit in the cockpit for take off and landing?
According to air regulations and by the aeronautical authorities, no outsider is allowed to be in sterile air such as the cockpit. Only an advisory pilot can go as long as he is supervising a route, an exam or something inherent to the plane, the manufacturer of the aircraft as long as he is certifying any component of this. If the purser has her seat in the cockpit, it is only allowed for take offs and landings to sit over there. They are the only people allowed in the cockpit.
Have you ever had some funny requests from the VIP?
YES! Usually most of the passengers always ask for very strange things, especially meals. As you know, in executive aviation a VIP menu is managed in such a way that the guest can order what they like. A secretary of state asked for Mexican food, another asked burgers from Wendy’s, another asked me for Mexican tortas and tacos, another asked for a seafood platter from a specific restaurant in New York and I could go on and on talking to you about many others.
How do you manage your private life?
Unfortunately in executive aviation until you are out of the airport you cann’t plan your private life with your family and friends. In commercial aviation, as I told you, you have a flight roll so you can plan your life in advance. Between flights you have 5 days off, but in the executive there is no such thing, maybe you can fly a lot or sometimes a little.
What would you advice the young generation who would like to become pilots?
I would tell them that first of all they have to make sure that aviation is their love. You must enjoy having a profession as a pilot or flight attendant since it gives you many good things and satisfactions in life. They always have to remember their roots, where they come from and where they go. Do not forget the efforts of your family to give you the best. That would be my advice.