Danielle Stoney was 17 when she became the second youngest female pilot in the UK. Now 26, she is a first officer for London Oxford airport-based operator FlairJet, which launched the Embraer Phenom 100 in Europe
When did you discover your interest in aviation?
On my fifthteenth birthday I realised I wanted to be a pilot. My parents were struggling to decide what to buy me for a birthday present and suggested a trial flying lesson. From the minute we took off I was hooked. After that there was nothing much else that entered my mind. Following the flight I spent most of my weekends at Newtownards airfield, in Northern Ireland, learning about aircraft. When I turned 17 I obtained my private pilot's licence.
Stoney: hooked on flying since she was 15 and excited by Phenoms
How did your career progress from there?
I thought it was important to go to university, so I decided to train in mechanical engineering at the University of Edinburgh and took the opportunity to join the University Air Squadron. This gave me the chance to complete its elementary flying training course, which included aerobatics, formation and low-level flying. I finished air transport pilot licence training at Oxford Aviation Academy and was invited for an interview with FlairJet.
How does your week pan out?
Mostly as a first officer, so I'm flying clients to such destinations as Paris, Cannes, Dublin, Edinburgh and Düsseldorf on one of our three Embraer Phenom 100s. We have no cabin crew so we have to do everything, including serving the passengers.
FlairJet has also been involved in flying unaccompanied organs and it feels amazing to be involved in a team that saves lives. There are courses that need to be taken to be a commercial pilot, so I'm constantly learning. Recently I passed my Phenom 300 rating in readiness for the arrival of the first of two aircraft.
FlairJet is a small company, just 15 of us, so when I'm not flying I also give support in the office fielding charter enquiries and helping the operations team when required. It is fantastic experience working in operations. Occasionally I'm involved in taking a flight from the initial request, quoting, booking, planning the flight and providing customer service. I also attend business aviation shows on behalf of FlairJet, where we get the chance to promote this fabulous aircraft. It's not hard to be enthusiastic when the product is so good.
Where did you do your Phenom 300 type rating and how did it compare with flying the 100?
I went to Dallas to train on the Phenom 300. The course comprised a one-day ground school focusing on the differences between the Phenom 300 and the Phenom 100, followed by three days of simulators and a final check on the fifth day. The main difference is the increased power and performance of the Phenom 300, which I'm looking forward to trying out in the air.
What's been your biggest challenge at FlairJet?
Probably the most exciting was the delivery of a Phenom 100 from Fort Lauderdale to London Oxford. We flew through Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland with a stunning approach into Narsarsuaq, Greenland. This is something most pilots will only ever dream of and for me it was a highlight of my life. That it was my first flight for FlairJet added something special, too.
FlairJet is continually expanding and provides new and exciting opportunities to allow me to progress in my career, which is beneficial for all. On the immediate horizon, FlairJet has just taken delivery of its first Phenom 300, so I'm looking forward to flying the new aircraft.
Source: Flight International