Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Share Your Story: Brandon Desjardins, Air Canada, Future Pilot

Welcome to the 14th "Share Your Story" post. People involved in aviation from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found in the following: Click Here and Get Involved

This article is solely of my opinion and does not express the opinion of Air Canada or its affiliates etc. 

My name is Brandon Desjardins, I'm 21 years old and live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. After I graduated high school in 2009, I got employed by my country's largest carrier, Air Canada. I think I always knew I wanted to work for Air Canada as its been in my blood for a long time. 

My grandmother started back when it was called Trans Canada Airlines in 1958! She worked as a teletype operator until 1964, then in reservations. My grandfather who served in the military also worked for Air Canada for about 20 years as a mechanic doing hangar work in Winnipeg from about 1974 until 1994. My other grandfather worked for Air Canada from 1958 until 1990. In the summer of 1958 he was based in Montreal Canada flying as a purser as they were known back then on the Super Connie's TCA had at the time. He did London, Paris, Brussels. After doing that for a summer he went into reservations and the hiring department. He lived in Montego Bay for about 2-3 years and he got Air Canada up and running in Jamaica and today we still fly there!  After that he worked in the hiring department and that's where he stayed until retiring in 1990. 

My grandmother started with Air Canada in 1966. She worked in the Government Affairs Department. She worked closely with CEOs of the company throughout her career such as Claude Taylor. My father started with Air Canada in Ottawa in 1978, he was hired at the time by his stepfather. After ten years in Ottawa, my Dad transferred to Winnipeg and worked in Cargo. After about 20 years my Dad decided it was time for a change and changed departments to Baggage Services with lost bags etc. after about 5 years doing that, he became a Customer Service Manager for about 6 years before retiring in 2009 with 31 years! He got back on with AC as a manager of Passenger Services in Calgary! 

My mom also worked at AC from 1985 to 1991 before she was laid off. 
All of my relatives thoroughly enjoyed their careers with TCA/Air Canada and fondly remember their days and years with the company. In total my family has about 121 years combined service with AC, yet AC is only 76 years old!

I'm continuing the legacy of working with AC,  I still feel immensely proud to be an Air Canada employee, it's truly a great airline and one Canada should be proud of to have as it's national carrier. I'm one of 26,000 proud! I feel immense pride and joy knowing I help get passengers, crew, and their bags safely to their destinations worldwide every day! I enjoy working for AC  because its such a great company to work for, not only are the benefits great, the working environment is second to none. It is highly respected and revered throughout the airline industry. 

Here is what I do at Air Canada:

For instance, if we have an A320 coming in from Toronto, it will also depart to Toronto. The aircraft comes into the gate, the lead marshaller will tell the pilot where to stop, by then the noise is deafening as the engines are still running. As the plane stops, I go to chock the nose gear, and the crews wait until the engines are shut down and the beacon light or Anti-Collision Lights(ACL) lights are turned off, no one moves until the light is off. Then I go to chock the main gear, as my colleagues will put the cones around the plane in required spots, as the lead does his post-flight walk around, I will open the cargo doors and once they are opened, I walk over to the loader which we use to offload/on load containers of bags and drive it up to the plane, set it up and start offloading cans, it takes skill and depending on how many containers are on the aircraft it may not take long to offload or it may. A 320 can hold 7 containers or ULD's. After we offload the cans, we then set up the pushback tractor and tow bar so it's ready for pushback. 

On this episode of Travel Unravelled, you're taken deep into the belly of Toronto's Pearson International airport and out on the ramp to show you what it takes to get an Air Canada flight off the ground!

We then go upstairs and since we are a small base we groom our aircraft on turns and terminators. We empty the seat pockets and cross the seatbelts, we also make sure that the galley and washroom garages are all emptied and replaced with new garbage bags. After we groom, it's time to head downstairs to load the containers of bags or cargo. To load a full 320 with 7 containers takes about 15 minutes depending on the skill, we do it efficiently but safe at the same time. Also we may have bags go into the bulk hold which is a small compartment at the back which can hold small bags or animals etc. After the cans are all loaded up and the loader is driven away from the plane safely as we do get very close to the wing, no way around it. 

The cargo doors and bulk door are all closed up, the main gear can be unchocked, cones removed from the plane into the safezone, ground power is unplugged when the APU is fired up. The lead does his pre-flight walk around, the main cabin door is closed, bridge is removed, I hop into the push tractor and talk to the pilots, the lead gives me the thumbs up, the pilot gets his push clearance. The nose gear is unchocked, and I begin the pushback. I give the pilots clearance to start his engines and he tells me either 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 giving me the sequence of which he's going to start. The push is complete, towbar is removed, pins (prevent nose gear from moving towbar on the ground) removed, time to disconnect, go to hand signals, and I tell the pilot have a good flight or so long and drive the tractor away from the plane to the parking position on the gate. I take off the headset and then remove the towbar from the push tractor, we are then ready for our next flight! All in 45 minutes! 

AC is an incredible company and I've seen the world flying since I was in diapers and dream of flying for them someday! 

I work in their ground handling department as a Station Attendant in Winnipeg, I basically unload the baggage off the aircraft, load the baggage, we also clean the cabins and tow or move airplanes to different positions on the ramp. 

It's my dream to fly for Air Canada as a pilot, it's been my dream since high school. I've been in love with aviation since I was a baby flying to Jamaica or Vancouver or Ottawa with my parents. I am looking to start my lessons soon and thrust into a career of aviation which I've always known to be the field for me!


Thanks so much Brandon for sharing your and your family's story with us! I love hearing about how you're continuing the legacy, and hope to take it one step further, beginning to fly. I can't wait to see what you'll do in the coming years. Make sure to write back when you begin your flight training!

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

1 comment:

  1. Not sure how I missed this one! What a history of Aviation! So nice to know you Brandon. Another excellent post Swayne!


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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin