Tee Yoon Han is an experienced pilot who has had extensive experience in the industry. Clocking in over 6300 flying hours, Yoon Han has worked with a number of companies. He has worked with Transmile Air Services (2011-2013) as a Junior First Officer and AirAsia X (2013-2017) as a First Officer. At present, he is a Captain with AirAsia and looks forward to flying for many more years. One of his life goals is to travel around the world with his loved ones.
What inspired you to enter the field of aviation?
I remember when I was in Secondary school, there was a company that came to my school to give us a talk regarding jobs in the aviation industry. However, the information given was only minimal at best.
But it nevertheless triggered my curiosity toward aircraft and piloting. Because of this, I started to search for more information online and I began to join a few aviation forums to gain more knowledge about being a pilot and to clear my doubts about the profession. From there it slowly built up my interest towards becoming a pilot.
What was the pathway like (e.g., examinations or other requirements) to become a commercial pilot?
There are 2 minimum and also most important requirements we must meet in order to be able to apply to join flying academy in Malaysia to take up Commercial Pilot Course. First of all, one requires academic qualifications: at least 5 credits at SPM Level with a minimum of credits in English, Mathematics and a Science Subject. Second, you must pass the Class One Medical Certificate. In order to get this medical certificate you must pass certain medical examinations with an Authorized Medical Examiner. Such tests include ECGs, hearing test, eyesight testing etc.
Confidence … Attitude … Self discipline … Multitasking!
Tell us about commercial airline aviation training and examinations systems and your experience in the field.
A good place to start with are the ground classes that teach us about aircraft systems, limitations and general information, aircraft operation procedures, Standard Operating Procedures and company policies. This would primarily relate to commercial airlines. Thereafter we will sit for a Type Technical exam to ensure we fully understand the mechanisms of the aircraft that are typically used by airlines.
Once we have passed that, we begin our training in the simulator. We will get a lot of failures in simulators and we will be taught how to fly the aircraft with the failures and to land it safely in simulator. The last session of simulator normally is a check, in which the examiner will give us some failures and we must be able to fly the aircraft and land the aircraft safety in order to pass the check.
After we have passed the simulation check, we can proceed to the next step — flying the real aircraft. On the real aircraft we can only fly with Type Rated Instructor to begin with. The instructor will teach us the normal flying routine with passengers. Once we have accumulated enough sectors (takeoffs and landings) and when we are considered to be familiar enough with our knowledge of aviation, procedures and handling of the aircraft, the instructor will release us to do a final line check with Type Rated Examiner. Once we have passed the final line check we are officially a co-pilot (Second Officer/First Officer). From here, we will be allowed to fly with normal airline Captains.
(On his first solo flight): The mixture of pride and excitement is something I will never forget.
Are there key skills or attributes needed to succeed in your career?
Confidence (get enough knowledge and be firm with your action during flights), attitude (always be humble and ready to learn from experience pilots), self-discipline (there’s a lot of preparation beforehand and punctuality is very important for a pilot, you wouldn’t want 180 passengers waiting for you)
Multitasking skills are also very important as a pilot. We will have to listen out for Air Traffic Controller’s instruction while eyes are monitoring flight instruments. In addition, if you happen to be on an aircraft that utilises manual flying, your left and right hand will be doing different things as well.
What is the best part of flying an aeroplane?
Everything!! You will think all are the best when you are doing something you’re passionate about.
There are actually many many things beyond the autopilot function’s control.
Name one of the most memorable experiences in your career?
I would say my first solo flight while I was still in the flying academy. For training purposes we will start with flying small single engine 2-4 sitters aircraft in flying academy. It is like when you learn how to drive a car with instructor and when you are good enough your instructor will allow you to drive alone for practice. It is the same for airplane, but for aircraft you can’t just simply pull to the side like you would with a car if you encounter any problems. You will still have to bring the aircraft down yourself without guidance.
On my first solo day I did not expect to be sent for solo because of my performance on my previous flight. So as usual I took off with my instructor and we did a few touch and go routines. The flight was going as planned. We made a full stop landing after a few circuits, my instructor looked over at me and asked me if I was ready to fly by myself. I was incredibly nervous, and the anxiety really built up.
As soon as my instructor got off the plane, I requested permission to taxi and takeoff. I was so focused on flying the aircraft I never really had time to consider how amazing the whole experience. The whole solo procedure went smoothly. I landed the aircraft safely all by myself. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to describe, but the mixture of pride and excitement is something I will never forget.
What was the scariest moment you have had while flying?
During one particular flight, there was a weather alert ahead of us. Despite the fact that it was not a particularly serious alert, we decided to avoid it regardless. While we were in the process of avoiding it, a bolt of lightning struck right in front of us. This was very scary, as we very well could have been struck by it, which would have put the crew and passengers in danger. We were very grateful that we made the right decision by avoiding the area, despite the radar only showing green (Light Rain) when we first encountered it.
During my free time, I will read some aviation news and get the latest news about aviation accidents and incidents so that I can learn from other pilots’ experiences.
What do you think is a misperception that the general public has about your profession, or an aspect to your job that many people are not aware of?
A lot of people think that a pilot’s job is easy because the aircraft can be flown via Auto Pilot nowadays. But there are actually many many things beyond the autopilot function’s control. For example, whenever there are malfunction errors that affect the autopilot, the aircraft will have to be flown manually. So a pilot’s job is to monitor and take over manually when needed and most importantly, to decide the next action during critical phases of flight based on past aviation experiences.
What are some things you do in your free time?
During my free time, I will read some aviation news and get the latest news about aviation accidents and incidents so that I can learn from other pilots’ experiences and mistakes. It’s always important to continue improving oneself.
Given your interest in collecting aircraft models, which one is your favourite?
My favorite aircraft is Airbus A340-600 “The Flying Pencil” because it has long fuselage and is one of the longest jetliners.
While flying … I often get to see shooting stars during the night if there is a clear sky
Which is your favourite city to fly to?
I would say Osaka, Japan. When I fly to Osaka I will take a train to Kyoto City. Kyoto is a major tourist destination and it is home to numerous Buddhist Temples. Shinto Shrines, Palaces and gardens, many of which are listed collectively by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. You get to see different views during different seasons there.
What do you think of in-flight food?
At high altitude and pressurized airplane as well as a lack of humidity reduces the sensitivity of our taste buds to sweet and salty foods. Food and drink really do taste different in the air compared to on the ground. That’s the reason why passengers always complain about in-flight food is not delicious. So far I have not tasted any in-flight foods that interest me.
Have you ever seen anything strange or remarkable while flying?
One of the most remarkable aspects for me while flying is that I often get to see shooting stars during the night if there is a clear sky. It’s a very beautiful sight.
Once you become knowledgeable, your “what if” thoughts are limited by the facts. Become familiar with the facts. They will not eliminate your anxiety, but they will help you manage it.
Any tips for people dealing with flight anxiety?
For first timers, I would advise them to get some knowledge of the airplane before they take off. For example, what will happen to the aircraft when there are rough weather conditions. When in the aircraft please pay attention to safety demonstrations given by the cabin crew and also read the safety card. Know what you should do during emergencies. Once you become knowledgeable, your “what if” thoughts are limited by the facts. Become familiar with the facts. They will not eliminate your anxiety, but they will help you manage it.
Any advice for young people who wish to be pilots out there?
Be someone with a positive attitude, be humble and always ready to learn and always learn from other people’s mistakes.
Anything that pilots wish us passengers should know?
Please always follow the Cabin Crew’s instructions and pay attention to safety demonstrations given by the Cabin Crew. One will never know when you will need the information. It might well save your life one day.