Fabian Jungmann

MEng | First Officer, British Airways

My favourite memories of my time at Malvern College were those made with my friends in the boarding house and the friendships we forged, which will last a lifetime. A lot of wonderful memories have come from the many Christmas and Birthday dinners, the various trips (Ecuador/Cwm Llwch/CCF/DofE etc) and all of the time spent together watching movies, playing computer games and the many other things we got up to in our free time.

What attracted you to your particular career and what do you enjoy most about it?

I have had an interest in aviation from a young age and always knew that one day I was going to be pursuing a flying career. Before I came to Malvern I would often ride my bicycle to the local airport and watch the planes land and take off. Flying to and from the UK once a month or so, as part of the school routine for a boarder from abroad, I practically grew up in the airport environment and sitting in the departures lounge before flying home to see my parents (and equally when flying back to my own increasingly independent life at boarding school a few days later) always induced a sense of eager anticipation that even now I associate with travelling. Coming to Malvern as a young 13-year old German boy who barely spoke English has opened up many doors that would have otherwise remained closed to me. There really isn’t any better way to learn a language than to jump in at the deep end.

I couldn’t be happier with the profession that I have chosen. Every day at work is different and the colleagues are excellent to work with. Often the aircraft crews consist of pilots and cabin crew who have not met before, and so (amongst other criteria) British Airways select their pilots based on how well we can work in unfamiliar teams. This means that generally we all get on very well with each other and results in some excellent trips with great colleagues. Throwing complex weather scenarios, technical issues and forever varying operational requirements into the mix, flying an £80 million airliner around Europe safely is what makes this job so satisfying. There is a real sense of gratification when you night-stop at an airport abroad and look back at the aircraft as you walk across the apron, thinking to yourself “I just brought this here.”

What part did Malvern College play in giving you the necessary skills for your chosen path?

A lot of the selection and training we undergo as pilots is based on key competencies focussed around teamwork, leadership, workload management amongst many others. Malvern does an exceptional job shaping and nurturing these qualities in its pupils and encourages everybody to step out of their comfort zone to achieve their potential.

For example, there are many activities that promote leadership and teamwork ranging from the Combined Cadet Force, through the various sports and physical activities to more academic challenges such as the Gold CREST projects in STEM subjects. All of these I enjoyed taking part in. Juggling school work, extracurricular and social commitments can often be challenging. Learning how to find the right balance between all these things prepared me immensely for my university course and, later on, the flight training course.

Lastly, living with 60 other teenagers, and sharing dormitories until Sixth Form, carries immense benefits with it and really creates a sense of comradery. Because of Malvern, I can get on with most people without any difficulties, and this in particular is a tremendous benefit to my job now.

What are your ambitions?

I am a First Officer on the short-haul Airbus fleet, which means that I fly as the co-pilot on our European short-haul routes out of London-Heathrow in Airbus A319/A320/A321 aircraft. As you can imagine, because of the current situation with Covid-19, there has been an underwhelmingly small amount of flying in the last year and the aviation industry is possibly one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic. However, once this situation is over, the expectation is that over the next few years we will return to pre-Covid levels of air traffic, and growth forecasts in our globalised world are very positive. I love my job and would love to fly on one of the long-haul fleets, as well as one day sit in the left-hand seat as the Captain of a British Airways aircraft. Alongside this, there are many opportunities to delve deeper into the organisation and take on more responsibilities. For example, by becoming a training captain, which would entail training the current and next generation of pilots. Alternately, there would be the option of training to become a managerial pilot – it is surprising just how many career options there are available for pilots.

What advice would you give to current pupils contemplating entering your field?

Aviation is a wonderful industry filled with people who are passionate about what they do, and the training and safety culture is outstanding at pretty much any major airline in the world. Malvern provides all the tools to become a well-rounded individual with excellent academic qualifications who would fit well into the aviation culture. But at the end of the day it is up to you to take advantage of the opportunities that Malvern provides, and really making the most out of the limited time at Malvern College will serve you well – not just in aviation, but life in general.

More specifically to flying, I found also that what benefitted me tremendously was to go to university before starting my flight training. As somebody who always knew what he wanted to do, the temptation to apply to an airline cadet scheme directly out of school was overwhelmingly large, but thankfully the career’s team at Malvern and my parents convinced me to go to university first.

I did a four-year integrated Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London, graduating at the age of 21, with plenty of time left to start flying, and significantly more life experience than those who started their careers directly out of school. Of course, there are also many people who have had previous careers before becoming pilots – I have flown with people from all sorts of backgrounds: Investment bankers, former professional rugby players, research scientists and the occasional doctor practicing medicine alongside their flying career, as well as many more. This means that most colleagues have really interesting stories from past and present lives to share and this makes every day interesting.

As far as academic subjects go, a solid understanding of physics and mathematics will make the theoretical aspects of learning how to fly significantly easier, and a good university degree to follow will be worth the time and effort.

What advice would you give to current pupils about making the most of their time at Malvern College?

To get the most out of your time at Malvern, it makes sense to extract the most out of the opportunities on offer. One time, I gave an improvised talk about the IB to a visiting school’s 150 pupils, which without Malvern I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing! Now, I routinely talk to an aircraft full of passengers – easy to do when everything is as expected, but not quite so easy when things have not gone so well!

It is also easy to not appreciate how well the boarding house takes care of you. What I would give to not have to iron my own shirts or cook! Unfortunately, these things are easily taken for granted whilst at Malvern and really helps you to focus on your studies, but I do sometimes wish I had appreciated those little things more.

Any final thoughts?

I look back on my time at Malvern incredibly fondly. The friends I made, the teachers and staff in the boarding houses and the academic support were all of the highest standard and I would do it all again if I could. For those reading this as prospective students, taking the time to find the right boarding house and house master is very important and can make all the difference, but the admissions staff are very good at realising which house you would fit into.

I could not be happier in my current position, it’s what I have always wanted to do, and very much look forward to when travelling is allowed again and we can fly you all to sunny places once more!