Onboard the aircraft, it is the crew's job to make sure everything runs smoothly. There are the pilots, who steer the aircraft, and the stewards and stewardesses, who take care of the passengers. The pilots do their work in the cockpit and all the others work in the cabin, which is where the passengers stay. You can see exactly what everyone onboard does according to their uniform. All these people, together with the ground stewards and stewardesses, are the ‘face’ of KLM.
KLM has almost 2.700 pilots. That may sound like a lot, but it's just a fraction of all the children who dream of being a pilot with us one day. The fact that relatively few finally get the job has to do with the strict requirements for training and selection. Applicants must have completed higher secondary education including math, physics, and English and they must be in good health. Before you even start the training as a pilot, you have to pass a wide variety of physical and mental tests.
Most KLM pilots do their two years of training at the KLM Flight School at the airport in Eelde, in the northeastern Netherlands. Everyone who completes the training receives a pilot's license, a kind of driver's license for an airplane. At KLM, you then go on to a follow-up training course for the kind of aircraft you will be flying.
In most cases, you start flying a smaller aircraft as a copilot. After a few year's you can advance to a larger aircraft, again as a copilot. Later on, you'll move into the pilot's seat of a smaller aircraft and, following that, you can become a pilot on a larger aircraft, like a Boeing 747. In most cases, the cockpit crew consists of two pilots. On "long-haul" flights there are three.
Every time you move to a new aircraft type, you have to undergo more training. Also, KLM tests your knowledge of the aircraft and examines your abilities as a pilot in a flight simulator. You also have to have regular medical tests.
Stewards and Stewardesses
Doing everything to make life pleasant for the passenger. In KLM's view, that's the most important thing a steward or stewardess can do. And, this passenger-oriented attitude is just as important for a short flight - say, to London - as for flights of twelve hours, for instance, to Singapore. But, for many children, the reason for becoming a steward or stewardess is a different one - "I want to see the world!"
To become a steward or stewardess, you must complete higher secondary school (or lower secondary school plus secondary vocational education in a related field such as tourism or nursing). You must have completed your English study, speak Dutch and have a reasonable command of German, French, or Spanish. You have to be at least 21 years old and you cannot be too small or too tall. If you're too small, you won't be able to reach anything in the pantry. If you're too tall, you'll bang your head everywhere. The old myth that you can only become a stewardess if you're beautiful is just not true. But, you do have to take good care of yourself. It's most important that you're helpful and friendly.
If you meet all the requirements, you can qualify for the cabin crew training - at least, as long as KLM needs cabin crew at that moment. The training takes six weeks. If you want to be a leader in the cabin, you can train to be a purser and, finally, a senior purser. First, though, you have to have a few years of experience in the cabin and then take some more exams. Right now, KLM has about 8,700 stewards and stewardesses in service.