WHEN DREAMS TAKE FLIGHT: ALEX RAPOPORT
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple memento to set us on the path chasing our dreams. For Alex Rapoport, a family photo changed the trajectory of his life, took him across the world, and ignited a truly rewarding career in aviation.
As Chief Customer Liaison Pilot at MHIRJ, Alex Rapoport supports Flight Operations for a fleet of 1,300 CRJ aircraft. Based in Montreal and serving customers across the world, he brings a lifetime of experience as a pilot in a role that has proven to be both challenging and rewarding. From learning to fly himself, to then supporting and training pilots, he’s truly gone the distance during his decades in the industry.
A SNAPSHOT OF THE FUTURE
Aviation has been a part of Alex’s family for generations, and his passion for the profession began at a very early age. His great uncle was a fighter pilot in World War II, before becoming an airline pilot in the 1950s. This was during the peak of the romantic era of aviation, when pilots were truly the shining stars of the sky and the silver screen.
But it was a photo of his great uncle Vladimir that stood out to him to the most. The photo saw him decked out in his crisp uniform, standing proudly with his crew in front of Ilyushin IL-14 aircraft. And it was upon seeing this photo that Alex’s strong fascination with aviation began. At age 17, he was finally able to enroll in the Flight Academy in Ukraine, where he spent the next five years training and undergoing rigorous physical, psychological, and medical testing. With his license finally in hand, he began flying prop planes before moving onto larger jets.
As a pilot living and flying out of Uzbekistan, his flight hours took him to many incredible places, like the Maldives for instance, and even saw him handle some in-flight emergency situations. He once made an emergency landing after a major fire broke out onboard a flight over a challenging mountainous range. Alex’s quick thinking and coordinated actions with his crew allowed him to land their 148-passenger airplane safely.
A NEW HORIZON
Now licensed and experienced, Alex decided to leave Uzbekistan with his family and head to Canada where his career then truly took off. This new path lead him to a 23-year adventure as a Production Test Pilot for the CRJ aircraft where he flew new planes right off the assembly line and tested them before turning them over to customers. After two decades, Alex took on another unique role; this time as Customer Liaison Pilot where he began supporting the worldwide CRJ flight operations community.
At MHIRJ, the Customer Liaison Pilot plays a pivotal role, providing customers with a pilot perspective, working closely with our Engineering and Customer Support, addressing operational concerns, working on new flight procedures, facilitating flight training, conducting pilot briefings, in-flight assessments, and promoting best practices.
MODERN AVIATION AND A FULL-CIRCLE MOMENT
Looking back, Alex recalls having to carry large, heavy paper manuals and charts on all of his flights. These days, it's fascinating to see how all flight operations are fully electronic and interactive through numerous specialized iPad applications. As the industry continues to evolve the need for more pilots remains high, Alex has a message for the next generation of pilots: “If you want to fly, then you are already in the right place. Flying is challenging work, but it is a very rewarding career, in every aspect of the word ‘rewarding’”. He added that every flight is different, and there are no carbon copies. He compares it to getting on a stage and having to perform, and always having to be sharp to complete the job.
With regional airlines feeling the shortage the most, the best time to enter a career as a pilot is right now. Salaries are high and competitive, working conditions have improved dramatically, the upgrades are quicker, and the path towards becoming a Captain is far more accessible. And this is something he favors: “If you want to advance your career, flying regional means lots of takeoffs and landings, but you still get to go home at the end of the work day or after a couple days of flying!”
One of the most rewarding moments of Alex’s career was the day he got to bring his great uncle Vladimir, the one who inspired his entire career, onboard a de Havilland Canada Dash 8 Demo Flight in Russia. His great uncle, a World War II veteran, 92 years old at the time, got to proudly see Alex in his DHC Dash 8 Q400 aircraft. The Demo was covered by the local media and broadcast on TV, and for Alex it marked a true full-circle moment in his life and his career as a pilot.
A perfect landing is like the perfect end to a play on the stage.