It may be hard to fathom, but there was a time when Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, who is also an experienced aviator, was let go from his side gig as an airplane pilot.

It wasn't his fault, though. In 2011, the charter company Astraeus Airlines, for which Dickinson was then working, folded after a decade in operation, as UCR reported. In the surrounding years, it was the rocker's commercial air career that led to publicized outings such as his captaining of Iron Maiden's jetliner, the Ed Force One, on the band's world tours. Still, losing the Astraeus position made him reconsider his options.

"Because I loved flying, I was working for a company which had airplanes for hire and I was a captain there for several years," Dickinson told Wales Online of his time with Astraeus. "The company went bust in 2011 and I had never been in a company that had gone bust before."

He continued, "Because of the other things I do, it wasn't as though I was out on my ear and couldn't afford the price of a meat pie, but it was really distressing to see. We had close [to] 400 employees and to see all those people, all of that training and all of that camaraderie all just vanish overnight, I thought I never want to do that again."

That's why, in 2012, Dickinson started Cardiff Aviation, his own aircraft maintenance and pilot training company. It has since been restructured as Caerdav, with the Iron Maiden vocalist as the firm's chairman.

"We maintain large commercial transport airplanes," Dickinson explained of Caerdav's main business model. "We have a sweet spot at the moment for Boeing 737s and Airbus narrowbodies — the Airbus A320 family. However, we also have capabilities for larger aircraft like 767s and 757s. We do everything from changing the engines and the landing gear to interior refits, electronic upgrades and complete strip downs and rebuilds."

There were also initially plans for the musician to operate a small airline as well, but that idea has since been "shot … down," Dickinson said. The part of his aviation empire that instructs pilots "is holding its own today, we've got some simulators that work and pay the rent."

Two weeks ago, Iron Maiden released "The Writing on the Wall," their first new song in six years. It's the lead single from Senjutsu, Maiden's 17th studio album, which arrives on Sept. 3.

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