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Home > Becoming a Pilot > Changing to a career as an airline pilot?
Changing to a career as an airline pilot?
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Saturday, 27 October 2007 10:58

Dear Captain Lim,

Having recently turned 36, I*m now approaching a career crossroads and as a result, I*m considering a future as a pilot in the airline industry.

I am currently a British Military guy (non flying specialization) fortunate enough to be stationed in Southern California for the forthcoming 2 years. On completion of my current assignment, I*ll return to the UK for a further 2 years before I*ll have option of retiring from the military after 24 years and returning to the US and commencing a second career.

In effect, having just the one job my entire adult life, I*ll be 40 years of age before I*m available to a new employer (I understand that my age may reduce my attractiveness to some employers). However, like a majority of those who have emailed you thus far, I*ll feel it prudent in the meantime to establish a plan!! With this in mind, I*m currently well on my way to achieving my PPL which I expect to gain early in 2008. This will leave me with a time scale of 3.5 years to gain experience / qualifications whilst capitalizing financially on the fact that during this time, I*ll still be earning a good salary.

Realistically and due to my age, It may be a little too ambitious to set my sights on a career flying 777s, therefore, my gut feeling is to aim for a position with a regional airline (ideally flying the CRJ). I feel it best to utilize the next 3.5 years to ensure I*m in the best position possible to be employed within the industry. As I*ll be remaining in full time employment until 2012, I*d like to achieve this without going down the route of being a CFI, etc (I*d prefer to pay for hours building).

With this in mind, I*d be grateful if you could suggest a *training plan* for me (i.e.: what qualifications / licenses* and hours I should aim to have). Additionally, should I be successful in gaining a regional position, what is the likelihood in years (if any) of progressing onto a larger aircraft in the future?

Many thanks for your time and Bravo Zulu for a superbly informative website!

Regards

Nick Broughton

Hi Nick,


Since you would start your flying career at almost 40 years old, it will be an uphill but not impossible task for you to realize your future flying career. In the airline industry, promotion is based on seniority, seniority and seniority regardless of where you come from! If you come in late, then you have to start at the bottom of the ladder.

Having said that, you must make sure you get a JAA PPL and not a restricted PPL. If you want to build up your hours fast, then you should look into getting a Restricted Flight Instructor Rating then progress to a Full Flight Instructor Rating or CFI (American)

Ideally, you should attend a full time Integrated Flying course to get your professional licenses as this is the preferred route since you would get continuity in flying.

Alternatively, you can go for the Modular Course to spread the cost of your training. As an experienced PPL holder, you can progress via this route to obtain your CPL or ATPL.

For the CPL, IR and ATPL, you have to undertake an approved ground training course before starting your flying training. (Please check with the UK CAA for more details - FAA Licences or requirements are not the same or equate to UK Licences)

Prior to commencing a CPL modular course, you must have completed 150 hours of flying after qualifying for the PPL. For this, you would require 200 hours of ground instruction with a minimum of 25 hours of flying instruction, including 10 of instrument flying instructions, of which 5 may be ground time in a simulator. You need an additional of 5 hours of night flying if you do not have a night rating. If you have an IR (Instrument Rating) with your PPL, the course is reduced to 15 hours of flying training. You need at least 200 hours to be eligible for the issue of a CPL.

Before you are granted an ATPL, you need to pass all ATPL ground technical exams and logged up to 1500 flying hours. In addition, you must have an IR and a Multi Crew Rating with evidence of at least 500 hours as a pilot in a multi-pilot aircraft.

Even after you have acquired all the necessary qualifications, an airline may still apply a selection procedure to find the preferred type of candidates. So getting a job in a major airline is by no means assured unless you knock at the doors of many other smaller regional or air charter companies.

It is difficult to forecast when you would progress to larger aircraft as promotion are based on seniority and how fast the airlines is expanding, unless you are prepared to work outside UK (the Middle Eastern market has better prospect)

Wish you all the best! Smile

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