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Home > Becoming a Pilot > An engineer with vision problem wonders whether he can be a pilot.
An engineer with vision problem wonders whether he can be a pilot.
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:56

Hi Captain Lim,

I have just discovered your site and I found it to be very in-depth and informative.

Some background info about myself. I'm a second year Aerospace Technology student in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. On 19 March 09, I went on an introductory flight with Elite Flying Club, Johor and I found flying to be quite enjoyable and I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. After graduating from Poly, I plan to go for a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering either in Singapore or overseas. After that, I plan to take up a PPL in Malaysia with FRAS flying club, Senai, Johor. I am a Malaysian.

After that, I'm hopeful of joining the ST Aerospace Aviation Training Academy for their Intergrated Airline Pilot Programme (IAPT) or other commercial pilot training programmes to train up to frozen ATPL.

I hope that with my bachelor in Aeronautical Engineering and PPL Malaysia I would stand a good chance of entering the commercial pilot training programmes because it is relevant. My biggest worry right now is my eyesight. I have really terrible eyesight, I wear glasses, (600 degrees for left eye, 500 degrees for right eye) and I'm not sure it is good enough to meet the requirements.

I know the eyesight requirements for PPL are lower as compared to CPL or ATPL so at least if I cannot become a commercial pilot, I can be a aerospace engineer from Monday Friday and fly for fun with a PPL on weekends. I know that being an aerospace engineer may not be as "glamorous" or "exciting" as a pilot because we are not the ones actually flying the aircraft, but we do our part too in ensuring the aircraft that the pilots fly are safe and airworthy.

I know it sounds cliche, but I have a burning passion for aviation ever since I was a young boy. When I'm facing some tough times, all I had to do was think about flying and being a pilot and that would get me through the day.

I have a few questions. Please answer them honestly and with your expert opinion.

1) Based on the information I've provided (eyesight, qualifications, etc.), do you think I would be successful in being a commercial pilot? Or would you advice me to be an aerospace engineer instead?

2) What are your views on aerospace engineers? Do you think their job is less "exciting" and "glamorous" as pilots since they are not the ones actually flying the aircraft? How good is the relationship between them and is there rivalry? How important is the engineers in ensuring a safe flight?

3) Assuming I do not meet the eyesight requirements for CPL and ATPL, does that mean I will forever not be a commercial pilot and will have to be an aerospace engineer for the rest of my life? Are there alternative routes to being a commercial pilot?

4) What happens to those people who fail the eyesight test for CPL and ATPL?

5) Is it true pilots are more elite and are better paid than aerospace engineers, air stewards and air traffic controllers?

6) Why are there so many people out there who want to be pilots? I noticed that many males out there have dreams of being a pilot since they were young.

Thanks for reading this post and taking the time to answer the questions. Your answers would be appreciated and would influence the plans I make on my future.

Eugene Lee Choong Eu

Hi Eugene,

1. Yes, you can be a pilot but the question is whether major airlines, for example SIA, would accept your medical condition on eyesight. Other carriers may not be as stringent as long as your vision can be corrected to normal even if you have to wear glasses. Your engineering qualification and PPL is an advantage but they have no added value compared to the other candidates that score better in the selection process.

2. I believe the term ‘aerospace engineers’ you used refer to those engineers that are involved with aircraft in the airlines. Aerospace engineers can also generally mean those who help to launch spacecraft.

Whether an airline pilot job is more ‘glamorous’ is a very subjective view.

Yes, flight or ground engineers that are involved with the airlines are important to ensure the safety of planes. The relationship between pilots and engineers are generally very good.

3. If you don’t meet the eyesight requirement to be an airline pilot, your option is obviously very limited.

4. A pilot who fails the eyesight test will be grounded and may be offered some non-flying job with an airline.

5. Yes, pilots are better paid than engineers, cabin crew and air traffic controllers.

6. There are many reasons why people want to be pilots - amongst others, the attractive remunerations, travels, meeting people…

I wish you all the luck in whichever career that you would be successful in the end. The most important thing is that you must enjoy what you are doing.


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How true.
I appreciate Captain Lim for his very candid and balanced views about being a pilot and addressing concerns that air-travellers might face.

I'd like to point out #6:"The most important thing is that you must enjoy what you are doing." I think this is a very wise quote to keep and remember.
@ Eugene, an aerospace engineer is a very prestigious job, and even more so if you truly love the subject matter.
I believe it's been covered somewhere else in this site, but in many pilot selection interviews, airlines are looking for people that will enjoy flying.

For everyone, aspiring pilot or otherwise, if you do something you enjoy as your job, you will never have to work another day. =)
Jimmy , 23 Sep, 2009
I truly agreed with Capt Lim pertaining to point number 2 where he mentioned that 'flight or ground engineers that are involved with the airlines are important to ensure the safety of planes. The relationship between pilots and engineers are generally very good'.

Euegene, i used to be like you who dreamt of being a pilot but soemthing happened to me couple of years back and that shattered my dreams. However, i am a LAE with SIAEC now and i and still enyoing my job as an engineer servicing the aircarft and to ensure the safety of the Tech, Flight crew and the passengers who will be boarding the aircraft.

Ultimately it all boils down to the passion that you have for the aviation industry. Hope this helps.
Chris , 10 Oct, 2009
Opinions and experiences.
Dear Eugene,
I'm currently doing my O'levels this year and I'm planning to further my studies in Ngee Ann's Aerospace technology as well. I declined a coach's request for me to study at Hwachong, so I would like to get as much information as possible.

I'm a female, and am working towards being a commercial pilot in the future. I've read every single article on 'becoming a pilot' on this site and I REALLY REALLY wish you can give me your views on whether the path that you've taken ( diploma, and then overseas uni/local uni in aeronautical engineering) is helping you to be a commercial pilot.

Please help! Thanks.

I hope you can see this.
Mischa , 22 Aug, 2010

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