Go Com­mer­cial!

Pilot - - CONTENTS - By: Ju­dith Austin

Our an­nual re­view of the air­line pi­lot job mar­ket and flight train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, plus ad­vice on how to be­come a pro­fes­sional pi­lot

It would seem there has never been a bet­ter time to con­sider a ca­reer as a com­mer­cial pi­lot! Feed­back we have re­ceived from air­line train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions (ATOS), to­gether with stud­ies across the globe, and re­ports from man­u­fac­tur­ers Boe­ing and Air­bus sug­gest the de­mand for air­line pi­lots, and other com­mer­cial fly­ing roles, is high and go­ing to in­crease, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas such as Asia-pa­cific. While some of this de­mand will ob­vi­ously be filled by lo­cal na­tion­als, it will cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­mer­cials pi­lots every­where.

So is this the time you should put your plan into ac­tion and pur­sue that com­mer­cial ca­reer?

Well, it’s still a huge de­ci­sion in terms of time, money and ef­fort. So, while the like­li­hood of you gain­ing that first right-hand seat job has in­creased, you still need to con­sider all the vari­ables be­fore you take the plunge. Your in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances may well dic­tate whether you de­cide on the in­te­grated or mod­u­lar route but, ei­ther way, the first thing you should do is get an EASA Class 1 med­i­cal. If you can­not meet the strin­gent re­quire­ments for that, then your com­mer­cial ca­reer will be over be­fore it has be­gun−but, cru­cially, be­fore you have laid out any se­ri­ous money.

If you have lit­tle or no fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and want to get to the FATPL (frozen Air­line Trans­port Pi­lot Li­cence) stage fast, then you may go for the in­te­grated route. This is a full­time, im­mer­sive and in­ten­sive course and there­fore the most ex­pen­sive. How­ever, many ATOS have links to air­lines and can help fa­cil­i­tate that all im­por­tant first job. If you don’t want to take on such high lev­els of debt and are pre­pared to stretch your train­ing over a longer pe­riod, then you may de­cide on the mod­u­lar route.

Al­though the mod­u­lar route of­fers flex­i­bil­ity, al­low­ing you to study and train part-time, per­haps while con­tin­u­ing to work to raise the money for the mod­u­lar el­e­ments, it will be just as hard work and you will need to learn to jug­gle work com­mit­ments with study­ing, and time off to train and com­plete parts of the course. While the in­te­grated route may be faster, there are ru­mours that some air­lines give weight to the life and work ex­pe­ri­ence prob­a­bly al­ready gained by those fol­low­ing the mod­u­lar route. Whichever route you choose, you should al­ways thor­oughly re­search the train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions and pay as you go along, if pos­si­ble; don’t pay out a lot of money up front.

The ATPL train­ing syl­labus in­cludes four­teen exam sub­jects, in­clud­ing Prin­ci­ples of Flight, Op­er­a­tional Pro­ce­dures, Hu­man per­for­mance, Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Nav­i­ga­tion. Th­ese multi-choice ex­ams have a min­i­mum pass mark and may be taken at a num­ber of lo­ca­tions around the coun­try. All train­ing in the UK is car­ried out in English.

If you don’t al­ready have a PPL, this will be the first part of your train­ing. Then comes the Com­mer­cial Pi­lot Li­cence (CPL), which usu­ally takes be­tween four and six weeks−de­pend­ing on weather and ex­pe­ri­ence. At least five hours−plus the skills test−must be flown in a ‘com­plex’ air­craft, i.e. one with a re­tractable un­der­car­riage and vari­able-pitch pro­pel­ler. Af­ter that, and be­fore you can be con­sid­ered for com­mer­cial jobs, you will need to get a Multi-en­gine rat­ing (ME) and an In­stru­ment rat­ing (IR).

At this point, you will have gained your FATPL and be able to start build­ing the 1,500 hours re­quired for the full li­cence. How­ever, in or­der to ap­ply for jobs, you will first need to com­plete the MCC (Multi Crew Co­op­er­a­tion) course and the Jet Ori­en­ta­tion (JOC) course. And there is a new en­hanced ver­sion of the MCC, called the APS MCC, stand­ing for En­hanced MCC Train­ing to Air­line Pi­lot Stan­dards. This is not specif­i­cally man­dated but it is pos­si­ble that air­lines will look more favourably on stu­dents who have achieved it (see page 73).

De­cid­ing to train to be­come an air­line pi­lot is a life-chang­ing move and the start of a long road to be­com­ing a cap­tain; you will need around 5,000 hours. How­ever, if that is your dream, then go for it!

Good luck!

ABOVE: your first paid air­line job will be fly­ing in the right-hand seat as a first of­fcer

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