Tag Archives: pilot careers

How to pay for your flight training?

Ever since the US economy went haywire in mid 2008, it has been almost impossible for most us here in the US to obtain a student loan to pay for the flight training. It used to be much easier before. There were various options available to most; like the Sallie Mae, US Bank, Bank of America. Most banks would finance professional pilot training against the applicant’s credit.

Flight Training Loan

Flight Training Funding

Since 2008, things have changed a lot. Now one may walk in with an excellent credit, but still no student loans. Banks look at the borrower’s ability to repay the loan back in a new light. Not only credit, but job availability and potential future income are considered as well.

No bank loan means no chance at being able to afford flight training? It should not be like this. And really, its not. Back in the days, in 80’s when we trained, there were really no bank loans around. We would simply save up money by working various jobs and then go and spend it at a flight school. In my case, it took me 4 years to go from student pilot to Flight Instructor. This was the downside. The upside was that I walked away as a CFI with no student loan to pay off over the next 15 years.

During my career as a flight instructor, I have trained many others in my shoes. Most are airline pilots now. And many had odd jobs to earn the money for their training.

What if I show you how you can earn the money and pay for your flight training cash, and be a Commercial Pilot within a year’s time? And no student loan needed. Would this get your interest?

8 Steps to an Airline Pilot Career Job

There are a few things that you should be familiar with, if you, or someone you know, has an interest in becoming an airline pilot. Most folks assume that one can simply apply for a pilot job at United or South West, and they will provide the training to become a pilot.  Well, this is as far as it can get from the truth and reality. Becoming a pilot for a major airline takes years of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, persistence and determination. And, no there is no other way really.

Of course you can join the military and pay your dues that way, but that still is all of the above, and takes a few years to get one into an airline cockpit.

Most people follow the civilian route, simply because they don’t feel like joining the military, and there is a lot more flexibility if you do it on your own. The following pilot certificates and ratings are needed for one to succeed in this pursuit:

1. Private Pilot Certificate

If you want to become an airline pilot, you have to get a pilot’s license.  (Read more about Pilot Certificate or Licenses) The first step is getting a private pilot license.  During this training you will get 40-80 hours of flight time, and learn basic stuff about airplanes like takeoffs and landings, navigation, maneuvers, weather and basic instrument skills.  In case you are wondering about your vision, airline pilots need to have vision of correctable to 20/20. There are about 250,000 private pilots in America.

2. Instrument Rating

An instrument rating is the next step after the private pilot certificate.  During your instrument rating or IR training you will add at least another 40-50 hours of flight time. You need to have IR or instrument rating because airlines always fly in all weather, so the pilot should be able to navigate without ever looking outside, and solely by reference to the cockpit instruments.

3. Commercial Pilot Certificate

After getting the instrument rating, you’d continue on to get your commercial pilot certificate; which requires 250 hours of total flight time, along with additional training which will make you a professional, safer, and experienced pilot.  The commercial pilot certificate allows one to work for a commercial operator (for instance an airline) and get paid. Many people get their multi-engine rating at this time as well.

4. Building Flight Experience

Now that you’ve got your commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating and multi-engine rating, it’s time for you to build some flight experience.  You should read my post 10 Ways to Build Flight Time for Airline Pilot Job here. Since you probably have only about 300 hours of total time, airlines won’t typically consider you.  Airline minimums are at least 1,500 hours, along with some other experience. Yes, there are always times when the demand is more than supply, and they end up hiring low time pilots as well, but it is rare, and very unpredictable. I will write more about it later in another post.

5. Instructor Certificate

So how do you get from 300 hours to the 1500+ that you need for the airlines? The most common way is flight instructing.  By becoming a flight instructor, you are able to build hours and get paid to teach others. A good place to go get your CFI Training done is CFI Academy. There are other options besides being a flight instructor, and you can read about those here at Top 20 Career Options as a Pilot.

6. ATP certificate

Major airlines usually do not  consider hiring a pilot unless he/she has an ATP certificate; ATP or an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate is a requirement for one to be a captain on an aircraft with an airline.  Regional airlines may hire you without one, which is a good way to build experience.

7. Get a 4 year College or University Degree

At least a four year college or university degree is preferred to land a job with a major airline.  The degree does not have to be in Aviation; you can major in just about any field you want. You can always apply for airline jobs without a 4 year degree, but you’ll be competing with others who already have one.  When it comes to investing the time and resources to interview, hire, and train applicants, employers always look at the best qualified applicants.

8. Start Applying

Once you’ve got the flight time, a college degree, and an ATP, and are ready to see if you’ve got what it takes, apply to every airline you can!  This way you can be picky when you get interviews.

New Charter Pilot Jobs in India

A new company in India is launching the country’s first small piston engine airplane on demand air-charter service, starting with a fleet of two Cirrus SR22 aircraft. Manav Singh, the Chairman of Air Car (and Club One Air) states that the seats are expected to be priced competitively with business-class airline tickets and half the price of competition’s air-charter options. The company will fly out of Delhi and serve destinations within a 300 mile radius, including several emerging cities that lack airline service. “Air Car offers the option to travel faster to these places at reasonable rates,” said Uttam Kumar Bose, former CEO of Air Sahara, and a partner in Air Car.

Air Car has 10 SR-22s on order per Mr. U.K. Bose. The company plans to add 2-3 airplanes each quarter and expand nationwide over the next 5 years. The company is also working to offer package deals to corporate clients.

“We will fly to short distances and the price to charter a plane would be as low as an executive class ticket in a full service carrier between Delhi-Chandigarh, which is about Rs. 10,000 one way” Manav Singh, chairman Air Car said.

Managing director of the company Mr. Uttam Kumar Bose said, “In India, only 200 people can afford to charter a plane in a year. We want to change that and provide low-cost options and in the next 2 years we are looking at 20,000 passengers.

So what does all this mean to unemployed DGCA CPL holders in India? New pilot jobs! If Air Car is planning to add 2-3 aircraft per quarter over the next 5 years, that equates to 8-15 new aircraft per year or about 50 aircraft over the next 5 years. Each aircraft usually should have a crew of 4 pilots each (small aircraft, charter on demand type flight operations), and that means 200 new pilot positions over a period of 5 years.

And I don’t think Air Car is going to be strictly SR-22 either. I am sure they are going to add various other smaller piston and jet aircraft to serve India’s short distance charter on demand market. Also, others are definitely going to join in to compete for the same market.

If you are a CPL holder in India, this should be a good news for you.

5 Questions you should ask yourself before starting Flight Training

Have you been thinking about learning to fly an airplane? Or have you thought about it in the past? How about, have you ever dreamed about piloting an airplane? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then go ahead and read on.

Learning to fly an airplane is fun, easy, and a mission possible in most people’s case. Here, read the questions below that you should ask yourself if you ever considered learning to fly or getting yourself a pilot’s certificate.

1. Motivation – What do I need to learn how to fly for; pleasure, business or as a career?

2. Location –Where should I go get my flight training done?

3. Source – What type of flight training provider would be best for me?

4. Scheduling – Full time, part time, formal or informal, what type of scheduling would work the best for me?

5. Financial – How am I going to pay for my training? Would I need financial aid, student loan, personal loan, or some other type of financial assistance?

The reason you should ask these questions to yourself is because it helps you chose the right program, and also helps you understand the budgets and time / effort commitment required. I’ll give you some ballpark numbers here to think about:

If you want to learn how to fly for pleasure, you are looking at about a total of 60-70 hours of flight training time, and about 40-50 hours of ground studies, and to get the best bang for the buck, you should expect about 10-12 hours of training time per week. If it is for pleasure, then you really can simply take the training at your own convenience, or go to one of those vacation / accelerated training places with or without your family. Cost of the training will depend on many variables, like when, where and which aircraft. But for most people, you are looking at about $6000 to $10,000 price range. Of course, there are ways to make it cheaper as well as luxurious and high end as well.

For business reasons, the basic training as above is still required, but what changes is the motivating factor, and possibly some tax advantages, both for training and then actually renting / owning an aircraft and the related cost factors (operating expenses).

As a career? Well, now that is a very detailed topic, I can write a few books on it. Write me an email for any specific questions, and subscribe to this blog (RSS Feed). I write about all this here just about everyday. So read and educate yourself. Here, read these 2 posts for starters: Top 20 Career Options as a Pilot, and 101 General Aviation and Flight Training Scholarships.

Where to get your flight training? Options could be: a local flight training school, a flying club, an independent flight instructor (or CFI as we call them), a pilot flight instructor friend, a vacation / accelerated flight training gig, formal accredited flight training institutes, military academies, aviation college or university program, and so on.

Top 20 Career Options as a Pilot

When we think of pilots, most of us get an image of an airline pilot in our heads. Well, it is true that airline pilot career is one of the most glamorous and top choice career option for most professional pilots, but many chose to join one of the many other options available to them, and many do very well in those fields. Here are the few other career options as a pilot:

  1. Airline Pilots – fly for the airline industry worldwide, both major and regional airline carriers.
  2. Corporate Pilots – fly the high end, newer corporate airplanes for the rich and wealthy.
  3. Military Pilots – fly the state of the art, top of the line, military aircraft, and learn to fly for free (well, get paid0.
  4. Cargo Pilots – fly for the big and small cargo airlines, and cargo carriers, like FedEx, UPS etc.
  5. Air Taxi and Charter Pilots – fly for growing line of air taxi and charter operators worldwide.
  6. Ferry Pilots – fly as a ferry pilot for aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus, and then there are a lot of aircraft ferry companies available too, to go deliver the aircraft to it’s new owners.
  7. Patrol Pilots – fly for a news group to report traffic, police chases etc, or fly for aerial surveillance companies, like pipeline patrols, oil well patrols etc.
  8. Flight Instructor Pilots – a career option of choice for someone like me. Teach others how to fly, and get paid for it.
  9. EMR Pilots – fly for the air ambulance operators (big and small), helicopters and airplanes.
  10. Law Enforcement Pilots – most law enforcement agencies now have an aviation wing. And a lot of them hire pilots to fly their aircraft.
  11. Aerial Firefighter Pilots – this is mostly a contract and seasonal job, but you may want to combine this with some other job, like a full time firefighter job, or a military reserve pilot job, or a flight instructor job, then you can have the best of all the worlds.
  12. Aerial Crop-duster Pilots – similar line of work like #11 above, but you spray agricultural chemicals for the ag industry, and sometimes even for the local government bodies (pest control etc).
  13. Helicopter Pilots – a whole complete bag of choices, like, military, offshore oil industry, law enforcement, border patrol, DEA, Customs etc. Maybe even the mafia and drug lords. No, the last one was a joke!
  14. Astronauts – space travel in not limited to NASA guys only anymore. Civilian spacecraft are in the near future (well, they already are) going to be affordable to common people, and you can fly those cool high tech vehicles back and forth from earth to space all day long. Something to really think about.
  15. Test Pilots – fly for various aircraft manufacturers, both transport and general aviation, and thousands of other companies, training centers etc as a test pilot.
  16. Airshow Aerobatic Pilots – read my posts about Sean Tucker by clicking here and here (with videos), and you will get an idea. There are many like him who do this full time and part time.
  17. Aircraft Salesmen Pilots – many aircraft sales businesses, including general aviation aircraft manufacturers hire pilots to work as sales-people so they can go and demo the aircraft to prospective customers.
  18. Federal Government Pilots – probably one of the largest employer of pilots. In addition to all of the above, consider flying for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DEA, Customs, Border Patrol, Air National Guard, and many other agencies, even overseas deployment possibilities.
  19. Contract Pilots – fly for government contracting corporations like dyncorp etc, and you can pick and chose just about everything in your pilot career.
  20. Aviation Universities and College Pilots – many aviation educational institutes like Embry Riddle (ERAU), Daniel Websters etc hire pilots and flight instructors to teach in their aviation degree programs.

I wanted to make this list of 20 pilots today. Trust me, I can add many other pilot career options to this list right now, but it’s getting late and I need to go take care of personal stuff. When you are a pilot, sky is not the limit for you anymore!