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Old 01-17-2011, 06:13 AM   #1
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Default Advise on PPL, Instrument Rating and CPL

Hello,

I need some help to understand the structural specifics of the flying process with final aim getting a CPL. I started getting more familiar with most of the commonly flown airplanes, also with all general VFR and IFR requirements, etc a few years ago. I currently don't possess a PPL but would like to get one and proceed on the way to a commercial pilot.

I have the target but what I wish to know to properly understand where I stand and where possibly I am going is mostly related to age. I am almost 30 and still don't have the initial point - a PPL. Can I even hope that provided everything goes smoothly I still have whatever chances of becoming a professional pilot let's say by 35 and could possibly work in this field?

I know many people start quite early and by the age of 30 they have PPL, instrument rating, etc. Well, I seriously consider possible career in the flying industry as I have been studying the instrument panels and controls, as well as "flying" on many aircrafts, together with the general flight, ATC and any other applicable rules by myself mostly (through various CBT materials, computer simulators, books, etc.). I know that this is as much as nothing and this is why I need a professional advice:

1. Is 29 too late to start developing in this field?
2. Are there any chances of getting a CPL within a period of 5 years (considering that everything goes as expected);
3. Is there a maximum accepted age for starting developing in this field and what are the options of being accepted as a CL pilot at 35 for example?

I apologise for the long post and will be grateful for any real life information that could assist me in understanding the career path of a CPL pilot. Most importantly, it will shed more light upon my own future plans! Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-17-2011, 08:51 AM   #2
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1. Is 29 too late to start developing in this field?
No, not too late but you will need the resources to move quickly on your training. Also you may never achieve maximum career potential, ie senior widebody Captain.

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2. Are there any chances of getting a CPL within a period of 5 years (considering that everything goes as expected)
You can get one in one year or even much less if you have the time and money.

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3. Is there a maximum accepted age for starting developing in this field and what are the options of being accepted as a CL pilot at 35 for example?
There is not really a maximum accepted age, it just depends on what your career expectations are. A 62 year old could start training for his ratings today and probably get a job as a regional FO for a couple of years if he really wanted to.

Note: Everything I said applies to the US airline industry, it might be very different on other countries.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:23 PM   #3
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The time this can take will also depend a lot on your available resources, and where you live as weather is a big factor in flight training.
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:47 PM   #4
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1. Is 29 too late?
No, its not. I know plenty of pilots who didn't start training until after 30 and who have done just fine with being able to find jobs. However most of them will not have enough years left before retirement in order to reach seniority as a Capitan for a major. It just depends on what your end goal is.

2. Are there any chances of getting a CPL within a period of 5 years
This varies so much depending on the person. As a former admissions manager for a large flight school, I heard this question from every potential student, 'How long will it take'. You need to consider many factors, and every persons situation is so different that its hard to answer that question. I will try to explain the major factors for you.

First is how much time each week can you commit? Full time students who do not work, and live on campus are able to finish the entire program in 6-10 months. Keep in mind these students are full time flight students, do not work, and spend 6 days a week on campus either flying or in ground classes.
Part time students who have families or part time jobs and are able to commit to scheduling at least 3 flights per week on average finish in about 2 years or so. When a prospective student tells me he can schedule only 1 or even 2 lessons a week because he has a full time job and family, I usually tell them its not wise to start training until they are able to commit more time otherwise you will spend most of the flight each week trying to relearn what you learned the week or two before, and this gets very costly. It is possible, but it will cost you much more and take a very long time to complete.

What type of flight school are you planning on attending? And where is the location?
Large flight schools located in CA or FL will probably be able to get you done a lot sooner, especially because the weather is almost always flyable. However, if you are in the NW, its not uncommon to go over a month in the winter without a flight because of the weather. However, places like the NW give you an advantage of learning how to fly in all kinds of real weather situations.

How will you fund your training?
If you are going for your commercial licence, this typically costs anywhere between 35-50k depending on the aircraft used and where you do the training. You should have a good portion of the total funds available upfront (and hopefully without paying interest). Ive seen so many students start training, but run out of money half way through their pvt license, and have a very hard time finishing because they cant get a student loan. They either slow down their training and spend 10+years to finish doing a flight only when they can save up alittle, or they start using credit cards which is the worst possible thing you can do. Remember that most commercial pilots usually only make less than 30k (some less than 20) for the first 3-5 years. If this is your only source of income, it its very difficult to pay back student loans and still afford to eat.

After you get your commercial license?
Most employers need over 1000hrs of flight time. Depending on the training, most students come out of their commercial license with only about 250hrs. How are you planning on obtaining the rest of the time? The typical route is becoming a CFI. This requires more training and money.

Hopefully this helps a little.
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:49 AM   #5
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Thank you all for your time to read this thread and respond! This really means a lot to me at the moment!

So I am in the computing field presently and am also from Europe. I've been going through different forums and many people advise on visiting United States, especially Florida and California, for getting their pilot licenses. This is because, at least as per what I have read online, it is much cheaper than most of the world, including most of Europe. Of course there are minuses involved in terms of experience to fly within bad weather, mountain flying, etc., still the congested air space there predisposes to relatively good level of training compared to the same parameter by most of the flying schools in Europe.

Quote:
First is how much time each week can you commit? Full time students who do not work, and live on campus are able to finish the entire program in 6-10 months. Keep in mind these students are full time flight students, do not work, and spend 6 days a week on campus either flying or in ground classes.
Part time students who have families or part time jobs and are able to commit to scheduling at least 3 flights per week on average finish in about 2 years or so. When a prospective student tells me he can schedule only 1 or even 2 lessons a week because he has a full time job and family, I usually tell them its not wise to start training until they are able to commit more time otherwise you will spend most of the flight each week trying to relearn what you learned the week or two before, and this gets very costly. It is possible, but it will cost you much more and take a very long time to complete.
As I said, I am currently working in the computing field but wish to devote to piloting for the rest of my life. I am however quite undecided as to what I should really do further so I can have this dream come true. My preliminary plans are for going to a decent flying school in California, Florida or another area offering intensive flying training at comparatively competitive prices, especially concerning PPL, night flying and IR. At the moment I don't have the money spared for the whole process on getting a CPL. I will need to find a job related to my previous working experience and match it somehow with my flight training. This is why my first question was related to age. I was in university by 25 and more, still had to gain some working experience and money to reach what I am now.

Quote:
How will you fund your training?
If you are going for your commercial licence, this typically costs anywhere between 35-50k depending on the aircraft used and where you do the training. You should have a good portion of the total funds available upfront (and hopefully without paying interest). Ive seen so many students start training, but run out of money half way through their pvt license, and have a very hard time finishing because they cant get a student loan. They either slow down their training and spend 10+years to finish doing a flight only when they can save up alittle, or they start using credit cards which is the worst possible thing you can do. Remember that most commercial pilots usually only make less than 30k (some less than 20) for the first 3-5 years. If this is your only source of income, it its very difficult to pay back student loans and still afford to eat.
Thank you for the useful information. Unfortunately my options will be also relatively limited to my experience and job I am to have there. My aim is to presumably go back to Europe and land a co-pilot or a similar job, but this is a view from where I stand now. I definitely want to travel so if I have the option of having a pilot job in the USA or even North America or anywhere else, I would for sure consider it. My main target would be the PPL, night flying and IR as a beginning. I am also considering getting a helicopter license which according to many forums costs around EUR 22 - 24,000. However, let's put helicopters aside as I primarily want to be piloting airplanes.


Quote:
After you get your commercial license?
Most employers need over 1000hrs of flight time. Depending on the training, most students come out of their commercial license with only about 250hrs. How are you planning on obtaining the rest of the time? The typical route is becoming a CFI. This requires more training and money.
Is there an option, if allowed and advisable at all, to get the initial licenses on an airplane/s and proceed on the path to CPL on simulators mostly? This shall save me a lot of costs for real-time hours of flying. For the moment I can't really answer how I will be compensating the extra hours. CFI is a good idea, but it needs to be harmonised with my general source of incomes throughout the process.

Quote:
There is not really a maximum accepted age, it just depends on what your career expectations are. A 62 year old could start training for his ratings today and probably get a job as a regional FO for a couple of years if he really wanted to.

Note: Everything I said applies to the US airline industry, it might be very different on other countries.
Well, at this age I doubt if I will be ever able to fly a jet apart from being a co-pilot, still it will be a dream come true. My present concerns are mostly related to the balance of risk in terms of funds invested and practical gains after getting the relevant licences. This means that I am planning to entirely change my life and invest all that I have into my training. It will also be supplemented by my working incomes in the US and what I am really trying to figure out is if when looking back at 35 - 36 or more, it would have been worth doing. It's not only about costs, it is mostly about ability to land a job.

Quote:
First is how much time each week can you commit?
I cannot say exactly but it should be at least full-time over the weekends.

So you now know where I stand, what my intentions are, and the situation I am considering at the moment. I have already gone through the Oxford's PPL CBT training DVDs and some other materials that will help me to pass the theoretical training tests. I also regularly do simulators although I know that without a trained instructor this kind of "flying" is a basic experience (despite of everything you follow as per the books/DVDs).

If you could advise further after reading the above, I would really appreciate it. What you shared so far was very useful!
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Old 01-18-2011, 06:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by AirMillennium View Post
So I am in the computing field presently and am also from Europe. I've been going through different forums and many people advise on visiting United States, especially Florida and California, for getting their pilot licenses. This is because, at least as per what I have read online, it is much cheaper than most of the world, including most of Europe. Of course there are minuses involved in terms of experience to fly within bad weather, mountain flying, etc., still the congested air space there predisposes to relatively good level of training compared to the same parameter by most of the flying schools in Europe.
Training in the US is a lot more cost effective than in most other places.






Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMillennium View Post
Thank you for the useful information. Unfortunately my options will be also relatively limited to my experience and job I am to have there. My aim is to presumably go back to Europe and land a co-pilot or a similar job, but this is a view from where I stand now. I definitely want to travel so if I have the option of having a pilot job in the USA or even North America or anywhere else, I would for sure consider it. My main target would be the PPL, night flying and IR as a beginning. I am also considering getting a helicopter license which according to many forums costs around EUR 22 - 24,000. However, let's put helicopters aside as I primarily want to be piloting airplanes.
I would suggest forgetting about helicopters, but if you want to do that you should focus on it from the beginning. The training is very expensive compared to fixed wing, it is very hard to get enough hours to be insurable (1000), and there are a lot of ex-military pilots who are already trained.

Also you should try to decide where you want to work, US or Europe. Most countries have different pilot certificates, US uses FAA certificates and EU uses JAA.

The JAA are more difficult and expensive to acquire but you can get them in the US (cheaper than in europe). A number of US schools have JAA programs and instructors on staff. If you do JAA, you can also get your FAA certificates with only a little extra effort...that's probably the best plan to keep your options open.

If you have a green card, you can get an airline job in the US.

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Is there an option, if allowed and advisable at all, to get the initial licenses on an airplane/s and proceed on the path to CPL on simulators mostly? This shall save me a lot of costs for real-time hours of flying. For the moment I can't really answer how I will be compensating the extra hours. CFI is a good idea, but it needs to be harmonised with my general source of incomes throughout the process.
Some simulator time is allowed for FAA training, but not much.

Some countries use a "multi-crew pilot license" which is done mostly in simulators, but that is generally sponsored by the airlines I believe. Training on large jet simulators is VERY expensive, more expensive than actually flying a small airplane.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMillennium View Post
Well, at this age I doubt if I will be ever able to fly a jet apart from being a co-pilot, still it will be a dream come true. My present concerns are mostly related to the balance of risk in terms of funds invested and practical gains after getting the relevant licences. This means that I am planning to entirely change my life and invest all that I have into my training. It will also be supplemented by my working incomes in the US and what I am really trying to figure out is if when looking back at 35 - 36 or more, it would have been worth doing. It's not only about costs, it is mostly about ability to land a job.
You could probably end up as a Captain at a major airline, just not very senior. This means you could probably be somewhat senior on a smaller airplane like a 737 or maybe junior on larger widebody.

The ideal "end-state" for an airline career is to be a captain on a larger (higher-paid) airplane with enough seniority to have your choice of schedule.

Sounds like you are thinking this through carefully, that's good you have a lot of research to do.

If you can keep your job and live at home while you train that will go a long way towards off-setting the costs, although you might have to move to find a JAA school.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:54 PM   #7
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Thank you rickair7777!

Are you able to recommend me a US flight school with JAA programs I could start training under from the very beginning? Not sure how true it is but I have read quite a lot online about "flight schools" that collect the fees of the applicants and then just disappear or change the agreed conditions, many just advise to not pay anything in advance, especially if requested in full. There is sense in this as people like me are not really informed of the procedures, all the hidden costs, etc. and are generally attracted by online offers that at a later stage could prove highly misleading.

Your advice on helicopters was very helpful, good to know competition in this field is quite severe, especially for the ex-military pilots. My present boss has a helicopter pilot licence from the UK, he is not a pilot professionally, he was just interested in getting it and of course had the funds needed. It is mostly about money. The company I work with at present will be opening a subsidiary in the US over the next few months and will be hiring some personnel there. I still don't know where the office will be exactly but as far as my boss told me it would be somewhere in the southern states. I am just thinking if later this year I couldn't be sent for a while to the US both for supervising/working for the company out there and match it with getting my PPL. Actually I think this would be best for me - getting the PPL, IR and night flying as a beginning and estimating my chances on going anywhere further later on.

By the way, are you a pilot yourself?

Last edited by AirMillennium; 01-19-2011 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:05 PM   #8
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Here's one US school that does JAA: Scanavia

Yes, I am a pilot. Anyone who give you advice here on APC is most likely a professional pilot or flight instructor.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:45 PM   #9
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Can I even hope that provided everything goes smoothly I still have whatever chances of becoming a professional pilot let's say by 35 and could possibly work in this field?


1. Is 29 too late to start developing in this field?

I apologise for the long post and will be grateful for any real life information that could assist me in understanding the career path of a CPL pilot. Most importantly, it will shed more light upon my own future plans! Thanks in advance!

I just turned 49 in December and looking to start my training in short order. It's been a long road, but worth it. Although I don't exactly know what your situation is...meaning finances, etc.; I think that it's safe to say that you'll be & do just fine.

You've got 36 years to enjoy flying as a career.....yeah.....you're good!



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Old 01-20-2011, 03:41 AM   #10
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Thank you again, both!

Well, it will be a long way to go, but it is good to know the points I am to start with, especially the one related to the hours flown as CFI to complement the existing flight hours.

atpwannabe, you fired a sparkle of courage in my eyes. The finances I have are limited for now but I suppose no pilot had all the money upfront. I presume 35-36 will be a lovely timeline, although it would probably be a bit more. I will keep researching options and educating myself in any possible way. And if I am meant to be a pilot at the end, I would definitely do my best to achieve it

Thank you all again for your time to respond and guide me on my way! I will definitely get back as I go further!
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