Real Answers from Real Pilots

From FA to FO


(Tia Belboda) #1

Hi ! I need some advice, I’ve been a flight attendant for about 5 months now and I’ve realized I definitely would much rather be a pilot. I’ve talked to a few captains and FO’s while working and this has convinced me completely that it would be a great move for me . The dilemma is I JUST got hired as an FA and now I’m thinking about quitting so I can become trained as a pilot. Is there a way to do both at the same time or the program is nonstop? I’m 23 and just graduated from college . I know there is a huge demand for pilots right now, but what are the chances of a commercial airline picking up a 25 year old pilot? Or is age irrelevant as long as long as I have the credentials? … It’s truly a huge risk to quit any job right out of college or at anytime in life for that matter , can you give me some all around advice with my current situation


#2

Hello Tia and Welcome,

If only you went for the extra 2 weeks of training you could’ve been a pilot at the airline instead of an FA! (Sorry, that’s a terrible old airline joke).

There are actually many pilots who started life as FAs and made the transition so it’s actually a fairly common move. Now it is possible to train in your spare time while still working as an FA BUT it is incredibly inefficient, can be very expensive and will take a VERY long time. The reason the airlines, military and most flight academies (vs your local flight school) train every day is because learning to fly is a building process and every skill builds on the last. If you decide to train part time you’ll find you’ll be spending half of your time trying to re-learn what you forgot from the last. I actually got my Private license part time and it took me almost 2 yrs and almost 100 hrs. Had I done it full time it could’ve been accomplished in 40-60hr in a month or 2 for half the cost. That’s why when I decided I wanted to become a professional pilot I sold my business, signed up for ATP’s program and finished ALL my additional training, licenses and ratings in 87 days! I certain if you start out part time you’ll see what I’m talking about.

That said before you even consider quitting your job I would definitely take an Intro Flight at a local ATP location if you have one nearby. If not just Google for your local flight school and take a lesson or 2 there. While I’m sure you’re enjoying the flying as an FA and are quite certain it would be that much better in the front office, it’s a VERY different experience sitting at the controls of a small general aviation aircraft. Give it a try, see what you think and if you’re sure that’s where you want to be see if you can’t figure out a way to train full time. At ATP fro zero time to working as a flight instructor is only 6 mos.

As to your last point while 25 certainly isn’t old, believe it or not it’s far from too young. There are MANY MANY pilots flying for the Regionals (and even some at Majors) who are younger. Minimum age for your ATP (Airline Transport License) is 21 so you’re fine.

Adam


#3

Tia,

Welcome to the forums! Like Adam, I have known many FAs that have become pilots. I would say that at some point you will need to quit your job as an FA and put your full efforts into flight training. I have seen people try to balance both and it always ends up taking much longer than it would otherwise.

Your age is perfect for going to flight training. I was 24 when I was hired at ExpressJet and there were a few that were younger than me there.

I really don’t think that it is a huge risk to pull out of a job if it is not where you really want to be. I think that the bigger risk is in not following your dreams…

Chris


(Tia Belboda) #4

Ok thank you for the great responses. so in six months I’ll have all my ratings to qualify as a commercial pilot, I’ll just need my 1500 min hrs of flight time , correct? And how long does it usually take to be transferred from a regional to mainline?


#5

Tia,

Yes, but just so we’re clear, in 6 mos, with a substantial amount of hard work you can EARN all the licenses and ratings required to work as a flight instructor. After that you can work as a flight instructor and build the required 1500hrs to fly for a Regional airline. After working as a FO at a Regional and building turbine time AND some experience you can APPLY for a job at a Major and possibly get hired by one.

I’m sorry and I’m sure you were simply being brief but when someone says “so in 6 mos I’ll HAVE” and “when can I transfer” I twitch a little. While I may sound a little stern or may be nit picking, I think it’s important that all prospective pilots know what they’re getting themselves into. While we are probably at the most favorable time in history to have a successful career as an airline pilot there are no guarantees. It requires alot of hard work and dedication. After you build some time (and experience) at a Regional (3-5yrs average) you can apply for a position at a Major, hopefully get an interview and hopefully get hired. The outlook again is very strong and some Majors are currently offering “guaranteed” interviews or even jobs for their Regional partners but there’s alot of fine print. Not trying to be negative at all I just find it’s best for prospective pilots to have their eyes open. When they do they’re far less likely to be disappointed and are far more likely to work hard to excel.

Adam


(Tia Belboda) #6

Oh yes, I was just being brief but thank you !