Real Answers from Real Pilots

Getting ready to fly!


(Cameron Clark) #1

I have a couple of questions for you guys! I am an aspiring pilot who is in school right now. I’m 19 and I’m double majoring in Finance and Actuarial Science just in case flying doesn’t work out for some reason. I’d hate to fail a medical test or have something come up that I can’t control that ends my flying career. I like to have backup options just in case. So for the questions:

1.) I think I have decided to wait to start flying until after I graduate college and then go to a flight school. Other commercial pilots have told me the best way to get your hours is to do it as fast as I can and treat it like a full time job. Do you guys recommend this strategy? Or do you have any suggestions as to how to get my hours as fast as possible?

2.) Someone told me that you had to be 23 to get some license to fly commercially. Is this correct?

3.) Even though there may be a pilot shortage now, what do you recommend I do now to make myself look more employable? Aviation related or not.

4.) From experience, can you help advise me on how to get to the majors the quickest? I know I need to spend a few years with the regionals, but usually how long does that last?

5.) Are the major U.S. Airlines facing a current pilot shortage or only the regionals?

6.) Are there any rules against doing a job for another company while flying? I would love to do contract work with another company while Im on autopilot to make some extra money.

I know this is a lot to ask in one post. I guess I’m just a little excited for what the future holds! Thanks!


#2

Hi Cameron and Welcome!

Lots of good questions so let’s dive right in.

  1. Definitely! There’s a reason the airlines and the military both have pilots train daily. Flight training is a process of building blocks and every lesson builds on the last. Training casually allows time for regression so you end up having to relearn skills. Not very efficient. Only way to build time fast is to fly. The quicker you finish your training, the sooner you can instruct and the sooner you can make it to a Regional.

  2. Yes and no. To earn your ATP license (Airline Transport Pilot) you need to be 23. In the past you only needed your ATP to serve as Capt at an airline but 2 years ago they changed the law requiring all airline pilots (Capts and FOs) to hold their ATPs. This was a problem which contributed to the pilot shortage. To offer some relief to the airlines the FAA created the R-ATP (Restricted ATP) for airline FOs which removed some of the requirements for the full ATP including lowering the age to 21. So you could fly as a FO at an airline but would not be able to upgrade until your 23 (btw, as an old guy you’ll get no sympathy from me :wink:).

  3. Finish your degree, work hard and do well in your training. Airline hiring is like many other jobs. You’ll get the interview because you meet or exceed the requirements but you’ll get the job because of who you are. By doing well you’ll be able to get letters of recommendation and not have to answer questions about failures.

  4. The quickest way to get to Major is to cross your fingers. This may sound silly but much of getting to the Majors is good fortune, the economy, and the health of the industry. All things you have no control over. The best thing you can do however again is do a good job. The airline industry is a very small one. Networking is important as is getting recommendations from your peers and supervisors. That said I know some amazing pilots who have been waiting for decades. There are no guarantees.

  5. The Majors aren’t really facing a shortage but they are hiring and that’s expected to continue for years.

  6. Depends on the job. If you’re talking about flying that can be a problem as there are flight time limitations for all pilots. Other endeavors however generally aren’t a problem but most airlines require you to inform them of what you’re doing just in case there’s a conflict.

Hope that helps?

Adam


(Cameron Clark) #3

Thanks soooo much for the quick response. I have a few other questions.
My dad’s friend is currently getting hours at Mokulele Airlines. Because of the type of aircraft they use, he didn’t need 1500 hours to apply for that job. He just got all of his ratings and then applied. He is getting his hours that way. Would you recommend this path at all?
You also mentioned networking which is important in any field. Which type of people would you recommend getting to know? Other pilots, flight instructors, or management?
Thanks again!


#4

Cameron,

Being a pilot for Hawaiian I’m very familiar with Mokulele. Their a great alternative to instructing as a means of building time. Keep in mind their a small operation and while there’s a pilot shortage at the Regionals there’s no shortage of local pilots waiting for a slot at Mokulele. Reall your decision which route to take?

As for networking the answer is D) All of the above.

Adam


#5

Cameron,

Welcome to the forums! As to your questions,

  1. This is exactly what I did. I finished college, then went to ATP for my ratings (I did already have my private). After I completed ATP I worked for them as an instructor to build my hours. I think that this is the absolute fastest path to the airlines. Focus on one thing at a time, college, then pilot ratings, then building flight time.

  2. You have to be 23 to be a Captain at an airlines and to have your ATP. Your plan of action should fit perfectly with this.

  3. Do well in college, do well with your pilot ratings and build your flight time as quickly as possible. It should go without saying, but keep your record (to include your driving record) clean.

  4. Average time at the regionals seems to be 5-10 years. Adam is right in that connections can drive that big time. Hard work of course factors into it as well. Introduce yourself to as many mainline pilots as you can, carry your resume and business card with you everywhere and always remember that the seemingly unconnected person that you are speaking with might just be the VP of flight ops at a major airline.

  5. So far the shortage is contained just to the regionals, but the majors are hiring and most expect to continue to do so.

  6. At United you can have any second job you want, as long as it does not involve aviation. Many pilots do have second jobs, a lot of us just enjoy the days off. There is no multi tasking while on autopilot. Even with the automation engaged it still takes a good deal of concentration and attentiveness to fly an airliner.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask us any other questions that you think of.

Chris


#6

Cameron,

Welcome to the forums! As to your questions,

  1. This is exactly what I did. I finished college, then went to ATP for my ratings (I did already have my private). After I completed ATP I worked for them as an instructor to build my hours. I think that this is the absolute fastest path to the airlines. Focus on one thing at a time, college, then pilot ratings, then building flight time.

  2. You have to be 23 to be a Captain at an airlines and to have your ATP. Your plan of action should fit perfectly with this.

  3. Do well in college, do well with your pilot ratings and build your flight time as quickly as possible. It should go without saying, but keep your record (to include your driving record) clean.

  4. Average time at the regionals seems to be 5-10 years. Adam is right in that connections can drive that big time. Hard work of course factors into it as well. Introduce yourself to as many mainline pilots as you can, carry your resume and business card with you everywhere and always remember that the seemingly unconnected person that you are speaking with might just be the VP of flight ops at a major airline.

  5. So far the shortage is contained just to the regionals, but the majors are hiring and most expect to continue to do so.

  6. At United you can have any second job you want, as long as it does not involve aviation. Many pilots do have second jobs, a lot of us just enjoy the days off. There is no multi tasking while on autopilot. Even with the automation engaged it still takes a good deal of concentration and attentiveness to fly an airliner.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask us any other questions that you think of.

Chris


(Cameron Clark) #7

When it comes to networking with pilots, do you recommend just going out and introducing myself to them? I was just curious how I would build relationships with them, so that they could give me a recommendation in the future.


(Eric) #8

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