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I am in my final year of A - levels and nearing the end of my PPL.
I have been looking at my options for when I leave next year and I was wondering, is it possible to become cabin crew and then self fund an fATPL by flying on days off and such?
My local airports are EMA and BHX and have noticed Flybe have been recruiting a lot of cabin crew. After doing some research, their cabin crew salary is roughly £1000-1400/ month. If I'm living at home with my parents, would this be a sufficient income to fund pilot training with an FTO such as Aeros?
If not cabin crew, then maybe ground ops/ airside jobs?
I was in the same boat as you... finished A-levels wanted to fly, but had no chance of getting the cash. I would pick whichever job role will give you the best chance of passing ATPL exams, thats why I went into engineering/design (I started as an apprentice). A friend of mine was in flight Ops, said it was great and not badly paid.
Cabin crew... maybe but I would try engineering or flight Ops first .
I found that the best job to have when training modular is one which pays well and gives you lots of time off. The ATPL course is designed to teach you what you need to know so no need to find a job that'll make the course easier.
It is very prudent of you to start thinking about your options at this stage. I too worked as Cabin Crew before 'upgrading' to the Flight Deck. I could not tell you whether the salary is sufficient to fund your training but it certainly wasn't bad, take home pay was up to £1700 a month on the lowest salary scale point for a charter airline. The only negatives are that you may not get a permanent contract or only offered part year working which may work to your advantage when it comes to fitting in your training.
The advantages of the job is that you will learn lots of practical skills that you wouldn't gain from burying your head in books, they are a lot more valuable when things start to go wrong on a bad day! Cabin Crew are the only employees who are regularly able to visit the flight deck when the aircraft is in flight, which will give you plenty of scope to learn about the working environment and understand what the job requires. There almost undoubtedly be chances to observe Departures/Arrivals sitting in the flight deck on position flights (flights without passengers). There are also opportunities to 'jump seat' on your days off and gain valuable advice from your flight crew. They will offer you plenty of support and depending on the size of the base you are at you will get to know people well and vice versa. When it comes down to it your actual flying skills and technical knowledge don't count for a lot when it actually comes to getting your foot in the door, your face has to fit and you get the best opportunity to prove that in the job.
You may also get access to certain websites and material handed to you from Flight Crew that will have information on the job, Company operating procedures etc that will be valuable to you. Most aircraft have training materials (either manufacturer published or created by third parties) that describe aircraft systems and design that can be useful in reinforcing the knowledge you will learn during your ATPL theory exams.
Other aviation related jobs have their own advantages but nowhere else will you get as 'involved' in the operation of an airliner and appreciate the bigger picture, and in a relatively short amount of time. From application if you have the right skills (sales/hospitality experience is necessary, oh and common sense) you can be on an aeroplane in 2 months and from the start of your training you will be learning valuable information and skills.
I did some training at Aero's and I know that you impress them as well, they will help you. They have links with Flybe (I don't know how deep these links lie, but they are there) and it can't hurt your chances. Just show people your enthusiasm without being obtrusive, get to know people and be thorough and positive in your training. Opportunities will arise if you tick the right boxes.
You're asking the right questions so you have got a good grasp on the situation, good luck!
I saw quite a number of Cabin Crew do this where I work. They made good contacts within the airline, worked hard and got a name for themselves as good crew to work with. When they qualified they were able to meet with the Chief Pilot who they were on first name terms with and had flown together enough times to be remembered. When there were interviews they had one. That was about ten years ago though!
The big benefit apart from anything is that if you live with your folks and genuinely live quietly and save hard you could enter flying with a tiny fraction of the debt level that others have. My only regret careerwise is borrowing so much, it's bloody hard work paying it back. Keep clear of debt as much as you can.
Whilst EGGD makes some valid arguments for the potential benefits of being CC, unfortunately the working life of the average CC at Flybe will not provide you with the opportunities suggested, such as plenty of access to the flight deck. Mostly short sectors, less than 60 minutes, and as junior crew you'll be limited to guarding the door whilst the senior hands in the occasional cup of tea. Very few empty sectors, unlike a charter, so you might get one jumpseat ride during your familiarisation flights, but unlikely to get the opportunity again. The money isn't great, and you don't get much time off. The company works you hard. However, it can be a lot of fun and there is generally a good, close working relationship between crews. If you're determined to pursue this route, then do your sums. It can be done and there are definitely worse ways to spend your working life. Lastly, I strongly recommend that if you take this route then treat the job seriously. Nothing will annoy your CC colleagues more than a wannabee pilot who can't be bothered and who thinks the job is a joke and only has an interest in getting to the other side of the door. In a small company like Flybe, an attitude like that will also come back and bite you in the bum because people talk, and it doesn't take long before the Flight Ops management get to know about you for all the wrong reasons. You can guess whether that will open doors for you or not.
Listen to EGGD. You don't always know who you are talking to on here but I can back up his statement. He was always polite and watched new pilots join the company without ever voicing his frustration. I quickly worked out he was not your usual cabin crew and asked him if he was a pilot. At no point was he ever pushy or intrusive and because of his attitude and personality every pilot wanted to make sure he got a opportunity. Pilots who could helped open some doors which then enabled him to display his ability to do the job. Not many people could do what he did and if you work as cabin crew I think many pilots will have a great deal of respect for you. I think it is perhaps the best way of getting in if you have more modest resources and cant fund type ratings etc etc.
Good Points from OttoThrottle, I do agree with you that the right attitude is necessary. A member of cabin crew once told me that there was a wannabe pilot on their selection day. His attitude was poor and he wasn't seen beyond the first morning. If you apply you will have to prepare to work hard, but by doing this you will prove yourself ultimately capable of adapting to working environments that perhaps don't match your skillset and that is a very worthy talent indeed.
I do think though that even though Flybe wont afford the same regularity of opportunities you will be there long enough to get noticed. If you work hard people from both sides of the door will do what they can to help you and that is a big step closer to an opportunity if one comes up
I know of people in flight ops and engineering positions within airlines who have been offered First Officer positions although I can't give you much background information on each. It is possible whatever route you take, the key whatever you choose to do is that you show your skills, ability and enthusiasm and you will get noticed. Just don't expect it to be straight away, but keep working and you will get there!