View Full Version : Ah... the eternal question, JAA or FAA?

2nd Jun 2002, 20:33

I was wondering whether to do an FAA or JAA PPL/FI. Are there more positions for low hour FI's in the US? I'm more then willing to work in the US as an FAA instructor to build hours and then come back to do the JAA licenses later when I have 500+ hours. I have both Class 1 medicals, and I know a frozen ATPL isn't worth spit in the US. But instructing isn't that bad is it? I've been told that approximate FAA FI earning figures range from 800-2000 dollars per month, and I'd be building the all important hours. Flying for a US airline wouldn't bother me either... as long as I'm flying, I'm happy. Bottom line: Is there a realistic chance of getting an FAA FI position with low hours?


Pitts S2B
3rd Jun 2002, 08:22
Niall It is up to you but there are a few things that you should consider.

First and foremost, Do you have the right to live and work in the USA? (green card or US passport)
If you don't and you can't get one then flying for a US airline is not going to happen.

If you do then keep in mind that in order to get a job with a major airline over here you will need somewhere in the order of 4000-5000 hours and thats not just any kind of flying, ideally the majors like to see PIC in airline operations, so the typical succesful profile is someone who has been instructing or delivering cancelled checks for two years or so and then flying for a regional airline for a further 3 or 4 years with at least one year as a regional captain.

This is what you will have to do unless you are lucky enough to get into the military, in which case your commitment will be for ten years.

The salaries only get good when you get to the majors so you are looking at a significant number of years on the breadline. Instructiing pays poorly My CFII with 3 years instructing experience is taking home about $1200 a month (his rent is $600) and he is working at one of the best and busiest flying schools in California.

If you are prepared to put in the effort then the rewards will not dissapoint, flying for a major according to the dozen or so pilots that I know who do so is an unbeatable experience.

One other thing to consider is that FAA licences and ratings (with the exception of the flight instructor rating) never expire so even if you decide to go JAA it may pay off in the long run to do the FAA first and then convert, you never know what could happen down the line.

As far as FAA training is concerned there are a number of excellent schools over here, a large group of good schools and a significant number of poor schools, however you usually get what you pay for and if you stick with part 141 schools you can usually be assured of good quality, the signs to look for are how long they have been established and if the offer a speciality (such as aerobatics ) these outfits tend to attract better instructors especially retired airline and military pilots who work part time, however their experience filters through the whole organisation, I've seen this with two schools, one in LA and the other in the Bay area.

Good luck with whatever you decide

5th Jun 2002, 06:21
Pitts S2B advice is right on the mark, and I'm wondering which aerobatic schools he is referring to :)

If you don't have a green card (and I don't know whether the Green Card Lottery is still weighted heavily in favour of Irish natives, if it still exists at all) you will not get a "real" flying job over here, ever.

Instructing is not bad at all, in fact you will probably learn as much as your students. Well, a whole day in the pattern can get boring, but right now that's not as hard as getting that instructing job in the US. Currently there are a lot of CFIs walking around US flight schools dropping off resumes/CVs, and they are mostly wasting their time.

Back in the good old days, it was possible for a foreign national to get a CFI position if they paid the flight school to earn it. So you drop (lets say) $20k-25k to get your FAA Commercial (includes IR), and CFI, and the INS would let you stay long enough to get your 1500 hours with 100 multi. Then you either find a US fiancee, or go home. Back in Europe you have loads of experience, but the regulators don't care, and you have to drop another xx grand to take your JAA CPL/IR quizzes all over again :mad: :mad:

Anyway, to answer your question "Is there a realistic chance of getting an FAA FI position with low hours"

I would say right now no. However if you come here with the right visa, drop the cash and get on with the owner I would say you would be first in line to get any job that comes up. My opinon would be that I'd hold off until the US airlines start hiring again, as right now the CFIs with jobs are not moving.

Just for the record, a "frozen ATPL" (which over here is equivalent to a Commercial certificate) will be accepted for issuance of a private licence, on the spot. In fact, if you turn up in the US with your JAA CPL (or frozen ATPL as you call it) I don't believe you will qualify for any scheme which allows you to instruct. You need to start from scratch - you are essentially buying the priviledge to work here as a CFI by paying for your CPL training. (Though I stand to be corrected on the latter, I would bet a lot of beer that it is correct advice).

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