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US/Europe vs. Australia/NZ - Pilot family life? - Best training? - Build early hours?

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US/Europe vs. Australia/NZ - Pilot family life? - Best training? - Build early hours?

Old 12th Jun 2012, 03:44
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: California
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Wink US/Europe vs. Australia/NZ - Pilot family life? - Best training? - Build early hours?

MY BACKGROUND:

29 years old.
4 & 1/2 years in the US Air Force (non-flying related, more along the lines of radar programming stuff).
I will complete my university bachelor’s degree this winter (Dec 2012).
I had a dream of becoming an airline pilot but after a little online research I found that:

-If you leave your airline you lose all your seniority and have to start all over again at other airlines from the bottom (this almost seems like it’s in place just so the management at airline A can abuse it’s employees because they know the employees can’t really go to airlines B or C for fear of losing all the years of seniority at airline A).

-Furloughs are not only inevitable, but quite the norm.

-No pension plans.

-The starting years really suck because of lack of finding work, if you’re lucky enough to find a job or instructor position, it’ll most likely be a low ~$20k/yr job.

After browsing forum after forum and reading more and more of what I just wrote above, I was quite heartbroken . I would prefer some kind of job security and somewhat of a decent paying job so that I might be able to support a family (don’t have one yet but would like to have one within the next 3-4yrs) and trying to find that in the world of being a pilot seems like a crap shoot (more so for the early years).

Getting joy out of what I choose to build my career out of is far more important to me than simple monetary compensation for crunching numbers or whatever else. Which leads me to…

MY CURRENT SITUATION:

So, if not a pilot, then what? I’ve been trying to figure that out for myself for a while now and not many alternatives have come to mind…

BUT!!! On one of my recent flights I had the good fortune of sitting next to “Jane” whose sister recently became a captain for Quantas and talking with Jane has given me new hope for my dream of becoming a pilot! I wasn’t thinking quite as globally before so now it has also raised some new questions. I am in the process of connecting with this recent Quantas captain so I can get all my questions answered from the source, and have my fortune read . But in the meantime I would like to run some things by all of you beautiful people of the forum community and get your input. So here we go…

QUESTIONS:

-The negative points that I brought up above, are they indeed true? I think they pertain more to the US and European airlines, is that correct? Supposedly things are a little better for Airlines “down under” (Australia/NZ area), can anyone confirm this for sure? How about Asia or the Middle-East?

-I want to go to a top-notch, well-respected flight school for training. Massey in NZ has been suggested. What other internationally respected options are there? I tried an online search but there’s just so many that it’s hard to separate the good ones from the mediocre ones. I will complete my university degree by winter so I’m not necessarily looking for a degree granting program.

-I want to move to an area where I can build my early hours easily. This will be difficult in the US. Supposedly the economy’s a little better in the “land down under” so prospects there should be better. Any other global suggestions where I can build my early hours?

-If there is any incorrect information in this post, I apologize, and please correct me. Also, if there is any other information you feel would be useful for me, please do share!

Thanks everyone!
storm glider is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2012, 15:32
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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Minor point, before you contact this Captain make sure you spell the airline correctly; Qantas not Quantas. I think you will have to at least start off in the US as I guess you are a US citizen and don't have the right to work in Aus/NZ and Europe. As for the Middle East 1,000+ jet hours are needed to apply for the likes of Emirates/Etihad/Qatar.
GolfTangoFoxtrot is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2012, 16:31
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Ironically, it's the US that most folks look to for cheap(er) flight training and experience.
There's no point in doing a professional licence in another country unless it's an easy conversion (not likely) or you have the right to live and work there.
Whilst there are a few shonky operators in the US, there are also a lot of decent operators.

The "starting years" pay pretty much the same in Australia, but you'll start on even crappier aircraft and take longer to move through the system.
This is assuming you can get the right to live and work.

As you're in the US, don't limit your options to "airlines".
redsnail is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2012, 19:35
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GolfTangoFoxtrot,
I don't know how I didn't catch that, thanks for pointing that out! That conversation might have gotten pretty awkward otherwise.

redsnail,
Can you elaborate on what you mean by:
"As you're in the US, don't limit your options to "airlines"."?
I'm assuming you're talking about corporate flying, yeah? What would be the roadmap for getting in to that pilot's seat?
And does being in US offer more/better prospects?
storm glider is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2012, 21:38
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Join Date: Aug 2007
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Hey Storm Glider,

Let me tell you about myself...
I was also in the USAF. I wanted to be a pilot, so that is what I did. People thought I was crazy, because I was an O-3, and I was willing to spend my own money and then give up a good paying job to make crap pay. I also was already married with a child by the time I separated from the military, so imagine...

Now here are some things to consider...
Do you still have your GI Bill? I used mine for flight training. It helped out quite a bit.
Another thing to consider... if you don't have the rights to work in another country, you will pretty much be in the USA for the foreseeable future. You can forget Europe, Australia, NZ, etc... In some countries, you can't work at an airline unless you are a citizen (such as Mexico, Brazil, and Russia). When you are a big Captain with lots of hours on a big jet, then you might be able to go to the Middle East or Asia. So for now, focus on the US.

Next thing to consider: Don't worry so much about the name of the school. In the US, nobody really cares where you did your training. The important thing is the quality of the training that you received, but you can receive good training at a small mom and pop school or a big academy. Conversely, you can receive poor training as well. Shop wisely. Cheapest isn't always the best, but high price tag doesn't always mean high quality.

Now, the reality... yes you will probably have to work for very low, barely livable wages for a few years. You might be stuck paying for your own health care insurance (which doesn't cover everything, so a big shocker once you get out of the military), you might be stuck paying for your own instructor insurance too!
Some of the guys I know were only surviving because their wife/girlfriend had a decent paying job. Or because they had a roommate and were able to split the cost of rent, etc... When I decided to change careers, my wife and I really had to readjust our spending habits.

You also mention that you want to build your hours...
There are some flight schools in hot bed training areas (California, Arizona, Florida) that will get you instructing the max allowable (8 hours per day) and 5 days a week. There are some guys racking up over 100 hours per month as instructors. You will build hours fast, and you will get burned out perhaps. There are places needing instructors, you have to be willing to go there.

And like what was mentioned before, look beyond just airlines. I have a friend who was a flight instructor, then got a job as a simulator instructor at Flight Safety, and within the first few months he already received several job offers from clients to fly corporate jets. There is also Part 135 freight and a lot more. If you have a security clearance, once you build up some hours, you might be able to get hired at a company with government contracts. The possibilities are diverse, but you will have to work your way up from the bottom at the beginning.
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Old 13th Jun 2012, 00:08
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Storm Glider,

As an Australian, the US is similar in the ways of building hours and going up the ladder. Australia and the US have a good sized General Aviation sector.

Europe and the Middle East "basically" have flight schools then straight to airliners (737-A320). This is only available to citizens from cadetships or self sponsored flight schools. It is very competitive, even to a point of a lot of qualified pilots not gaining a job for a year or two even three.

Best to start in the US and build your hours and experience. If you can go reserve in the USAF just to keep things afloat will be one option?
Because the first job or two will pay for cans of baked beans and toast.

Forget NZ, as it is a very small market and a lot of green pilots make the hop over to Australia to gain experience (Australia and NZ have a trans tasman agreement).

With regards to working in Australia, there is a visa called a 457, however you will need 3000hrs plus and a ATP to apply with some time on a twin turbo prop at 12,500 pounds and above. There is only 2 or 3 regional airlines that will support this. But hey, lets focus on the first step in the US.

So basically, train in the US and you have a bigger aviation sector to choose from.

Hope this helps?
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Old 13th Jun 2012, 08:28
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If you can go reserve in the USAF just to keep things afloat will be one option?
Not a bad idea. Look at the Guard or Reserve or becoming an IMA, as it will supplement your income. See if you can commission in the Guard or Reserve after you get your degree. You will supplement your income even more
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Old 13th Jun 2012, 09:40
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I'm assuming you're talking about corporate flying, yeah? What would be the roadmap for getting in to that pilot's seat?
And does being in US offer more/better prospects?
It's all about contacts re corporate. I am not overly familiar with the route in the US but look for flight schools that are based on airfields with corporate jets. Introduce yourself, make yourself known. Whilst at flight school, be courteous, professional and on time. If you can't be on time, call well in advance. It's those details and more that make an impression. I know one pilot who's flying a Hawker who started out towing banners. I think the usual path to get the experience would be Flight instructing/scenic flying in singles before moving onto piston twins.

Unfortunately, the pay when you start out sucks.

Regarding prospects? Oh yes. Definitely.
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Old 13th Jun 2012, 10:30
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It's all hypothetical unless you have the right to live and work in those countries. Aussies / Kiwis / Europeans can't go work for a US airline because we don't have a green card, same applies in reverse.

A couple of Aussie operators have recently (controversially) gained approval to sponsor some type rated, experienced crew for work visas but that's not a problem that's going to bother you for a number of years obviously. NZ and virtually all European countries are totally closed shop for non citizens.
Luke SkyToddler is offline  
Old 13th Jun 2012, 14:42
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But what about EU nationals (non-commonwealth) going to Australia though? Is that an easier option than America?
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Old 13th Jun 2012, 17:29
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Unless you're going in on the 457 Visa, then it's whether or not you qualify for a permanent visa.
See here for the requirements.

Whilst they appear tough, it is easier for a person to emigrate to Australia who has no family ties to Australia than an Australian to emigrate to Europe (assuming not here for specific work purposes) with no family ties.
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Old 14th Jun 2012, 06:34
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Zondaracer,
Yeah, I still have part of my GI Bill benefits left. Used them sparingly and will have close to half left over after I graduate. And yeah, they'll DEFINITELY help out for flight training.

Move On,
Yes, your info is quite helpful indeed. Thanks for posting!

Redsnail,
You're absolutely right, it's all in the small things. A good reminder, thanks.
storm glider is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2012, 16:27
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I have US citizenship and no other citizenship. And from the sounds of it, it'll probably be easier and cheaper for me to just stay in the US for my training and early years. I don't have a problem with that, that's what I was initially planning on doing but just wanted to see if going abroad might have been better...

First step for me is get my PPL - I'm starting a PPL course in Jan'13 at a junior college in my area that has a pretty good flight instructor and should have my PPL by summer'13. After that, I'll work on my instrument rating and CPL and CFI and anything else possible to keep me progressing. Flying for the airlines is something good to look forward to but it seems a bit premature for me right now. Who knows, maybe I'll end up getting some corporate gig and loving it. Either way, that's in the far future. Right now, I just gotta learn to crawl first, and I'm sure I'll learn a LOT more along the way.

I really appreciate everyone's input! And if you have any more info, please keep it coming!
storm glider is offline  
Old 18th Jun 2012, 00:01
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Just re read your first post and want to add, if you are looking for a "top notch internationally respected flying school" then for God's sake don't touch Massey!!
Luke SkyToddler is offline  

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