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What are the odds?

Old 27th Jan 2019, 17:53
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Question What are the odds?

As many others, I am considering a career change towards becoming an airline pilot. I have done extensive research and have it all planned out, but before taking the plunge, I am trying to figure out what my odds will be. I understand that there are variables which could put me below or above the competition, I just want to know what the competition is like? How many applicants (with fresh fATPL) per First Officer role with an airline? UK information would be much appreciated, but would also love to know anything you know about anywhere in the world. Thank you!
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 08:13
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Competition between fATPL holders is and always be fierce. If it wasn't then we wouldn't have all those P2F schemes.

ut it doesn't mean that you should give up right away. Keep your expectations realistic, and you will not be disappointed. If you will start your training with "RHS of widebody in 2 years or less" mindset then you might be not doing yourself a favor. But if you go modular, keep your current job, and consider flying to be a hobby with possibility of a career (FI, part time drop-ship pilot and so on), then your odds of having a happy life, and sound mental health are better.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 08:46
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Thank you. The plan is 24-30 months modular alongside my current job. I have done extensive research and know what I am getting myself into apart from the question that I posted originally. Fierce, sure! But 20 to 1, 200 to 1 or 2000 to 1 applications for each job? I want to know the scale.
once again ,I know of all the things that would put me above or below the competition...
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 16:47
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There are probably 4000-5000 qualified and looking with ~1000 more every year (by some accounts only half of these are 'employable'). At present there are probably ~400-500 seats/yr for low hours so if you're 'employable' then you've perhaps got a 1 in 10 chance but a lot of your luck will be skewed by industry contacts etc. In 2-3 years I'd guess we'll be in a dip and you'll have very little chance at all for the following 5-7 years.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 16:54
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Thank you Desert Strip Basher This is the sort of information I was looking for, but could you please specify if you mean worldwide or UK?; what do you mean by 'dip', as almost everywhere I look, the prediction is an increase of demand?; and if your comment is specific to airline or includes cargo (my contingency / plan B for first role).
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 17:46
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How in the world would a person calculate the odds here? You may have 10,000 pilots with fATPL but not all of them will apply for a job with Airline X because some of them prefer Airline Y. A lot of other factors would determine whether an applicant goes for a job or not, so the odds can change all the time. You may start out with 1,000 to 1, but then if the airline wants first-time passers with high grades, then that may narrow it down to 400 to 1. Then you have the attitude/aptitude tests which then narrows it down to 200 to 1. And so on. So I think it's impossible to calculate the odds, but this is just from an outsider's point of view. Someone will be sure to point out if I'm wrong.

@ OP: I wonder why you want to know the odds? In my mind, who cares if the odds are 5 to 1 but you don't get the job or the odds are 10,000 to 1 but you get the job?
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 17:57
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Nurse2Pilot we all have different views and priorities. Whilst flying is a dream for me, I need facts (even if not precise) in order to make a 'calculated bet'. I have a steady, secure career with great pay, that I worked long and hard to achieve, which I would give up in a heartbeat for the best view in the world, but I will not spend 6 figures (or best part of) and be no closer to that dream.
Of course, you can start by looking it at as a hobby and go from there, but I will not afford myself such an expensive hobby, only an investment.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 18:01
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Also, perhaps naive and overly hopeful of me, but I thought someone would have an idea of how many candidates they have been or are up against... That would not be a calculation, but a matter of experience.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 19:44
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Originally Posted by Nurse2Pilot View Post
How in the world would a person calculate the odds here? You may have 10,000 pilots with fATPL but not all of them will apply for a job with Airline X because some of them prefer Airline Y. A lot of other factors would determine whether an applicant goes for a job or not, so the odds can change all the time. You may start out with 1,000 to 1, but then if the airline wants first-time passers with high grades, then that may narrow it down to 400 to 1. Then you have the attitude/aptitude tests which then narrows it down to 200 to 1. And so on. So I think it's impossible to calculate the odds, but this is just from an outsider's point of view. Someone will be sure to point out if I'm wrong.

@ OP: I wonder why you want to know the odds? In my mind, who cares if the odds are 5 to 1 but you don't get the job or the odds are 10,000 to 1 but you get the job?
I think it's a fair question and the 'odds' are there on the CAA website as to how many new licenses are awarded each year plus you can guesstimate those that are previously qualified and still actively looking as well as typical low hour recruitment for each of the majors. Most low hours will go for ANY job however, they'd be mad not to in such a small field. Preference doesn't come in to it to a great degree. Within all the noise of the numbers, where the real odds are is in will your application be seen at all? That's the real hurdle to get over.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 21:13
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Like any lottery... "you have to be in it, to win it!".

Having said that, I doubt anyone would be able to give you a satisfactory answer of what the odds actually are... there are way too many variables at play (most of which are not calculable):
- How many new licence holders entering the market?
- How many job vacancies being posted?
- How many unemployed licence holders getting jobs?
- How many unemployed licence holders giving up and no longer pursing a career in aviation?
- How many unemployed licence holders no longer being eligible (due lack of currency etc)?

Additionally... 24-30 months is a looooooong time in aviation (and worldwide finance/economics/politics)... who knows what will be happening then?

It sounds like you're going into this with your eyes wide open... and you accept that the odds are not "high". That should serve you well. Best of luck to you.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 21:27
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Thank you RHSandLovingIt . I was hoping that anyone going through or having been through the process could shed some sort of light on it in terms of actual experience, as I appreciate the difficulty in guessing.

I can't predict my aptitude until I start lessons, nor my theory results (but I will sure try my best), but I believe that I will have some advantages, which should give me a bit of a head start.

I set my level at 50 to 1 odds for an airline job in the UK, with contingency of cargo (DHL hub at EMA, for example, around 10 miles from my house and they seem to be recruiting a fair amount) and going abroad as a Plan C.

Staying in my current line of work for another year or even more after getting my licence would help financially, so not the end of the world if I had to wait a little, either.

Last edited by careerchangeneeded; 29th Jan 2019 at 22:02.
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Old 28th Jan 2019, 22:46
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Originally Posted by careerchangeneeded View Post
once again ,I know of all the things that would put me above or below the competition...
I’m also going down the path to becoming an airline pilot so I’d be interested to get someone else’s thoughts on what puts you above and below the competition.
Can you elaborate on the ‘things’ which you are alluding to?

Last edited by Magpie32; 29th Jan 2019 at 07:31.
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Old 29th Jan 2019, 08:38
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Originally Posted by Desert Strip Basher View Post
I think it's a fair question and the 'odds' are there on the CAA website as to how many new licenses are awarded each year plus you can guesstimate those that are previously qualified and still actively looking as well as typical low hour recruitment for each of the majors. Most low hours will go for ANY job however, they'd be mad not to in such a small field. Preference doesn't come in to it to a great degree. Within all the noise of the numbers, where the real odds are is in will your application be seen at all? That's the real hurdle to get over.
Not arguing whether it's a fair question or not, simply saying that getting an accurate answer would be next to impossible. There are simply too many factors and unknowns to consider. Looking at number of new licenses issued can be a starting point, but then you'll have to factor in last year's licenses, and maybe even the year before that, then the people who have been laid off or looking for new jobs, etc. You'll end up with a number that is simply too questionable to be useful and so what's the point of the exercise, really?
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Old 29th Jan 2019, 13:16
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Ryanair alone recruited 900 pilots in 2017, 1100 in 2018; the vast majority of those would have been low hour cadets.

According to figures there was 4811 EASA CPLs in 2016, factoring in that some of these CPLs will be instructors, GA pilots and a sizeable chunk of them will be ''unemployables''.

That would give 2400 new pilots for argument sake.

You can build the rest of the picture.....
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Old 29th Jan 2019, 22:08
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Magpie32 from research and advice I came across, given the same qualification and roughly the same flying hours under the belt (on average), it's the personality that will win or lose a job. Maturity, confidence, good personal and management skills, etc.
Would everyone agree or correct me?
Thanks
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 10:56
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I would say getting through the training is the easy part. In my experience, even those of below average ability can eventually limp over the line and get their fATPL. I would put the odds of getting your licence as 1/4. With enough time, retakes, and money, you will get there. As we speak, the job market is really good. So airlines don't particularly care about ATPL Theory fails & averages, and so on. At the moment, even those who scrape through their training are getting airline jobs with comparative ease. But, in a poor recruitment climate, these people will always struggle getting their feet in the door.

However, getting through your training with style is obviously much harder. I would put getting all first time passes with a 90%+ ATPL Theory average, and first time CPL and IR passes as 6/1. When the job market slows down, and recruitment starts to thin out, airlines can afford to be picky. So they start to look at the above. When recruitment gets slow, you need to do everything you can to stand out.

As for finding a job, I don't think anyone will ever know how many people apply for one job. I heard rumours that Ryanair on average only take 2 out of 8 people on their selection days. But still, we never know how many people the airline intends to take, and how many applied in the first place. A very educated guess from my side would be at least 10 people apply for one low-hour airline job. That's a guess. Nine get rooted out during the initial screening, aptitude tests, sim assessments, group tasks and interviews. The remaining one gets the job. That's the very best-case scenario, in a period of heavy recruitment. In times of slow recruitment, my guess is that it could go up to 20, 30 or even 50 applicants per one job. The creme-de-la-creme schemes probably get in excess of 100 applications per position.

I'm a firm believer that the cream will always rise to the top. With a decent training record, good CV, positive attitude and a bit of panache, you can easily put yourself in the top 20% of applicants. If you can do that, you're no longer competing with nine others, but more like with two or three. Like it's been mentioned, a sizeable chunk of applicants will be duds who are eliminated in the early stages. If you are one of the "unemployables", then I would put the odds of you getting through the training and finding a job at at least 100/1 (I met an instructor who had applied to in excess of 100 airline jobs, with no success). If you're the cream, then that would be 5/1 or even less. After a couple of applications, by law of averages you will find a job.

A very philosophical way to put it would be to ask yourself what are the odds you put on your own success? How employable do you think you are? I can speculate the odds from my own experience, but I can't tell you that. Unfortunately with the timing of your training, it's likely that the recruitment climate will have slowed down by the time you get your licence, and competition will be stronger. But, you can't keep a good man down. Barring a recruitment nightmare, like in 2001 or 2009, by backing yourself and staking your claim, you will still find a job.
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