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The perpetual 'Am I too old?' thread

Old 6th Nov 2013, 15:12
  #361 (permalink)  
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Just wondering how fluid is a career in the aviation industry, for instance everyone states a given amount of years until command and so on, almost as though set in stone. In other industries you may be able to progress quicker within a company, on a meritocratic system, based on performance, attendance record e.t.c. Is it not as such in the aviation sector, there must have arisen times when an individual has been at the company for the time to command yet still incompetant and an oppurtunity handed for someone will less time within the company to leapfrog, or is this not the case and companies have strict guidelines on how long it should take pilots to progress, for reasons which hopefully someone can inform me on.
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Old 7th Nov 2013, 21:05
  #362 (permalink)  
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Pilot Training

I'm currently playing sport professionally but at the age of 32 need to start looking at new careers!
I've had a few flying lessons in the past for pure enjoyment but am now looking at it as a potential career. I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on the following:

Can you be too old to begin flight training? Is it a viable options at 32?

Is the job market as buoyant as the course provider tells me?
Are there jobs available for newly trained pilots?

Are there any sponsorship schemes available?

Any advice is happily received!

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Old 12th Nov 2013, 06:55
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Hi career2

I will try to answer a few of your points, firstly age 32 is not too old to begin training, depending on whether you train all the way through to CPL MEIR full time or part time you will be 34 – 36 when you complete training. Probably too old to ever make it as a long haul skipper on a national flag carrier airline but not too old to have a very satisfying and lucrative career.

Regarding availability of jobs, you can read about that on various threads on PPRuNe, to save you a bit of time:

There are very few jobs for low hours freshly qualified people and there are thousands of low hours freshly qualified people chasing those few opportunities. If you are exceedingly lucky you might land something but you need to be prepared for the possibility of finding an extra £30,000 or so to fund type rating and also be prepared to have travel to another country or continent to find work.

There might be a shortage of experienced senior Captains but there is absolutely no shortage of low hours people looking for work.

Do not believe what any training school tells you about the job market, they want your money, the truth is awkward for them and stands between them and your wallet. They won’t be any help to you when you’ve finished training and looking for work, they’ll be concentrating on signing up more students.

There are mentored, part sponsored and sponsored schemes out there, Aer Lingus and BA are both currently running such schemes. The BA scheme has just opened for applicants, I believe the Aer Lingus scheme is now closed for applicants and they are currently going through the candidate selection process. Depending on your nationality then Brunei and Fly Dubai also have schemes going.

There are ex pro sports people that have gone on to successful careers in the airlines, Tony Underwood (ex England rugby) started his flying career with Easyjet and I believe he now works for Virgin. Also I recall and ex Ireland rugby player (can’t remember his name) who went on to fly for Ryan Air. If you play sport at a high level (national, international or Olympics), are well known and have a good reputation then an airline might want to employ you and make use of the PR value of employing you, I remember when Easyjet took on Tony Underwood the papers were full of the story. Probably not much PR value if you don’t have a good sporting reputation, for instance if he did his training then David Beckham would have no trouble getting an airline job but Lance Armstrong might struggle!!!!!!

To offset the financial risk you might be able to earn from your sport during flying training by continuing to play at a pro level, coaching, writing for papers, magazines etc, tv/ radio commentary or writing a book.

However as for everyone committing to flying training, there are no guarantees, it’s a huge gamble and you should never gamble what you cannot afford to lose. If you’re married and/ or have kids you will also need the support of those closest to you during your training.

Hopefully this has given you food for thought, the final decision can only be made by you and I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do.

Last edited by magicmick; 12th Nov 2013 at 07:57.
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Old 22nd Nov 2013, 09:16
  #364 (permalink)  
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i'm new here.
i'm 41, i'm trying to fund myself to get train for airline pilot in canada, am i way too old?
i was worked in a wrong industrial in the past, and now, i want to correct and restart myself again.

please help to advise. thanks a lot.
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Old 23rd Nov 2013, 20:13
  #365 (permalink)  
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I was 30 when I started flight school but on a self sponsored cadetship with a guarantee of a job. That was 4 years ago. I have been flying for a regional for about 3 years now.

For older pilots it is very difficult to get an airline job. The airlines see older pilots as slower to train compared to a young 20 something. This has been said by trainers at the airline.

The jobs front is still bleak. There are plenty of jobs for captains and experienced FOs on type with 1500+ hours on airbus or boeing. Prectiaclly no regionals are hiring with some firing pilots. Expect to start on about 25K GBP at a regional at the most. This is what i started on and am still close to this. The chance of getting into BA is slim so dont go off flight training expecting to go to BA when finished. All easyjet, Ryanair etc pilots will be applying too so you will be up against stiff competition.

Ryanair is pretty much the only game in town for new cadets and expect to pay after flight school close to 40K before you are paid. A guy I know connected to recruitment in Ryanair told me 3 years ago that the unofficcially dont take guys over 30. I was 31 at the time and was told to put 30 on the application.

I traing with some guys 4 years ago who were aged in their late 30s early and mid 40s. All are still trying to get an airline job. The best option in this situation is to become an instructor but this also costs more money, about 7k+.

If you get a job expect to have to move to a different country as if you get Ryanair you will have to move to continental europe and bid to get back to the uk but there will be a lot ahead of you trying to get back also.

At the budget carriers you are a contractor. If you dont fly you dont get paid. If you get sick and cant fly you dont get paid. You will have to pay all your own expenses at some of them. Like your hotel, transport, uniform, meals, training (every 6 months) as well as pay an accountant. So while their pay seems good when these expenses are removed its not that great. You wont be entitled to any social welfare if they dont roster you over the winter either as you are technically self employed.
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Old 27th Nov 2013, 18:26
  #366 (permalink)  
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Smile Training over 46

Hi Guys,

I am making initial enquires into a second career as a commercial pilot. However, I do have concerns about my age (46) and how this will be received in the industry and my ability to find work as a First Officer. From my reading I understand that there is officially no upper age limit (given a reasonable retirement age). I am trying to gauge what the reality would be if I went ahead with the training.

To give you some background , In February 2014 I will leave the British Army after 28 years. I am an Officer in the rank of Major and academically I have a MSc Disaster Management and I am a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. I am a British Citizen, I have the ability to self finance and I am in very good health. Given this, I understand that I am technically able to apply. My question is, would an airline want to employ a 48 year old First Officer with no experience given this as a second career. A second question is, do you know if many have taken this route and been successful.

I am under no illusions of the career progression prospects and although not impossible, achieving Captain maybe a stretch given the 15 or so years of employability I would have in the industry. This is not my driver. My motivation is that of to fly (and of course earn a reasonable wage). This is a life ambition that I only now have the opportunity to achieve.

I was hoping someone might be able to give me some clarity on my ambition or at least your opinion in order for me to make an informed decision.

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Old 29th Nov 2013, 10:03
  #367 (permalink)  
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Hi Chris

I’ll try to pass on some hopefully useful(ish) information from my perspective, I am also ex military though I was not Army and did not rise to the lofty heights of commissioned rank. I was a senior NCO aircraft engineer with the RN (try not to hold that against me). I left in January 2007 after completing 22 years service so a mere boy compared to your 28 years service.

Like you I had long harboured an ambition to fly commercially but never had the spends to complete the training, however my gratuity fixed the financial problem and the pension kept some cash coming in while I was training. I completed my PPL and night rating in Florida in Summer 2006 as my resettlement, the resettlement grant pretty much covered the cost and all I had to fund was the return air fare to Florida.

At the time the recruitment situation was buoyant, low cost airlines were recruiting hard and fast and UK flying schools were struggling to hold onto instructors as airlines kept poaching them so the signs were good for future employment. To be brutally frank if the economic and employment situations had been as harsh back then as it is now then I probably would not have bothered training.

Once I left the RN, I signed up with Bristol Groundschool for written exam study, the school were brilliant and are recognised by ELC so I was able to use an ELC grant towards the price of the course.

I started getting back into flying training with hours building in Spring 2007 and finished the instrument rating 12 months later in May 2008. Right up until the end of the instrument rating the employment prospects were looking good and the flying school I was at were losing instructors to the airlines on a regular basis. Unfortunately we started to hear rumblings of sub prime mortgages in the US, phrases like ‘credit crunch’ were being banded about and everyone with money in Northern Rock wanted to get it back again. That really started the spiral into recession, airlines like XL and many other smaller operators went bust putting hordes of pilots out of work and the good employment prospects were suddenly turned on their heads. Since then I’ve had one sim assessment and interview with an airline which I made a right pigs ear of and rightly was not offered a job.

I am still keeping the IR and medical in date while working in the military aviation world as civvy contract engineer which pays well but the work is pretty soul destroying and definitely not what I want to be doing.

I’m not sure if my age has held me back or whether other factors like the recession, airlines going bust or cutting back expansion plans and the rise of ‘Pay To Fly’ schemes have played a part. Probably a mixture of all those factors really.

If flying really is your life dream, then if you don’t attempt to realise that dream it will gnaw at you for ever. Even now when we go for our 2 weeks in the sun and turn up at the airport I still get that child like enthusiasm for the dream (sad really for a grown man). However I also get those pangs of anxiety and guilt for spending so much money and time chasing a dream that has thus far been unfulfilled and I can’t help wonder what we would have done with the money if I’d worked in engineering as soon as I left the RN. Sometimes my wife looks at houses in estate agents that are beyond our means and I always wonder whether we could have gone for it if I’d not done the training.

Do I regret doing the training or am I bitter at a dream thus far unfulfilled? Not a bit. Do I feel frustrated, impatient and angry at times? Yes, at times but thankfully I have a great family around me who snap me out of it.

Obviously if you have a spouse or partner and family then you absolutely have to be certain that they are behind you in your ambitions and that they will not be left short while you’re training and if you’re successful while you’re on a meagre wage as a junior pilot. My wife has been absolutely brilliant and has bought into the dream just as much as I have and she feels that she has been through the flying training as well.

One option worth considering is the British Airways Future Pilot Programme which I think is still accepting applications, the programme has been running for a couple of years now and I understand that they have accepted people in their 40s onto courses in the past. I also remember reading about an ex RAF Engineering Officer that got onto a Flybe cadet scheme though Flybe seem to be laying people off at the moment. The cadet schemes do not have a guaranteed job at the end of the course and the financial burden is borne squarely by the cadet but they do offer the best safety net available at the moment.

I’m not sure how much of your resettlement time and money you’ve already used but you can get your training kicked off with those resources and make full use of ELC money towards training.

One vital thing is networking, if you know serving or ex military pilots then get hold of them, they will probably be able to hook you up with contacts within the industry who will be like gold dust when you’re looking for work. If you train at a school where commercial pilots work part time as instructors or hire the aircraft for recreational flying then get to know them without stalking them.

Obviously your successful military career will furnish you with a shed load of transferrable skills that employers will understand and appreciate and while absolutely no-one in any industry (not just aviation) owes you a job, the military service will stand you in good stead.

You will also need a ‘Plan B’ ie another salary paying trade or career to fall back on to keep money coming in when you’re looking for flying work, my Plan B was engineering and that has ensured that since completing training I have recovered every penny that I spent a few times over.

Finally you might want to consider copying your post in the Military Aircrew section of PPRuNe, current and ex military pilots on there may well be able to offer you advice or maybe help hook you up with some contacts, it’s a long shot but worth a go.

Ultimately commercial flying training is a huge gamble with your time and money as the stakes. It will take you 12 to 18 months full time to complete everything, will the employment situation be better then? That’s part of the gamble and you should never stake what you cannot afford to lose.

A lot of information and much for you to consider, if you want to know more then feel free to post any questions here on open forum or PM me if you prefer and I will try to answer them for you.

A few years ago I was in your position, I made my decision now it’s your turn. Whatever you choose to do I wish you luck and hope that it all works out for the best for you.
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Old 2nd Dec 2013, 19:03
  #368 (permalink)  
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i should be start the training next year, which before my age of 42. i'm not sure if i can get a pilot job or not, but i guess it is my only hope for the future.
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 17:34
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what is your age now? :P
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 11:19
  #370 (permalink)  
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26 years, have a law degree, but want to be a commercial pilot

Hi all

Like the thread title, I have a law degree, but the last few years, becoming a pilot is becoming more and more profound in my mind. I read around and asked around but I was wondering what do I need to learn to be able to get started?

I mean, my mathematical skills have been not used for over 8 years and therefore I literally don't know how to calculate basic stuff. I remember I was quite ok with math when I got it before I went to university and believe with some sort of reminder course I would be able to get back on track. But of course you have math and you have math, what kind of math do I need to be able to perform well to get started in the education.

Also are there any other things I need to be able to do, like physics,...?

I live in Europe, I don't know if this is any different than in the USA or other countries?

But most importantly, is this actually still possible when I'm at this age? The main goal would be a commercial pilot.

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Old 8th Dec 2013, 11:55
  #371 (permalink)  

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Personally, a law degree will be far more useful because you can read the contract that'll be waved at you...
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 14:02
  #372 (permalink)  
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You'll be very surprised by the huge amount of calculations that you'll have to make in order to pass all of the CPL/ATPL test papers.

Most certainly, in the math area, a firm understanding of trigonometry is essential. As for physics, a good basic grounding is all that's required, though, if you can master both, your progress will be much quicker.

Start with a PPL course and see how you get on before you commit much funding towards the higher level stuff.

There are many ATPL question banks (on the web) that you might wish to peruse. They'll give you a good idea as to what level of math, and physics, that are required for the exams.
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Old 8th Dec 2013, 15:02
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You need the basic, GCSE stuff. If I can make it, so can you.
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Old 5th Jan 2014, 01:18
  #374 (permalink)  
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Last edited by Salomanuel; 21st Nov 2018 at 09:13.
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Old 5th Jan 2014, 08:07
  #375 (permalink)  
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I'm from Italy too, and let me start telling you that there are many times in life when one has to decide what to do, not only when you are young. So, no problem if you feel some time was wasted before, you are still in for an aviation career.
Myself, I have discovered an alternative career to piloting as Flight Dispatcher. But even that, I can confirm you that the only way of doing something in aviation is MONEY. Because, whatever path you choose, you will still need time to follow courses here and abroad (with all relative expenses); it is true you can be a pilot in a few months, but that means you must have the time to be there every day.,... in other words, you'll need MONEY. Have you got that? Fine. If you haven't, your passion for aviation will still be lingering in youtube videos.
I believe you should not be confused by the utopic or non utopic side of the matter. Leave that for later and now just concentrate on finding the bloody cash!!
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Old 5th Jan 2014, 12:35
  #376 (permalink)  
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Yet another one

Hi guys,

I'm 37, a career journalist and currently head of a big department in the BBC. But…. I've been wanting to fly since I was 10, and I've had a PPL for the last 10 years or so.

Sadly, I've let it lapse because of lack of money. But I've had a check ride in a C172 recently - and I was told I was "surprisingly alright, given lack of currency".

I'm at the stage where I think I've achieved all I'll ever achieve in my career, so a handbrake turn is needed, I believe.

So - here comes the perennial question… Am I too old? Should I bother? Incidentally, I have a 10 year old son and a mortgage. Oh, and although I've lived in the UK for 15 years now, I'm still not a UK national - I travel far too much to qualify for a British passport. I do have the full right to work anywhere I like in Britain though….

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 7th Jan 2014, 14:48
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At some point you will have to give up your career with the Beeb. Could you get by as freelance journo? If so, you could do that to keep some money coming in while completing modular training. After that, you could build experience as and where you can find it while still doing some writing to supplement your income.

You would appear to have the ideal back-up career to complement flying, so I'd say go for it.
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Old 8th Jan 2014, 14:17
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Last edited by Salomanuel; 21st Nov 2018 at 09:16.
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Old 12th Jan 2014, 16:02
  #379 (permalink)  
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The PPL is a minimum of 45 hours of training.

The CPL is a minimum of 25 hours of training, but for a combined CPL / MEP it would be 17/18 hours training in a single and 7/8 hours training in a twin.
The combined CPL / twin test will save you an examiners fee, but if you fail or partial then retaking the test in a twin will soon start to mount up.

So the CPL is actually more expensive per flight hour, also factor in the cost of the hour building between the PPL and CPL.

Be very careful using JAA approved schools in America, not so much an issue with the training standard, it is just some of the characters involved in running flight schools in the US have had interesting pasts.

So make sure you research the schools history, it is hasn't been unknown for a school to go bankrupt with students money and then to find the same set of people running a new school a few months later.
Quite often these JAA schools do mark up the prices for the JAA approval, so if you are going to train state side it is better to do FAA ratings and the convert them back in Europe.

A single engine CPL without the MEP/ IR will allow you to do paid instructing, if you get the FI rating. In Europe single engine GA jobs which you could do in theory without the MEP/ IR are quite rare (aerial photography, banner towing, scenic flights, para dropping).
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Old 19th Jan 2014, 22:11
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Hi All

First of all, this is a very interesting thread and in the last hour or so reading it, I have learnt quite a lot.

I have a quick question for those with airline knowledge regarding my career move.

I have an FAA CPL/IR and I have spent the last few years based in the UK (I am a UK citizen) but flying all over the world as co-pilot in a turbo prop (MTOW over 5700 KG) I have managed to gain a couple of thousand hours doing this. Seemed like quite a good move when the aviation industry was in a really bad way a few years ago.

As the industry is sort of recovering (I am very aware things are not great yet) I have decided that at the age of 35, I should convert to an EASA license and compete some extra training. I have put aside enough hard earned cash to complete all necessary training plus some more for a type rating or whatever I may need to get an airline position.

My question is this, with my turbo prop experience even though it is not airbus time, and at my age, what are people's opinions that I may find a position with a UK airline.

Is the experience I have gained attractive to an airline, or was it a waste of time!

Many thanks for your help and advice.
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