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Zero to Hero information & advice

Old 26th Oct 2011, 12:48
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Question Zero to Hero information & advice

Ive read this forum in some detail and have found a lot of advice and general consensus about training options for wannabes with 0 flying hours.

This post is really consolidating what I found out and asking those experienced guys to correct me if im wrong and to give me a definitive answer as to what I should do or what they would do now given hindsight and their experience.

BACKGROUND

Im 29yrs old and looking at a career change into flying if it is realistic. I have the means to pay for either Modular or Integrated training. I really dont mind where the job would be located, ive been living in Thailand for 4 yrs so im good anywhere. I have a BSc(Hons) in Computer Science so have a reasonable aptitude for math and physics. I obtained a copy of CockpitWeb and none of the aptitude tests pose an issue for me (except for the memory ones...I had to practise those...starting to feel old!).

GOAL

The end game is to get a job working for an airline with good prospects increasing the likelihood of job satisfaction (I do realise everywhere has issues but there must be some better than others!?!) and promotion through the ranks (Ambitious/expanding fleet perhaps?). Due to the nature of the industry, I feel it is better to spend the additional time, effort and cost on training appropriately to secure a position with a decent airline than having to change a few years down the line and start at the bottom again. Australia, SE Asia and the Middle East seem to be expanding markets where the prospects seem better. The US is probably closed to me due to working visas (Im British)?

Im not really concerned about the cost or recouping the money for at least 10 yrs if I can get a job (within a reasonable time...reasonable = 6 months) once ive completed training...money is not a motivator. Im more concerned about wasting the money entirely and the time spent doing it (not earning) if I cannot find work at all, thus meaning a 2 year gap away from my current industry which is IT (making it difficult to get back into). My willingness to pay top dollar is NOT a willingness to piss away money if I dont need to, im looking to spend what I need to give me the best chance of successfully securing a position with a promising company.

INTEGRATED

Most Integrated training programs are zero to hero with 250hrs (not all hrs are ME), the basic requirement to be accepted onto a major airline cadet program. These FTOs have affiliations with partner airlines but these airlines do not recruit exclusively from these schools from what I understand (so you can apply independently). The process to gain employment is a little easier however as the airline seems to consider these cadet candidates first knowing the level of training they have received by the FTO. The FTO training is however very expensive for what it is. CTC, OOA, FTE averages around 80k including foundation courses etc. I have been reading about people having problems with contracts with these companies but i'll leave that for people to investigate independently. From other posts, the best than can be hoped for right now is to be put in a holding pool for some undetermined time (12-18 months seems to be accurate although some suggest this will decrease over the next year) and then I may or may not move on to flexicrew with one of these partner airlines. Undetermined time not earning, income & flying is unacceptable for me, especially considering the price paid for training. This price doesnt include the Type Rating which the airline usually charges for in addition (varies significantly but 20k GBP isnt unheard of).

MODULAR

Modular training is hell of a lot cheaper and there are a couple of schools out there, particularly in Florida, who will include the type rating as well which is better than joining an airline where you have to pay them a lot more for the rating. A particular example is PPL to fATPL + A320 type rating & 259hrs for $60,000 USD. Additional hours to reach 500 ME would cost an additional $17,000 USD. So 48,000 GBP all in. Not including accom (6 months included) & living expenses however and for a FAA license not JAR. So the conversion is not included if I want to move over to Europe.

As a side note, a lot of schools seem to offer Type Rating Transition Courses. These shouldnt be confused with actual Type Ratings. It seems to me the general consensus is to stay away from these Transition Courses as they dont give you any valuable bits of paper, just additional education for a lot of money, which is useful but can be gained doing the Type Rating anyway that also gets you the paper at the end.

There are also 1 or 2 schools out there who offer associate or bachelor degrees with 500hrs multi engine included for what seems a reasonable price ($77,000 USD) and during that time you can also work as an FI (not sure for non-US residents). This price doesnt include the Type Rating which i've found to be $12,000 USD average.

I havent found any programs that allow hours on type though, only though the airlines cadet recruitment programs where you join them as a SO or FO.

JOB POSITIONS

On top of sponsorship to subsidise some of your training, Type Ratings and being tied into contracts, you must also consider whether the salary is liveable in the part of the world you are looking at. I did look at CX program and a lot of guys on this forum seem to advise against it given the tax payable in the first year, high cost of living, etc. Although I do have a number of friends from HK who gave information on living expenses contradicting their claims. I think the difference comes from expats living in an expat area thus paying more. The point is to not look so much at the salary but the expenses that come from it (including deductions for sponsorship). I also understand you shouldn't factor in any bonuses or additional income as its uncertain, which is pretty sound advice.

CONCLUSION

Addressing a commonly asked question, asking my friends from a couple of airlines and researching on this forum and others. Where you train usually doesnt matter (within reason) and there appears to be no difference in the quality of the pilot produced between modular and integrated.

It seems Modular is the way to go given the cost and a largely similar risk in employment prospects as Integrated. Nothing is guaranteed, you pay a lot more for no guarantee or much additional benefit. I would imagine it is the unknown/undocumented level of relationship and influence these FTOs have with "partner" airlines that weigh heavily on people minds and influence their decision to train with them or not. It certainly did/is me.

Seeking employment appears to be finding a balance between what most airlines want from an entry level cadet, as you simply cant plan for a particular airline or shortlist of your choosing because you're starting your training at least 2 years before employment and a state of the industry unknown. For my purposes im assuming it will remain the same, no better or worse, im sure people will have predictions for both but their opinion would be conjecture. Some airlines will take you on with 250hrs, some with 500hrs, some wont consider you with less than 1000-1500hrs. These hours can be made up of helicopter, single engine, multi engine and type, and vary depending on the airline. Some provide sponsorship or make you pay for the Type Rating or both, tying you to a contract (7 years seems to be normal). Being tied to a contract isnt necessarily a problem for me if the airline is a good one with prospects and if they cover costs i dont have to right away then all the better (but at what cost down the line!?).

The advice im looking for is: What is your view of the balance to be found training wise (and cost wise) to have a reasonable assurance of obtaining a decent entry level job? 250hrs? 500hrs? 1,000hrs? Type Rating or not?

What I dont want to happen is I get to a point in training I have planned on and budgeted for and find i need to achieve more hours or training with no realistic way of doing so as this route will be full time training and I will not be earning anything for 2 years and this period of time away from IT will effectively kill move back into that industry at the same level.

A lot of schools seem to encourage you to become an instructor but it doesnt seem like you can get much work off of that both hours and salary wise (Can I do this as a non-US citizen?).

Finally one more question about flying hours...it seems some people believe paid flying hours are not looked on as favourably as those earned. A few pilots I know say this isnt the case, hours are hours, but whats your view? Other posts on this forum werent conclusive.

Thanks!
iDiveDeep is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 14:59
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give me a definitive answer
There is the problem!
GOAL

The end game is to get a job working for an airline with good prospects increasing the likelihood of job satisfaction
Yes, and that is pretty much the same for the many tens of thousands of other wanabees! In fact is pretty much the same for any pilot.

Im not really concerned about the cost or recouping the money for at least 10 yrs if I can get a job (within a reasonable time...reasonable = 6 months) once ive completed training...money is not a motivator.
Good. That will make the advice I am going to give you a lot easier. However you should keep repeating to yourself, over and over again, "there are no guarantees......anywhere!"

Most Integrated training programs are zero to hero with 250hrs (not all hrs are ME), the basic requirement to be accepted onto a major airline cadet program.
No, you misunderstand. This isn't the basic requirement to "be accepted onto a major airline cadet programme." It is wholly integral to that major airlines cadet programme.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but "hey I have my licence and 250 hours, now where are the airline jobs?" just isn't going to happen.

Airlines (and particularly those in the market segment you have defined) have never sought applicants at this level. There are thousands and thousands of low hour pilots in a marketplace that has very few prime openings. Competition for those few places is fierce and intense. Successful applicants will be those with the best CV's on the pile (that hasn't been automatically swept into the bin!) They will be current, (those licences and ratings perish quickly, without expensive renewal and refreshers.) They will have significant and relevant levels of experience. They will be able to compete with the top few applicants who can present a good solid training, employment and experience background. This isn't going to be at 250, 500, or 1000 hours.

So what would I advise?

Apply for an integrated course of training at a flying school that is solidly tied to more than one airlines cadet programme. That is your aim, and that is the only likely route to becoming a "cadet" with a major airline (offering this type of programme) with such a low number of hours. These programmes recognise that the entire course of affiliated, mentored, and monitored training, will have been conducted to a standard and methodology that the airline uses themselves, and makes the transition more likely to be successful at this level of flying experience.

Research where airlines offering cadet programmes are sourcing their candidates from, as well as their placement record. Then if you decide the cost isn't prohibitive (as you have already stated it isn't,) decide if the risk is a viable one for you, in your own given circumstances.

Once again, I will state that there are no guarantees. However there are routes that if you are fortunate enough to be able to embark on, may well offer you significant advantages as regards the overall gamble. If cost is the determining factor (as it is for many people) then you will follow the route that you can best afford, and given determination, time and luck you may achieve the goal you seek. However do not convince yourself, or let others convince you, that this is a level playing field, because it isn't!
Bealzebub is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 15:32
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Hi Bealzebub,

Thanks for your comments. I understand and accept the reasoning for your suggestion.

So you believe the additional cost of an integrated course, which is almost triple the cost of the modular route (including TR), is a viable risk to take to for the relationship between an FTO and airline to have a higher chance of securing a position? I repeat for clarification as I dont have any experience or knowledge in the industry or how weighted the ties between FTOs and airlines are. Ive been led to believe that the relationship is one of recognition of training standards and that they consider applicants with this training more heavily than others but do not exclusively recruit from these FTOs.

Obviously I understand there are no guarantees but there are/must be ways of significantly mitigating risk and improving ones chances of securing a job.

However there are routes that if you are fortunate enough to be able to embark on, may well offer you significant advantages as regards the overall gamble.
Please explain!

Thanks.
iDiveDeep is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 15:48
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So you believe the additional cost of an integrated course, which is almost triple the cost of the modular route (including TR), is a viable risk to take to for the relationship between an FTO and airline to have a higher chance of securing a position?
Whether it is a viable risk or not, is something to be decided by the buyer. However if your goal is low houred employment by a major airline offering a a cadet programme that makes this possible, it is the only realistic chance of securing such a position.

If you are looking for clues, then take a look at the recent British Airways FPP (cadet) scheme. Who are they utilising for their source cadets? Are they the same FTO's that other major airlines use as integral partners, and resource for their cadets?

If the answer is yes, then it would appear you have stumbled on an advantage, albeit not a guarantee. However that advantage will have a price tag attached to it.
Bealzebub is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 16:08
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I have to agree with Bealzebub.

I have spent the last year researching, preparing, studying, checking, double-checking, head scratching and then biting the bullet.

To repeat, there are no guarantees but there is an advantage getting on a recongised intigrated course with a reputable FTO.

I would also advise that you check who BA has partnered with.

Like you I have worked in a different career for the last decade and yes it is massive decision to make.

Make an informed decision by visiting and researching all your options.

Don't be put off by those who say it's impossible. They're the same people that wouldn't have made it in my previous profession too.

In my case I'm selling my home to fund this - but in 2 years time I might be unemployed but I won't be broke or burdened with £1k monthly repayments on a huge loan or mortgage. There are real stories of people becomign bankrupt from this. On the other hand I might be sponging off my girlfriend and watching a lot of day time TV.

By the way, I agree it's not about the money. I can make £400 a day at the moment. I know flying won't pay as well. Hell you can always go back to the day job and the 9 to 5 if it doesn't work out.

Find the right FTO!

Good luck!
shorty79 is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 16:28
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If you are looking for clues, then take a look at the recent British Airways FPP (cadet) scheme. Who are they utilising for their source cadets? Are they the same FTO's that other major airlines use as integral partners, and resource for their cadets?
One of the suggested FTO's offer modular training. Could this route, which is cheaper, be feasible? Or is the 'modular' bit less advantageous?
WhiskyTangoFoxtrott is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 16:35
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The big FTOs will tell you so, but then again at different open days (different schools) I have heard reps from BA and easyjet say as much too.
shorty79 is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 16:53
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Yeah seems to have come full circle.

I looked at CTC straight off the bat, was accepted into Phase 2 a couple of months ago but had to postpone until next month due to being in Thailand. Obviously I understand being accepted into this phase and getting through is different but im confident I should pass the tests and interviews.

Like I said cost isnt the issue, obtaining the best chance for employment and at the best possible employer I can is. I dont have unlimited funds but i would like to find out how i might self fund 500hrs on type and how much it is for comparison.

It was the fact on completion of the integrated course I would come out with low hours and no TR which for the same money I could come out with significantly more through modular training and that there isnt any solid documentation on the nature of the contract between FTOs and airlines only that they have a relationship and will look at cadets produced by the FTO.

Also, someone here may be able to confirm this, i saw it posted in another thread...the CTC price quoted doesnt include the foundation course which is apparently another 10k GBP or so?

Btw, i noticed this on CTCs website:
Of particular interest to those interested in a career as a British Airways pilot, will be the fact that British Airways is prepared to provide the necessary guarantee to enable an applicant to secure a bank loan for the funding required, together with a conditional offer of a contract of employment to successful candidates.
Does this mean you need to apply for the BA FPP first? The window for this year closed a couple of weeks ago Any news/ideas when they may start accepting applications again?

Cheers!
iDiveDeep is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 16:57
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Does anyone have the contact details for these airline reps...rather than ask the FTO who want to sign you up on the full bells & whistles course to get the most cash out of you, i thought i'd ask the airlines who should be more interested in obtaining the best talent to get their opinions and positions!
iDiveDeep is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 17:02
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BA's Lyndsey Craig (Manager of Pilot Recruitment) spoke at CTC, whilst I heard Richard Evans (Pilot Training Manager - easyJet) at an Oxford open day back in April.

Good luck.
shorty79 is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 17:22
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dude, if you want it that bad, just go for it. it'll be a year and a half of hard work but you'll have the best job in the world afterwards (so i've read countless times on here).

when you get to your mid-late thirties you don't want to be sitting in an office wishing you became a pilot years ago when you had the chance
AndoniP is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 17:30
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Cheers Shorty.

I'm a PPL so will no doubt go down the modular route anyway.

iDiveDeep, I'd be interested to know what you hear from the 'horse's mouth', if you manage to make contact.

AndoniP, enough of the mid to late thirties thing, OK?
WhiskyTangoFoxtrott is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 18:15
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One of the suggested FTO's offer modular training. Could this route, which is cheaper, be feasible? Or is the 'modular' bit less advantageous?
Less advantageous for what?

Getting on a major airline cadet scheme perhaps? Then Yes. As already stated, they are full time integrated courses usually in partnership with the airline concerned.

For the possible opportunity of a placement if the particular FTO runs out of cadets? Possibly, in which case there is some element of advantage, however it is dependant on a combination of well timed factors. There may be quite a long wait until those factors line up in harmony with one another.

You need to ask yourself what it is you want, and then research what is it the airline customers of those training organisations want. Having reached an answer in both cases, be realistic and honest with yourself.

I have said this before, but am happy to repeat it.
If money were no object because I was offering you a funded sponsorship, (which I am not,) which training organisation, method, and programme would you select?

For the airlines offering cadet employment it isn't an object, because they will expect you to bear the funding risk. However, they will still come up with the same answers.

Beyond these cadet programmes, nobody cares much, because they don't recruit pilots at this level of experience. They don't need to, and you need to climb much higher up the pyramid of experience, until the sheer weight of relevant application numbers becomes anything even barely approaching a manageable number for most companies.

Take a snapshot of one large company such as British airways. At the base level they have re-opened a cadet programme for ab-initio pilots.

Above that, they have a programme for military career changers.

Alongside that, they have a programme for recruiting experienced Direct Entry Pilots from other airlines, who have both the relevant levels of experience and aptitude, as well as being attractive during the selection phase.

That is pretty much the name of the game with most major players.

There is virtually no interest at all at this level, in low houred pilots. Those pilots would need to satisfy the "DEP" requirements by acquiring the necessary levels of experience to qualify for this group. That certainly isn't impossible, but it is a path fraught with its own difficulties and challenges and likely to take much longer to achieve.
Bealzebub is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2011, 22:29
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You won't find a clearer or more honest answer than Bealzebub's.

Good luck.
shorty79 is offline  
Old 27th Oct 2011, 09:20
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WTF

It all depends on your circumstances - if like me you have a mortgage, wife, baby on the way, looking to move house, etc etc then you're stuffed.

If not then go for it, we all do our maths and we know whether gaining your fATPL is manageable or whether flying will simply remain a hobby for the weekends.

Just my 2p
AndoniP is offline  
Old 27th Oct 2011, 10:22
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Cheers for the responses.
AndoniP, I can empathise!
Modular is no doubt the only way for me as I have no lump sum to blow and I want to keep my job and my house. Now a sensible route would be to get my CPL and Instructor Rating and instruct whilst IT contracting before taking the MEIR plunge when the time suits.
Now Iím under no illusion that 250 odd hours + fATPL will open the doors to the flight deck of a Large operator's Boeing or Airbus, whether it be via modular or integrated training; but what caught my eye on this thread was that school partnership may improve one's prospects, as I have long wondered if spending a few extra thousand pounds on modular at OAA would be worth it over a cheaper course elsewhere.
Apart its consistent and defragmented nature, what sets integrated training above modular?
WhiskyTangoFoxtrott is offline  
Old 27th Oct 2011, 10:38
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Apart its consistent and defragmented nature, what sets integrated training above modular?
Very good marketing.

G
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 27th Oct 2011, 11:31
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Sorry - should have seen that coming
WhiskyTangoFoxtrott is offline  
Old 27th Oct 2011, 12:07
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WTF - by this

but what caught my eye on this thread was that school partnership may improve one's prospects, as I have long wondered if spending a few extra thousand pounds on modular at OAA would be worth it over a cheaper course elsewhere
you mean integrated?

places like OAA do modular but the airline cadet courses like their easyJet MPL First Officer are integrated only aren't they?

If it's jets you want to fly then you've got a better chance joining the airline cadet schemes, if you go modular then the road will be a bit longer and more difficult in terms of getting an airline job. As Bealzebub says:

There is virtually no interest at all at this level, in low houred pilots... That certainly isn't impossible, but it is a path fraught with its own difficulties and challenges and likely to take much longer to achieve.
AndoniP is offline  
Old 27th Oct 2011, 12:21
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AndoniP

by -
but what caught my eye on this thread was that school partnership may improve one's prospects, as I have long wondered if spending a few extra thousand pounds on modular at OAA would be worth it over a cheaper course elsewhere
- I mean modular, in as much as the school has the training records (hopefully all good) and the school has the relationships and reputation within the industry. A bit of a long shot I know, but could it be advantageous further down the road, even if going for a 'lower down the ladder' job?

I don't mind what I fly, so long as it's not an IBM ThinkPad with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010!

Cheers
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