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Being a Professional Pilot in Europe vs. the US

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Being a Professional Pilot in Europe vs. the US

Old 29th Jul 2018, 05:54
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Being a Professional Pilot in Europe vs. the US

Hi All,

I have been living in California for nearly 10 years as a permanent resident and am currently doing all my flight training here. However, I am a German citizen and all my family is still over there so I'm wondering whether it makes sense to start my new flying career in Europe or if I should stay in the United States. It would be great to be closer to my family again but I have also built a great life in California so from that perspective, either location is a good option. I am aware of the time and money it takes to convert my licenses to EASA and the 14 ATPL exams I would have to take and obviously residency/citizenship requirements are not an issue.

My question is more about the quality of life of an (airline) pilot in the United States vs. Europe. Is there much of a difference, is one place better than another?
How difficult is it to start your career in Europe? From what I read, getting a job at one of the regionals in the US after you get your 1,500 hours is currently relatively easy, but I'm not sure about Europe, so any insight about the chances of getting a job there with 300-500 hours would be greatly appreciated. Does it make sense to convert my licenses because I would potentially get a job in Europe with fewer hours? How about the opportunities for advancement/upgrade times?
I'd really appreciate any information, insights, or opinion you might have for me!
zerogravity1 is offline  
Old 2nd Aug 2018, 16:36
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Hi there,

The aviation market in the US is always more fertile so it's always easier to get a job doing something in the piloting field even if that's not an airline job for the time being. In Europe, if you don't make it to the airlines within a few years, your options are more limited. If money is not an issue, I'd say get both sets of qualifications because it gives you the most scope and leverage. You can have plans but they can change so who knows where you'll be at in 5 or 10 years. If you think international certification and licensing is complicated now, wait until Brexit happens and get some popcorn.
banjodrone is offline  
Old 2nd Aug 2018, 17:40
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If you don’t need EASA, don’t do it! And those 1500 hours is total time so it doesn’t matter where you get them from. If you apply at a Part 135 airline you can get a flying job at a regional even with 500 hours. Flight training is much cheaper and there are less regulations in the US. Starting salaries at the start are on par with airlines such as Wizz Air and other low cost carriers but once you get some more experience and fly for a major they pay much better than any top airline in Europe.
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Old 2nd Aug 2018, 19:38
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I suppose it depends on your age, if you are 30 or younger I would stay in the states as you are still young enough to progress into the airlines eventually once you have the required time.

In Europe, you can certainly progress a lot quicker once you get into the airlines, but the benefits wouldn't be on par with a pilot in a similar position in a US airline.
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Old 8th Aug 2018, 15:09
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The Structure of this industry varies significantly between Europe and the USA. In Europe, your first flying job could be on a shiny B737/A320 with just over 200 hours of flight time. Opportunities in the US are merrier nowadays, but the requirements are tighter. 1,500 to get your foot into any 121 regional airline, and at least a few thousand hours at a regional to stand a chance with one of the legacy airlines. Starting pay in the US is quite low, especially getting the first 1,500. You can upgrade to PIC at a European based airline faster than in the USA I believe. New recruits to airlines like Ryanair expect a command time of no more than 5 years on a 737. What I have seen is that pilots in the US are generally 3-4 days away from home followed by 3 days at home. While in Europe, at most short haul airlines, you can expect to fly back home the same day I believe. Converting to EASA takes time and costs money like you said, it's really hard to give an advice in such situations. It really is up to you at the end, where do you want to live and work?
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