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My partner wants to retrain as a pilot and I'm not sure

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My partner wants to retrain as a pilot and I'm not sure

Old 31st May 2022, 20:34
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Smile My partner wants to retrain as a pilot and I'm not sure

Hi everyone- my partner is 43 and wants to go back to what he loves the most, flying. He has a ppl and was in the Air Force 20 yrs ago- he has for the last 20 yrs been working in private sector and he hates it. He misses flying and has recently made the decision to go through the process to get a Cpl and atpl. He has been told by friends he knows who are QFI or pilots that he'll get snapped up for work as he is ex military- they have told him that he can be captain in 5 yrs and that from start to finish 18 months of training and he can get his cpl. He was also told by one of his friends that he can choose short on medium haul flights which allow more work life balance as they'll typically be 4 on 4 off or vice versa, or fly in one day and be home in the evening.

My partner is so excited at the prospect of bookended his life doing the thing he loves the most. I want to support him, but am not sure whether what he has been told is true- I'd like to know if he can get all that he thinks, within that space of time, and get a job or whether it's far fetched. We were thinking of moving in together, getting married etc but I'm concerned this might put a pause on everything, which I can handle, so long as he can get the captain job he says he'll get.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 00:54
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Tell him to log in here in PPRuNe, we will gladly tell him "personally" whatever he wants to know so he can make an informed decision about his own career.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 04:33
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So who's decision is it exactly? 🤔
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 08:18
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It's his decision of course- I was asking so I can better support him. I have worries but if they're not founded in anything and it's just anxiety, then I can stop worrying and just be present and join him on his journey. I don't know much about the industry so I think I am looking for advice in order to manage my expectations.

Thank you
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 09:14
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As I read it, he was 23 when he left the RAF and was not a pilot. He's gained a PPL in the last few years and now wants to fly professionally?
He won't get snapped up as he doesn't appear to be an ex-military pilot. Big difference.
Command in 5 years after training (so around 50 or so) is possible but it's not a guarantee. To be promoted you first need a job. Also, you need to pass the course, not every one does.
The work pattern described sounds suspiciously like Ryanair and historically, they rarely take over 40yo.
To get it all done in 18 months will take an enormous sacrifice, if on a full time course, he's looking at circa 120K in costs.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 10:03
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Originally Posted by redsnail View Post
To get it all done in 18 months will take an enormous sacrifice, if on a full time course, he's looking at circa 120K in costs.
To get it all done in 18 months will take an enormous sacrifice, if on a full time course, he's looking at circa 50K in costs.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 10:55
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Depends if he self manages the training (Modular / 50k), or pays for a zero-to-hero course (Integrated / 90k).

The other 30k is if he has to pay for his own type rating on something big.

I agree about the intense 18 months bit, and also "ex military" and "ex military qualified pilot" are not the same thing. I too am the former, but not the latter - I do fly professionally (part time), and do make use of aspects of what the RAF taught me, but am not in the same place as somebody who has/had the right to wear RAF wings in some significant ways.

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Old 1st Jun 2022, 13:01
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Originally Posted by lilmissre View Post
....- they have told him that he can be captain in 5 yrs and that from start to finish 18 months of training and he can get his cpl. He was also told by one of his friends that he can choose short on medium haul flights which allow more work life balance as they'll typically be 4 on 4 off or vice versa, or fly in one day and be home in the evening.

....

We were thinking of moving in together, getting married etc but I'm concerned this might put a pause on everything, which I can handle, so long as he can get the captain job he says he'll get.
-Five years to get captain from a PPL is extremely optimistic, and also subject to factors not under his control (industry, pandemics, downturns etc etc). Be very wary if you're pinning your life happiness on this.

-Unless you are very lucky, work life balance in aviation is skewed very much towards work, especially on shift work. 4 on 4 off sounds great, until you get a run of 3am starts, then 3pm starts, and so on.

-"choose" short on medium flights? probably be a case of getting any job you can. It's much more likely you will have to move for this job.

-At 43, the time taken to make back your investment is much reduced, and whilst airlines should not discriminate on age, does make it harder to get that first job.

-There are other jobs in aviation that are much more fun and rewarding, with a good work life balance, but they are elusive, and often do not pay nearly as well as the coveted boeing/airbus gig. Consider looking outside the box at instruction, paradropping, light GA, etc.

-if he's really missing the flying, and contemplating spending up to 100k on flying, why not renew the PPL, buy a share, and enjoy flying using that 100k, flying for fun?

-Do not bet the farm on this.

Last edited by hobbit1983; 1st Jun 2022 at 17:05.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 16:05
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People regret not doing things a whole lot more than they regret things they've done.

If he's got that itch, I'd recommend he scratch it, even at 43 he could get a job at 45 and have a 20 year career ahead of him.

It will certainly require moving house if not country and probably cost your relationship.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 16:29
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"Our son wants to be an airline pilot" had much discussion on here recently. Different ages, I know, but many of the points will be valid for young and older aspirants. Its under Prof Pilot Training.
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Old 1st Jun 2022, 17:30
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Break up with the lunatic if he believes even 50% of that storyline is actually within his reach.

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Old 1st Jun 2022, 23:46
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Sorry to sound negative:

He has been told by friends he knows who are QFI or pilots that he'll get snapped up for work as he is ex military-
But not actually a military pilot ?

they have told him that he can be captain in 5 yrs
Highly unlikely.

that from start to finish 18 months of training and he can get his cpl.
Yes, and an ATPL actually, but only if on a full-time integrated course costing ~ 100k. Note, this only gets an ATPL licence. He will need a type rating on top of that ~ 30k.

He was also told by one of his friends that he can choose short or medium haul flights
Highly unlikely.

......they'll typically be 4 on 4 off or vice versa, or fly in one day and be home in the evening.
Unlikely. Or set off in the evening and get home at 0600 the next morning.

For what it's worth, I think 43 is pushing it for a novice pilot. Airlines are not allowed to be ageist, but trust me, they find ways of getting round that.

You might have to move country, as someone said. At this age, you might be thinking about starting a family. If he starts flying, this might never happen because you will be too old by the time he has got through the training. The massive outlay of money required for the training might prevent you buying a house or paying for a family. He will be stressed during all the training and all the other hoops to jump through, so getting married and starting a family will likely be compromised.

The training is very hard and intensive work. You will hardly see him for several years. Driving to a simulator at 0200 in the morning for a 4 hour session, repeated the next day. He might not be up to the grade of ATPL, but he won't get back the money already spent.

If he gets through all that, and then manages to get a job offer, and then manages to pass all the hoops they put in the way, the flying initially might be in quite sh*tty conditions. And at his age, will he be able to take commands from a much younger Captain? You will not see him at weekends or bank holidays, or Christmas.


Flying is not what it used to be. It is a hard slog now, for very few rewards. It will put a huge strain on your relationship - if not break it. He will not have time to work while he is training.

He MUST pass a Class 1 medical before going any further. I would then advise some sort of competency test in a simulator before committing to any huge outlay of money.


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