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-   -   The perpetual 'Am I too old?' thread (https://www.pprune.org/professional-pilot-training-includes-ground-studies/420877-perpetual-am-i-too-old-thread.html)

redsnail 12th Aug 2012 11:42

What is your goal?
If you're looking at the airlines in Australia, then sadly, yes, you're probably too old.
Instructing, no, not too old but can you make a living out of it?

smiling monkey 12th Aug 2012 12:04

There was an instructor in Melbourne who started to learn to fly the day after he retired as a school principal at age 55. He went on to have a long career until he could no longer renew his medical at 70 and unfortunately died of cancer at 71. That's 15 years that he was a career instructor. I also know of a few people who got in to regional airlines in their late 40's.

Greenlights 13th Aug 2012 12:15

You want to fly as professional pilot but, instructor or airline ?

instructor, not too old...

airline, in theory, not too old, but in practice, yes for sure... :bored:

Dogfactory 13th Aug 2012 20:57

I believe it's all down to who you know (and where you are absed). If the sky is gonna bless you with one of those once-in-a-lifetime meeting with "someone", then you can make it. It's the same hope I have, starting at 43 with no other options in life than aviation. So I cross fingers for both of us :}

CaptKate 14th Aug 2012 05:00

Not too old
Airlines usually have a cut-off age for hiring (about 55), but there are plenty of other jobs out there with no age limit - flight instructor, search and rescue, corporate and charter, forestry, law enforcement, immigration. The most important thing is passing the medical exam.

Genghis the Engineer 14th Aug 2012 08:34

In other words, the more interesting flying jobs, if not necessarily the best paid.

Personally, given a free range of full time pilot jobs, airline would be pretty near the bottom. Test would be up the top, probably followed by SAR, instructor and fishery patrol.


FANS 14th Aug 2012 11:35

The question is - do you want to be a FI? So many do (did?) it as a stepping stone and can't stand the job...

KAG 15th Aug 2012 06:56

Nowadays age is something a bit more flexible than before...

Who has never met somebody who looks 30 while he is 45?

Some people at 45 are extremely smart, have a lot of energy, are very healthy, and honestly there is nothing much they couldn't do/learn.
When in addition life gave the same ones some money, and some social skills (how to network, how to pass an interview...), that's very hard to tell them their age is an obstacle, when this is already a psychologic obstacle, not necessarily a real one.

Some people at 45 are already old, unefficient, but those were probabely always like that... Sorry to be a bit harsh.

My very point is this one: it depends on the individual! Not really on the age.
Some are even better at 40 than at 20, yes it does exist. It means some people actually could start a pilot career at 40, when they would have never been able in their 20s...

Here are my rules for aviation and age:

-the younger the better, don't try to get some back up plan that would postpone your career by 5 years, useless! You still can get you back up plan later if something goes wrong with aviation (maybe even be financed for that!), otherwise why calling it a back up plan!?
-When older, there is no real age limit we can give, it all depends on the individual, some are more than able to start any kind of career in there 40s (especially if they are ready to move a bit around the world), some are not.
-Don't put your familly in financial danger.
-Don't build some psychologic obstacles, age itself shouldn't be a barrier.
-Motivation and skills are usually more important than age, and are not necessarily linked bellow 50 (well, after 77, that's an other story if you believe the neuropsychologists...).

Some numbers that can help you:
-the average age when a Nobel prize scientist did his most important work in his life is 48 years old.
-I personaly know somebody who got his first airline job at 45, on wide body.
-My oldest student (when I was flight instructor) was 55, and I sent him solo within a very normal time experience.

When it is true, in theory, that you are more able and smarter when younger, it is also true that some individuals are strong self improvers, and are actually more efficient when a bit older than when they were younger.

Now about the industry hiring age policy: there is no rules. Some would set an age limit, other companies wouldn't, some will set limits around 45, everything is possible, but you will always find a company able to hire you if you have the good profil, and obviously if the airline is hiring.
Most flight schools have no age limit to hire instructors.
Think about ultra lights aswell, where sometimes the salary is better than PPL instructors...

That being said, whatever you age, it remains a tricky industry.
Right now, if you are able to move around, it doesn't look that bad. Even though you can find thousands and thousands jobless pilots (wannabes and experienced), there is still some possible ways. Australia is hiring, Canada too, a bit less maybe, NZ is hiring, Asia is hiring, middle east, Africa aswell is hiring its share of bush pilots, whatever we can say about it. Some other places too.
Western Europe and US are hiring very little with a lot of pilots in furlough.

Like you see, it is more an industry problem than an age issue.

The way I see it, in addition, is that around 2015-2020 oil will be so expensive that low cost aviation will start to stop its activity, and the world economy will have to face a bigger economy crisis that the one we are experiencing now.
Further more, airplanes in the future won't need pilots to fly, whatever we can say about it, this time will come, sooner or later. Could be sooner than most people might think... Bush aviation however, will still need pilots, but it would make this career a dying one.

Genghis the Engineer 15th Aug 2012 11:28

Very well said KAG, I agree with every word.


bikerwo 5th Sep 2012 11:27

Is a new career in aviation possible or a dream aged 40+
Hi all,

I've recently taken a couple of flying lessons and have caught the flying bug. I'd love to pursue a career as a pilot but have a few concerns. I am currently a soldier coming to the end of my colour service and so will have a pension to fall back on as well as a substantial lump sum to help towards costs of gaining a fATPL. I am concerned that after serving 22 years to earn this lump sum I may end up using it to gain a licence with little or no chance of gaining gainful employment as a pilot at the end.

Is my age (40) likely to hamper my chances of employment? Do airlines of other flight companies like taking on ex service personel? and are there any jobs out there???? having read a few threads on the subject it doesn't look good.

Any advice and guidance will be greatly appreciated.:ok:

B2N2 5th Sep 2012 19:12

Depends, where would you live and where would you want to work?

bikerwo 5th Sep 2012 19:21

I live in South east England, and would hope to work around London.

blueskiesup 5th Sep 2012 19:54

Hi Bikerwo,

Being 40+ shouldn't hinder you too much,I got my break at 38 with a TP company. I'm still with them, but in the left hand seat.

I'm also ex services and the former chief pilot was ex RAF and liked the forces guys.

Our company would like to hire more older guys due to them sticking around longer than the younger ones who have an eye on the big shiney jets.

There's definately movemment in the profession at the moment, just have a think of who you expect to fly for.

Dan the weegie 5th Sep 2012 20:21

Our company would like to hire more older guys due to them sticking around longer than the younger ones who have an eye on the big shiney jets.
Finally someone has caught on to the fact that the over 35s are worth hiring :).

I started training at 32 and got my break at 35/36 in a TP company in Europe, so I did get a job and I do love it. The downside is I'm not at home as much as I'd like, the exchange rate is annoying. I can't afford to be too picky as I'm now past the point where some airlines start to look at your age in a negative light. You would have more options open to you if you were younger, you'll be about 42 or 43 by the time you're ready to get a job and it's a massive gamble.

The other thing to remember is despite the fact that you dont feel any different to what you did when you were 20 your ability to learn is somewhat diminished so it's going to take longer and with a fair bit more work than the young ones take to get through it. More expense to consider and 21 year olds sitting in your brush up class telling you how easy everything is does not stop being annoying.

That in mind, you would still be able to get a job, but you wont be able to be too picky about it and you may have to accept working a distance from home on a commuting contract.

bikerwo 5th Sep 2012 21:00

Thanks, finally a bit of positive news, all I've read to date is doom and gloom.

Excuse the stupid question but what is tp?

taxistaxing 5th Sep 2012 21:41

It means a turbo prop as opposed to jet aircraft.

bikerwo 5th Sep 2012 21:57

Hi blueskisup,

Not that it's all about the money, but what sort of annual wage would I be looking at starting with a TP company?

Oh and thanks all for the replies.

r1flyguy35 6th Sep 2012 06:39

Just a quick Q.

Why you looking at TP & possible jets?

I suggest you could start with even going the instructor route if you just like flying!

You need to see what your aims are look at your options, it may give posters on here more scope to answer your questions

If its purely TP's or jets, good luck anyway.

CAT3C AUTOLAND 6th Sep 2012 06:45


Firstly welcome to the world of aviation and welcome to PPRUNE.

It is not unheard of to get a job at 40 plus. As has been mentioned, it does narrow down your options in the jobs that will be available to you when you finish your licences. There are airlines around, as said, typically TP operators that will look favourably on more mature pilots. I have known a couple of guys to get jobs with Biz jet operators too. I am sure you have done more research, but in this game its all about timing and getting to know the right people. Of course flying jets will be a little more tricky, purely because in this day and age you will need experience before you are eligible to apply for those types of jobs.

As an First Officer on a TP and depending on the airline you can typically earn anything from around 23K upwards, Captains will earn 40K plus.

All the best with it.

Dan the weegie 6th Sep 2012 08:34

Bikerwo, you'll be looking at around 20-25k in the first three or four years. The progression to Captain can be quite fast in these wee airlines so you could expect a reasonable 40-60k depending on what you're flying but your long term earning potential will not rise much above that.

It's not all smiles though but I can only go based on my own experience as an elderly FO (hah!)

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