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RAF to Commercial

Old 6th Mar 2019, 19:30
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: UK
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RAF to Commercial

Evening Gents,

Long time stalker here and itís finally time I thought Iíd post on here.
Iím 39 years of age, and considered a ďyoungĒ and junior pilot within the RAF. Iíve served for 15 years now and fulfilled a childhood dream but I think itís time for me to finally move on, and Iím contemplating ďsigning offĒ.
Iíve gone from the mighty heights of the Beech Texan, Grob Tutor and T2 Hawk in training, to winning hearts and minds with the GR4, before moving onto the right seat on the E-3D where I am currently, and looks like I will be stuck for the foreseeable future.
I get that this isnít the 80ís and 90ís where progression from RAF to civvy street was relatively (used loosely) straight forward.
At the ripe old age of 39 I get that in civvy terms, Iím fairly old, and will be joining the bottom of seniority with young lads and lasses probably half my age.

With a young family, leaving the military to join the well-trodden path to Commercial aviation is quite daunting and venturing into the somewhat unknown, but itís something I am incredibly passionate for.
The cost of earning my ATPL, even with my ďLearning CreditsĒ still has a significant cost associated to it, at my age, is this a worthwhile investment? Is the demand there for old boys like me to take the seat that could be given to a 20 year old straight out of CTC?

Not only that, i donít know how I feel about signing off (1 year notice period) without having signed on the dotted line with somebody, which I understand would be difficult without an ATPL, so Iím not guaranteed any income when I leave the gates for the last time.

Iím going to stop now before I end up rambling nonsense, but any advice would be very much appreciated, of course the tíinternet isnít really coming up with much apart from 14 year olds asking if they do 4 years in the RAF will they be able to fly a 747 for BA after, and the resettlement folks here arenít exactly the most helpful on the planet.

Thanks in advance
knockknock is offline  
Old 6th Mar 2019, 22:00
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: uk
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There’s loads of recruitment. Plenty leave the RAF at your age and older and make a good second career in commercial aviation ( I left at 41 and am now TRE). If you decide to leave get a licence ASAP because you can’t really apply for a job without one. Is it a good investment? I would say so - unless you have some other money earning string to your bow it’s hard to imagine an easier career transition to a well paid future.

Ps. May sound ridiculous but before going down this road recommend getting the initial Class 1medical sorted

good luck
deltahotel is online now  
Old 6th Mar 2019, 23:26
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: London
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I would say you have a fantastic future ahead of you. Someone as qualified as you shouldn't have any problem getting into BA (or similar, other options are available). BA will probably bite your hand off though.

I wish you the very best and hope to fly with you soon!
Northern Monkey is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 07:53
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
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Not only that, i donít know how I feel about signing off (1 year notice period) without having signed on the dotted line with somebody, which I understand would be difficult without an ATPL, so Iím not guaranteed any income when I leave the gates for the last time.
What you must bear in mind is the simple fact ďNo licence, no jobĒ. Obtaining one must be your first priority. Itís all a bit of a gamble and only you will be able to assess the risk and odds of it paying off. The upside is that for most of us it does, but there are some that donít make the transition for various reasons.

If if you decide to jump then you must be single minded about it and be prepared to be selfish in pursuit of your aims. Itís your long term future and post 38 youíll only really have one chance.

I did it and and never regretted it, good luck.

Yellow Sun is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 08:11
  #5 (permalink)  
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As YS said "no licence, no job"...many of us over the years made the leap to "sign" off and work out the year whilst doing the exams and yes there is no getting away from the fact that it is a gamble.

At the ripe old age of 39 I get that in civvy terms, I’m fairly old, and will be joining the bottom of seniority with young lads and lasses probably half my age.
That can be a big hole in some DEPs mental model, so at least you are aware of that....and it certainly something to be very aware of if your ultimate aim is to fly Left seat Longhaul at at least one UK airline.

Good Luck..
wiggy is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 08:32
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Is the demand there for old boys like me to take the seat that could be given to a 20 year old straight out of CTC?
It really depends on the airline. Some rightly value mature adults with life experience and a broad range of backgrounds in the airline, some see them as a training risk, not a blank sheet of paper and with too much baggage. Some have an unofficial policy of not hiring anyone over the age of thirty. Do your research to find the viable targets.
Porto Pete is online now  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 08:53
  #7 (permalink)  
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KnockOnock. Having made the switch, have to say with the way things are going, you will probably regret sticking around, unless the military is still doing something for you On a personal level.

Its an an uphill slog once you decide to take the plunge-you get little allowance these days for military flying and the lowest point for me was revising for 7 ground school exams whilst busy at work and with a 6 month old at home. It’s not easy.

What did did I get in return? Employment with a company that treats my skills as a profession, rather than seeing it as “what we do” (unlike military doctors, dentists and vicars...) . Recognition of that in pay, terms and conditions. A stable roster, an immediate significant pay rise, even as an FO joiner. Mutual respect from everone I have met - there are very few laggards I have met so far in commercial aviation. So forget those arguments at the armoury or down at PSF with some snot nosed corporal that spends more time in the gym than at their primary role. No deployments. Oh, and no risk of getting sent to Lossiemouth to fly the P8 as a 1 Group multis mate. You will get your own pension pot and with some companies, really good staff trave perks. By not taking your pension, you are in effect giving yourself an 8k-10k pay cut, assuming you have managed to hit IPP.

Depending on hours and heavy time, you may need to do time shorthaul, that may be a preference anyway - however that may work with Jet2/ EasyJet if you wish to stick Lincolnshire/Stamford way.

As as I say, if there is something you have still to achieve operationally that you will regret for a lifetime, stick around. If you want to have a late push and be up all night writing appraisals, you could go with that. MFTS once it is sorted out will provide a potential Avenue - I think they will have to do something about the pay offer to make it competitive at some stage.

there are plenty around whom have made the move. I will also PM you some details of an individual who can talk you through each step and provides assistance with the training and recruitment processes if you like. There are differences, it’s difficult dropping mil life after 16 years, particularly behaviours, but like anything, it will come with time!
VinRouge is online now  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 09:33
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: uk
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itís all been said in the above posts. Licence gaining is just a ballsaching slog but you just have to prioritise it and do it.

Good decisions on in my life - joining the RAF, taking spec aircrew at 38, leaving at 41!

have a really good think about the aviation you would like to do once out.

Again - good luck

deltahotel is online now  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 10:50
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: England
Posts: 294
I left from the FJ fleet at 41, had a great 22 years so far with one of the charters. I was lucky in that the market was just on the up. Right now, no one is sure what is around the corner and I’m not referring just to Brexit.
Capt Scribble is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 12:48
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It's always a bit of a lottery deciding when to leave the RAF. The airline business is either in boom or bust mode, and I'm not quite sure which mode it is in at the moment. Having said that, ex-RAF chaps of your age are getting jobs as there are some airlines that value experience rather than just taking cadets. You may consider yourself old, but in most airlines (i.e. non BA) your flying hours will mean that you will reach the hours threshold for being considered for command far sooner than the cadets - assuming the market stays in boom mode. If I'd taken the PC rather than leaving after 12 years, the job market and my career progression would have been totally different, and I would have been in the RHS for 10+ years. The grass isn't always greener, so keep on researching.

I'm sure there must be some 'well-trodden path' to an ATPL from the E-3D, it was certainly so on VC10/Tristar/Voyager - ATPL notes etc were 'recycled' between mates and 'top tips' passed on from one fresh ATPL holder to the next candidate. Or is it considered a faux pas to discuss this these days?

As a counterpoint, a contemporary of mine (decorated FJ) decided not to continue with flying and is now a manager in a global company. He gets to see his family a lot.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
L1011effoh is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 14:09
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Plenty of people have come to Jet2 from the military. They've even actively recruited from the RAF in recent years. You'd need an ATPL first though.
Career Search
Flying Wild is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 14:36
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Wishing you all the best, and as others have said you are not too old. I left at 45 (ex C130) and managed to get a job starting just before my resettlement leave finished. I have to say though the job market has its ups and downs, I had 6 separate applications going 8 months before my leave date and they all but one dried up. So it can be down to timing and luck.

Not sure if BA still do managed path, that has worked for many as a good way to transition.

Your experience is valued but it comes after having the correct type rating for the company, that is what i have found anyway.
JliderPilot is online now  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 16:26
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Uk
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Now would be the time ! Never seen recruitment like it with the usual provisos.

we have a bloke who left his European airforce at 39 off F16s and he like many others are slowly slogging their way up the seniority . I donít see your age is an issue.

There are certainly a few extra pro military airlines in the UK as well, for example Big airways and the up north one always seem to be .
Meester proach is online now  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 16:35
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Jet2, DHL, Virgin. Three companies who take ex military that spring straight to mind.

You could try Cobham Aviation on the Falcon if you want to be a civilian but still play military games. For something else a little different look to companies like 2 Excel Aviation at Doncaster, quite handy for Lincolnshire if your currently living near Waddington.

Last edited by Council Van; 7th Mar 2019 at 16:50.
Council Van is offline  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 17:05
  #15 (permalink)  
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I would say, 'Go for it'. We trained plenty of ex-sevice pilots and, almost without exception, they were excellent.
Bergerie1 is online now  
Old 7th Mar 2019, 19:04
  #16 (permalink)  
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KK! " Who is there?"

Good timing Sir!
Industry need mature pilots with experience.
I am going to go at this with no overparticular structure. ( Much like the civil side of aviation)

First a few UK large companies should pick You up.
BUT if not , start with a trip this June to Paris Airshow with a CV in Your pocket.
( What I did in 1987, the rest is history!)
As for the ATPL it is a walk in the park , question bank with multiple choice.
I did Canadian in 1990 in 3 months ,Norwegian D ( ATPL in 1995 in 10 months while working and commuting for classes in Oslo)
And did FAA ATP in 3 days when in Glasgow.( Multiple ,3 answers, one ridicules 75%)
About FAA:
Why not do a FAA ATP on a B707 , quick ,cheap, but maybe not so useful!?

I trained a few dozen Dutch F16 chaps in A320 sim in AMS some time ago, but You should be able to get that signed off as You are indeed doing the worlds most massive Multicrew and CRM as we speak.
If You have to go the Loco way , insist on command! Nothing to it. Orange is the preferred color.
Find a studdybuddy for the ATPL in the squadron or the local Flying club and voila, that is a tick in the Box.
And go to Aviation Medica in Stansted and get a medical.

Progress Report here every 3 months!!

Nothing to it!

Kind Regards
Cpt Blue

BluSdUp is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2019, 07:29
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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Have you been drinking ?

Ē Insist on command ď. I hope thatís tongue in cheek.
Meester proach is online now  
Old 11th Mar 2019, 08:37
  #18 (permalink)  
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
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Location: Derbyshire, England.
Posts: 4,042
” Insist on command “.
That is not good advice. Every so often there is a 'window of opportunity' in the civil world for direct entry captains, usually with a rapidly expanding airline, otherwise most operators will want to have a look at you as an FO first. Coming from a multi crew position is an advantage though, some of the ex military pure FJ jocks I came across had initial difficulty accepting the multi crew ethos. With the ever increasing influx to the industry of 'Pay2Fly', very low hours and experience youngsters, to most operators your level of experience will be much appreciated.
parabellum is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2019, 17:46
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I left the RAF in 1998 under the voluntary redundancy scheme due to the ďOptions for changeĒ policy. I was neither Aircrew or Officer however I had previously applied (unsuccessfully) for Aircrew selection. Taking redundancy gave me the opportunity to become a commercial pilot in civvy street and after a long and very informative chat with a Sqn Ldr Tornado Pilot at Bruggen I followed his advice and took the modular route to gaining a CPL/IR. My present employer is actively recruiting in line with its current expansion plans and takes new pilots from all backgrounds with no hang ups about which route was taken to gain your license. My only advice is not to make the mistake as I did of only beginning my training once Iíd left the RAF. Try and do as much whilst you are still employed and in receipt of a regular wage including using the resettlement system to assist you as much as pos.
Best of luck.
captbod is online now  
Old 11th Mar 2019, 21:19
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2001
Location: uk
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First and foremost, get your ATPL utilising whatever concessions the CAA are granting these days. My licence and IR cost me less than a grand but that was a long long time ago ! No point making an application without a licence.

Work out in your mind where you want to start and where you want to finish - they may not be the same.

Multi-sector LoCo or long dark nights on longhaul - whats your preference ?

Do you want time at home or time away ?

'Never move for an airline' is a well known saying !

Ask yourself some serious questions about why you want to leave - you would not be the first to leave simply because your
mates are doing the same.

Military and Commercial flying is very different - some things you will greatly miss, other things perhaps not !

Timing is everything. A good decision can see an early Command, a bad one can cost you ten to fifteen years in the rhs.

Wives and partners have a tendancy to tell you what you want to hear and not what they really think - talk it through. I cannot stress this point too strongly.

Good luck in whatever you decide !
beamer is offline  

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