Becoming an airline pilot

My personal advice if you want to become an airline pilot. 

One of the most frequent questions I get through my Instagram account @pilotmaria is “What can I do to become an airline pilot”

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I love that there is such an interest in this profession and I wish I could answer each and everyone of you individually but unfortunately time is limited, so I put together this blog post and hope it will answer as many of you as possible.

First of all, use an online search tool and find where the closes flight club or school is to you. Normally every smaller airport has a flight club located with one or more smaller single airplanes such as a Cessna 172 or a Piper 28. Contact them and ask if you can come and visit. Sometimes they even have “open day” days where anyone can visit, ask questions and maybe even go for a test flight. If not ask if a member can take you flying for half an hour or so, it might cost you something between 50-150 Euro depending on aircraft and what fees they have. Comparing to what the actual flight training will cost you it will definitely be worth it. Once you have tasted flight you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards- if this is true, you know aviation and flying is for you.

blue sky

Second step will be to find a clinic where they do Medical class 1 examinations. Without a medical class 1 you can not fly commercially, so I recommended to have it checked before you start applying for flight schools. Flight training is expensive it will cost you something between 50k to 150k Euros depending on school, country and what is included and what is not. Some of the more famous and more expensive schools can be worth checking out since sometimes they work closely with the airliners and will help you to get an interview.

Third step, you have to decide either you do an integrated or modular training. Basically integrated means that you do the whole training integrated from PPL till frozen ATPL. All at once and you normally pay all at once as well which can be a high sum to pay up front. Modular means that you do each step individually you start with PPL (Private Pilot License), ATPL theory (Airline Transport Pilot License), Multi engine, Instrument rating and CPL (Commercial Pilot License) and MCC (Multi Crew Cooperation) or in other order. Why I says ATPL theory and not CPL theory is just how I did it, you can read the CPL theory and then go for the ATPL theory. They are similar just that ATPL requires a little bit more knowledge. I already knew that I wanted to do the ATPL theory as it is often a requirement from the airliners. ATPL is the Captain’s theory and you have to have it to get your fourth stripe and be able to fly as a commander. 

With the modular training you pay as you get along. You pay for your PPL you finish your PPL then you go for the Instrument rating etc. If you during your training decides it is not for you or for any other reason you decide you do not want or can become a pilota you have only “lost” what you have paid so far.

spu dimond

I did all my flight training in Sweden and I had to finance it myself. When I decided I wanted to become a pilot I worked hard to save up for flight training. Hard work paid off and became reality and I am very happy to be where I am today flying 737NG around Europe. 

 

Many of you might be concerned that pilot will not be needed in the future having all these airplanes that fly themselves. Answer me this, would you fly on one of them? Aircraft’s are still being delivered from Boeing, Airbus and other companies. The list is long for airliners waiting for their aircraft’s, as long as aircraft’s are still being delivered we are still good to go, in my opinion. 

I hope it helps some of you. I know this post is similar to my previous one but I tried to narrow it down to more facts and clarify some more questions I get everyday.

 

Have a great day and keep flying!

X Maria #happylandings

58 thoughts on “Becoming an airline pilot

  1. Firstly congratulations. Am your biggest fan all the way from Tanzanian
    To be a pilot is my dream.
    I’ll follow your advice so to become 1 of the best pilots as you are

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Im an aspirant..to be a pilot is my kindergarten dream until now that Im 16, I love travelling, fascinated with aviation and aeronautics..coz of my dad who’s an aircraft mech. Well one of your biggest fan here 🙂 from PH with love

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    2. Thank you very much for give valuable information it’s will help me alot….myself I’m daya from India Nd I’m 18 years old I’ve one doubt can you plz clear it !?
      My question is after completion of cpl license we can apply for airlines job or else atpl is must and should inorder to get an job? And for doing atpl license we should any flying school again?? And do we get any education loan for this pilot training course?

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      1. Hi, you can fly commercially on a CPL but most (at least in Europe) airliners require you to have what is called a “frozen atpl” which basically means that you are flying on a CPL. When you have the hours required (1500) you can unfreeze your atpl. I still fly on a CPL but have the theory for my ATPL already done and can “unfreeze” it when it comes to my command 🙂 Why most companies require this is because when it gets to your command they don’t want to have to put you back in the class room to do you atpl theory but rather just do a check ride in the simulator to make sure you meet the flying requirements. It might work differently in different parts of the world. I can only speak for Easa requirements 🙂

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  2. Hey,
    iam Brian Gita .student of electrical engineering at makerere university Uganda .
    Have a strong passion for your proffession but i dint get the opportunity to train
    .My question is how long does it take for one to train and fly a plane like yours??

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      1. Hey even I am an Indian and I am deciding to opt the profession of civil aviation pilot, and I need you guidance…😊😊😊😊

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  3. Thank you for answer, I thought you didn’t see my DM on Instagram.
    I will become an A380’s pilot soon ;))
    Have a nice time Maria.

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  4. Hey!
    Im Eduardo from Paraguay (South America). First of all, there is not many aviation schools here, so if you want to become an airline pilot, you must leave the country. You must know many aviation schools around the world, there is one that you could recommend me? Regards,

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    1. I went to one called South Sweden School of Aeronautics in Sweden. They can even provide with accomodation during your training. The major schools here in Europe are CAE and Oxford aviation.

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  5. Hey!
    Right now I am a student of class 12 in India.
    I wanted to ask like you are 737 pilot so after doing ATPL Theory you also did special course for a particular plane.. For eg. You are flying a 737 so you did an extra course for it or it was included in ATPL??

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      1. Okay….
        So that is included in MCC??
        And is there certain age limit because I an planning to do it after my graduation..
        At that time I will be 22 years old

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  6. Hello! I am currently in an accelerated program in the states. I just received my instrument rating and am planing to have all of my ratings by the beggining of September. In the states, the most abundent way to gain experience (and hours) after finishing school is to become a flight instructor. Most airlines in the US require 500-1500 hours before you fly for them. What did you do to gain hours right after school and are there different hours requirements in Europe?

    Also, thanks for the fun Instagram account!
    -Kimberlee

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    1. Hi Kimberlee, in Europe we have a few airliners that will hire you with 200 hours. They see the benefits to be able to “form” their pilots with their SOP and procedures. Normally the type rating will be self sponsored. I am not sure what companies that are hiring right now as it comes and goes but I would recommend you have a look into and working permits I Europe. All the best and best of luck!

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  7. Hello maria im yr fan im from Hong Kong and I just have 14years old but I wanted to become a pilot already! I always look at yr post and I always imagine that one day I can become a pilot like u! I will work hard now for my future and I will read the books about airplanes and aviation when im free. I hope u will talk more about yr pilot life in the future 🙂

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  8. Hi, I just started following today at instagram and I’m happy to meet someone who worked hard to make her dreams come true I’m living in Spain and I would like to ask you: I want to work for Lufthansa what so you think, it’s better to take the ATPL course in a academy or should I study directly with Lufthansa ???.. thanks for your time and fly safe to home 😉

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    1. I guess if you get the chance to join Lufthansa training program I would take it, might save you 💲💲 and give you a chance to join the airline. I have no experience with Lufthansa at all so this is just me guessing.

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    2. I would apply for Lufthansa school and if denied apply to private schools to take your licence. I am not sure about Lufthansa hiring situation so would suggest you to contact then direct and see what their hiring plan looks like 😊😊

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  9. Hi, I am Aakarshan from India, I will be joining Cloud Dancer Aviation in Deland, Florida for my CPL training in September so what will you suggest me to do after my CPL should I build my hours or just take a job, can I get a job after a flight experience of 253 hours from school or I will have to do ATPL and then take a job.
    Thanks and regards.

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  10. everytime I take an airplane it’s the same story: I’m always afraid that the plane will crash down. So, for me, it’s incredible that exists people who wants to became a pilot : ))). Any suggestion for my fear?

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  11. Maria, in the first photo is that Mentour Pilot (on Youtube) in the left seat? As I think I heard he’s a RYR pilot as well.

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  12. Hi Maria, my name is Ellis and I’m fifteen. I live in Scotland and I am just about to start my national exams (standard grade). I was wondering if you had any flying experience before you did your qualifications to become a pilot and if so, what sort of thing? I have been looking a bit but can’t seem to find that much in my area. I was also wondering what subjects you took at school? Currently I am taking all three sciences (biology, chemistry and physics), maths, English, French and German at standard grade and I was just wondering what sort of subjects I should be taking to pursue my dream. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I think you are really inspirational and I love your Instagram feed!! Thank you so much,
    Ellis Grandison

    Like

  13. Hi Pilot Maria!

    My names Jasman and I’m 14 year olds from Canada. I’ve wanted to become an airline pilot since I was 10 years old. I realized I wanted to fly when my dad took me and family to this airline show. There we got to go for a ride on a few planes. I felt so happy and so amazed at everything that was happening in those 15 minutes. It was in that moment where I realized this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. You’ve inspired me so much to become an airline pilot. My father is my biggest support from my family. When I said that was what I wanted to become he gave me the biggest hug ever and told me that no matter what happens in my journey to become an airline pilot, he will support me and be there for me. I will work so hard to become an airline pilot and make myself and my father proud. Someday, I hope I’ll be able to personally thank you so being such a big inspiration in my life. Thank you:)

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  14. Hi Maria,
    My name is Ellis and I live in Scotland. I am currently 15 and my dream is to become a pilot. I was wondering if there was any specific flight experience (when you were young) you had before becoming a pilot and also what subjects you took in school to help with the flight training? I live your blog and Instagram feed and I think you are such an inspiration!!

    Like

  15. Your argument against pilotless airliners is pretty weak. The technology is already being heavily tested and will surely be rolled out in the coming years. Uber, Apple, Google, Tesla all have driverless cars or advanced autopilots in the pipeline, and the operation of an airliner empty space is much simpler than an automobile on the road. With swaths of low-ability pilots being quickly trained and sent to airlines in places like China and India, automation will have to increase as the pilots flying the plane will no longer have the ability to fly or make decisions. Pilotless or at least heavily automated will be the safer option. And what will being an “airline pilot” mean then? Probably something similar to what a train operator does today. Is that a job you want your young followers to have (while saddled with debt), when they have an opportunity to pursue STEM degrees or other gainful employment? I certainly wouldn’t want to do that, and frequently consider leaving airline flying because it’s already boring and easy. These people could have 40 year careers ahead of them. At least be realistic about the job.

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    1. Hi 🙂 I am fully aware that the technology is leading towards a pilotless flightdeck. But as long as Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturers keep rolling out new aircraft and have more on order we need someone to fly them. I would never deny what the future is going towards but I think, and this is me speculating no facts, just my words: That someone who’s flying today can enjoy their job in the skies till retirement. It’s just my thoughts 🙂 I am not sponsored by any flight school, cadet program or anything so I’m not trying to get young people to apply for pilot traning for that reason. I’m sorry for taking so long to reply and approve your comment, time has been a struggle lately and I am finally finding more time to prioritise what I enjoy doing. Have an amazing day, fly safe ☺️☺️

      Like

  16. Hi! My daughter is only 16 yet but really wants to be a pilot. Did you go straight to “pilot school” after gymnasiet (yes, she is Swedish 😄) or do you think that is too soon? She is taking up skydiving this summer and then her PPL. How Hard were the “stress handling tests” we have heard so much about? Love your Insta by the way!

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    1. Hej Lena 🙂 Det är en jätte bra idé för henne att börja med sitt ppl så hon kan känna efter om det är något hon skulle vilja ha som karriär 🙂 Stress testet är nog något nytt för jag hade inte något sådant. Jag satt ner med en psykolog och pratade och gjorde lite små övningar, det var mest trevligt tycker jag 😁😁

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  17. Hi Maria
    I´m from Germany and I want to start my flight training. I´m still thinking about the way which should I choose ; Modular or Integrated. I have a question how many hours did you have when you got your first Job because I see the most Airlines required to have an experience about 300 hours. How can i get so many hours The flying is so expensive and If I finish my flight training I should have about 200 hours. Is it inclusive as an experience or I need to do extra 300 hours after my flight training?
    Thanks for your answer and wish you always happy landings 🙂

    Like

  18. Hi Maria! I don’t know if it’s too late now to comment on this post but I am a very big fan of you!. And your blogs are so inspired. Im 17 from Asia and I’m so interested to become a pilot like you. I have a few questions to ask you and hope you don’t mind to answer.
    1. I am 17 and now I’m in the aviation school also I already passed class1 medical check but I wondering if my height is going to be a problem to get a job? ( I’m 5″4 ) or around 160cm
    2. So if I graduated I’d become a qualified pilot with CPL and I have heard so far that it would be hard to get a job as pilot (from flying hours are 200-300 ) is that true and how could you fix that?
    3. And last one I promise. What Airline do you currently working for ?

    Thanks Maria I hope you have a good time flying and be safe.

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  19. hey maria! ☺️
    i love hearing about your experiences!
    did you start the flight school right after graduating high school?
    i’m 17 and graduating in the next months. i really want to becone a pilot, but i’m not sure if i should start my training now.
    i’m just really curious how you did it. 🙈✈️

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  20. Hi Maria! My name is Fani and I’m still 14. I have a passion to become a pilot shortly after I saw yours Instagram account. It really inspiring. But many of my friends who say I’m not be able to be a pilot just because my posture is short and I;m not really good at Math, but I really in love with English. Will mean so much to me if you reply my comment and give me support. Thank you 🙂

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  21. Hi Maria!
    I wanted to know the struggle of having a job once finished training?
    Also, will there be pilots in the future?
    As more and more computers are replacing the work of a pilot!
    Is 33 too late to become an airline pilot?
    Hope you reply!
    Thanks in advance for your help 😉

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    1. Hi 🙂 I always say: as long as Boeing, Airbus and other companies are having aircrafts coming out from their factories we will still need pilots 😊😊 As for how long that will be I don’t know, but I don’t see myself being replaced by a computer as long as I have left of my career, but you never know. I don’t think it’s ever too late to make a career change in life, make sure you do your research before to see what the job market is like where you live, if you aren’t ready to move somewhere else. It’s an expensive education and I wouldn’t want to give you false hopes by saying that it was easy to get a job, it was the hardest thing I have ever have to do!

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      1. Okay!
        Thank you very much for the info!

        I mean how long it takes to be an airline pilot after training?
        How much it cost for an integrated atpl in Europe?
        For instance, how to get hired by Ryanair?
        Is the interview process difficult?
        I’ve heard that the aviation industry will go better and better?
        Also, I’ve heard about a pilot shortage, is it true?

        Hope you reply!

        Again and again thanks!

        Have a nice weekend by the way! 😊

        Like

      1. Thank you very much for your help and time ☺️

        Do you know Captain Peter ( mentour pilot ) ?

        Your instagram is amazing!

        See you soon by your side!

        Like

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