Frequently Asked Questions
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Flight School Wingman understands that it can be a daunting prospect when looking to start out in the quest to become an airline pilot. That’s why, in addition to this FAQ page, we have also created a knowledge base of resources for you to explore, packed full of useful resources and inspiration.
If you still have questions that need answering, then we recommend you head on over to this page for more guidance and support.
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Becoming a pilot is a huge investment, both mentally and financially. The best advice Flight Deck Wingman can give you, is to research very carefully what it means to be a pilot in this day and age. You will find a wealth of information and debate on the internet, and it might also be worth looking at the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), or other similar airline associations to get an impression of what they think the industry is like.
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Try to speak to as many pilots as you can in different companies, and ask them for their honest and frank opinion on what they feel about the company they work for, and the industry in general. You might be surprised to hear that many pilots these days would not recommend it as a profession for their children. If after doing all that you decide that it really is for you, then it’s time to start the hard work. The topic is unfortunately too large to cover in this frequently asked questions section, but plenty of information is out there, and at Flight Deck Wingman we will always do our best to answer any general queries or questions you might have about the industry. We all started somewhere! Get in touch with us today.
Well that is certainly the public perception! It is true to say that being a pilot can pay for a good lifestyle and provide for the future. However, this very much depends on the company and the contract that you are employed on. You would be amazed how salaries and associated benefits can vary between companies-sometimes things are not quite as they seem! You must also remember that if you are starting out as a new pilot, you will probably have very large debts to repay from your training costs (often around 100,000 pounds). Check out this link which gives some indication of salaries and terms within some airlines.
If you’re considering a career as a pilot, then this is certainly something that you should consider. Being an airline pilot is a hugely rewarding profession, that can bring a lifetime of challenges and exciting career progression. However, this is not your average 9 to 5 job! You will work long, disruptive hours, often losing sleep and feeling tired. You will spend time away from family and friends when there is perhaps there is an important occasion to attend. You will most likely have little control over your working routine, often only knowing what you’re doing one month in advance. Weekends can be hard to achieve, as can getting time off during school holidays. Pay and terms and conditions can also vary hugely between airlines, with some airlines only offering schemes such as pay to fly, along with no pension or loss of licence benefits You are only ever one simulator check, or one medical away from losing your licence, and with it your job. Airlines are also largely affected by the economy and job security can sometimes be a concern. It’s true that the glory days of the airline pilot might be gone, but even with all these downsides, if it is something that you genuinely want to do, then Flight Deck Wingman is sure that you will have a most rewarding, enjoyable and successful career.
The impact of COVID-19 upon the airline industry has been large and it is likely to be a challenging recruitment market for some time. However, as quickly as things become challenging, they can also recover. There will be pent up demand for air travel and when the market does recover, it is likely to be a strong recovery. Keep an eye out on the Flight Deck Wingman Facebook page, our linkedin page and our instagram page where the latest job offers and recruitment taking place will be posted. Please “like” and “share” the page with your friends!
It is an unfortunate scenario, but any sponsorship programmes are usually heavily oversubscribed. For those of you considering paying for your own licences, then this is not a decision to be taken lightly. You may spend tens of thousands of pounds chasing your dream, only to find that there is no job at the end of it. Some traditional avenues such as flying instructing once you have gained your commercial pilots licence seem less popular these days, with everybody expecting to go straight into the big airline job. Don’t discount these options though, they will give you an invaluable toolset when you do you have the experience requirements for a larger airline job, and they keep you in current flying practice while you wait. Flight Deck Wingman is here to support all of you, whether it’s through a general query, or to give you the very best chance of securing sponsorship deal. Contact us today to see how your wingman can help!
Being a flying instructor used to be a well trodden path for aspiring airline pilots. These days with cadetship programmes like the generation easyJet MPL and other sponsorship programmes, the chances of getting an airline job from the beginning are much higher, but the flying instructor route should never be discounted. If you haven’t managed to find your dream airline job yet, then what better way to keep your skills honed and earn some money at the same time. You will also be meeting plenty of other pilots with which to network and gain knowledge and experience. Flight Deck Wingman has helped such pilots. Some have been instructing or flying tow planes for gliding clubs for example, and through assistance from Flight Deck Wingman, we have successfully got them to the assessment stage of airline recruitment drives. Contact us today and let’s get started!
Many pilots have found themselves in this position at some point or another, whether it’s at the start of their aviation career, or perhaps things have taken a downturn and they found themselves out of a flying job. Flight Deck Wingman understands that this can be a very frustrating time for many aspiring airline pilots, but there are things that you can do to improve your chances of getting that flying job when the market conditions improve, or your experience level dictates that you can apply to an airline. We have met plenty of pilots that were once cabin crew, or aircraft dispatchers for example. These types of roles are so closely linked to that of being an airline pilot, that not only will they improve your general knowledge of the aviation industry when you come to get your first flying job, but they show real motivation and a passion for the profession when it comes to an interview, or completing an application form etc. Not only that, but you are likely to meet pilots in your day-to-day role, and that’s a great way to network. Check out some airlines career pages for roles e.g. Jet2.com, TUI, British Airways etc…
The airline industry is constantly under financial pressure, with huge competition from a multitude of different carriers. Due to the unpredictable nature of the airline industry, airlines will always seek to reduce costs where possible. Historically, you would have joined an airline on a full-time contract with all the benefits that that is likely to include, such as a pension, health care, and death in service benefits. Unfortunately in more recent years, many companies do not offer full-time contracts in the early stages of your career. Some companies utilise schemes that have come to be known as “pay to fly”. This means that you effectively pay to work for that airline for a period of time, for example until you have 200 hours on type or similar. This is a practice that BALPA have been campaigning against for some time now, but unfortunately it is still very much prevalent. Other contracts include “zero hours” contracts, which mean that you are only getting paid when you go to work. Now this is great if you are working lots of hours and making some money. The problem comes when you are perhaps ill or unable to work for other reasons, and then you have no form of income. They are not necessarily a bad thing if you are looking to start out in the industry, but you should be aware of how they differ from a full-time contract.
This is the scheme that many airlines still choose to operate. In basic terms, when you join the company you start at the very bottom of the seniority list. As people retire, or as people join below you, you move up the list. There are several benefits and several downsides to this system. Such systems often form the basis of a large degree of debate within the pilot community! The main upsides to the seniority system are that as you progress, you generally gain some benefits from your seniority, whether it be getting the lines of work that you bid for so as to create a magical roster, better job security, or more pay for example. The downsides to a seniority system are that if there is no expansion, or there are a large amount of pilots above you that are not intending to retire any time soon, then you will not progress up the seniority list and gain its benefits. More importantly, should the company fall on hard times, those at the bottom of the seniority list will unfortunately be the first to leave the business should it need to make redundancies.
Every airline will require you to apply for a Criminal Records Check (CRC) also known as a Disclosure Baring Service Certificate (DBSC). If you have a previous or current criminal conviction, then you can seek more information on whether this might be an issue for your application here.
Inexperienced pilots can expect to start by flying short haul operations, where as those with more hours or experience in other airlines are more likely to gain a long haul position. Generally speaking, as a long haul pilot you don’t go to work on as many days as you do on short-haul. This might make it sound like it’s not as tiring, and to a large degree this may be true depending on the airline you are working for. However, if you enjoy time at home with your family and friends, or if you don’t cope with jetlag and not sleeping very well, then this may not be the lifestyle for you. If you enjoy handling the aircraft, then don’t expect to get as much hands on flying on long haul as you might expect. It is not uncommon for pilots to only complete one landing every 45 days! That said, long haul offers exciting opportunities to see parts of the world that you may never have never seen before, and spend time socialising with your colleagues down route.
Short haul is obviously very different to the long haul operation. As an inexperienced pilot, you can expect to work as a short haul pilot first. Don’t be dismayed though, short haul offers several benefits over the long haul lifestyle. For example, you will get much more flying, and if you are trying to build experience then that is exactly what you need. You are unlikely to spend as much time away from home, which might appeal to those of you with young families or those of you that just enjoy your time at home. On the downside, you can expect to work many more days than long haul pilots tend to do, and often with a lot of early starts or variable shift patterns. This can make the short haul lifestyle very fatiguing. If you are lucky enough to have the choice between both long haul or short haul flying, then my advice is to speak to pilots flying short haul, and those flying long haul, and ask them what their honest views on it are. If you are joining a company where both types of operation are available, then make your decision wisely-it will be too late to change your mind once you have started the type rating.
This is a very difficult one to answer, and it really comes down to personal choice and what is available in terms of the job market. Many companies still run seniority based systems, where time to command is purely based on your number – the more senior you are, the more likely you are to get a command. Other companies like Jet2.com don’t operate a seniority system for command, and will award commands on merit once you have the minimum amount of experience that they require for their insurers. Job security and lifestyle are usually the most important factors for most pilots, but of course everybody has their own individual motives and ambitions.
Flight School Wingman will train you in our proven “Techniques Not Tip Offs” to shine when it comes to any Flight School or airline sponsorship/scholarship assessment process. Our industry leading Flight School Assessment Preparation Courses and online training will help you shine during any assessment process. You can learn more and book your service here.
Yes, absolutely. Ensuring your licence and ratings are up-to-date is hugely important, so that when a job comes up that matches your experience, you are ready to go. Remember, this all costs money, so ensure that on completion of your training, you have funds available to keep everything valid and stay in current flying practice!
This is a difficult one to answer, as those pilots that have done just this and got jobs as a result, would say that it is exactly why they got that job. There are plenty of pilots have gone down this route, utilising companies that are very happy to take your money in order to gain a type rating. The problem comes when most of the airlines require hours on type, and not just the type rating. There is no point in having the type rating if you don’t have the hours on type that the airline is looking for. Also, by completing a type rating at huge expense, you are only type rated on that particular type of aircraft. If a new job appears that is on a different type of aircraft, then it is highly likely that your investment in this type rating will have been less than useful. Most airlines these days will put you through type rating when you join the company anyway. Some will charge you for this, and it will be deducted from your salary over the coming years. Some airlines won’t charge you for your type rating, so it’s definitely worth checking this out when applying for different companies. Also bear in mind that if the airline has paid for your type rating, you may very well find that you are bonded to that airline ie. If you leave that airline within the bonding period (usually around three years), then you will be required to repay the type rating.
All airlines will require you to have an MCC qualification – it’s a mandated requirement. However, a JOC or APS course may not be mandated. These types of course are a fairly recent evolution and there are plenty of companies prepared to take your money, but as to whether it improves your chances of gaining that job or not, then that is probably open to interpretation. Do not feel pressured into completing the more expensive APS course – do your research! If you want to discuss this, the you might like to consider booking a Career Support Guidance Call here.