how to become a pilot

How To Become a Commercial Pilot - My 10 Tips To Suceed

“How to become a pilot?” Probably the most frequent question I’m getting asked throughout my social media channels and also in real life. I am here to inform you, so I am more than happy to answer you again and again. 

Dear Loyal Aviator, 

Welcome on board my blog. Besides my series “How I became a pilot”, I want to give you 10 personal pieces of advice if you are hoping to become a commercial pilot.

how to become a private pilot

So Many Pilot Licenses 🎟

First of all I want to clarify the different types of licenses:

PPL: Private Pilot License. As the name suggests this license is solely used for private operation. (e.g. flying in a small piston engine, non-commercial)

BLOG: “How To Become A Private Pilot Fast

CPL: Commercial Pilot License. This license grants you to fly aircraft commercially (passengers and or cargo) as a First Officer. 

ATPL: Aircraft Transport Pilot License. This license is granted to those who fulfill certain flight hours and are holding a CPL with ATPL theory. This type of license is needed to become the commander on board.

how to become a private pilot

My 10 Tips On How To Become a Commercial Pilot:  

1. Your Health Status 👨🏼‍⚕️

Make sure you are fit to fly and you meet all medical requirements to pass the class 1 examination. The visit to the doctor should be one of your first steps when thinking about becoming a pilot. After having passed the initial examination, you need to revalidate your Medical every year which requires you to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercises and a healthy diet will tremendously increase the chance to pass every medical check throughout your career. This job is not made for lazy people even though being a pilot requires sitting a lot.

 

2. Your Genius Level 🤓

Be efficient in mathematics and physics. You do not have to be a genius, but basic knowledge in these subjects is necessary when you want to become a pilot. Your sense of space should be well developed, which will help you originate quickly when flying in a 3-dimensional space. Check the requirements of airlines and flight school as to which kind of graduation level they expect. Some airlines only hire pilots with a high school/ A-level graduation.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

3. Find The Right Flight School 👨🏼‍🏫

Find the flight school which suits you the best. There are many flight schools which all promise to make a pilot out of you. Attend “Open Days” or info events at the flight schools to gather as much information as possible. Try to talk to graduates to get genuine, truthful feedback. Consider the location of the school, training devices and length of the entire education. Here you find a list of flight schools for example.

 

4. Pilot For a Day 🛩

Go for a short test flight lesson with an instructor. This way you will find out if you agree with Leonardo Da Vinci’s quote:

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return“.

I think it is a smart idea to invest this money to get a better indication as to whether your imagination of flying an airplane matches reality.

5. Who Pays For It? 💸

Flight training with an airline. This would be the best and financially, least risky way of becoming a commercial pilot. Usually airlines give you a training loan and offer you a cockpit position after graduating successfully. A certain amount of the training cost is paid back with your salary. (differs for all airlines of course). I have not heard about any scholarships for cadets and the pandemic has changed a lot in the aviation industry as well.

6. Self-funded Training 🙋🏼‍♂️

Consider the high education costs of a private flight school. I was lucky that my parents were able to support me financially. The costs were around 70.000€. Depending on the school and country, the prices range from 50.000 to 150.000€. Additionally you have to consider the costs for daily living and accommodation. It will be quite difficult to work part time since integrated training is very time consuming. Even when you get a loan to pay for the training there is absolutely no job guarantee in the end.

7. Modular Training 🛸

In case you do not have the financial background, it would be a more safe way to do the training step by step. This type is called modular training. I do not want to scare you, but there are students who took out a high loan to afford the training. This can be quite risky when you do not get a job right away and/or the salary turns out to be not as good as expected.

8. No professional education 🤯

A pilot license is not an official professional education. In the event of losing your medical for whatever reason, you can only show flight hours in your logbook. That is why I decided to attend a distant university after becoming a pilot, but then social media became a major part of my life.  Maybe think about going to college or learn a profession before becoming a pilot. Sounds strange, but it is always good to have a Plan B.

process of becoming a captain

9. Pros And Cons 👈🏼

Think about what the pros and cons of a pilot life could mean for you. Especially at the beginning of your career, you should be quite flexible in terms of your home base location. During your training you might be forced to move to different places which can be extremely difficult when you have a family. Always take all possible options into account. 

BLOG: Pros And Cons Of Being a Pilot

10. Go to exhibitions ✈️

I recommend going to exhibitions, where flight schools introduce themselves. For example: The ILA (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung) in Berlin. At the career center you have the chance to get to know different flight schools and chat with them. I am sure there are career fairs near you. Do not hesitate to use google search 🙂

how I became a pilot

I hope you find my updated article helpful. Please do not forget to like the blog post.

Positive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


becoming a commercial pilot

Should You Still Consider Becoming A Commercial Pilot?

Dear Aviators,

Flying has always been a job with many ups and downs. But what the world and the aviation industry is facing now is unprecedented. We are not talking about a turbulence which will be over again, sadly it is a down we have not experienced since the terror attack in 2001 and the world finance crisis in 2008/2009. This down is more intense and even more unpredictable. Nevertheless the corona virus has not diminished dreams and ambitions to become a pilot. Since the pandemic started I received a lot of questions asking me if I would still recommend becoming a commercial pilot. In this blog post I will be 100% honest with you.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

It is time to remove your pink glasses

and leave the fairytale with unicorns and airlines searching desperately for pilots. Nobody, including me, wants to discourage ambitions and dreams but it is important to talk about how the industry is now and what it might be in the next few years. Even an outlook into the near future is difficult since times are so uncertain. 

When will there be a vaccine available? How will travel restrictions change in the long term? What preventive measures will airlines follow? Which airlines will exist in the future? When will tourist travel come back? Will we ever reach the before corona level?

The list of questions goes on but all answers decide on your question: “Will I get to be a pilot if I start flying training now?”

The current situation is a true nightmare. Approximately 10,000 commercial pilots are currently unemployed solely in Europe and the UK. Thousands of pilots are still fearing they may lose their job because of the pandemic and those who still have their jobs are on reduced pay or on part time hours.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Florian (Professional photographer & Videographer)

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

Stagnation of Pilot Recruitment for Years

According to the British Airline Pilots association (BALPA) there will be no meaningful recruitment for about two years. Finding a flying job will be extremely difficult. Especially with the high competition from experienced pilots looking for a cockpit job as well. Pilot training takes approximately two years, so you might be done after the pandemic is over and things have normalized again. However even if this means the demand rises again, an airline would prefer to choose the experienced and type rated pilot first. Nevertheless, I do not want to discourage you because my story proves that ambition and hard work pays off. When I completed flight training in 2010 the job market situation was not really the best. I applied with numerous airlines without any success. I visited an aviation fair, which led to me getting hired – with a little bit of luck, good timing and going the extra mile.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way”

I want you to avoid paying lots of money for your pilot training and then finding out that there is not a single job available. It definitely makes sense to wait at least until mid 2021 to see how the situation is then and if airlines have a more precise recruitment plan. The challenges and risks are currently too high.

pilotpatrick book

Get my book to read about my story: becoming a commercial pilot and more aviation insights.

No air travel like before Corona 

At the moment it is very difficult to assess how the future in the aviation industry will look. But I am very sure that the general demand for flights will not reach the same level as before the pandemic started. Firstly lots of people are suffering from the crisis which means they will simply not have the means to go on a vacation. Secondly the mentality to go on business trips will change or has changed already.

Companies will think twice in the future and decide if the budget for the business trip makes sense, or if the meeting can be done online instead. In general, most companies will be weakened through the crisis which means they will have a reduced budget for travel in general. The business traveller who books expensive business class tickets will fly less, which will seriously impact the airline’s revenue.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Florian (Professional photographer & Videographer)

My honest advice and recommendation about becoming a commercial pilot

Do not enter flight training right now!

If you are leaving high school and you want to become a pilot: I recommend those who are leaving high school at this time, to get experience in another profession or a degree. Once completed you can reconsider becoming a pilot. This way you postpone your start date to a time where there will be a  much clearer picture of the situation. Additionally, some pilots will be leaving because of retirement or a new profession. This will guarantee you a full back-up plan in case you do not manage to get employment as a pilot.

If you have started your flight training already: I think in this situation it makes sense to finish your course with the pilot school in order to receive your license and use every possible resource to find a job and be open to relocate.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

Every personal situation is different, so you need to access the risks and benefits. Be realistic, but still follow your ambitions and dreams. To have a Plan B is advisable for any one of us. I wish I had better news for you, but my intention was to be honest in answering the question if you should consider becoming a commercial pilot right now.

Leave me a comment below your thoughts about this topic and do not forget to like the blog post! Thanks to Florian for the photos of me and Manu for the amazing aircraft photos. Maker sure to check out their work. 

Safe and healthy travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick