why should you not become a pilot

Why Should You Not Become A Pilot?

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Dear Aviator,

Being a pilot is a dream job and will always be one. Unfortunately, Covid-19 not only turned our lives upside down but also many branches. The aviation and travel industry has been suffering tremendously from travel restrictions and quarantine safety measures worldwide. Consequently, there are now more pilots than jobs on the market.  Corona has not diminished the dream of becoming a pilot for so many. Should you aim to become a pilot and why should you not become a pilot? Is it a good time to pursue your dream despite the current situation? Here I give you a more extensive answer to help you in the process of finding the right decision for your future. Be prepared for the cold truth.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

The Dream Of Flying

The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. But the possibility for everyone on earth to fly like an eagle through the skies is only a few decades old. Aviation, as we know it, is still in its initial phase when considering that the desire to fly freely has always existed. Thanks to great legends and pioneers who helped make aviation what it is today, we can feel quite fortunate that we live in a time where the job as a pilot exists.

A Fast-Paced Industry

Aviation is a moving, but also a really volatile industry, with lots of ups and downs, as Corona has proven. As fast as aviation develops and changes over the years, the job of a pilot has altered as well. We still fly aircraft, but nowadays with a high level of automation, under economic pressure, an increasing number of regulations and a sky that does not seem so free anymore. I would not say that the job lost its glamour over the years, but it is a different glamour and not all jobs have it.

how risky is flying

Would I Become A Pilot Again?

Yes! Yes and Yes!

In a recent Instagram post, I stated that you should choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. For me, it is still the best job in the world and it does not feel like work for me (most of the time). Of course, the job also has negative aspects. It can indeed be tough, unglamorous and hard work. But in the end, the negative aspects fade behind all the positive sides of the job.

More about the pros and cons here

What Would I Have Done Differently?

I definitely chose the harder way to become a pilot. The entire flight training (about 70,000€) was self-funded and it did not have any guarantee after finishing my training, to get a position in the cockpit. This was quite risky because you never know how the demand for pilots will look when you complete your training; it can happen a lot in the aviation industry. In my case, I was lucky to start flying as a First Officer on a private jet, but I know about other graduates who did not find a job right away. My advice is to get into a cadet program of an airline, so you do not put yourself at financial risk.

 

Have A Plan B

I would advise that you go to college to further your education and possibly gain a degree. This would enable you to seek further employment, even in the airline industry. Especially in aviation, a plan B is essential since you depend on your license.

becoming a commercial pilot

Why You Should NOT Become A Pilot?

Good salary, layovers, free flights, job security – these are probably aspects of why you may like to become a pilot. But the opposite applies. As I mentioned before, the job of a pilot has changed and the conditions in the airline industry have deteriorated tremendously. In the competition with low-cost airlines, major carriers had to reduce costs in all departments including the salary of aircrews. But the requirements and the complexity of the job has not decreased.

The days where you spent one week of a layover in the Caribbean, are also over. In the case of you having a layover, it is now the minimum time required at the destination before your next flight. Low-cost airlines always return to the home base to save money. For me, the pilot job is linked to travelling and layovers. That is why I could not imagine sleeping every night at home. Even though I work in the aviation industry I do not have the privilege or benefit of discounted or free flights. As the high number of bankruptcies of airlines in the European market has shown, job security is not a given.

becoming a commercial pilot

No Air Travel Like Before Corona 

At the moment it is very difficult to assess how the aviation industry will look in the future. 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 whole business trips scenario will change or has already changed.

Companies will think twice and decide if the budget for the business trip makes sense, or if the meeting can be done online instead. In general, most companies have been weakened throughout 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

My Honest Advice

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 your plans of becoming a pilot. This way you postpone your start date to a time where there will be a  much clearer picture of the aviation industry. 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 relocating.

becoming a commercial pilot

Post Corona

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that air traffic will have doubled within the next few years. The long term trend for the demand for aircrews exists. We as passengers, customers, and staff of the aviation industry have the power to change and shape it for the future.

Become a pilot if you have the passion and fascination for aviation. It is important to know about the negative as well as the positives, when considering becoming a pilot. Downsides exist in all industries – but with one huge difference – you become part of a world full of energy and enthusiasm, which is hard to find in any other jobs.

becoming a commercial pilot

I hope you enjoyed my honest blog post: “Why should you not become a pilot?” Do not forget to like it and leave me a comment below.

Happy and healthy landings

Your PilotPatrick


flying a propeller airplane

Flying a propeller airplane

Yesterday I went flying and I could leave my big suitcase at home. Instead of operating a private jet through Europe, I used my time off to go flying in a small Cessna 172 of ARDEX flight school.

Lets go flying - C172S with 180HP and 4 seats

Lucky it was a sunny day in Berlin and the flight conditions were excellent. The newspaper Bild was interested to do an interview with me. Since everyone can do an interview on the ground, I invited the journalists to join me on a flight to do an interview up in the air.

Additionally the interview was live on my official Facebook page @PilotPatrick, so everyone could watch me flying from take off up to landing. For some action I flew a steep turn with 45° bank angle. Use this link or scroll down to the flying interview and watch if the journalists, Anne and Celal, enjoyed it.

Back to Kyritz Airport - Shutdown checklist complete

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1220076041391323

Besides holding a valid type rating for the Citation XLS+, I possess a SEP (single engine piston) rating as well. This grants me to fly aircraft, which are driven with one propeller. I did most of my flight training on this type of aircraft. A big part of my SEP hours, I flew by myself without an instructor in Croatia. But like all licenses and ratings in the aviation industry, I have to revalidate the SEP rating every two years with a couple of flight hours.

Visting Ardex flight school for a flying interview in a Cessna C172

But why should I fly a small aircraft besides my job as pilot?

There is a big difference between flying a jet and a small piston aircraft. The flying itself and the input to the control surfaces remains the same. One major difference of course is the speed and altitude I operate at. Yesterday I flew a maximum speed of 180 km/h at an altitude of 650m. In the Citation jet I usually fly a speed of 800 km/h at an altitude of 12.000m. 90% of the flight time of a commercial jet aircraft is operated under instrument flight rules (IFR), whereas a small Cessna is primarily flown under visual rules (VFR) in VMC (visual metrological conditions). This requires a constant look out for other traffic and the navigation is made through visual guidance on the ground.

VFR + GPS chart for navigation (upper left blue circle indicates Kyritz)

A big issue in aviation is that the many pilots loose their manual flying skills over the years. Even when flying up to 900 hours in one year, the high level of automation and company procedures prevent pilots to fly manually more often. Usually only take off and landing are flown by end. But especially those manual flying skills are needed when there happens to be a failure or abnormality of a system. Read this report about it.

That is one reason why I decided to practice my manual flying skills once in a while. Additionally I enjoy flying at a moderate altitude to have a great view of the countryside and to choose the destination myself. I would say it is purer way of flying since everything feels closer without numerous systems and automation aids.

Sunny day in autumn with temperatures around 2 degrees - on the way to Runway 14 Live interview with BILD up in the air via Facebook live stream

ARDEX Flight School

This was definitely a special day of flying in my career, which I will remember for a long time. Thanks again to the flight school ARDEX for sponsoring and making this event happen. In case you want to become a pilot or want to charter a plane, this family owned business is situated only one hour from Berlin. They offer courses to a acquire a private or even a commercial license so you may become my first officer some day.

Flight School ARDEX in Kyritz (close to Berlin)

Have you flown in a small aircraft before? Please comment below.

Postive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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The Bild interview in full length:
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=366609890348612


how I became a pilot

How I became a pilot II

In my first part of the blogpost "How I became a pilot" I told you about my way to become a flight student at Intercockpit Pilot Training Network.

How I became a pilot

Another requirement to be accepted as flight student is the initial medical class one examination. This examination is standardized for all pilots and needs to be revalidated every year. For detailed requirements please have a look here) For this examination I went to a special Aviation Doctor at Stuttgart airport. Of course I was a little nervous at this stage, because the outcome will decide about my future career. Not only did I pass it very well, but I also met Fabian, who later became a friend and a fellow flight student.  

Training facility of Lufthansa Flight Training (LFT) in Frankfurt

First day of school

My first day of school at the facilities of Lufthansa flight training was in April 2008. I remember it was a really exciting day, because it meant a new stage of life. The Intercockpit course E308 consisted of 20 guys and one girl. After the introduction of the team we were handed out all the training material, that we would need for our studies. I think it were around ten big binders. At this stage quite intimidating. Additionally we received a black pilot bag. Back then, I was really proud to have it.

Intercockpit course E308 in 2008

Theory classes

For the next two months we attended several theory classes to reach the knowledge of a PPL Pilot (Private Pilot License) to be prepared for the first flight phase in Zadar, Croatia. Additionally we had to pass the AZF (flight radiotelephone operators certificate), which grants the permission to communicate with ATC (Air Traffic Control). Why did the flight training take place in a foreign country? Mainly, because of the weather and the lower operating costs. Especially for VFR (visual flight rules) flights, that require a certain cloud ceiling and visibility, the weather in Croatia was definitely better than in Germany over the year.

First theory part in Frankfurt (8 weeks)

The entire flight training was scheduled to last about 18 months, depending on one's personal performance. Since the planning was really tight there was only a couple of off days in between. As this was an integrated training you had to learn continuously to be ready for the exams. It sure was a tough time, but it was worth the effort in the end. Time management was super important. I found it helpful to set weekly goals concerning learning to have a good feeling and to monitor my progress.

First time in Zadar

In June it was time to head down to Zadar for the first practical flight phase. Accommodation and transport had to be organized by ourself. Most of the course stayed at the same location of a croatian women, who rented prevailing to flight students from Germany. I shared an apartment with my friend Fabian. The place was not special at all, but it was only a short walk away from the waterfront.

The historic old town of Zadar is really beautiful. It is located right at the Adria, where we enjoyed amazing sunsets. The landscape of Croatia is unique with many small islands (66 inhabited) stretching along the coastline of 1800 kilometer and the high Biokovo mountains in the back. It did not take long until we got to see the beautiful landscape from above. After a couple of days of introduction in a basic fixed simulator the first flight in a DA20 aircraft with a instructor was due.

PA44 flight school aircraft of Intercockpit in Zadar

I was super excited and also a little scared. Not of the flying itself, rather if I really like it and could imagine to do it for the rest of my life. All sorrows were gone, when I lifted off the ground for the first time by myself. I remember, that everything was going so fast. It felt like I was flying a fighter jet. Today I can grin about it, since I take off with the Citation XLS+ at a speed, which is 2,5 times faster.

Structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt
  • 10 weeks of flight training in Zadar, Croatia
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)

Read in my next part about the rest of the flight training in Zadar, a drink offer after landing in Slovakia and the ATPL theory part back in Germany. I am working on more photos of my flight training.

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