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Commercial Airline Pilot profession prospects?

  1. Jan 6, 2005 #1
    Hi all,

    I've decided that I want to become an airline pilot and have found a good post-secondary school (http://www.ucfv.ca/aviation/) that specializes in it, and I'm planning on taking the four-year degree program. Obviously it's going to be very costly and I'd hate to graduate and then find out that the airline industry is dead. I've done a few searches and haven't found much concerning predictions on how the airline industry will fare in the coming years, and I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on whether my choice of profession is a wise one?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2005 #2
    The airline industry right now is not doing so well, but that doesn't mean it will be like this by the time you are ready to enter the industry. I myself considered entering it but now I choose physics (with flying small planes on the side!) I don't know the exact education requirements in becoming a commercial airline pilot, but I know math is involved. Keep searching though! It's a very fun thing to get into. Don't let the state of the industry right now discourage you. There will always be air transportation! :wink:
  4. Jan 6, 2005 #3


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    The market for air travel isn't going to decrease any time soon. The problems the airline industry is having right now is that increased competition is lowering the amount airlines can charge even though many of the established airlines are stuck with agreements to pay very generous wages and benefits to their employees. Some of the newer airlines are doing surprisingly well (usually the start ups are pretty vulnerable). The reason is that they're not saddled with some of the labor agreements of the established airlines.

    In other words, there's sure employment as an airline pilot. But use some of the newer airlines like JetBlue to get a more realistic estimate of what pilots are likely to make in the future (I would imagine pilot salaries aren't decreasing nearly as much as other airline employees since it's a lot harder to find a qualified pilot than it is to train the baggage workers - I still wouldn't take the highest paying jobs as a realistic estimate).
  5. Jan 6, 2005 #4
    Well, that's encouraging guys, thanks. One concern my dad has is that the oil will run out in the foreseeable and using planes will become too expensive. I've done some research and I don't know what to think, as estimates seem to vary greatly. Is this a valid concern?
  6. Jan 6, 2005 #5
    I'm sure that by the time Oil runs out we will have other alternatives for fuel sources. So no, I wouldn't worry about that.

    Fuel cell powered electric devices are supposed to be hitting the market this year (so the rumor says). Imagine your laptop being powered by a micro-fuel cell which allows it to be powered on for days... not hours.
  7. Jan 7, 2005 #6
    Just the pends how efficient this is on a large scale, but if oil runs out before the problem is fixed, I think there will be so much chaos nobody's gonna ask you what you used to do for a living (most people are depending on oil anyway), so, as a private pilot student, I encourage you to pursue your career choice, and wish you godspeed.
  8. Jan 7, 2005 #7
    Major airlines look at how many hours of experience you've had (with other airlines or the military, etc). Before entering a major airline, it's more practical to join a regional airline and fly smaller planes to get some experience. Then, when you've gotten enough hours, you can start to apply for major airlines.

    Check out this website for a very good article on how becoming an airline pilot works.
  9. Jan 8, 2005 #8
    Yes, thanks, I've already planned out what I'll do if I decide to go for this career and just needed some reassurance that it'll still be of some use by the time that I graduate:)
  10. Jan 11, 2005 #9
    Need help (Pilots)

    I am currently in England Leicester and I am in year 11 and I wanted to become a airline pilot and do training at 16 but I am in a complete mess I am predicted 6 a-c gsce? what courses could I do to achieve my target the fastest.
    p.s. I cant afforded private fling school. so i have to get sponserd by a airline.This was my dream and i wont fail so help me people.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2005
  11. Jan 11, 2005 #10
    I'd say your best bet by far would be to join the military and sign up to be a pilot. They pay for your education and the quality is top-of-the-line, at least in the U.S. Perhaps it's different over in Angleterre:p Many commercial airline pilots get their starts that way. I hadn't heard of airlines sponsoring the education of future pilots. Can you tell me where you heard about this?
  12. Jan 12, 2005 #11
    Some European airlines like Lufthansa (need to be fluent in German) sponsor education of their pilots. Competition is intense.

    Do keep in mind that most of the big airlines will require you to have BS degree of some sort before they hire you as a pilot. It also works as a back-up. :smile:
    Promotions in airlines can be extremely slow.

    Embry Riddle is the best school in this. A little bit expensive though.
  13. Jan 21, 2005 #12
    As a trend pilot salaries are changing big time. It used to be a 58 year old captian might make $300K+ where as a young 135 operator might make $15K. The good and bad is the captians salaries are trending downward, vs the newbie salaries are coming up.

    Typical progression outside of the military realm in the US is....
    private, instrument, commercial, and then CFI, where in you finally get paid to fly, typically earning $1-$3/hour due to all the non revenue hours. And this is where you really learn. Students will put you in situations you never dreamed were possible. Next its on to charter operations where you fly in generally bad weather in sometimes questionable equipment. Finally your at the point where a commuter might be interested. A degree is pretty much mandatory, and considering that minor health problems can put you out of aviation very quickly, it is also a good fallback.

    ERAU is a great school, there are also a number of other 4 year aviation programs, such as NDSU, and WSU for less money. Otoh, an ERAU degree can give you an edge when it comes to hiring. There is also a lot of psych involved in the hiring process. Attitude plays a major role...... the wrong one will close many doors in a heartbeat.

    The physical skills of flying are easy, the judgement and mental aspects are the difficult ones to master. Its one of the reasons that hours of pilot in command time play such a role in certification as well as hiring.

    If you are in the US, and have a student pilot certificate or greater, it might not hurt to check out http://www.b737.com/ to get a weekends worth of indoctrination into the airline world to be sure its a path you want to go down.

    Airine sponsored initial flight training is fairly common outside of the US, but virtually non-existant here. Much has to do with supply and demand.

    I thought about it years ago, but thought the dues were to high, so I went down the engineering path. I do keep up my flight instructor certificate however.

  14. Jan 21, 2005 #13
    Thanks for the info. Actually, I'm in Canada with no former piloting training, but my marks are high and I was hoping this program would provide all that I needed to get started. Your post gives a few new aspects to it though.
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