From Student Pilot to Airline Captain: The Journey to the Cockpit
Becoming a professional pilot might seem like a daunting task, when in reality you can get from zero experience an airline first officer in as less as two years! However, this is not a typical process of gaining knowledge for a job like in the college. There are several steps each pilot must make to become qualified for an airline job application.
When it comes to becoming a pilot in Europe, there are two main routes you can take: the modular course or the integrated course. The integrated course is a full-time program that is completed in one go, whereas the modular course is completed in stages, allowing you to take breaks in between. If you’re looking to become a pilot as quickly as possible and have the time and finances to commit to a full-time course, then the integrated course may be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you have other commitments or prefer a more flexible approach to learning, then the modular course might be the way to go.
You don’t need to acquire all the licenses in one flight school. Some may provide only a PPL course and you can get your license in this school and continue with the theoretical or flight training in other ones.
In terms of cost, the integrated course is typically more expensive (60.000€ – 90.000€ ) due to its all-in-one nature, while the modular course (40.000€ – 80.000€) allows you to spread the costs out over a longer period of time. However, keep in mind that the total cost can vary depending on factors such as the school you attend and the location of your training.
Ultimately, the decision of which route to take will depend on your individual circumstances and preferences. Take the time to research and compare the options
Reach out not only to the flight school for more information but also to their students. They can say from firsthand what was their experience with the training program in the flight school like. Often some flight schools delay their trainings due lack of personnel, or the instructors are not the best ones in their social and teaching skills, which can make the learning experience way worse. That’s why students have the most appropriate insights.
So what are the steps every student pilot has to take in order to become an airline pilot?
Step 1: Get your Private Pilot License (PPL) – This is where you’ll learn all the basics of flying, and earn your license to fly a Single Engine Piston Land aircraft (SEP Land) anywhere in Europe. A minimum of 45 hours is required, but the normally it takes 50-70 hours to get the license.
When you start the flight training, the best option is to fly twice or three times a week. If it is less than that you will need to revise the maneuvers from the previous lesson which costs time and money, if it is more you will get mentally tired and your performance will drop (I still remember how tired I was after the first times practicing touch and goes, when I made 9 traffic patterns in one hour).
- Step 2: Get your Air Transport Pilot License Theory Certificate (ATPL) – Now it’s time to get serious and study the 13 theoretical subjects that will make you an expert in aviation. You can even start your flight training at the same time!
- Step 3: Build up your flying hours – You’ll need at least 100 hours of flying time as Pilot In Command (PIC) before you can move on to the next step. This is your chance to gain experience and build up those all-important hours.
- Step 4: Get your Night Rating (NR) – You’ll need this rating to be able to fly at night under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) anywhere in Europe.
- Step 5: Get your Instrument Rating (IR) – This is a qualification that allows you to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), which means you can fly in low visibility and cloudy conditions. It’s a great extension to your PPL, and opens up more opportunities to fly for business or pleasure.
- Step 6: Get your Commercial Pilot License (CPL) – Now you can start earning money as a professional pilot! This is where you’ll replace your PPL license with a CPL license, and be eligible for hire by airlines.
- Step 7: Get your Multi-Engine Piston Rating (MEP) – This rating is required by most airlines, and allows you to fly an aircraft with more than two engines. You’ll start flying bigger, faster, and further than ever before.
- Step 8: Get your Multi-Crew Certificate (MCC) and Jet Orientation Course (JOC) – This is the final step, where you’ll learn to fly under multi-crew operations and gain the basic skills to fly a jet airplane. You’ll understand the responsibilities of a flight crew, and the differences between all the planes you’ve flown before and this new high-performance aircraft.
- Step 9: Now you are fully certified to apply for an airline job interview. Once passing the selection, the airline will provide you with a type rating course for the specific t plane you are going to fly.
The aviation industry is especially now in need of new and skilled pilots, and there are many opportunities for those who are passionate about flying. So if you have a dream of soaring through the skies, don’t hesitate to take the first step toward making it a reality. Best of luck on your journey to the cockpit!