We have made a list of some of the frequently asked questions on how to become a professional airline pilot and typical questions about a pilots everyday life. Some questions require more in depth coverage and we have directed you to a section where we have covered the topic more.
If you have a question about any subject that we have not covered – just use our contact form below. We are here to help.
I want to become a commercial pilot, where do I start ?
Start by browsing around on our website. We have many fine flight schools listed, where you easily compare schools and see what is included in the courses. We also list the prices, next available courses, open day information, funding offered etc. We also have many good articles about flight training, as well as an excellent guide on how to become a pilot.
How much does it cost to train as an airline pilot ?
It is all dependant on which training route you take and your choice of flight school. You can generally expect costs to be between 60.000 EUR to 150.000 EUR to obtain your licenses. On top of that, many airlines will charge you for your type rating when they offer you a job, typically 20.000 – 35.000 EUR. Remember to think about all the extra costs that may not be included in your training course, for example accommodation. On learn-to-fly – we give full transparancy: We show the prices of the training courses and also what is included and not included on the course.
How long does it take to train as a commercial pilot ?
This depends on how you choose to go about your training. Generally there are 2 types of training – integrated and modular. With the integrated training, you will complete all the training in one full time. It is an intensive course and requires dedication and resilience. From having no flying experience to holding a commercial airline pilots license, expect around 16 months. This will allow you to apply as a First Officer in airlines. In a modular route, you will complete your training at your own place, flying when time allows and when you can afford it. This route can take you to 3 years, but is of course a cheaper option. We have a very good article about Integrated v Modular training.
Am I to old to start commercial pilot training ?
In short – if you’re under 65 years of age, NO. But the older you start your training, the more limited your employment options may be. And the less money you can expect in return over the course of your career.
What is a type rating ?
It is a qualification to fly a specific model of aircraft, for example an A320. Any aircraft which has a maximum take off weight of more than 5.700 kgs or is turbine powered, requires a type rating to operate it. It consists of a technical ground school and a simulator course, where you will learn to operate the aircraft type under normal and abnormal circumstances. A type rating course typically takes 6-8 weeks.
What is line training ?
After your type rating you will start with line training. This takes place on the aircraft with passengers on board and you are flying with a Training captain. This phase is designed to get you up to speed with the normal operation of the aircraft on a daily basis. Line training for new pilots are typically between 40-100 sectors, and can therefore last 1 month up to 5 months, depending on whether you fly short haul or long haul sectors.
How many hours do airline pilots typically work a year / month / ?
Under EASA rules, airlines pilots are limited to 900 hours a year. Short haul pilots will typically fly 700-900 hours a year (personally I have flown an average of 650 hours over the last 10 years with my current employer easyJet) Long haul pilots fly less, typically 400-450 hours a year. You can fly up to 100 hours any rolling 28 days. Typically you will fly 70 hours a month on short haul. It may not sound like a lot, but remember this is actual time in the plane. You have check in time, check out on top, as well as standby duty and airport duty. Your effective working hours are longer.
How much does an airline pilot earn a year ?
It varies a lot, depending on the airline, your position, the size of the aircraft. An airline captain can up to 200.000 EUR a year after some years of service. An First Officer can expect to earn between 30.000 EUR to 100.000 EUR a year depending on your experience at the airline. Short time contracts of 3 to 5 years duration can earn you more money, up to 300.000 EUR
Should I choose integrated or modular training ?
A very important question. Read our in depth and excellent article on this topic here.
Is there a pilot shortage and what are my job prospects ?
This is one of the questions we get asked a lot. The tides have changed a lot in recent years. Graduates from EASA flight schools walk straight into a First Officer job on jets and turbo props these days because the demand is very high. On each of our listings you will be able to see which airlines graduates get hired by directly. A very easy way to see what your job opportunities are when you have graduated with your license.
Boeing is also predicting a world wide pilot shortage over the next 20 years – we have made a separate article on the topic here.