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Pilot / Air Traffic Control careers

(34 Posts)
breward Sun 13-Mar-16 10:04:10

DS is looking at aviation as a possible career route. To become a pilot competition is stiff and the the fees are high. Would he need to do a degree first or train to be a pilot straight after A levels? Would a 20 yr old pilot without a degree be employable?

Pilot training fees in Canada are about $48,000, as opposed to £80,000 in the UK. Are the qualifications transferable?

Again, you can become an ATC at 18 yr old post A levels, but will there be a glass ceiling if you do not have a degree?

So confused about advising him degree/not degree and the cost implications with the different routes.

Advise would be so welcome!

breward Sun 13-Mar-16 15:42:28

Sorry 'advice' not 'advise' !!


Are there no MN pilots out there?

Cathpot Sun 13-Mar-16 16:01:28

DH is a pilot and his advice is not very encouraging! I read your post to him and he said 'don't do it'. It's not that he doesn't love flying it's that going from a standing start is a huge amount of debt for a very stressful job market. He says on average to actually be job ready, with a type rating, is closer to £130,000.

DH was military and so his flying training didn't cost him but we have paid for various exams over the years since and now he is civilian we have type ratings to think about.

If it is a real passion for your son DH suggests looking for a cadetship with an airline as at least you are paying the money but there is a job at the end. Also they aptitude test for cadetship so you get an idea of whether you are likely to pass the course. This is important as flying schools have no interest in if you will pass or not, they want your money. If he is good enough he could get sponsored by GAPAN . Look on the pprune website there is a permanent section called Wannabees about starting out as a pilot.

Canadian licence isn't transferable, but there may be schools out there that offer EASA licences ( for Europe).
No one has ever asked DH about a degree- no idea if this applies to air traffic. Piloting and air traffic are CONPLETELY different jobs and might not suit the same person.

Feel free to PM me if you need me to ask him anything else.

Drquin Sun 13-Mar-16 16:06:07

Not a pilot, but work with them!

For flying training, the school in Canada is probably regulated by Transport Canada (TC). So check that you'd leave with an EASA licence (being the EU version). You can validate a TC or FAA licence later, but easier if you don't have to.
Check what you get for the fees .... PPL or CPL? You'd want CPL to be able to work commercially (PPL more for flying as a hobby). Do they offer basic Instrument Rating (IR) training too?

It's an expensive training regime, and salaries not as high as you might expect, certainly not initially. (Yes, it's more than minimum wage .... But not so high proportionate to cost of training).
Is joining one of the armed services an option, to pursue a flying career there?

Look out for ab-inito jobs. Most airlines will employ you fully trained - because it saves them the cost. But from time to time some will offer ab-initio jobs (meaning they'll train you from scratch). The catch is they will likely want to bond you.

Look up flightinternational .... Used to be a paper mag (probably still is!) but online now. if you've not come across it, there's a newbie section.

Remember there's a helicopter world too ..... Arguably better than fixed-wing wink

mellysam Sun 13-Mar-16 16:22:14

I can't advise on pilot but I am an Air Traffic Controller.
I work for NATS in the UK and love my job! You do not need a degree (I have one in Tourism/Hospitality just because I sort of drifted from college to uni without knowing what I wanted to do, but many of my colleagues don't). All you need to apply is to be over 18 and have at least five GCSEs or equivalent at Grade C or above, including English and Maths.
It's a tough training course but it is funded by NATS and you are paid a salary whilst you train.
I'm happy to answer any questions!

gingerdad Sun 13-Mar-16 16:31:42

Make sure his eye sight is top notch. And second pprune as a source of knowledge.

Spain used to be a good route pilot wise.

My ambition was atc. Got the job but failed the medical on eyesight.

Good luck.

breward Sun 13-Mar-16 16:48:40

Thank you for all your advice.

Messysam, do NATS accept many 18 year olds? How did you get into ATC? Would getting some work experience be a good idea or is this impossible to arrange due to the nature of the job?

Gingerdad, you mention eye sight being top notch. DS does wear glasses to correct a squint but his actual prescription is 0.25 in one eye and 0.75 in the other eye. This would not rule him our of an aviation career would it? There must be some pilots /ATC that wear glasses.

The Canadian flight school that DS has looked at is
They offer commercial pilot training but not EASA. What is the EASA licence?

It is probably too good to be true and DS will only be qualified to spray crops over Winnipeg!!!

Luckily DS is only 15 years old, so researching early!

lljkk Sun 13-Mar-16 17:01:04

Is he in air cadets? DS badly wanted to be a helicopter pilot until he realised how easily he gets sick even in just a small plane. Only found out because of ATC camps.

Is Now obsessed with tanks.

Leeds2 Sun 13-Mar-16 17:38:56

I do know someone who trained as a pilot (in UK) without a degree. He started at about 22/23 years old, rather than 18, and had worked in various non flying related jobs beforehand. Now employed by one of the major airlines.

TalkinPeace Sun 13-Mar-16 17:56:51

NATS employ all sorts - one of my gym instructors works for them as her other job!

mellysam Sun 13-Mar-16 18:05:49

I'm not sure how many 18 yr olds apply, to be honest most people on my original course were in their twenties i'd say. But to get accepted it's very much on whether you have the right skills/attitude (which are tested at several different stages of the interview process).
Work experience is probably tricky, but when I decided to apply I contacted my local (small) airfield and asked to visit and they let me. But I don't work at an airfield now I work at an enroute centre.
I always had an interest in travel & aviation (I wanted to be cabin crew when I was little) and just saw the job advert in the paper and thought it sounded interesting.
The NATS careers website has a bunch of info about the medical requirements, airlines probably have the same on their websites. But yes some controllers do have glasses.

Runwayqueen Sun 13-Mar-16 18:09:06

Depending on the aerodrome, but some (mine included) take ATC assistants on to be controllers if they pass the initial tests. Just another way in incase a NATS application wasn't successful. I'm a former ATCA now in airfield operations, desperately wishing I'd stayed in ATC.

LineyReborn Sun 13-Mar-16 18:10:12

mellysam respect! How stressful is the job?

QueenElizardbeth Sun 13-Mar-16 18:11:41

OP, I'd second getting yourself or your lad over to the PPRuNe and asking on one of the suitable forums there.

You should get a lot of sympathetic advice.

Try this board...have a read first and then you could start a thread if necessary.

mellysam Sun 13-Mar-16 18:57:08

I don't find it stressful, but that's because we have a huge amount of training so we are totally confident and comfortable in what we are doing. Best job ever (sorry I sound like a recruitment consultant for ATC) blush

madwomanbackintheattic Sun 13-Mar-16 19:07:38

I would get the eyesight thing checked out before you go any further. Depending on squint type etc, you may find that this is not possible. I can't fly because of my eyesight (I don't actually wear glasses every day, but my vision wasn't good enough for pilot trg) but was cleared for ATC. Military rules may be different than civilian, but I would expect commercial pilot rules to be more stringent than PPL. They actually laughed at me in my medical as I have one eye weaker than the other, and I know from dd2's experiences that squints can be problematic for all sorts of things (she wears glasses for an alternating converging squint, which has been surgically corrected).
Good luck.

breward Sun 13-Mar-16 19:28:41

Where do you get eye sight checked for this sort of thing? We mentioned it to the optician a while back, but they did not know the requirements so could not advise.

We certainly do not want a 'best guess' when a career might depend on it.

Drquin Sun 13-Mar-16 20:44:02

Have a root around here for medical info. Would assume he'd need to meet Class 1 medical for professional pilot.

There's a separate section for ATC

lavendersun Sun 13-Mar-16 20:52:23

No advice as I don't know enough but eyesight aside what are his passions/what does he love/what is he good at.

DH loves two things, physics and flying. Did a physics degree, became a pilot, took time out to do a Msc, became a test pilot. He loves them both still 30 years on, probably loves physics more tbh.

As above I know nothing but I would focus on doing something you love as a degree, life is long and doors open and close along the way.

rightsaidfrederickII Sun 13-Mar-16 22:23:55

I'd advise getting him some flying experience, if at all possible. It could be through the air cadets, if he doesn't mind all the other military stuff that comes with it.

If he wants something civilian, then I would have a look at gliding through a local club - by far the cheapest form of flying out there (typically <£8 per flight, including instruction, launch etc. plus a modest annual membership fee (often <£50) for people of his age), the skills are very transferable to other forms of flying (I've known glider pilots go on to become airline and military pilots, though most retain it as a hobby) and he can go solo from age 14 - yes, we let children loose with planes three years before we'll let them loose with cars, if everyone is satisfied that they're safe!

breward Mon 14-Mar-16 19:25:49

Thank you for the link, rightsaidfrederickII. There is a cadet scheme at a local gliding club that looks perfect.

DS was in air cadets but hated the military side with all the drill and marching in the rain! He is definitely not cut out for a military career.

rightsaidfrederickII Mon 14-Mar-16 21:51:48

That's an exceptionally good deal from ESGC! I hope he enjoys it! grin

gingerdad Mon 14-Mar-16 21:56:11

My problem was a child hood squint. Wasn't corrected enough by glasses. It is the same medical for pilots (at least the one i did.)

As a side also can't get a LGV medical.

madwomanbackintheattic Mon 14-Mar-16 22:34:06

Yes, my sis soloed a powered glider three years before she passed her driving test <boggle>
There are usually a fair few kids around the skies who aren't old enough to drive. I try not to think about it too hard. I suppose there is less to hit...

Figmentofmyimagination Thu 17-Mar-16 21:31:28

Put him in touch with balpa, the pilots union. They work really hard trying to make sure young people understand the career path before they embark on it.

There have been some big problems, following the rise if budget travel, with poor terms and conditions - zero hour contracts, agency working - no direct employment contract, limited career progression, only statutory sick pay, low wages etc

- which is all a bit of a worry given the very high entry costs - and the over supply.

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