Airline Pilot Careers - The Time Building Conundrum Part I

Questions from aspiring pilots about the “Time Building Conundrum”

Paula Williams –

All right Eduardo from Spain says I would like to earn a B737 type rating. I have an an ATPL, well I’ll let you read all the letters there.

And I would like to know what is the best, easiest, and least expensive way to obtain the type with Aerostar.

Captain David Santo –

Okay, well and it’s not just with Aerostar it’s gonna be with any 142 school we certainly appreciate your business, but we want you to look at every other option and see what’s best for you. First of all EASA. You’ve had some wonderful training. EASA’s very well recognized as being a great organization for requiring a lot from their pilots.

The first step is to go to and apply for validation of your current experience. Once you get your current experience validated, then you need to think about the written examination. Do you have valid ATP written exam results? If you don’t, the FAA has recently passed a new requirement for the airline transport pilot certification training program.

Very similar to the EASA Multi Crew Coordination course. You do need to take that course regardless of your experience. Right now, there is no waiver for it. So a 142 school like Aerostar can offer you that course. That then get you the prerequisite met to take the ATP written.

Once you’ve got the ATP written done, you’ve got your validation of all your experience, you’ve met all the logbook requirements for the ATP. Come over and do a type rating course with us. And out of that type rating course, we’ll be able to add the ATP certificate. And the A370 or 737 type rating are all in one one checkride.

Paula Williams –

Great. Here’s one from  Fourati from Tunisia as you know airlines do not hire any pilots with low hours and there’s a lot of jobless cadet pilots type rating costs a lot and is not terribly affordable profession must work on a solution.

So first of all, I would agree with you. I wish there was a better solution for the industry. Although this is an age-old problem. This is the exact same problem that I had when I was coming up through the ranks. Nobody would hire you without multi-engine time.

And nobody would give you multi-engine time to get hired. And yet, we all made it. So how did we all make the leap? If we all made the leap, you can make the leap too. Now first of all, I’m gonna push back on you. And say airlines do hire low time pilots.

If you don’t think they do, go look in Asia. Go look at VietJet. Go look at Indonesia. Go look at China. Go to the websites for the aviation recruiters, like Rishworth or VOR Holdings. For the first time ever, they’re starting to actively hire first officers. But in your particular region of the world, it may be true.

It may be true that there isn’t gonna be a low time pilot job opportunity. So what are you willing to do to pursue the career? Are you willing to go to Asia and fly for a while? If that’s your option, boy, I would jump on that. What a great experience, it’d be a great adventure.

And when you come back, you’re going to be the top of the stack. Cuz you’re going to have lots of experience. Do I agree there needs to be a better solution? I do. I don’t have the answer for that. I’m just trying to provide the solutions that work within the, the context of what we have in the industry now.

Paula Williams –

Right. So you just look at the cards you’re dealt and play them the best you can. And sometimes you have to go somewhere else to get better cards. [LAUGH].

Captain David Santo –

And, and, and I do wanna reassure, all of us did it. I had 250 hours once. Every single one of those airline pilots the 50 some thousand that we saw on the previous table, had 250 hours once. We all made the leap, and you can too.

Paula Williams –

Right. And here’s a real similar question 265 hours and a commercial ME and a Type Rating.

Captain David Santo  –

So what can you do? So Pablo, there’s a couple different pathways. Number one, there’s flight instruction, that’s the old proven pathway to build time is to get a flight instructor job. And the good news is, the schools right now are losing their flight instructors at an alarming rate So there are opportunities to go instruct. It’s a great way to give something back to the industry. It’s a great way for you to build your experience. And nothing teaches you how to fly better than helping to teach somebody else. However, if you don’t want to do the flight instructing route, there’s still other routes out there.

There’s banner flying. There’s towing gliders. There’s flying bank checks. There’s freight jobs out there in single engine and twin engine airplanes. There’s the commuters. Right now, you can’t get on with a commuter, by the way, until you have 1,500 hours, so you got to build some time to get to those.

The other thing is I was saying to the previous question. There are job opportunities outside the United States. And you should consider those. If you have the ability to travel to Asia and to work in the Asian market, you might actually be able to land a job flying an Airbus or a Boeing.

It’s not going to be easy. You’re gonna have to go beat on doors and make your own opportunities. But nothing worthwhile in life is gonna come easy. It’s all gonna take a lot of effort and work, so keep your options open. There are a number of venues out there, there are a number of avenues out there to build time.

The first thing is build your single engine time to get to that 1,500 hours and get your ATP. Once you get your ATP, I really think you’re gonna be snapped up very quickly by the commuters.


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