How do International Students qualify for training?

Female airline pilots – Is it a good career choice for a woman?

Paula Williams:  Is it a good career choice for a women to be an airline pilot?

Captain David Santo: Yes. Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any difference between the career opportunities for men and women. Specifically, Paula I’ll tell you why: Because the airlines do things by seniority, by date-of-hire seniority. That takes all of the bias out of it. If a men and a women are hired at the same date, they’re going to upgrade with the same opportunities. They’re going to have everything the same right on down the line.  I think women are very successful pilots. I’ve flown with many of them. I think they’re very level headed. I enjoy the opportunity to work with them because they finesse the airplane a little bit differently then I think guys do. As far as the career opportunity, absolutely this is a career where once you get into an airline there really is not going to be a difference.

Paula Williams: Great. Have there been women go through Aero Star program and be successful with that?

Captain David Santo: We have had a number of women go through Aero Star. We’ve had students as young as twenty go through a type rate program. We’ve had a women that was near her sixties go through a type rate program. We’ve seen the success rate really is equal with the guys that have come through. We had a young lady came through our type rate program. I’ve asked her if I could use her name. She said I could. Her name is Julie Meade. She was a Comair pilot. Comair went out of business. She took an opportunity to use work improvement act money from the State of Kentucky and came through. Did a type rating with us, and she has complete the phase one with a major airline to fly the A 320. Is waiting to hear on the phase two interview. We’re expecting to see her hired very quickly, flying an A 320 within the next few months.

“How do International students qualify for training?”  And a bonus question- “In what year will you be making roughly $100,000 a year if you start training today?”

Paula Williams: How do international students qualify for for training at Aero Star?

Captain David Santo: Well, Aero Star’s been a great organization for me because it allows me to share my passion for this industry. I have a real passion for teaching. That’s what got me interested in starting the school. I’m very proud of the fact that I’m directly hands on and involved if a lot of the training on the Airbus side. I certainly am involved in trying to help support the training that goes on on the Boeing side. 
 I think for international students one of the challenges of course is they still have to know how the fly the airplane. Everything’s going to be the same. The second language, English and technical English, I think presents a little more of a challenge for them. You need to have that English proficiency down because you don’t want to be thinking about translating words while you trying to fly the airplane. 
 As far as getting qualified to come into the United States, there’s all kinds of resources available. you can go on that site and find out everything you need to know about converting your licenses, or you can simply call. Elizabeth and myself we provide a lot of career mentoring to individuals that may never come to us for type rating, but we still take a lot of pride, and we help them find a direction. Foreign students absolutely this is a greatest place to train in my opinion. It’s English immersion. All the controllers speak English, wide open air spaces, low cost of renting aircraft relatively speaking. I still think it’s outrageous, but compared to industry or globally it’s still low cost. I think the U.S. Is a great place to train, and I think Aero Star really is a great place to go to finishing school, to grad school if you will, and add your type rating before you go home and seek out that airline job.

Paula Williams: Right. Let me back up. Let’s separate this out and say international students for ab initio training. I know you were talking about international students for finishing school, or your graduate degree or your type rating. Do you want to back up and take a little bit about some of the opportunities for ab initio training? Is it a good choice to come to the U.S. For your complete flight education or should people start where they are and then come here for their type rating?

Captain David Santo: It’s going to depend on the individual, but I’m a little bias. I’m going to say I think the U.S. Offers the best training opportunities for ab initio. I believe that’s a Latin root word that says “from the beginning”. If you’re zero time and you want to go from zero time to completing a commercial multi-engine instrument and an aircraft type rating, there are some tremendous schools here in the U.S. That are positioned not only to help you with that, to provide you with room and board, to provide you with all the testing services and the English immersion that I think is so critical to your success. 
 If I could, I’ll names a couple schools that we’ve worked with. We’ve worked with Florida Institute of Technology, FIT, in Melbourne, Florida. We’ve worked with Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona. Here’s a school it’s in the middle of the desert in Arizona. There’s no distractions. The runway is right next to the dormitories, so you literally walk from your dorms, to your cafeteria, to your classrooms, to the flight line. You go fly your training sessions, and walk back to your dorm. I think that’s an ideal situation for learning how to fly and really doing it in minimal time, with minimal distractions, to get you out there and get that seniority number as quick as possible.

Paula Williams: Right. That’s fantastic. I know in Arizona they have 364 perfect days a year. They have no weathered out days.

John Williams: Dave, I’ve got a lot of questions coming in. One of them I just now got to and realize it should have been asked a slide or two back. If a person starts, in what’s left of 2014, goes through all the appropriate stuff, and given everything works right. The question is in what year would you be making roughly a 100,000.00 a year?

Captain David Santo: That’s a great question, John. I think it’s really going to depend on the region of the country and the level of dedication to do what it takes to get that job. Let’s say that Flight School, if you commit yourself full time to going to an ab initio fight school, like the one we mentioned at Cochise College, you’re going to be done with your commercial multi-engine instrument type rating in under twelve months. Now you’re going to want to try to go offshore. If you’re looking for Airbus, Boeing experience if you take a two or three year contract offshore, you’re not going to make bad money by the way doing that. You’ll be back here probably four years down stream. You’ll be ready to enter a legacy or airline that’s flying Airbus’s or Boeing equipment. The entry level pay don’t quote my on this I think it’s somewhere around the 60,000.00 mark depending on what airline you go to. By your third year in the airline depending on you’re work habits, your at a six-figure income.

What are the academic requirements for airline pilots?

“What are the academic requirements for airline pilots?” “Do I have to have perfect grades in science and math?”

We ask Captain David Santo.

Paula Williams: What are the academic qualifications that are required for any of your programs or any programs that you know of?

Captain David Santo:  It’s not that challenging academically.  I know that people like to promote aviation as being a very tough career field.  It’s not.  You do have to be able to memorize.  You do have to be able to study and apply yourself.  You do need to be able to understand situationally the things that are going on around you.  Academic qualifications really almost anybody could be trained to fly, and I think if you’re of average intelligence and average academics, you’re going to successful if you apply yourself.

Paula Williams:  You don’t have to be a straight A student or be really fantastic at science or math or any of the things they told me with I was a kid?

Captain David Santo:  When I was growing up, Paula, they told me that I had be really good at math in school.  Now I think of the absurdity of we’re not really doing algebraic equations while we’re shooting an approach at 200 miles an hour.  If you can ad subtract, multiply, and divide, you’re probably fine on the math, and the science is not much different.

Paula Williams:  Right.  Okay.  That’s a relief to a lot of people an the line, myself included.

What salary does an airline pilot earn?

One of the key questions that must be considered for any vocation is compensation. What salary does an airline pilot earn?   We ask Captain David Santo, here’s his answer.

Paula Williams: Next question of course we want to get right down to the nuts and bolts. What kind of salary can I expect?

Captain David Santo: Well, that’s a very good question because it’s a pretty wide spectrum. The entry level into the aviation career field is typically flight instructing if you don’t come through the military. I did not. I was a civilian pilot. I flight instructed. That was what I would call starvation wages. You were building time. You transitioned into some type of a corporate flying student or a commuter flying opportunity or even some cargo on demand charter operations, and the pay gets a little better. I think of it this way, Paula, it’s like being a doctor. You don’t start out at the top. You have to work you way up. You’re going to have to pay your dues a little by. This is like being an intern. I forget the other term they use for a doctor while they’re going through their initial early stages of building their experience. It’s very much like that. 

Paula: A resident who doesn’t make a whole lot of money, but they work their tails off I think. 

David: That’s exactly right. Then when you get to the top of the career field, and again it varies greatly on what region of the world you’re in, there are some regions of the world that airlines pilots are makes in excess of 350,000.00 a year comparable to U.S. It may not be in U.S. Dollars, but that’s their earning pay. I think you’re going find even here in the U.S. An airline captain is a significant six-figure income if he’s flying for a major mainline airline carrier. If you’re flying for a commuter even some of the commuter jobs after you build up enough time and experience and move up to the left seat, are starting to see better pay wages. Overall lifetime earnings you’re looking at a multi-million dollar job.

Paula Williams: Great. There was one conversation that we had not to long ago and you told me there were two different career paths really that an airline pilot can take one of them is the route that you took, which is basically being a student pilot and building time. The other is basically going from zero to an airline pilot or first-officer as quickly as possible and getting that jump cutting through that period of low pay. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Captain David Santo: Well, I think is we’re seeing a global demand. The global demand for airline pilots is really being fueled by the demand for the middle class. As the middle class is going bigger in what we would have considered in under industrialized in third world countries, that middle class wants to enjoy the opportunity to travel. We’re your looking at statics, and these statics were put out originally by Boeing but I think they’ve been validated even by the U.S. Accounting office, your looking at almost a half a million new entrant airline pilots needed over the next twenty years to meet the global demand. Now the part about that is we’ve never seen that demand before, and there’s not currently the training infrastructure really to even supply that demand. That’s really great news. This is very well documented and published. 
 How do we take advantage of that? Well, there’s a couple of things that we can do to take advantage of that. A lot of that training is offshore. Those offshore opportunities are now looking to American pilots, European pilots, North America pilots to fill their first-officer seats because they don’t have enough of their nationals who have come up through the ranks who can fill those positions. We have talked to many folks, who have taken a very exciting career choice that wasn’t there for me when I was coming up through the ranks, to go fly Airbus or Boeing equipment outside of the United States for a few years as first officers, as contract pilots, build their experience level, come back to the U.S. They really they leapfrog or bypass the rest of us that had to do flight instruction and fly freight in the middle of the night. They really went from Flight School, ab initio, through a type rate program, offshore got a job, built some sometime up, came back, and they were the front of the line to get the airlines job now because they have experience in the A 320 and the 737 already.

Paula Williams: Right. Then getting seniority quickly is another thing that you mentioned as being incredibly important?

Captain David Santo: Well, Paula, like you and I have talked about seniority in the airlines it’s a really strange system. I think it’s hard for people to get their arms around if they’ve not been in this industry before. For most airlines everything is based on date-of-hire seniority. Your base assignment, your bid assignments, your aircraft assignments all are based on how senior you are, what your seniority number is. In my particular airline for example, we’re getting close to about 3,000 pilots, and I’m somewhere around the seniority of 509. That puts my in top twenty some percent, a little better than that, for pilots, which means I have my pick of bases or I have a better shot at my pick of bases. I’ve now been a captain for a lot longer. The captain pay is still substantially betting than first-officer pay depending on how hard you want to work. I’ve said that had I’d had the opportunities that young people have now to break into the industry sooner, to land an airline job, to land that airline job that they want to spend their career at, the quick you can do that the quicker you’re going to build up your seniority. That’s going to equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of dollar in lifetime earnings by the time you retire.

Paula Williams: Right. That’s not just money. That’s also quality of life because you get to chose, have a better selection of bases, flights, and schedules really that has to do with your life it sounds like?

Captain David Santo: Well, one of the common questions we get asked in the Flight School is from parents. The parents are trying to help their young son or daughter make a decision about is this a career path that they should pursue? Of course there parents not being in aviation or business they want to know what’s the return on my investment? If we spend this money, is my investment going to work for my son or daughter. I would have the same question. 
 The answer is we really need to show them what the lifetime earning is versus the initial expense. It’s absolutely worth it. Now I would like to qualify that because I’ve had some people call me and e-mail me and push back and say Dave I’ve been stuck in a dead in computer job for twenty years. What I typically find that when I press them and say have you been applying? Have you been trying to make a move into an airline? Typically what I hear is I haven’t been applying because I don’t want to take a pay cut. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to make the sacrifices that would come along with doing that. I would caution people to say are there people in this career that have been less successful than others? Absolutely. That’s no different than any other career path. I think there’s an old saying that says successful people are those who do the things that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do or haven’t had the opportunity to do.

Paula Williams: Right.

Captain David Santo: I think that if you’re a person who’s dedicated to this career path and you’re willing to do what it takes, you can create a tremendous career and be very successful at it. You’ve got to take ownership with making that happen. It’s still not going to fall on your lap. 

Paula: Right. Exactly. I think that’s true of any career. We’ve taken a little more time with this slide than others. I think it’s really very important to students and to their parents and others to really understand that that opportunity is there for a good salary.

Is it Still a Good Career Choice to be an Airline Pilot?

We asked Captain David Santo if it is still a good career choice to be an airline pilot.  This was his answer:

Paula Williams:  Again, if you have a question, please feel free to enter it in the chat window.  We’ll start with some that we had.  Is it still a good career choice to be an airline pilot?

Career choice? British European Airways lapel badge
Does your career choice involve airline wings? – These are from British European Airways.

Captain David Santo:  Well, I think so.  I don’t think people choose to be airline pilots copilots because they think it’s a great career choice.  I think being an airline transport pilot is almost a calling.  It’s a passion.  I’ve dealt with so many pilots, including myself, that I didn’t know anybody in the industry as a child growing up.  My parents were not in the industry, but yet, if you ask my parents they will tell you that this is something I always said I wanted to do.  If you’re following a passion if it’s something you’ve dreamed about doing, it’s a great career choice.  
 That being said, Paula, probably right now is the best time we’ve seen in probably twenty years to be getting into the this career.  We went through a long lull in the industry, and like every cycle as that cycle comes out we’re now going to go into a very long cycle of strong growth, which means there’s going to be high demand and high demand means that there’s going to be career opportunities, betting pay, better benefits really for pilots all over the world.  I am very excited for the young people coming into the industry.  I’m excited for the people that are joining the industry later in their careers.  They want to make a career change in their 40’s or 50’s and become pilots.  Those opportunities are going to be there now too.

Paula Williams:  Excellent.  Well, it sounds like that’s good news.  I know there’s a lot of people who look at some of the old movies some of the old Pan AM ads and things like and they say being an airline pilot is not as glamorous as it used to be.  Is that true or what have you seen?

Captain David Santo:  Well, I think that’s probably a true statement.  It depend on where you’re at in the world.  Here in North America and Europe I don’t think the airline profession is particularly glamorous.  It’s not the Catch Me If You Can movie actor set, but some places of the world it’s still very highly respected career.  I even here in North America and in Europe it’s a very well-respected career.  It’s a well-paid career. Even more so as you accrue hours of flight experience.  I think there’s lots of benefits associated to it that I think the layman employee would not really have the options to do.  Glamorous I’m not sure if I know if it’s glamorous or not, but I would say it’s been a very fun career.  I’ve truly enjoyed it.

Paula Williams:  Right.  You still get to go lots of places.  I think its so great that an airline pilot flies everywhere and still have a lot of perks being able to travel to places even when they’re not working things that other professions maybe don’t have.

Captain David Santo:  If you’re a person who thinks that a career is doing a time card, punching a time card, coming to work at 8:00 in the morning, taking an hour lunch break, and leaving at 5:00, and doing that five days a week, I think that pilot jobs or an  aviation career  is going to be very glamorous job outlook.  We have the best window seat office view in the world at 35,000 feet.  We don’t punch a time card.  We have days off.  We have recurrent flight training, We have a very flexible and almost a very irregular schedule.  There’s a lot of things about it that if you’re something who doesn’t like to be in the mundane grind of every day at work, I think you’re going to find an airline career definitely not your average job.

Happy Halloween! Are You Afraid to Pursue your Aviation Career Dreams?

dreaming of an aviation career
Dreaming of an aviation career? Afraid to take the next step? Come to our free webinar and get your questions answered.

Are you afraid to pursue your aviation career dreams?

It’s interesting how sometimes what we want most and what we’re afraid of is sometimes the same thing.

In the U.S. and other parts of the world, Halloween is a time of year when kids dress up in scary costumes and go door-to-door. Neighbors hand out candy.

Sometimes kids dress up as what they want to be when they grow up. We see little cowboys, astronauts, famous athletes, or even airline pilots.

When I was a kid and I told people I wanted to be a pilot, well-meaning people (like aunts, uncles, and teachers) would say things like:

  • “You’re going to have to be very good at math. Pilots need to know a lot of math.”
  • “You know, they don’t make very much money anymore, and their schedules are crazy.”
  • “It’s very hard to get a job as a pilot in this economy.”


I could have let these things scare me, but when I thought about it, I realized that my aunts and uncles and teachers wanted the best for me, but they really didn’t know that much about being a pilot, because they’d never done it.

The best thing to do, I realized, was to ask people who were actually working at the job I wanted. They could tell me more about what it’s REALLY like.

Here’s your chance to ask your questions of a working airline captain:

David Santo has worked in private aviation and is now a Captain for a major U.S. airline. We will ask him first-hand the questions you want to ask:

  • Do you have to have perfect grades in school?
  • What is the salary and schedule really like?
  • How hard is it to get a job? And what can I do to maximize my chances?
  • And many others.

The online webinar is free, but we do have a limited number of seats, so click here to register today!

Have a question for Captain Dave?   Reply to this email! We’ll ask Captain Dave as many as we can during the session.



Video – Flying an Airbus!

We love this video of a great pilot flying an airbus!  Can’t keep from smiling when we watch it.

Airbus 319
GoPro Hero 2

Song: Sail – Awolnation

0:05 – SBRJ Santos Dumont RWY 20L – Rio de Janeiro – Brasil
0:30 – Copacabana Beach – Rio de Janeiro – Brasil
0:35 – SBRJ Santos Dumont RWY 20L – Rio de Janeiro – Brasil
0:51 – Florianopolis SC Brasil
1:07 – Downwind leg SBRJ Santos Dumont RWY 02R – Rio de Janeiro – Brasil ( Botafogo Beach )
2:11 – SKBO El Dorado RWY 13R – Bogota – Colombia
2:16 – SBSP Congonhas RWY 17R – São Paulo – Brasil
2:23 – SKBO El Dorado RWY 13L – Bogota – Colombia ( Gust from left before touchdown )
3:16 – SBSP Congonhas RWY 35L – São Paulo – Brasil

Do airlines hire pilots with zero time in type?

Captain David Santo talks about time in type

We’ve heard it said and read it posted in aviation forums that “no” airline hires pilots who possess a type rating with zero time in type. This is a false statement. We all know that Southwest Airlines hires type rated pilots without time in type and that Spirit Airlines has publically said that they prefer a PIC type for initial applicants. Whether you or I agree with this hiring practice is not the issue. The fact is that it is happening both in the USA and all around the world. Airlines all over the place have adopted this standard practice.

Although most airlines have not drawn a “line in the sand” by stating a type rating is mandatory many have made it a point to offer preferential interviewing and hiring to those who are typed. If you owned an airline wouldn’t you want to mitigate your training risk by doing the same thing?

Years ago I was offered an interview with South West Airlines which would have required me to obtain a b737 type rating paid for out of my own pocket. At the time I rejected the idea and turned down the opportunity. It scares me now to look back at how much money I lost over the years which have passed by not jumping at opportunity. I can only imagine how senior I would be by now and how much better my quality of life would have been. What an  OOOOPS.

AeroStar’s students are and have been very successful getting jobs and this is a fact. For obvious legal reasons I cannot post any of our customer’s names here however I can give you names of a few of the airlines who have hired our graduates (in no particular order). These are; Jetblue, Spirit, Lan Airways, TACA, Copa, Avionca, Philippine Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Airlines, Nile Air, Jeju Air, Qatar Airways, Nas Air, Saudia, e.t.c.

If you bet on yourself to invest in a type rating in an A320 or B737, I’m betting that you’ll get a job flying one!

investIf you bet on yourself to invest in a type rating in an A320 or B737, I’m betting that you’ll get a job flying one!

We are prepared to offer any customer who is unsuccessful at obtaining employment on the aircraft for which they received an AeroStar type rating within one year of their course completion a 50% discount on a 12-month recurrent training event. Were doing this for two reasons we want the customer to know we are willing to put our money where our mouth is and that we are confident they will be successful.

We could not afford to offer this price if we where not absolutely sure that the vast majority of our alumnus would not be flying their type rated aircraft.


Captain David Santo Aerostar Training Services LLC