Becoming a Pilot

Hier  können Sie sich die Infobroschüre "Pilot werden" der Arbeitsgruppe Qualification & Training herunter laden. Sie enthält detaillierte Informationen über das Berufsbild des Piloten und seine Anforderungen.

Hier  können Sie sich die Infobroschüre "Berufswunsch: Pilotin" der Arbeitsgruppe Diversity & Social herunter laden. 

We would like to use this webpage to answer the most frequently asked questions on the topic of airline pilots. Our hope is to be able to provide answers to the many telephone calls, which reach the VEREINIGUNG COCKPIT on a daily basis.

What is the benefit in attending a pilot job-fair?

Over the past years there has been a marked rise in job-fairs on “becoming a pilot”. Generally, it makes sense to attend such fairs, in order to get a better picture of the pilot-profession, as well as of the conditions surrounding the training.

However, it should be clear that many of the exhibitors use these fairs as a sales-platform. One should thus questions whether the information provided is legitimate, objective or rather a “sales-pitch” for a product/service?

Should a “pilot-screening/-assessment” be offered in conjunction with the fair, we refer you to our FAQ-bullet “I heard about a test. What is that about?” 

What are the chances on the job market?

For career starters, the opportunities on the European labor market are almost hopeless. Even graduates of training airlines currently have to put up with considerable waiting times.

The pilot demand forecast by aircraft manufacturers, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and IATA (International Association of Airlines), is almost exclusively in Asia (China, India) and the Gulf region.

I heard about a test. What is that about?

As a basic principle, all major airline companies conduct recruitment tests. Some prior to training and others after training is completed. There are different types of tests: Aptitude and recruitment tests. 

Aptitude test: These tests assess the skills required for a career as a professional pilot (e.g. spatial sense, high level of resilience, etc.) 

Recruitment test: For German airline companies, recruitment tests are usually conducted in connection with an aptitude test from the German National Aeronautics and Space Research Centre in Hamburg or the company Interpersonal. These consist of specific recruitment criteria of the airline companies.

Warning: If there are any costs involved in such tests, or whenever such tests are conducted in conjunction with a job-fair/-expo, you should check whether successful completion of these tests realistically results in employment, or whether the testing/screening itself is not a means to generate income.

How can I prepare for these tests?

As long as preparation entails actively dealing with the matters at hand and polishing up on knowledge (English, physics and math exercises, etc.), it is beneficial and attests a professional work ethic.

Various commercial institutions offer, to some extent very expensive, training programmes, the value of which is debatable. In principle, we do not recommend these programmes. Skills can be trained, aptitude cannot.

The test centres usually provide you with preparatory materials.

At what time can I become a member of the Vereinigung Cockpit?

You can become a VC member at the beginning of your training. Membership is free for trainee pilots.

How much does a pilot earn?

That strongly depends on the airline company. A First Officer receives a starting monthly gross salary between 1500 Euros and 5000 Euros. A captain, which you can become after approximately 3 to 20 years as a First Officer, receives a starting salary between 3000 and 10,000 Euros depending on the airline company. On the other hand, the significant expenses for training must be taken into consideration.

I heard that the training is much easier and less expensive in the USA?

Flight training is generally less expensive in the USA than it is in Europe. With the exception of the PPL(A), a conversion of licenses issued by the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into licenses issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency is fundamentally impossible.

Can I combine the training with academic studies?

Yes, different universities offer study courses in cooperation with flight schools. Preferential hiring into flight management positions has not proven to be true.

What kind of advantages does study programmes offer?

The degree's additional qualification raises chances to get a job outside piloting after private flight training. A license does not come with a job. A study degree minimizes the risc of unemployment after pilot training.

What is an MPL and what can I do with it?

MPL stands for Multi Crew Pilot License. As the name suggests, this license is intended for operations in two-person cockpits. It closely corresponds to the CPL(IR) “frozen ATPL”, i.e. qualifies for the position of First Officer in a commercial aircraft. The theoretical training is identical but in the practical training some of the training topics take place at an earlier stage in the simulator. However contrary to the classic license, only flights in two-person cockpits may be flown with it. In order to professionally fly Single Pilot Command (i.e. alone in a smaller business aircraft for instance), the so-called bridging requirements have to be met that require significant financial expenses.

Is it better to complete the training for the ATPL in one go?

Uninterrupted training is the quickest possible and most effective way to obtain an ATPL (continuous learning curve, separate intermediate exams do not have to be taken, etc.). A training period of approx. two years is realistic.

Modular training can make sense if obtaining the licence is being carried out in addition to being employed.

Attention! This method requires a greater degree of self-discipline, to complete the training in a time frame (not more than 36 months), which is methodically reasonable.

And what does it cost?

Depending on the training school, you must realistically anticipate at least 60,000 to 120,000 Euros (plus living expenses and accommodation facilities). Furthermore, at some airline companies, an up to 30,000 Euro investment for obtaining a type rating can also be a cost factor.

Attention! Obtaining and retaining a type rating constitutes a considerable investment, which the VC strongly advises against prior to having received a guarantee of employment (employment contract).
Maintaining a licence can also represent a significant cost factor over a longer period of time.

Offers such as "Pilot Line Training / LIFUS / Hour Building", which will cost up to € 60,000 have to be rejected in its retirety.

Is there an upper age limit for the start of training as a professional pilot?

Based on the recruitment requirements of various major airlines, there is evidence that opportunities are significantly decreasing from an age of more than 30 years. Of course, the current demand figures also play an important role.

I heard that there are also distance learning courses?

That is correct. That is an option to prepare yourself for the theoretical exam. However, after covering all that material, you still need to complete approx. 80 hours of full-time education at a flight school before being able to take the exam. 

Where can I be trained to become an airline pilot?

A complete list of flight schools, which offer training to become an airline pilot (MPL, ATPL(A)), can be found on the LBA (Federal Aviation Office) homepage. 

There are basically two paths to chose from:

Obtaining the necessary licence at one of the flight schools, listed by the German Federal Aviation Authority (Luftfahrtbundesamt), with subsequent job application for employment at an airline company.
You can also find a checklist, to help with the selection of a flight school on our homepage.

Attention: We find possible promises of having better chances at certain airlines because of training at a specific school to be unreliable.

Only occasionally airlines (currently, Lufthansa Group, Air Berlin, Condor) train ab initio airline pilots directly within the company. The selection procedures are individual as well as the methods of financing.  

When choosing this path, considerable waiting periods and additional costs can also result after successfully completing the training, given that employees are solely hired as required.