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Many individuals are aware that being a pilot can be a rewarding career. They get to travel to different places and enjoy the best views from the cockpit. They can also potentially earn a lot of money if they’re employed in a commercial air carrier. While these benefits can be very attractive, the journey to becoming an airline pilot requires a lot of work.

First off, aspiring pilots need to find a reputable pilot school where they can undergo ground training to understand fundamental aviation and navigation techniques and then apply them during flight training. Next, they’ll need to complete a certain number of flight hours to qualify for specific pilot licenses as well as other requirements before they can apply for a job in any airline company.

If your goal is to become an airline pilot, you need to have a good understanding of the process to become one as well as learn what will be expected of you once you land your dream job. To help you, check out the key points below that can prepare for this particular career.

Pilot Licenses

Before you become an airline pilot, you need to acquire certain licenses to be legally allowed to operate an aircraft and be employed by airline companies. These licenses are a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATP). Both licenses are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and permit you to earn as a pilot, but there are certain differences between the two that you need to understand.

Commercial Pilot License 

All pilots who want to be compensated for their service must be a CPL holder. This license also allows you to apply to any airline as a First Officer, which is a starting point for many airline pilots. To apply for this license, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid First Class medical certificate. You need to pass the Air Transportation Office Knowledge tests and their practical flight test and oral examination. You also need to get a license from the National Telecommunications Commission to operate the aircraft radio.

To obtain a CPL, pilots must complete at least 150 flight hours. This can be a combination of the 110 minimum flight hours required in your CPL training while the 40 hours are the ones you’ve already earned as you worked your way through your private pilot license.

Airline Transport Pilot License 

Although CPL holders can apply for First Officer positions in different airlines, an Airline Transport Pilot license allows you to immediately work as a captain of a large, multi-crew commercial aircraft. To get an ATP license, you need to accumulate 1,500 flight hours. You start earning these hours after getting your CPL, and any flight hours you’ve obtained before your CPL won’t be counted towards this total.

Apart from the required number of flight hours, you also need to have a multi-engine rating, an instrument rating so you can operate a commercial aircraft during inclement weather, and a type rating so you can fly various aircraft such as an Airbus, Boeing, or ATR.

Educational Attainment

Many airlines require their pilots to have a bachelor’s degree. While they prefer individuals who majored in aeronautics, aviation, aerospace engineering, physics, or computer science, any college major will do. In most cases, airline companies accept applicants with various industry backgrounds as they’re presumed to have the discipline and work ethics to uphold the values of the company as well as to be in touch with the latest technology, systems, and procedures in aviation.

Height Requirement

Although the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations don’t require pilots to be a certain height, many airline companies impose one to ensure the pilot is capable of manipulating the controls in the cockpit. Often, these companies want to ensure their pilots’ limbs are long enough to reach every lever, button, switch and step on the brakes and rudders.

Every airline has a specific requirement for its pilots. For example, Philippine Airlines requires pilots to be at least 5’4”. On the other hand, some international airline companies impose height requirements of at least 5’1” and accept applicants who are up to 6’2” tall.

Responsibilities of an Airline Pilot

When you become an airline pilot, your duties begin before the airplane takes off. You need to follow a checklist of preflight checks to ensure the engines, hydraulics, and other systems are in order. You also need to check fuel, weather conditions, and flight schedules. Then, you must ensure the cargo has been loaded into the aircraft and its weight is properly balanced.

Primarily, pilots are responsible for safely navigating the aircraft using the different cockpit instruments. Part of this job is to ensure a smooth takeoff and landing. During the flight, they also monitor the engines, fuel consumption, and other aircraft systems. They must also steer the aircraft along the planned routes. Once they have landed the plane, pilots need to file a post-flight report.

Being an airline pilot has a lot of perks, but it also has plenty of responsibilities. This is why the process to become one takes plenty of hard work, knowledge, and dedication. If you want to excel as an airline pilot, it’s best to learn as much as you can about the requirements of most airline companies. Apart from the information mentioned above, you can also ask other airline pilots about their experiences to help you better prepare for your aviation career.

 

Anyone can be a good pilot, but it takes certain skills to be a good flight instructor (FI). Having pilot certification, experience, and knowledge are all valuable characteristics for an instructor to have, but there are other qualities that one must possess to effectively teach future members of the industry. And while all teachers must be experts, not all experts can be teachers.

If you’re a pilot or would-be pilot with any of these qualities, you might have a future in guiding your future colleagues in the aviation sector.

Strong Communication and People Skills

Flight schools are meant to transform students into professional and competent pilots, and the experts tasked with teaching novices must be able to communicate instructions well. This means not relying on jargon-speak and understanding that the students are just starting to grasp industry terminology. Instructors must know how to communicate at a student’s level during pilot training to help them fully absorb the various aviation concepts.

Having strong communication skills also means understanding that everyone has their own way of learning things. Dispelling the notion of a one-size-fits-all approach, instructors must know how to tailor their methods to help theoretical, visual, and practical learners make the most out of their training. For students who don’t learn as quickly as others, instructors must have the patience to help those lagging behind.

Instructors would also do well to improve their listening, mentoring, coaching, and facilitation skills. To know what best motivates a novice pilot, sometimes all you need to do is listen. Some students might not quite follow a lesson the class has already moved on from, and others might not be in the right headspace to learn. It’s important to pay attention to these kinds of students and not just spew a deluge of facts and figures.

Sufficient Knowledge and Expertise

Of course, anyone who wants to become an FI must be a subject matter expert. Beyond being certificate or license holders, FIs must have the ability to translate their technical knowledge into understandable information.

Besides having a wealth of stock knowledge, a good FI must be aware that learning never stops. Good instructors have an endless thirst for knowledge and know that instructors can also learn from their students. This means being humble enough to accept corrections when proven wrong and incorporate them in future lessons.

This also means being aware of your need to invest in further training. Knowledge fluctuates with time, and it’s best to keep sharpening your expertise. Employers often cover the retraining and revalidating costs of instructors, and you should use this as an opportunity to boost your credibility further in the industry.

Proper Teaching Methods

A person can have the skills and personality to be a good FI, but these are useless without creative, well-researched and standardized modes of instruction. Instructors must promptly prepare for lessons and review lessons in relation to the flight syllabus. It’s also good for FIs to be methodical and stick to procedures, especially when it comes to the flying aspect of pilot training. An example of this is to do a pre-flight check of a plane before every flight, which is a good habit to rub off on beginner pilots.

FIs should also learn to be inventive, especially when teaching students about small, unexpected scenarios that happen in real life. Some FIs even use examples of past accident reports from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) to highlight instances of human error and improve students’ decision-making skills. Utmost focus is another value that all pilots must abide by, and instructors must be able to train novices on dividing their attention during a flight. FIs can apply this when teaching students about making turns and identifying ground objects or terrain.

Professionalism

There are different ways to define professionalism, especially with FIs having the triple-hatted role of pilot, instructor, and mentor/coach/facilitator. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an Aviation Instructor’s Handbook that comprehensively details guidelines for being a professional FI from appearance to test creation.

Besides sticking to regulations, being professional also means treating everyone, including your students, with respect. Good FIs must know how to build rapport and foster camaraderie with people regardless of skill level. After all, novice pilots are also potential industry colleagues. A good working relationship would benefit everyone beyond the training period.

Enjoys Teaching and Flying

The secret ingredient to good flight instruction is passion. Without it, you can’t convince students that a career in aviation can be rewarding. To inspire others, you also need to be inspired yourself.

But of course, you can’t be an instructor if you don’t enjoy sharing your passion with others. Knowledge and skill aren’t the only qualities that make up a good FI. You also need perceptiveness and awareness to help trainee pilots reach your skill level or do even greater things. A long career as a pilot may be rewarding, but there’s nothing like being the reason why other pilots have been able to reach their dreams.

 

Learning to become a pilot doesn’t just include practicing how to fly on a physical aircraft. Before a trainee pilot can set foot on a plane, they must undergo flight simulator training. Flight simulators are training devices that replicate aircraft systems while allowing a student pilot to experience flying in different simulated environments. Through flight simulator training, student pilots can comprehend aircraft mechanisms, enhance their skills and confidence, and prepare them in operating an aircraft.

Before explaining how an aspiring student pilot like you can benefit from simulator training, it’s important to establish the different types of flight simulators and their different levels.

Different Types and Levels of Flight Simulators 

There are two types of flight simulators, which mostly refer to their ability to recreate a plane’s physical movement. Meanwhile, the different levels of flight simulators establish the device’s sophistication.

The two main types of flight simulators are:

Full Flight Simulator (FFS) 

This flight simulator provides the most realistic flight experience for student pilots as the simulator moves and acts like a plane while recreating a flight deck. There are four levels for FFSs, Levels A to D, with Level D being the most sophisticated.

Examples of Full Flight Simulators are the L3CTS A320 Full Flight Simulator, which provides a Level D Airbus 320 simulation (including an Upset Prevention and Recovery Training or UPRT capability), and the CAE A330/A340 Full Flight Simulator, which provides Level D Airbus A330-200 and Airbus A340-300 simulations.

Flight Training Device (FTD) or Fixed Base Simulator (FBS)

Unlike FFSs, an FTD/FBS cannot mimic the movement of a plane. They can, however, provide a trainee with a 3-dimensional flight experience via visual and sound effects. FTDs can also recreate flight systems and controls, but the programming and model vary per device level.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have different level classifications for FTDs. FAA has seven levels, with Level 7 being the most sophisticated. EASA has three levels of FTDs, which include Level I, Level II, and Level III—with Level III for helicopters. EASA also has an additional certification called Flight and Navigational Procedures Training (FNPT), which has two levels, Level I and Level II, and an FNPT device for Multi-Crew Cooperation training.

Because of their ability to recreate flight systems and flying conditions, these flight simulators can support your pilot training by:

Providing You with a Safe Training Environment 

Flight simulators can provide you with a safe place to practice your flying skills before getting on an aircraft. Without flight simulators, you might have to learn flight systems, operations, and controls by operating an actual aircraft. However, this method may be dangerous as you might not yet have the experience to control a plane, endangering your and your instructor’s life. In addition, accidents can damage an aircraft, so the entire situation becomes costly for your flight school.

Familiarizing You with Aircraft Operations

One of the benefits of learning on a flight simulator is its ability to help you familiarize yourself with flight operations. The different types of flight simulators mimic the cockpit, flight controls, systems, and other flight mechanisms to give you a chance to explore them and get to know how to operate these systems together. And as you gain a better understanding of these different flight systems, you also practice your multitasking skills, which will help you become better a pilot.

Replicating Different Flight Scenarios

The ultimate advantage of flight simulators is their ability to replicate all kinds of flight scenarios. You can experience realistic simulations of emergencies, low visibility conditions, and other dangerous flight situations and learn how to deal with them without risking your life and that of your instructor’s. Through these simulations, you may also make mistakes and learn from these errors without risking injury to yourself.

Allowing You to Practice Your Teamwork

Flight simulators like the MPS A320 Fixed Base Simulator (FBS) can give you a Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC) training. This type of training hones your communication and collaboration skills as you learn how to make in-flight commands, delegate tasks, and other scenarios where you might interact with a co-pilot, flight attendant, and other aircrew members. In addition, MCC training is a requirement to get an Air Transport Pilot License, Multi-Pilot License, and Multi-Pilot Type Rating.

Introducing Trainees to Several Different Aircraft Types

Flight simulators not only replicate all kinds of flight scenarios, but they can also mimic the flight controls of different aircraft types. For example, the Flight and Navigational Performance Trainer (FNPT) can reproduce the flight deck of a Cessna 172SP Skyhawk NAV III and Cessna Citation II. Meanwhile, the CAE A330/A340 Full Flight Simulator mimics the aircraft functions and feel of the Airbus A330-200 and the Airbus A340-300.

A flight simulator’s ability to replicate the flight controls of different aircraft models gives you a cost-effective way to experience various airplane systems as flight schools won’t have to buy different types of aircraft. Flight simulators can also provide a realistic model and flight experience that will help you get used to flying an Airbus A330-200, for example, and improve your confidence in flying such an aircraft.

With the benefits listed above, it becomes clear how useful flight simulators are when it comes to pilot training. Not only will flight simulators keep you safe while practicing how to operate a plane, but they will also provide you with the training you need to become the best pilot you can be. Flight simulator training is also something you can keep doing even as a licensed pilot. With continuous training, you can improve your flight accuracy and practice emergency scenarios to become adept at dealing with them.

 

If you’ve decided to pursue your life-long dream of becoming a pilot, you’re probably excited or anxious about your first day in flight school. It can be thrilling to know that you’re one step closer to your goal while feeling a bit nervous about the new experiences you’re about to undertake. To shake off those first-day jittery feelings, make sure to get yourself ready by reading up as much as you can about your chosen career path.

Whether you want to become a private pilot or a commercial airline pilot, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you have an easier time adjusting to training. From completing essential requirements to learning more about the aviation industry, here are ways you can prepare yourself for pilot training.

Consider Riding along with Other Pilots

One way you can prepare for pilot school is to ask other pilots if you can take a discovery flight with them. Also known as an orientation flight, it’s when you go on an instructional demonstration flight for around 30 minutes to an hour with a certified flight instructor. A discovery flight is similar to shadowing, where an individual accompanies a professional to their workplace to find out what it’s like to work in a specific industry. It’s also possible to use flight simulators to take an orientation flight with a veteran pilot.

During a discovery flight, you can ask the instructor questions about flight training and the aviation industry. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about the profession and find out what particular career path would suit you best.

Typically, flight schools offer this introductory flight to promote their other pilot courses. Also, it’s recommended for young students who are interested in flying and want to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the cockpit. When it comes to the fee of the discovery flight, it will depend on the school and aircraft you’ll be using. The usual aircraft used in a discovery flight is a Cessna 152 or a Cessna 172, but it’s best to inquire with the flight school on what they intend to use.

Get a Medical Certificate

Before you begin your pilot training, you’ll be required to get a medical certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). This is to ensure you’re fit to fly. A medical certificate is also a requirement for many flight programs and courses in the country.

There are two types of medical certificates that pilots are issued, and they will depend on the kind of license you’ll need in your aviation career. If you need a student or private pilot license, you’ll need a Class 2 medical certificate. On the other hand, a Class 1 medical certificate is required for commercial pilot and airline transport pilot licenses.

To get any of the two medical certificates, you must be assessed by the CAAP’s Aviation Medical Examiner. They’ll come up with a report based on the results from your different medical tests including:

  • Vision test (color blind test, depth perception test, and Snellen chart)
  • Audiometry or pure-tone test
  • Drug test
  • Dental exam
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Complete blood count
  • Urinalysis
  • Chest x-ray

Take a Pilot Aptitude Test

A pilot aptitude test is a series of diagnostic exams that airline companies and flight schools administer to gauge a person’s skills and aptitude in becoming a pilot. This test is basically divided into three categories: knowledge tests, aptitude tests, and behavioral tests. Knowledge tests will quiz a person’s understanding various subjects such as Math, Physics and English. Aptitude tests, on the other hand, will test an individual’s ability to multi-task as well as their coordination and motor skills. Lastly, behavioral tests look at the personality, motivations, and preferences of the candidate and see how they respond to specific situations. An aptitude test usually includes a variety of tests from these three categories and are ultimately designed to see if a person has what it takes to succeed in their chosen career as a pilot.

Be Proficient in the English Language

Radio communication is necessary for flying safely. Since English is the international language used in aviation, all aspiring Filipino pilots are trained to speak and understand the language well. This way, they can efficiently communicate using the aircraft radio. Also, to qualify as a commercial or airline transport pilot, you’ll need to have at least a Level 4 English language proficiency.

So, you need to make sure you’re adept with the language. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time following the directions from the Air Traffic Control. Aside from communicating, mastering the English language is also necessary when you need to accomplish required documents before each flight as all these are written in English.

Learn the Phonetic Alphabet

Apart from the English language, you must also learn and memorize the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet. It is also commonly known as the NATO phonetic alphabet or ICAO spelling alphabet and is the international standard. This alphabet is composed of a series of codewords assigned to each letter of the English alphabet. The names for the letters and numbers are made to sound distinct so they can easily be understood by anyone communicating via voice messages, including radio and telephone communication, regardless of the language differences or quality of connection.

When learning the corresponding name of each number, be mindful of the special pronunciations such as three is pronounced as tree, five as fife, and nine as niner. If you want to quickly learn the NATO phonetic alphabet, you can practice spelling out license plates of street names as you pass by them. So if you see a license plate with AYG-4679, you must be able to read it as Alfa-Yankee-Golf-Four-Six-Seven-Niner.

Reach Out to Other Pilots You Know

Take the time to talk to other pilots you may know like friends or relatives. Ask them for any recommendations to best get started. Also, learn about their experiences and see what their career track was like. If you don’t know anyone who is a pilot, seek the help of your friends or the flight school you’ll be attending. Perhaps, they can help connect you with an alumnus who’s willing to talk about their career and share some valuable advice.

Before you begin your first day in pilot school, it’s always a good idea to prepare ahead of time. This can include doing your research about the profession as well as accomplishing the necessary requirements. By getting yourself ready, you’ll be able to focus better on your training and be more certain about the career path you want to take in the aviation industry.

Pursuing a career as a pilot is great for those that crave adventure—those that want to soar across skies and don’t want to stay in the same place for a long time. For Filipinos, this type of career comes naturally to people for whom travel is in their blood. But aside from opportunities to reach far-off places, becoming a pilot also offers lucrative opportunities as more countries recover from the COVID-19 crisis and ramp up demand for new pilots. According to a Statista report, there might be a global shortage of 50,000 pilots by 2025 as the pandemic-hit aviation sector works to surpass 2019 levels by 2023. North American airlines alone might need around 130,000 pilots over the next two decades, the report states.

Another report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that in the Philippines, the air transport industry employs approximately 45,000 people and supports over 127,000 jobs in the supply chain. In 20 years, the sector could support a total of 1.8 million jobs and contribute up to $28.2 billion to the country’s GDP.

So what would it take to become a pilot, one of the most vital jobs in the industry? There are actually a variety of options. One could go to a flight school and get a student pilot license issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). One could also enroll in an airline-sponsored Cadet Pilot Program, which will result in an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) and employment with the airline upon completion of the program. Future pilots in the Philippines may also opt to join the Philippine Air Force (PAF), where the government will provide flight training. However, pilots under this program must render 12 years of military service before they can join commercial airlines.

Another option is to obtain a college degree related to aviation. Some might not see the necessity of going to college when there are other ways to get a pilot license, but a degree could provide additional knowledge and fresh perspectives that would help in a pilot’s daily tasks. Some aviation-related Bachelor’s degrees also provide flight training, allowing the student to obtain licenses such as a Commercial Pilot License (CPL).

If the benefit of having a college degree along with pilot training seems enticing, here are some degrees you should consider.

Aviation

Of course, the most straightforward path to becoming a certified pilot is getting a Bachelor’s degree in Aviation. Formally studying the aspects of flight enables you to approach its nuances from a theoretical and practical perspective. If you want a clear direction in your career as a professional in the skies, there are several good pilot schools in the country that offer Aviation degree programs that can directly prepare you for licensure and examination.

Aeronautics

Although it doesn’t necessarily provide training for piloting aircraft, a degree in Aeronautics or Aeronautical Science will provide you with a skill set that can be useful for pilots. This degree will give you an idea of an airplane’s core functions, its components, and what it takes for them to remain safely airborne. It also provides an option for students to go into other aviation-related jobs including air traffic management and aircraft maintenance.

Aerospace Engineering

Similar to Aeronautics, an Aerospace Engineering degree isn’t directly related to piloting planes. However, having this degree will make your resume stand out because it’s generally harder to pursue compared to other courses. You will also need to complete additional flight training before getting a pilot license. Aerospace Engineering entails the study of scientific concepts such as flight dynamics, propulsion, thermodynamics, and aerodynamics, which are also crucial if you want a career in air travel.

Air Traffic Management

Contrary to popular belief, the career prospects of graduates with this degree aren’t just limited to being an air traffic controller. This degree will help you understand aviation meteorology and how to assess threats such as adverse weather, which can be useful for unexpected landings and identifying routes. You will also learn how to analyze and avoid congestion in air traffic, which is important when you’re the one piloting the aircraft. As with other aviation-related degrees on this list, this specialized degree is also beneficial for those who want to switch to other aviation jobs.

Physics

Some of us may have moved on from physics in high school, but having a degree in this field can be helpful for people intent on becoming a pilot. Just like Aerospace Engineering, a degree in Physics will equip you with a more scientific understanding of flight. In addition to aerodynamics and thermodynamics, you will also study other key concepts like analytical mechanics, theoretical physics, and quantum physics.

Computer Science

Another non-aviation-related course to consider is Computer Science. While the course is less scientific and more technical in nature, Computer Science touches on engineering aspects such as handling the airplane’s computer hardware and developing software that would help automate flight operations. In case the aviation path doesn’t work out, there are plenty of backup careers in various industries for Computer Science graduates.

Let Your Degree Take You Farther

Regardless of whether you choose to pursue an aviation-related degree or not, getting a college education will always be a good move. It’s still possible to become a pilot even with a non-aviation degree, as long as you enroll in a credible flight school. After all, cadet pilot training is designed to enable anyone to become a pilot regardless of their college degree. The most important element is the passion to pursue a career in aviation.

In any case, taking up a degree in specialized aviation fields will prepare you for potential shifts to other careers. Getting such a degree is a win for future pilots looking to get their foot in the door—in aviation and beyond.