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Many people aspire to become pilots because flying provides an exciting and rewarding experience like no other. It also opens the opportunity for a career in the aviation industry. If this is something you want to pursue, the first thing you need to do is learn how to fly by enrolling in a pilot training school.

There are many aviation schools in the Philippines to choose from, and you always have the option of applying for a cadet pilot program from airline companies. These companies typically sponsor the studies and training of aspiring pilots and employ them upon graduation. Alternatively, you can join the Philippine Air Force and have the training subsidized by the government. If you opt for this route, you will need to render at least 12 years of service as a military pilot at the Philippine Air Force after graduating. Once you have completed the required years of service, you can then apply for commercial pilot jobs if you no longer wish to serve in the military by then.

Aside from having several options to get your wings, you also have various career choices as a pilot. You can opt to become either a private or a commercial pilot. To understand the difference between the two and help you evaluate which one to pursue, read on.

What Is a Private Pilot?

A private pilot is a certified specialist that is legally allowed to fly a private aircraft for personal or business purposes. However, they are not allowed to fly an aircraft to earn any income or compensation. Despite the limitations of being a private pilot, you get the opportunity to fly solo or carry more than one passenger anywhere in the Philippines. You can also do something meaningful like participating in search and rescue missions.

Becoming a Private Pilot

Private pilots are trained on small aircraft operation, navigation, aircraft maneuvers, flight planning, and emergency procedures. They begin with learning the basics of aerodynamics, aircraft parts, radio communication, weather, and other fundamental aviation concepts in ground school. After building the foundation knowledge of aviation, a cadet can begin with the flying lessons with the help of a certified instructor in flight training.

To legally fly an aircraft, you must obtain a student pilot license (SPL) from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). They must be at least 16 years old at the time of application. You also need a Class 2 medical certificate, which will be issued after being assessed by a medical examiner from CAAP. They will evaluate if you are physically and mentally fit to fly. Another requirement to get an SPL is to acquire clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation to prove you have a spotless record. Also, students must be proficient in the English language so that they can effectively communicate with air traffic control.

Once you have completed your flight training and have gotten a radio operator’s license from the National Telecommunications Commission, you can start earning additional flight hours to build enough confidence as well as the 40 to 50 hours of flight time required to get a private pilot license (PPL). Typically, it takes about three to four months to gain these hours, which can be accomplished as a combination of solo flights and dual flights or with a certified flight instructor. Additionally, you must be able to pass CAAP’s private pilot license knowledge test, English language proficiency test, and skills test or check ride with a check pilot from CAAP.

What Is a Commercial Pilot?

A commercial pilot can fly complex aircraft and is compensated for it. As a commercial pilot, you can be hired by private companies and individuals to fly an aircraft to transport cargo and passengers, conduct flight tours, perform agricultural spraying, or work as a flight instructor.

To pursue a career as a commercial pilot, you must be a PPL holder, attend another ground school, participate in flight training, and obtain a commercial airline license (CPL). You also need a total of at least 150 flight hours, which can be a combination of the 110 minimum flight hours you can get during CPL training and the 40 or 50 hours you’ve already earned while getting a PPL.

Also, you must have a Level 4 English language proficiency, radio license from the NTC, and a Class 1 medical certificate. Lastly, you need to complete and pass the CPL knowledge test of the CAAP as well as their skills test or check ride exam.

How to Become an Airline Pilot

Many aspiring pilots often have the end goal of becoming a commercial airline pilot as it can be a lucrative profession. To apply as a pilot in any airline company, a CPL holder must earn additional flight hours and have add-on ratings such as instrument rating and type rating.

An instrument rating allows pilots to fly an aircraft in different weather conditions. This is an additional qualification that private pilots and commercial pilots take to fly under instrument flight rules or almost zero visibility flight. It is also a basic requirement of many airline companies. On the other hand, a type rating is where pilots learn comprehensive knowledge of a particular system and train to be adept in a specific type of aircraft such as an Airbus A320 or A330.

Once you have completed the additional training and flight hours, you can apply for a first office post in any airline company. While this is an entry-level position, you can move up to become a captain by gaining 1,500 flight hours as a CPL holder. You can pursue further qualifications and obtain an airport transport pilot (ATP) license, which is the highest certification of any civilian pilot.

Before pursuing your dream of becoming a pilot, you must first assess whether you want to be a commercial or a private pilot. Hopefully, this article can help provide you with the essential information in making your decision. This way, you know the steps you must take and understand the available career paths for you as an aviator.