There are many things to consider before one can become an aircraft pilot. The cost of studying as well as the time that you’ll be investing in this career should not be taken lightly, and your choices and preferences should be the primary consideration before taking this major.
True enough, this might be a career that many people might consider their dream profession. Although there are many perks in being an aviator that other careers can’t match, it also comes with a great weight of responsibility. Transporting cargos worth millions and invaluable human life may be overwhelming for some, and this is just one of the reasons why being a pilot involves continuous intensive training and thousands of hours of experience.
Here are the steps to becoming a full-fledged pilot in the Philippines:
1. Know the Qualifications
Unlike other careers, becoming a pilot does not have a lot of restrictions, although there are some you can consider as mandatory. A basic license can only be issued to those who are at least 16 years old, and usually retire at the age of 67.
Before entering flight school, a degree in any 4-year course is required as well. And this includes all degrees and not just aircraft-related ones.
Finally, peak physical fitness (no chronic diseases and ailments), a 20/20 vision (corrective lenses are allowed), and English proficiency are also required before being qualified into flight school. Although there is no height requirement in getting your license, many companies impose this mostly for concern about the pilot’s ability in manipulating controls in the cockpit.
2. Enroll in a Flight School
If you now have the funds for it, you can now go to your preferred flight school to earn your pilot licenses. During this time, a related course like BS Aviation Major in Commercial Flying or Aeronautical Engineering can help you in the industry early on, and will also give you some advantage in flight school. This can also serve as your leverage during your time studying in one of the pilot courses, as you can work part-time as an aircraft mechanic/technician as you progress in the pilot degree.
An airline cadet program can also be useful if you cannot afford the expenses of flight schools, with an exchange for a multi-year exclusive employment in the airline that provided your scholarship.
3. Get Your Student Pilot License
All pilots start as student pilots, much like how you become a student driver first before acquiring your driving license. This is divided into two phases; Ground School Training which is where you’ll learn all about the academic aspect of flight and all its related basic courses, and Flight Training which involves actual flying lessons with a certified instructor.
4. Get Your Private Pilot License
After racking up around 40-50 hours of flight time required (solo or flights with your instructor), you can then proceed to the next step: acquiring your Private Pilot License (PPL). However, since it is a private license, you still won’t be allowed to work or get paid for your services.
5. Earn Your Commercial Pilot License
After accumulating hundreds of hours of flight time, you can then proceed to get your Commercial Pilot License. Your PPL only covers leisure or business flights, and getting your CPL means that you can now get paid and start flying as an official occupation.
There are many career opportunities once you’ve obtained this, from working as a flight instructor or as an air charter pilot and a corporate pilot, among others.
6. Become an Airline Pilot
Finally, landing a job on a multi-crew aircraft is now possible with your CPL. First, you can consider being a First Officer as you work your way up the ranks. Airlines usually accept applicants with CPL in this entry-level job. As you rack up your time and experience, you can then apply for an Airline Transport Pilot License or ATP, the highest possible certification any civilian pilot can obtain.
With this license, you can now work as a Captain of a multi-crew aircraft, and is considered the ultimate career goal of every pilot.
Note that becoming a pilot is a continuous learning process, as mentioned before, and complacency is not an option. The lives of all your passengers and your crew depend on your skills and abilities. Not only is this arguably considered the best career around, this is also a rewarding hobby as well, in general.