I’m 47 and would like to start a new career as a pilot, if I complete the flight school and get my hours, would airlines still hire me?
While this question is asked fairly often and there is an FAQ on age and starting “Am I too old to be an Airline pilot?,” the short, sweet answer is YES. However, you’re limited in your career as to how much seniority you will be able to gain.
Rough timeframe to your start in the airline, approximately 50th/51st birthday, given I don’t know when your birthday is. It will take about 2-2.5 years to build your 1,500 hours if you attend a program like ATP. It could be shorter, or longer - depends on work ethic and students that you instruct. However, if you wait any longer, you could be in your 52nd birthday and only have 13 years in the industry. Many factors that can be factored in the time.
What are your goals, realistically speaking? Are you looking to top out at a regional airline as a captain or reach a major airline, aspirations to fly narrow/widebody?
As Brady said this is one of our most faq’d questions. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is you’ll need to be realistic about your expectations. While it’s possible, you’ll probably never be a 787 Capt flying to Narita.
Everything at the airlines is based on seniority and at 50 (approx when you’ll be hired if you start soon) you’ll only have about 15yrs left to fly. Factor in that many airlines have clauses in their contracts that if you’re awarded a new plane within your last few years they don’t have to train you (they do however have to pay you). That said you could have a very nice career at a Regional, LCC or even a Major if that’s worth it too you when the time comes but it’s not guaranteed.
It doesn’t matter to me if I go to a regional or major airline. The dream of becoming a captain of a wide body is ultimately never going to happen and I get that. I don’t even need to get rich doing it, I’d Ike to finish my career off in a job I enjoy doing and make a decent living. I turn 48 in November of this year and I could start immediately into a program. I would just hate to spend all the money and not be hired.
You don’t mention any flight experience? If that’s the case let’s be clear about something. While flying isn’t rocket science or brain surgery, it does require a certain level of intelligence, coordination and a certain demeanor to be successful and there are absolutely no guarantees you’ll be hired, regardless of your age. The fact is some people just aren’t very good at it. I’m not saying you’ll be one of them but until you start flying you really won’t know for sure. Do well, have a clean record and regardless of your age you will get hired BUT don’t and bust a few too many checkrides, don’t interview well, have something on your record, develop a disqualifying condition and you won’t. There are many reasons people don’t get hired but age isn’t one of them.
That’s very good advice and no I don’t have a lot of flying experience as I’ve flown a few times with an instructor and I love it and seem to be pretty good at when he lets me fly on my own. I’m in the present getting my private license and just think I want to continue to pursue a professional career if possible. I do a have a clean record and I’m pretty at most things I do so I’m hoping this could be a good move. It just sucks when we get older and realize it’s getting late and we need to figure things out quickly. Thanks for the insight on here so far.
Does this mean that a pilot in this situation would have to go get the new type rating independently if they wanted to fly this new aircraft and the airline would pay them while this training took place? If that’s true is that significantly cheaper than the airline training the pilot themselves?
No, that means it’s not worth it for the airline to train you and no, you can’t just go out, get your own training and think the airline will let you fly any plane you want.
The union has an expression "the airline owns the flying, the union (pilots) owns the pay. This means again if it’s not worth it for the airline to train you in some new equipment they’re allowed BUT they have to pay you that airplane rate. In reality most pilots don’t mind because they get to keep flying their current plane and keep their seniority on this plane (which will probably be higher) but get the higher pay rate.
About age does this normally come into play?
It can vary but I believe 62 is the norm.
If you start now, you still have a good chance at flying for the airlines. I would say that if you are willing to enter the cargo world, you do have a chance of flying the big iron there.
The reality is that if flying is what you want to do, you really need to start now. Time is of the essence.
In my experience there really is no age limit at the regional level, but when you get to mainline they want you around for longer than a couple of years.
When I was at my regional in training we had a 62 year old. Training was difficult for him and unfortunately he didn’t make it through. There were a few others in their 50’s that made it through training with no issues.
It’s a fun and very rewarding career just be ready for a lot of studying. The career at times can feel more academic than flying.