I would be starting the fast track program with a PPL (200hrs) at age 43.
I read on another post that it takes about 1000hrs jet PIC time before being competitive for the majors. First question is, how much time, on average, does it take to grind it out with the regionals to achieve that? In other words, approximately how many days a week over the course of how many years?
Secondly, given that amount of time, would I be considered as a hire for the majors afterward? From what I’ve read so far the majors aren’t interested in guys in their early 50s (if that’s where you estimate I’d be). If that’s the case, where do you get that data? Has that been the experience of other relatively older graduates from ATP, or do you have that on good insider knowledge of how the majors do business?
Thank you for your time!
It takes about 3-5 years at a regional to obtain 1000 hours PIC. All depends on seniority and company needs.
Based on what I’ve seen, I would say you’d have a shot at the majors as long as you’re okay being an FO until retirement.
What you are asking is basically a total shot in the dark. Some people spend just a few years at the regionals, others spend a decade or more, it really depends on the economy, the hiring situation, airline growth, upgrade times, etc. It is very hard to put a solid number on it. Also keep in mind that 1,000 hours PIC turbine time is the minimum, to be competitive takes even more time. That being said, I feel 5-12 years at a regional is a solid estimate.
As to getting on at the majors, that really depends on how quickly you move through the regionals. If you do it in five years, you still have a good shot at it, be on the twelve side and your odds are greatly decreased. Again, there is no magic number here that determines these things. My thoughts on this come from experience and what I have seen other pilots in the industry do. I am not aware of any place that actually tracks this data.
Tory, I want to make sure I understand correctly. If I were to conceivably get hired onto a major at 50, and were healthy enough to fly to 65, I would not make it to the left seat?
I can’t say for sure, but I would go into it with that mindset.
Brian you could also look into the LCC’s. You should make captain working at one of them.
You’re 43 with your PPL so I have to be honest, if your SOLE goal is to be a Capt at a Major airline you might want to rethink this whole thing. I’m not saying it can’t happen but there’s a good chance it might not. Let’s assess and be optimistic: 2yrs to a Regional so you’re 45, 3 more to upgrade so you’re 48 and then another 2 to build some PIC so you’re 50 and start applying. I’m in the hiring panel of a Major and I’ve got 2 resumes in front of me, your’s and a guy who’s 30. It’s going to cost the airline $25K to train you, you’ve got 15yrs left and Mr 30 has 35. Who’s a better return on my investment? Does that mean you’re not getting the call? No but it means he’s getting called first. So maybe they wait till you have some more time and you get called at 51-52. Not terrible but if you go you went from the top of the seniority list to the bottom. Lousy schedule, pay cut and you’re slinging gear for Mr 30yo. Will you upgrade? Perhaps on the narrow body but you’re not going to be a 777 Capt flying to Tokyo. That upgrade btw won’t be coming till your 60 and you’re back to the bottom of the list which is why most of the guys at that point pass.
Now I can of course be completely wrong, the stars can align and things could go faster but I’ve been doing this for some time and it’s against the odds. Now if you want to have a nice 20yr career at a Regional or an LCC and if that’s as far as you go AND that’s cool with you then by all means but its Delta Capt or bust you need to know there are zero guarantees.
Brian I’m in your same boat. 43 yrs old with my PLL and 297 hours. Being Capt of a Widebody just isn’t in the cards for me at my age. And I’m cool with that. I plan to get on at a wholly owned and when I reach enough PIC time I’ll start applying. Honestly I’d really like to get on with Spirit. Decent upgrade times and pay. Base in Atlantic City which is only a 2.5 hour drive from home. At the same time I’ll have the flow in my back pocket. Being a FO for 12-15 years at American isn’t a bad gig either.
Thank you all for the assistance in bringing clarity to the picture. I feel as though working for a LCC would be equally rewarding. I have no specific desire to be a Delta captain per se. This helps in learning the industry a little better as this would be a big leap.
On another note, while reading other forums, it seems as though some have transitioned from the regionals with zero PIC time by use of proper networking; job fairs, chief pilot meet and greets, etc. Any thoughts on the accuracy of this or how to get in front of the movers and shakers while building hours?
I went from the regionals to Continental with no PIC time. It took very high up connections that I had because of my father. These connections either need to be inherited or built over time. Always remember that you never know who you are talking to, they might be a regular pilot, or they could be a VP. There are always volunteer positions at the union and some people work in management.
Six years ago I moved to Hawaii. While I have no regrets one of the things I miss is the lottery. No Mega Millions, no PowerBall, no Cash for Life, NADA! Fortunately I fly home to NY every month to visit family and the time I’m there I always play all the big games. You know why? Because there’s a chance that I can turn my dollar into a dream. I’ve heard people do win and just like that I could be a mega-millionaire and set for life. Thing is I still max out my 401K every year.
I’m following you, Adam. In the meantime, Chris, I have one of those dollars in my pocket. Let’s go grab a beer.
Ha you would be better off spending that dollar on the lotto, I am about as connection-less as it comes.
Hey adam, after completing all necessary licences to becoming a commercial pilot can you apply to any airline in the world or do pilots tend to stay in America
Most pilots tend to remain in the US but some go overseas. Problem is most foreign carriers actually have higher minimums for pilots from other countries and some countries it’s difficult to get work visas. I’d say the majority of pilots who do leave either go to Asia or the Middle East.
US licenses are exactly that, US licenses. Europe has their own, very different licensing standards and I believe some of the Asian countries do as well. Many of the developing countries accept US licenses, but there are still immigration restrictions that can affect a pilot’s ability to work in another country. If you want to work in a certain country, I advise checking with their embassy before beginning any flight training.
Brian, I’ll be in nearly the same boat as you. For me, it’ll be a true second career with a nice military retirement to pad my income. But for me, it’s about expectation management, as the mentors here have voiced. I know going in that the 787 Capt seat will be beyond my reach. So too will the 787/777 FO seat most likely. That’s fine! If the industry stales a little over the next 10 years (projected to not stale as you know, but that’s also probably what they said before 9/11) and I for whatever reason can’t progress past Capt at a regional, I’m OK with that. Capt pay at the regionals is good and I’d probably have good seniority. But if the industry proceeds anywhere near projections, guys like you and me should hopefully have no trouble moving up to the lower rung narrow body FO level, which for me, would be well beyond my hoped for goals for a second career. Anything beyond would be a lucky bonus.
Hey Brian, I just had to some input on this. I am now 45 turning 46 this year. I have been a police officer for 15 years and decided on a career change. I began going to college and flight school january of last year and have around 140 hrs and close to my instrument check ride. I am also the ambassador for piedmont for my school, have a full time job, 2 kids, and fly 3 to 5 days a week at a school 1 hour away. Yesterday a teacher of mine who is a retired captain told me after I asked for a recommendation for scholarships, that he wanted to talk to me on the phone. He told me that instead of a written recommendation he was also going to give one in person. He also told me that with all im doing as busy as I am to show up to class aced his class and with my schedule that he can tell if people will make it in this business and he said he could tell I would probably go far. Now that was a little boost I may have needed because it gets frustrating sometimes. But I am here to tell you if you are dedicated do not let anyone tell me you cannot be a captain. With dedication and desire you can get as far as you want you just have to push yourself. A degree will help you get there quicker. I am now getting my bachelors degree in Aviation Management and will be approved for the 1000 hr R atp. I will more than likely be hired at piedmont and then flow to American. Now I for one am not concerned with who I work under. All I want to do is fly. If you go in with that attitude I am sure you will make it. And who knows they may raise the retirement age. you never know what will happen.
Sounds like you’re doing well and making great connections so kudos. That said I do need to clarify something. First off no one said Brian couldn’t be a Capt. What I said was IF his SOLE ambition was to be a Capt AT A Major, he might want to rethink. Right now you’re in the training phase and yes all your hard work will help you progress rapidly along your course but the airlines are a completely different situation all together. I don’t mean to paint a negative or pessimistic picture but the reality is you could be the hardest working bestest pilot on the planet and I the laziest and the guy who barely passes his recurrent, if I was hired a day before you I will ALWAYS be ahead of you. The word is SENIORITY and right or wrong that’s the way things work at the airlines. I know because I had a very hard time with the concept when I first got hired. I’m a hard worker and a “company guy”, always willing to help, never late, perfect attendance, always prepared etc etc etc. When it comes time to bid schedule, upgrade, airplane, vacation, whatever it doesn’t matter one bit. Seniority trumps all. Ask your retired Capt friend.
As far as Brian becoming a Capt at a Major it again has very little to do with his work ethic and more to do with the economy, the airline industry as a whole, the amount of years he has left and yes some good luck.