US Citizen Wanting to Primarily Fly Abroad

Hello All,

I have been browsing a good portion of topics that relate to this question but as everyone’s situation is different I decided to post my own.

Goal: Become a commercial or transport pilot who is mainly employed abroad.
Background: Masters degree, prior military (non flight and no this is not an option for my training), zero flight time, clean criminal background, maybe some additional paperwork for medical due to VA claims, and 33yrs old.
Prospects: I am looking at ATP and a school in Spain, and am aware of the difference in approach of training styles (flight hours vs theoretical hours) and certifications.

Question 1: Is it true that US Citizens typically are not hired on with European Airlines? I’m not against the thought of starting with EASA and putting in my time there to build my resume 1500 hours before coming back home to settle and convert to FAA. I have been getting mixed information such as: EU often hires US and employs them under work visas as their applicant pool is thin; or without an EU passport it’s highly unlikely to be hired.

Question 2: On a path to reach my goal, is it common to go FAA and find an airline who has affiliations with International partners to also become more of an abroad pilot?

Question 3: Would you say there is a large benefit in getting both EASA and FAA for a US citizen when applying? The cost seems fairly similar, and like you would be a more well rounded pilot for worldwide opportunities and from an aviation standpoint.

Question 4: Does anyone have any other suggestions on the best path to obtain my goal of becoming a pilot abroad?

Not looking to take shortcuts but instead to find my ideal work life balance as I pursue my dream career. Thank you all for your time and patience, please feel free to chime in on any or all of the questions.

Tori,

  1. I am not an expert on this, but I do not know a single pilot that has been hired to fly for a European carrier. I would ask on www.pprune.org as that forum is more geared towards European pilots.

  2. It is not common to go that way, I have never heard of it. While the US airlines have partnerships with other carriers, like the Star Alliance, that is simply a code share agreement and has no bearing at all on hiring pilots.

3.The US FAA license is generally very well accepted around the world, with he exception of Europe. I think you will have a very difficult time getting a job in Europe, so I personally would not get the EASA license.

  1. It really depends on what y9our definition of “abroad” is. Honestly, I am not sure how you would get a job in Europe. In Asia the FAA license is usually very well accepted.

I am sorry I do not have any real answers for you, but this is simply not a path that is followed very often. I must ask, why the desire to fly abroad? Airline pilots in the US are generally some of the best paid in the world with the best work rules and job protections.

Chris
Chris

1 Like

Tori,

Chris answered your questions but in short getting hired in the EU is very difficult without an EU passport. If that’s your goal you need to be looking at how to achieve that and also looking at EU flight schools. EASA rules are so different there’s no benefit to getting your FAA license first and no benefit to having both.

My question is why? The EU carriers have lower pay and far inferior work rules (ever notice how they go on strike every few years?).

Adam

Wayman Aviation and a couple other schools have a duel program.

I’d check those out. Converting FAA to EASA is harder than EASA to FAA. Getting both at same time makes sense.

With no EU passport, EASA license would probably only help get certain private corporate gigs.

Chris F.

1 Like

Chris,

Thank you for taking the time to respond and sharing your insights. In my research it is becoming clear that this is not a common path. Although I will still follow up on Prrune just in case.

My interest with flying abroad stems from my enjoyment being abroad and wanting to live abroad. I would rather spend weekends in new neighboring countries as to waiting to build vacation time to go do those things. With this career field that ship may have sailed and should have been something I did while I was “younger”.

That’s okay, things will work out and I am just happy to be able to turn over as many stones as possible before starting training.

  • Tori

Adam,

Thank you for also sharing your insights. I will still follow up on your suggestions but between this and Chris’ response the writing is looking clearer.

To answer your question on the why: My interest with flying abroad stems from my enjoyment being abroad and wanting to live abroad. I would not want too drastic of a pay cut, but would enjoy having a more balanced work life ratio.

When I first started looking into this I thought gaining both EASA and FAA could be beneficial is the sense I could build hours via EASA and then come back to the States for FAA applications. Going just FAA I will still need to build to 1500 hours so why not do so with worldwide exposure? Although I am hearing everyone loud and clear on the hurdles of not having an EU Passport.

-Tori

Chris,

Thanks so much for the response and lead on an academy. I will certainly take a look and try to apply it to all of the other advice received on this thread.

-Tori

Tori,

If that’s the case, not sure what your feelings are on Asia and/or the Middle East, but just as an FYI both are much more FAA friendly. The license conversions are usually just a matter of paperwork or a single written exam and there’s no problem with the right to work. Further Asia’s pilot shortage is pretty huge.

Just throwing it out there.

Adam

Adam,

This sounds up my alley as well.

After completing a pilot program, would you estimate the pay in Asia/Middle East being similar to that of staying local at regional airlines to build hours? I’ve heard fresh out of programs most are looking at $40k to $60k annually at regionals.

If those are somewhat similar then the only other trade off I could think of would be less exposure to transition to a legacy than might be afforded from building hours at a regional.

Awesome suggestion and I’m adding it to the ever growing list of research!

-Tori

Tori,

The pay in both Asia and the Middle East is generally better than in the US. The problem however is most carriers there are looking for pilots who are already type rated in their equipment and have some flight time.

In the Middle East there really aren’t many “Regionals”. Large carriers like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are Majors and require the same mins as US Majors. China however has many Regionals that pay very well. Problem is they like to hire US pilots and put them right into Capt slots so again they want to see some experience. Regardless you wouldn’t be fighting the work rules and license issues. Definitely worth investigating. I have a couple of friends who made the move years ago and are very happy they did.

Adam

1 Like

Tori,
Believe it or not, at my airline, I"ve flown with more than a dozen pilots and FA’s that actually live in Europe and/or England and commute to NYC for work. They generally bid all their reserve and/or flying into say the last two weeks of Feb/first two weeks of Mar so they just commute essentially once a month. But I have flown with others who actually bid trips they want and commute a few times a month from Europe…not my cup of tea, but that’s the beauty of this profession, there is something for everyone.
BTW, many of them have dual passports and could try and work for an EU airline, but generally the pay and terms of EU airlines are significantly inferior to US Major airlines. I’ve flown with one who was in the RAF, and another from the Luftwaffe.

Hello everyone! My name is Jason. Tori & I are actually looking to go to school together so we’re trying to tag team the research and figure out the right school/situation for us. I’ve been following the conversation & there are some really good points. We both greatly appreciate the time & advice. Tori & I have had very good conversations about the guidance you have offered, so I wanted to say thank you!

One thing I don’t quite understand Hobie Anderson When you spoke about people you’ve flown with commuting back to the US from overseas once a month, could you go more in detail with that type of schedule or do you have any links to point us in that direction?

Both Tori & I are very interested in flying & living all over the world. We are both young, single, & don’t have children so we want to take advantage of the global aspects of being a pilot & the aviation industry.

Thank you again to everyone for your time & continued support as Tori & I figure out how to start our journey. It is much appreciated!!

-JJ

Jason,

I have known pilots to commute from Europe to work in the US as well. Basically they try to line all of their trips for the month up into one block, which can be a bit challenging due to FAA regulations. If they are successful though, they can work one set of days in the US and have another set of days in Europe for the month, although the majority of the month will probably be spent in the US. I would strongly caution you against this approach. It might sound good on paper, but an eight hour flight to Paris after flying for several days. in a row is nothing to take lightly. Also, many of the European cities are only serviced once or maybe twice per day, so it can be tough to get on a flight. It sounds like a recipe for exhaustion to me, but people do it.

Chris