How do you become an airline pilot? This has been the most asked question from me since I started flying and the hardest one to answer. This is the exact reason that I decided to write this article and cover all variables involved in this profession.
So let’s start with the basics and discuss what you need to be employed as a Commercial Pilot in an airline. There are various flying licenses which you can acquire and the basic license required to legally fly passengers is called the Commercial Pilot License or CPL. The CPL course is offered by most flight schools in the country and the price tag for this course in Pakistan is around $30,000 to $40,000 depending on the flight school you do it from. You need at-least FSC/A-levels and pass a Pakistan Civil Aviation Class 1 Medical to start flight training. A commercial pilot license looks like this…
Would you get a job after getting your CPL? The answer is quite complex to answer in one sentence, so let me break it down for you. Different airlines have different eligibility criteria and pilots are always hired on their relative flying experience. After your CPL, you only have a total of 200 hours total flight time which is mostly on single engine small aircraft. The only airline which hires on this bare minimum is our flag carrier( Pakistan International Airlines) and there is a huge backlog of pilots as PIA stopped hiring new cadet pilots from 2011 to 2015*).
You have now left with three other private airlines in Pakistan whose requirements for hiring are much more than 200 hours.
- Airblue requires you to have a grand total of 1500 hours total time with 250 hours as pilot in command on a multi-engine aircraft.
- Shaheen also requires similar qualifications but they have started hiring fresh CPL holders who have completed flight training from their own flying training institute( SAFTS).
- Serene also requires a total of 1500 hours with 500 hours as second in command on the Boeing 738 or equivalent category aircraft.
So now you need a way to build up flight time in order to qualify for these airlines and the only way in Pakistan to build flight time is by becoming a flight instructor. You can teach your way up to those minimum requirements and then apply to the airlines mentioned above. You can also work abroad and pick up different jobs like crop dusting, becoming a jump pilot etc. The most tricky flight time to build is multi-engine time as Pakistan doesn’t have a lot of multi-engine flying in general aviation.
The other option is to go abroad and do your flight training from there, as soon as you have the minimum requirements you can come back, convert your license and apply for the position of First Officer in all the major airlines of Pakistan.
To start with, I would only recommend coming into this field if you have an immense passion for flying, otherwise, you won’t make it, even if you are filthy rich. This field requires the highest level of dedication, motivation and hard work. As an airline pilot, you are responsible for hundreds of lives every day, and the recruitment process of airlines only yields the best of the best.
Secondly, I would like to emphasize the point of planning your future. Ask yourself, Where would I be in 5 years? How would I achieve that goal? Have I done my homework? Do I deserve to fly a multi-million dollar jet? If you plan right, you will always achieve what you worked hard for.
The Future For Aviation In Pakistan?
The future for new pilots in Pakistan looks quite bright, with new airlines like AirSial coming to our skies quite soon, this would surely create a vacuum and would force airlines to reduce their requirements for hiring new pilots. Now is the right time to come into this field.
At the time of joining my parent airline, I was the youngest jet pilot rated on the Airbus A320 fleet in Pakistan. I also became the youngest ATPL holder of Pakistan at the age of 23. Previously, I have been a Certified Flight Instructor(CFI), Certified Flight Instructor Instrument(CFII), Certified Multi-Engine Instructor(MEII) and also had Advanced Ground+Instrument Ground Instructor ratings( AGI)(IGI). I have a total of 3000+ flying hours in the air with over 1500 hours flying as an Airline Pilot.
So if you want to come into this field and fly airplanes for a living, I would suggest that you plan out your journey, work hard to achieve your goal and tomorrow you might have four stripes on your shoulder and millions of people looking up to you! Best Of Luck!