Career Options

"The airline industry will recover. Opinion differs as to when and as to how much it will recover compared to pre-covid days – but recover it will…and you will be ready, waiting and experienced which is just what any future employer will want. Not only that you will have demonstrated the drive, determination, and imagination to succeed. Which employer wouldn’t seek those qualities in their staff? The Aviation industry will never learn. Quick to fire when times are tough and then ridiculously desperate to hire when it picks up again. Make sure you are there when they need you most! 
Until then, there are also other available employment options for new pilots in the industry.

Cargo Carriers (Fixed Wing)
Probably for those with some time in the bag (or the right contacts or both) but with carriers such as DHL reporting rapid airfreight revenue growth companies like these will be worth watching closely. Federal Express have quite high requirements in terms of hours and experience but could be something to aim for in a year or two after some concerted hour building? There are, of course, many other smaller air freight companies that could be worth investigating.

Corporate Aviation (Fixed Wing and Helicopter)
This could be with a company providing personal and business travel services or even for a private owner. Its fair to say that both avenues are influenced to a greater or lesser degree by recessionary forces. In the past this was perceived as an established direct entry route to airline flying if you wanted it and still is in many countries. Actually, the job itself and associated salary is more than adequate for many pilots, who enjoy it’s varied nature.

Skydiving pilot (Fixed Wing)
Although helicopter pilots have been known to throw suitably equipped persons out of their aircraft this is predominantly a fixed wing opportunity! The aircraft will have to be fairly large and perform well (think Cessna 182 upwards) and often these days with a turbine engine so hours requirements will generally be stipulated by the insurance companies. Although the whole idea is to get up and down as quickly as possible the hours will build steadily and the role is better experience than you might think. Imagine having to deal with a constantly shifting load of super excited jumpers and making sure they exit at exactly the right place, at the right altitude at the perfect speed every time! This is precision flying for sure.

Fire Fighting/spotting (Fixed Wing and Helicopter)
The aircraft used in these roles vary wildly. There is even a Boeing 747 fire bomber! Mostly the spotter aircraft will be small single engine aircraft. This is a role in which some experience of flying small, underpowered aircraft is often preferred. Also, those with agricultural experience (see below) or corporate flying are often recruited. There is no doubt that firefighting from the air is a growth industry across those regions that routinely and increasingly suffer such events.

Survey/line & pipeline patrol
Both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are employed in this role all over the world. I imagine that drones will take on some of this in the future but there is still plenty of work out there in this role for relatively low time pilots. Also, the aircraft used tend to be light, relatively simple/robust and as cost effective as possible – much like your average training aircraft!  – so, you might find yourself with the required rating and experience sooner than you think.

Air Ambulance/Medical Transfer (Fixed Wing & Helicopter)
Opportunities and requirements will vary hugely from country to country. Helicopter roles will be predominantly single pilot, but occasional fixed wing co-pilot roles do appear from time to time for the turboprop and business jet type aircraft utilised.

Agricultural pilot/Crop dusting (Fixed Wing & Helicopter)
This role will obviously require much additional specialist training with most countries having an agricultural rating with associated ground and flight test. Of course, it is a highly demanding role with the inherent risk associated with low level flying, but the importance, intricacy and dangers of the job all contribute to the positions increasing salary.

Salesman pilot/aircraft ferrying/aerial photos
Nobody really knows how you actually set out to get a job like this! There you are one day minding your own business when someone says “can you ferry this aircraft from A to B for me” and that’s it…great fun it is too, although I have to wonder about the sanity of those remarkable pilots that routinely ferry single engine aircraft from the states to Europe!

Aid/NGO/Charity work (Fixed wing and Helicopter)
A quick Google search brings up an opportunity “Relief Aid Bush Pilot” with a well-known aviation NGO in Africa. Captains and Co-pilots wanted for Cessna 208s with TT/PIC minimums of 750/500 & 450/100 respectively. A sense of adventure is non-negotiable for a role like this of course and often requires lengthy tours of duty, but what an experience!

Flight Instructor (Fixed Wing and Helicopter)
Last but definitely not least, the noble art of flight instruction. Probably still one of the best ways to get those first 500-1000 hours, although believe it or not some people like it so much that they never do anything else! Yes, we all know that the salaries are generally pretty low, at least for elementary training in simple aircraft but a single person can survive on these lean pickings well enough. If it’s not enough for your own personal situation then rather consider doing it part time. In any event what you get back in spades is great hour building and superb experience.

In summary, absolutely the effect of COVID-19 on the aviation industry (particularly airlines) has been unprecedented and it serves no purpose to deny the seriousness of the situation. This is not your average “bust” for sure. Yet for those who are determined to seek them there will still be opportunities now and in the near future, particularly whilst the airline industry is still recovering. Timing in life is everything and at least with the modular route you retain control of that. In the meantime, maybe look at other potential flying jobs with a fresh perspective. Having been focused for any length of time on the goal of Airline flying it can be hard to divert to a different destination but if your ultimate goal is a rewarding and stimulating career as a pilot then maybe that airline job can simply wait until the time is right?

I have not been trying to give advice or recommend a course of action (I’ll leave that to BALPA!). All I hope is that you remain positive and recognise there are other ways to get where you want to be. Stay well and stay positive because trust me, it’s worth it."

Source: Matt Hayes TKI Bristol Groundschool

Current recruitment options (during Covid-19):

Fleetair: Short and middle-haul European cargo air services

Hellenic Seaplanes: Scheduled and Charter flights, Transfer flight and cargo operations

Ravenair: Charter, Business and Cargo flights 

Sahel Aviation: Air Charter and Contract Operator specialized in providing Air Services in topographically challenging

Other recruitment options:

A320 First Officers (type rated - hours on type not required)    
Sky Angkor Airlines is an airline based in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which is also it's main hub.
Fleet consists of 8 A320 Family aircraft and serves 14 destinations in Cambodia, South Korea and China.  

B737 First Officers and Captains (type-rated/non type-rated)    
SunExpress, is a Turkish airline based in Antalya, with hubs in Antalya and Adnan Airport.
The Airline's fleet consist of 68 Boeing 737 aicraft and serves 79 destinations in Europe, Asia and North Africa.

A320 First Officers and Captains (type-rated/non type-rated)    
Eurowings is a German low-cost airline headquartered in Düsseldorf, with 12 operating bases.
Eurowings fleet consists of 53 A320 Family aircraft and serves 112 Global destinations.

A320 First Officers (type rated - hours on type not required)    
Sundair is a German leisure charter airline headquartered in Stralsund and based at Berlin Tegel Airport, Dresden Airport and Kassel Airport.
Sundair fleet consists of 6 A320 Family aircraft and serves 13 destinations in The Mediterranean and North Africa.

A320 Family Captains (type rated - min 1.500 hours on type)    
Sichuan Airlines is a Chinese airline based in Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.
It is the largest airline in western China, operating scheduled domestic and international flights to 24 destinations with 155 Airbus aircraft in its fleet.

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