Become an Airline Pilot
Guidance for students wanting to become an airline pilot.
When can you start flying airplanes?
You can fly airplanes with an instructor as early as you wish to. You can learn to fly and carry out solo flights by the age of 16 and you can earn your private pilot license by age 17.
What are the educational qualifications required to become a pilot?
You can earn your pilot license from variety of institutions ranging from small flying clubs, flight schools to universities and the entry requirements will vary from one another. Most flying clubs and flight schools require you to have completed high school grade academics with passes in subjects like English, Math's and Physics. As Maldivian students passes in O level would be sufficient for you to get enrolled in the flight schools. Colleges and universities tend to have higher educational qualification requirements with higher pass grades requirements and may require A level to be completed specially if you are considering to get a degree along with your pilot license. Some institutions also would require you to pass an entrance exam.
Is it essential to get a degree?
It is an old long debate over whether students should attain degrees or just complete flight training and acquire the pilot license only. The advantages of attaining an aviation degree is that you would have learned a lot more in dept knowledge of the industry and it would help in your career down the line specially if you consider to become part of training or in management roles. However as a pilot with career experience you can become instructors, chiefs, and etc without having degrees as experience and on the job performance is a key element in your progress in airlines. Countries in Europe and other countries where pilot jobs are scarce; most of the students earn degrees along with their pilot license to boost their opportunities in gaining pilot jobs. There are larger airlines that require pilots to have a degree however most of the airlines would hire pilots if they have sufficient experience on the job even though they don't have degrees.
In Maldives almost all of the pilots acquire pilot license only and there are only a few who earn degrees. As a student pilots you can finish your pilot training and you can be employed as a pilot and can acquire work experience and progress closer to career advancements by the time students who study for degrees can finish their training's as to complete a degree it would require 3-4 years.
What is PPL, CPL and ATPL?
PPL : It is a Private Pilot License and it allows the pilot to be the pilot in command of an aircraft privately.
CPL : It is a Commercial Pilot License and it allows the pilot to fly and engage in commercial flight operations.
ATPL: It is an Airline Transport Pilot License and it allows the pilot to act as a commander of an aircraft. Frozen ATPL is earned when the student pilot have completed all the theoretical examinations but has not yet met the flight hour requirement to obtain ATPL. As the hour requirement is high for this license, the fight hours required are gained working as a pilot in an airline or building hours as a flight instructor.
In the Maldives if you hold a CPL license you can be employed to fly as a seaplane pilot. For the captaincy requirement in the seaplane you must obtain an ATPL. In order to be employed to fly heavier turbo prop aircraft like the Dash-8 and the ATR you would require to hold a frozen ATPL license as a minimum.
It is highly advisable today to complete frozen ATPL during your flight training as majority of all students study for this and it would aid in earning yourself a job in seaplanes or in wheel based airline. If you have CPL only it would limit your employment options only to seaplane pilot jobs and it would be of a challenge to complete all theoretical examinations required for the ATPL while working as a full time pilot.
What is a type rating?
A type rating is a regulating agency's certification of a pilot to fly a certain aircraft type that requires additional training. As student pilots after completion of your training and after employment within an airline you would complete the type rating course for the type of aircraft you would fly. Seaplane type ratings are carried out in Maldives where as Dash8, ATR and Airbus type ratings are carried out in foreign countries.
What is the difference between different flight schools?
As student pilots you would be obtaining the same pilot licenses issued by the civil aviation authority regardless of the flight school or the university that you attend. Flight schools and universities with higher tuition fees can offer you with the options to fly more advanced training aircraft with glass cockpits. They may have advanced flight simulators for instrument training's and provide you with an overall higher standard of education. Nonetheless you would be studying using the same books and sitting for the same exams and completing your aircraft training as per the regulation from the civil aviation authority regardless of your choice of flight school or university.
How long does flight training lasts?
On average for the completion of the full pilot course with frozen ATPL would take one year half to two years time. Overall completion of the course depends on various factors like individual student performances and weather and etc.
Student performance: The course progression depends a lot on the individuals students performance and the capability to complete all required theoretical exams in given time and complete all the aircraft flying requirements.
Weather: Students would only be allowed to train in fair weather conditions specially if it is for solo flights. Bad weather days with high winds, heavy rain or snow may delay your training as you would not be able to fly during these periods.
Aircraft: Some of the flight schools have limited aircraft available and maintenance and technical issues are part of day to day operations and that can delay your training flights.
How much does flight training cost?
Tuition fee would generally be around 50,000$ to 70,000$+ depending on the flight school of choice. Total expenditure would vary from the country you have chosen to study as students have to bare for travel costs, living costs, visa and etc apart from the tuition fee.
How can i fund for pilot training?
if you does not have the capability to self fund for the pilot course you can opt to obtain student pilot loans.
Ministry of higher education of Maldives offers pilot training opportunities for students as part of loans and scholarships programs for students. They provide the opportunity for 5 - 20 students each time. You can apply for the loan and if you are selected they would provide student loan for pilot course at countries where they allow students to attain training. You can also get yourself a student loan directly from Bank of Maldives if you meet the requirement criteria for the student loan eligibility.
What are the medical requirements?
Being an airline pilot is often considered among the most stressful jobs in the world so your health is a very important factor for a long prosperous career. In order to legally operate as an airline pilot in the Maldives you are required to hold a Class 1 medical license. As student pilots you will have to obtain an aviation medical license from the issuing authority of the country of the flight school you have enrolled before you can commence your flight training.
Generally in medical licenses checks they would be conducting an eye test ( sight tests, color vision tests ), Hearing tests, Electrocardiogram tests (to check the functioning of your heart muscle), blood tests, urine tests, and general physique.
If you have a condition that you think that may affect your medical license you can get advise from an aviation medical doctor active in hospitals and clinics in Maldives. Aviation medical doctors are present in Male' and in Addu.