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BorisD
Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2016 7:20 am

Being a Pilot in Europe?

Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:23 am

Hello!

First of all, I must admit that I dont have enough flight hours logged yet, but I am still very curious about flying in this part of the globe and I would love to fly for an airline over there in the near future.
So I came up with some questions regarding how is it to fly and to work in this area, particularly in Northern Europe (i.e. Scandinavia). I hope that somebody over here may answer them.
I am pretty certain that the landscapes are outstanding and that the infrastructure is top notch too. But, is it more dangerous/challenging due to the difficult weather? (it seems so).
Is it necessary to speak the local language or English (a decent/high ICAO English rating) is enough to get a flying position in an airline based in one of those countries? Is there any preference when hiring new pilots related to where they come from?
What about salaries when compared to the rest of Europe, North America or Asia? (taking into account the cost of life in NE).
How is it the career ladder there? As difficult as in NA, or as "easy" as in South America? :mrgreen:
Welp, I may have done enough questions for one day.
I really hope to get some answers.
 
oldannyboy
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:15 am

Lots of opportunities at many pan-European low-cost carriers. Career prospects are not at all bad either. Mind though: salaries are not great though.. but these have been declining steadily worldwide for some years.. It's a general trend. Even at some ME3s I hear, these are not that great, especially for junior pilots...
In general I still think they are far better than the salaries you are likely to get at US-based regionals, but cost of living in Europe (especially Scandinavia) is very expensive. Conversely, if you get based in some cheaper European capital, like say Budapest, or Lisbon, you get the best of a vibrant, exciting life coupled to low(er) prices. Infrastructurally things vary a lot from country to country, but in general things are pretty good throughout the continent. The best perk of being a pilot based in Europe would be the ease in which you would get to see so much of the world... Europe is pretty "compact", it packs a huge variety of cultures, languages and landscapes.. and all of this within easy reach and cheap to get to, especially with discounted passes from your airline...
Work conditions are pretty good, with more days off than what you typically get in the US. And, no, you most likely don't need to speak the local language.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:02 pm

Unemployed Scandinavian pilot here.
From my impression, you would be lucky to get a job in Scandinavia without speaking a Scandinavian language. Someone once mentioned to me that SAS has a few Americans, but they were hired ages ago. The best bet would be with a low-cost carrier. Most of those do however run pay-to-fly/bonding/pay you own type-rating schemes. Another option would be to get a type-rating on a more rare type of aircraft, operators of those types always seem to lack pilots a bit more than everyone else.

Is it necessary to speak the local language or English (a decent/high ICAO English rating) is enough to get a flying position in an airline based in one of those countries? Is there any preference when hiring new pilots related to where they come from?


From my experience, that depends on where you are looking. I have some Spanish, Irish and French friends who just couldn't get a job in Scandinavia, and I have a number of Scandinavian friends who had no problems getting hired all across Europe.

But, is it more dangerous/challenging due to the difficult weather? (it seems so).


I don't have that much experience, but from what I know (and been told from those who trained in the US back in the days), the weather is a lot more forgiving in Scandinavia than in the US. While you would avoid bad weather in the US, here it is not any worse than you would normally go right through it.
 
BorisD
Topic Author
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:09 pm

ks for the replies, guys.
Seems that the grass is not that green on that side of the Atlantic. :P
 
CANPILOT
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:31 am

Any one know how hard it is to convert a FAA ATPL or a Transport Canada ATPL to a EASA ATPL, which is required to work at Norwegian? I've heard its not easy but what exactly is the process, does anyone have some prior experience doing so? Also, I always thought to work for a European airline you needed to be a EU citizen or permanent resident?
 
448205
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:08 am

Norwegian (the irish subsidiary) doesn't require an EASA ATPL and neither does Ryanair or Turkish. Irish registered airlines do not legally require you to have an EASA license, but some irish carriers like Aer Lingus won't hire you without it. Converting an ATPL is easier than converting a commercial but you must have full ATPL privileges (not R-ATP in the US or 'Frozen' in Europe, neither are recognized as ATP's by ICAO). You also need to be an EU citizen or have the right to work everywhere in the EU.

That being said, wages in europe are some of the lowest in the developed world. North America, Asia and some countries in South America are the highest paid (200k+ for a 5+ year captain), followed by the sandbox carriers (150k~ for a 5+ year captain). Then comes SE Asian LCC's and European carriers 60-100k a year for a captain. A significant number of european pilots fly RJ's on contract in china for more than twice what they would make at BA or LH. Until EASA raises FO mins to hard ATP (1500hours) like the rest of the world, wages will be crap there.

If you have 1500 hours and a pulse in the US you can get an FO job by 5pm. Regionals are paying 20k signing bonuses just to show up to IOE and most upgrade in less than 3 years.
 
CANPILOT
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:41 am

Varsity1 wrote:
Until EASA raises FO mins to hard ATP (1500hours) like the rest of the world, wages will be crap there.


Canada does not have the 1500hr FO min. Also, I'm not sure if Australia/New Zealand have the 1500hr min? In fact, which other countries have the FO full ATPL 1500hr min, besides the US?

While I agree the wages for experienced pilots in Europe may not be very good compared with US (and perhaps even Canada), at least fairly early on you can get experience on a A320/737 with one of low cost operators in Europe, if you are willing to pay for the type rating, or go through one of the bonded programs. Meanwhile new pilots (<1500hr) in the US/Canada struggle to find a job at all, let alone one with any reasonable pay.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:03 am

there are lots of unemployed novice pilots in Europe, so I can't imagine that it would be easy to get a job here as a non-European. And I would imagine it won't be easy to get a pan European working permit But if you get it, then living in Europe is something great ;-).

Varsity1 wrote:
Norwegian (the irish subsidiary) doesn't require an EASA ATPL and neither does Ryanair or Turkish. Irish registered airlines do not legally require you to have an EASA license, but some irish carriers like Aer Lingus won't hire you without it.
Turkey isn't in the EU, but Ireland is, I thought they would have harmonized the regulations by now.

Varsity1 wrote:
That being said, wages in europe are some of the lowest in the developed world. North America, Asia and some countries in South America are the highest paid (200k+ for a 5+ year captain), followed by the sandbox carriers (150k~ for a 5+ year captain). Then comes SE Asian LCC's and European carriers 60-100k a year for a captain. A significant number of european pilots fly RJ's on contract in china for more than twice what they would make at BA or LH. Until EASA raises FO mins to hard ATP (1500hours) like the rest of the world, wages will be crap there.


Interesting, though wages with legacy carriers are great, as are the working conditions. 150k Euro's and up seems to be right for a B737/A320 captain with a legacy carrier and 200-250k Euro's for a intercontinental captain and a lot of perks. Better working hours, better leave between flights etc. etc. Pilot unions are very strong in Europe, that's why there are a lot of conflicts between the unions and legacy carriers, LH, KLM, AF all want to get rid of the stringent golden working conditions.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:40 am

Varsity1 wrote:
Until EASA raises FO mins to hard ATP (1500hours) like the rest of the world, wages will be crap there.

CANPILOT wrote:
Canada does not have the 1500hr FO min. Also, I'm not sure if Australia/New Zealand have the 1500hr min? In fact, which other countries have the FO full ATPL 1500hr min, besides the US?


I am pretty sure the US is the only place with a 1500 hour rule.

CANPILOT wrote:
Any one know how hard it is to convert a FAA ATPL or a Transport Canada ATPL to a EASA ATPL? I've heard its not easy but what exactly is the process, does anyone have some prior experience doing so?


I didn't do the conversion, but I know a few who took the schooling in the US and converted on their return to Europe. They came thinking it would be a breeze (i.e. pretty much the same level as in the US, no need to learn all the theory again), but they ended up failing the exams several times over. They found it a lot harder than in the US. Expect around 6 - 9 months for learning the theoretical stuff.
 
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AirPacific747
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:11 am

I'm an employed pilot from Scandinavia working outside Scandinavia in mainland Europe. I've been chasing a job in Scandinavia for many years, but the competition is tough. Lots of Scandinavian expats all over Europe and beyond waiting for their turn to get based near their home. Officially SAS has been hiring for quite some time now (close to two years), but it's an ongoing process and I don't think there have been that many vacancies.

I doubt you'd find a decent flying job in Scandinavia without knowing a local language, just like it would be difficult finding a job in a Spanish speaking country without being able to speak Spanish. But in the end it's all about supply and demand. Currently even though the market is improving from a pilot's perspective, the airlines still seem to be able to dictate the working conditions and who they want to hire.
 
spacecookie
Posts: 213
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:57 pm

Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:40 pm

it not easy.

I do see some new pilots from Scandinavian a lot of times flying for low cost carriers
who pays verry little but if you look closer you se that this people have enough cash to do it(Father is pilot or something)

and i dont think it will change in the near future.
 
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SEPilot
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:47 pm

Moral of the story: there is no free lunch, especially in aviation. There is no magic place where you can get a flying job with minimal qualifications, get a great salary and live in a paradise. The market for pilots is worldwide, and if an airline anywhere in the world is having more trouble than others in filling its pilot seats, it is for a reason. You are always reading about pilot shortages, but most of those stories are "based on current trends continuing." There are still lots and lots of people in the world who want to make a living flying planes, and it is a case of supply and demand. So if you want to find your place in that group you will have to put up with some combination of crappy pay, lousy working conditions, horrible work rules, and unpleasant living environment for long enough to get established as a reliable and competent pilot. Then you MAY be able to find a place where you would want to work and get a decent salary. But there are no shortcuts; it is a tough road and you have to travel it if you want the rewards at the other end. There are far more people who want the life of an international airline captain than there are jobs for them, and this is how they weed out the ones who want it badly enough.
 
BorisD
Topic Author
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2016 7:20 am

Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:12 pm

Dutchy wrote:
Interesting, though wages with legacy carriers are great, as are the working conditions. 150k Euro's and up seems to be right for a B737/A320 captain with a legacy carrier and 200-250k Euro's for a intercontinental captain and a lot of perks. Better working hours, better leave between flights etc. etc. Pilot unions are very strong in Europe, that's why there are a lot of conflicts between the unions and legacy carriers, LH, KLM, AF all want to get rid of the stringent golden working conditions.

Even 150k Euros sounds more than enough when compared to the -little more than- 80/90k per year, which is the highest salary an international captain can make here.

SEPilote wrote:
Moral of the story: there is no free lunch, especially in aviation. There is no magic place where you can get a flying job with minimal qualifications, get a great salary and live in a paradise.

I know. What Im looking for is the best place to build the flight hours and experience needed to get into a major. Ive been told that Asia or the Middle East were good options, but of course I was more interested in the "European option". I have a European passport, so that would not be the problem.
The thing is that if other parts of the globe offer good working conditions + the possibility of flying bigger/better airplanes, then I think I should go that way, right?
 
448205
Posts: 2323
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 4:55 am

Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:26 pm

CANPILOT wrote:
Varsity1 wrote:
Until EASA raises FO mins to hard ATP (1500hours) like the rest of the world, wages will be crap there.


Canada does not have the 1500hr FO min. Also, I'm not sure if Australia/New Zealand have the 1500hr min? In fact, which other countries have the FO full ATPL 1500hr min, besides the US?

While I agree the wages for experienced pilots in Europe may not be very good compared with US (and perhaps even Canada), at least fairly early on you can get experience on a A320/737 with one of low cost operators in Europe, if you are willing to pay for the type rating, or go through one of the bonded programs. Meanwhile new pilots (<1500hr) in the US/Canada struggle to find a job at all, let alone one with any reasonable pay.


Europe by definition 'requires' an ATP but allows people to exercise it's privileges before they complete it. Which is bogus and circumvents the entire purpose of the ATP - Proven judgement acquired through experience.

Other countries like the UAE require the ATP and don't have a loophole, 1500 hours full stop.

Please don't paint the 'buy a type rating and we will give you the privilege of working here' as a good thing. The pay to fly business needs to stop, it's flat out dangerous.

You do understand that there are a shortage of CFI's in the US also, which can be done at 190 hours if you're in a part 141 program. Most bigger schools pay $40-$50 an hour plus a bonus and moving expenses. Averaging 85-100 hours a month is far from 'reasonable pay'. Pipeline patrol pays $25 an hour plus per diem, that's about $10,000 a year more than a 250 hour first officer at Ryan air on the big bad 737.
 
448205
Posts: 2323
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 4:55 am

Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:29 pm

BorisD wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
Interesting, though wages with legacy carriers are great, as are the working conditions. 150k Euro's and up seems to be right for a B737/A320 captain with a legacy carrier and 200-250k Euro's for a intercontinental captain and a lot of perks. Better working hours, better leave between flights etc. etc. Pilot unions are very strong in Europe, that's why there are a lot of conflicts between the unions and legacy carriers, LH, KLM, AF all want to get rid of the stringent golden working conditions.

Even 150k Euros sounds more than enough when compared to the -little more than- 80/90k per year, which is the highest salary an international captain can make here.

SEPilote wrote:
Moral of the story: there is no free lunch, especially in aviation. There is no magic place where you can get a flying job with minimal qualifications, get a great salary and live in a paradise.

I know. What Im looking for is the best place to build the flight hours and experience needed to get into a major. Ive been told that Asia or the Middle East were good options, but of course I was more interested in the "European option". I have a European passport, so that would not be the problem.
The thing is that if other parts of the globe offer good working conditions + the possibility of flying bigger/better airplanes, then I think I should go that way, right?



Become a CFI. You will learn more teaching others than you did learning yourself. Build 1500 hours and look at the commuting contracts in S. Korea and China. Usually 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. If you're from Canada stay put, the salaries are just fine there.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:35 am

Varsity1 wrote:
You do understand that there are a shortage of CFI's in the US also, which can be done at 190 hours if you're in a part 141 program. Most bigger schools pay $40-$50 an hour plus a bonus and moving expenses. Averaging 85-100 hours a month is far from 'reasonable pay'. Pipeline patrol pays $25 an hour plus per diem, that's about $10,000 a year more than a 250 hour first officer at Ryan air on the big bad 737.


I am struggling to make that work out, even at $50 per hour, with 100 hours a month. I know a lot of 150 hour first officers at Ryanair, and they make considerably more than that ;)
 
Q
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:11 pm

My friend's father was ex-Continental Airlines for years but he had medical problem came up was heart problem. FAA forced him to leave company due his heart condition. He got mad and upset. All he wants to keep flying job. FAA says no. He traveled to Europe and found his new job Lufthansa offered flying pilot airline. He moved and flying for some left years until he retirement age 60. He is happy living still in Germany since. I was surprised Europe does not care about heart problem they are not scared to flying his small condition problem. FAA is to picky and scared. Co pilot was there no PROBLEM! What is a big deal? I don't like FAA thing is.

Q
 
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intrance
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:26 pm

Varsity1 wrote:
CANPILOT wrote:
Europe by definition 'requires' an ATP but allows people to exercise it's privileges before they complete it. Which is bogus and circumvents the entire purpose of the ATP - Proven judgement acquired through experience.


Explain please. I had a "frozen ATPL" until I had enough hours to satisfy the requirements and passed the proficiency check for a full ATPL. Until then I was regarded everywhere as CPL but simply with theory for ATPL already done. Nowhere in Europe (that I am aware of) was I allowed to exercise ATP privileges like act as PIC instead of SIC. Well, perhaps on aircraft with MTOM <5700kg in certain operations I believe, but that's not that relevant. But perhaps I misunderstood your post?
 
BorisD
Topic Author
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:40 pm

VSMUT wrote:
I know a lot of 150 hour first officers at Ryanair, and they make considerably more than that ;)

150 hs? :shock:
 
Alexpaok
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:18 pm

Hey guys..do you think it is easy to find a 737ng job in Europe? They are rare now, as airbus dominates the skies
 
Viscount724
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:33 am

Alexpaok wrote:
Hey guys..do you think it is easy to find a 737ng job in Europe? They are rare now, as airbus dominates the skies


Ryanair would disagree with 354 737NGs now in service, another 115 on order, plus an order for 100 737 MAX and 100 options.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:09 am

BorisD wrote:
I am pretty certain that the landscapes are outstanding and that the infrastructure is top notch too. But, is it more dangerous/challenging due to the difficult weather? (it seems so). .


Addressing this point, I'll take crap weather with good infrastructure over good weather with crap infrastructure any day. Crap ATC will kill you way faster, not to mention be much more of an annoyance on a daily basis, than weather will. Even in my so-far short career I've had many, many opportunities to roll my eyes and grind my teeth at useless ATC, potholes, bad lighting badly signed taxiways and lack of adequate radio facilities. These things are a serious threat. Especially useless ATC...

Thunderstorms and blizzards are threats as well, but ironically they are manageable in a much easier way. Radar, forecasts and plain old cautious airmanship will help you deal with them. The human factor always seems to be the big joker...

Add to this, route familiarity. If you fly in Northern Europe, you'll be familiar with the weather, the routes and the airports, just as someone who flies in East Asia will be familiar with that weather, those airports and those routes. This adds to the safety factor. That's why CX will often land in HKG in weather that will make others divert, or AY will land in HEL when others don't. It's not that CX or AY are more competent (or more foolhardy). They are just more familiar with local conditions. Home port advantage.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:31 pm

Alexpaok wrote:
Hey guys..do you think it is easy to find a 737ng job in Europe? They are rare now, as airbus dominates the skies


Viscount724 wrote:
Ryanair would disagree with 354 737NGs now in service, another 115 on order, plus an order for 100 737 MAX and 100 options.


The natural way onto a 737 in Europe is through Ryanair, assuming you can actually get in. While they do have a ton of 737s on order, they have an even longer waiting list of potential candidates who also want to join Ryanair. And it's pay-to-fly, naturally.

As for the other major European 737 operators, at least as far as I am aware: (not including those that are phasing out the type)
SAS primarily hires for the CRJ only, and all pilots for the rest of the fleet are taken from the CRJ. Scandinavian language required.
KLM, don't know the specifics, but speaking Dutch might be necessary.
Norwegian, pay-to-fly or 737 experience required. They hire lots of Ryanair pilots.
Transavia, don't know.
TUI group, don't know, each airline seems to differ from the others, often with language requirements depending on where it is based.
 
Fabo
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Re: Being a Pilot in Europe?

Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:47 am

intrance wrote:
Varsity1 wrote:
CANPILOT wrote:
Europe by definition 'requires' an ATP but allows people to exercise it's privileges before they complete it. Which is bogus and circumvents the entire purpose of the ATP - Proven judgement acquired through experience.


Explain please. I had a "frozen ATPL" until I had enough hours to satisfy the requirements and passed the proficiency check for a full ATPL. Until then I was regarded everywhere as CPL but simply with theory for ATPL already done. Nowhere in Europe (that I am aware of) was I allowed to exercise ATP privileges like act as PIC instead of SIC. Well, perhaps on aircraft with MTOM <5700kg in certain operations I believe, but that's not that relevant. But perhaps I misunderstood your post?


Pretty sure they consider flying airliners for a living an "ATP privilege" as compared to specifically flying as PIC as is considered in Europe.

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