What should I do to become a pilot for skydivers, in France?

Guillaume
  • What should I do to become a pilot for skydivers, in France? Guillaume

    What are the steps needed to become a pilot that can transport skydivers?
    I'm more specifically interested in the situation in Europe, France.

    I would expect lessons / certifications, then more certification to accept passengers, then more certifications to be allowed to carry skydivers and let them jump. Also, medical examination, books, insurance, fees...

    How much would it cost?
    I'm more interested in the money amount spent usually observed than the theoretical price. I have a day job so I won't be able to easily spend all days of the week at the airport.

    How long should I expect until I'm certified?

    Then, how often should I fly to stay certified. Obviously, there is the issue of practicing enough to be safe and the legal requirements to be allowed to fly with passengers.

    I also expect to be required to be certified with a specific level for the skydiving. Bonus points if you can answer that too.


    I have seen this question about how much it cost to learn to fly, but it is less specific than my case. Still, many interesting points in its answers.

  • You'll want to start by getting a private pilots license and then go on to get a commercial pilot's license. An instrument rating isn't required, but would be beneficial.

    A private pilot's license (PPL) will cost you around \$8,000, commercial license (CPL) will be an additional \$17,000, and instrument ratings around \$6,000. One common method for gaining hours/pay is to become a certified flight instructor (CFI); this may cost you an additional \$7,000. Call you local flight school and ask for exact prices, but plan to spend 10% to 20% more than the listed price because you'll need additional hours to the bare minimum.

    Getting a PPL and CPL will allow you to fly for skydiving operations. Federal regulations (14 CFR Part 119) describe the certification requirements for air carriers and commercial operators, but exempts skydiving flights operating within 25 miles of the departure airport. As a result, skydiving flights are conducted in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91 and 14 CFR Part 105.

    14 CFR Part 91

    • Allows skydivers to use the floor of an aircraft as a seat, provided that there is a seat belt for each skydiver to use.
    • Requires every reserve parachute on board to have been packed within the preceding 120 days.
    • Requires a transponder for flight at or above 10,000 MSL, an altitude commonly exceeded by most jump planes.

    14 CFR Part 105

    • Requires skydivers to observe visual flight rules (VFR) conditions. Below 10,000 feet, the pilot must have three miles of visibility and at least 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, and 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud. At and above 10,000 feet, the rules require five miles of visibility and 1,000 feet below, 1,000 feet above, and one mile horizontally.
    • Holds the pilot responsible for jumps that create a hazard to air traffic or persons, or property on the ground.
    • Requires prior permission from an airport manager before jumping over or onto an airport.
    • Requires ATC authorization when jumping into Class A, B, C, or D airspace. Prior to jumping into Class E and G airspace, the appropriate ATC facility must simply be notified beforehand.
    • Requires radio communications with the appropriate ATC facility at least 5 minutes prior to the jump. This requirement is primarily intended to allow the jump pilot to receive information from ATC about known traffic in the area. It is best to make the call soon after takeoff for radar coverage.

    Additional Information:

  • Short answer: you need a commercial pilot's license. The drop zone will provide the extra training, it takes about a day (I worked at a skydive center for 10 years)

    However, since you seem to not have any kind of pilot's license right now (or you would know this already) I will add that it isn't a full-time job at any except the busiest drop zones. Our pilots usually worked for a couple of years to build time and then went on to other aviation jobs. During those 1-2 years they had other income - flying for us was mainly a way to log flying hours without having to rent aircraft.

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