What is the average cost/timeframe of obtaining a pilot job at a major passenger airline in the US?

JonathanReez
  • What is the average cost/timeframe of obtaining a pilot job at a major passenger airline in the US? JonathanReez

    Please note that I'm not asking about getting a certificate good enough for flying a wide-body passenger jet (see related question). Rather, I'm asking about getting from zero flying experience to an actual pilot/co-pilot job at a major US airline (AA/Delta/UA/Southwest).

    Perhaps some regulatory organization maintains such a statistics? Or even the airlines themselves?

    I'm well aware that people can have various career paths (from ex-military pilots to guys who paid for 10000 flights hours out of their pockets), but with 40,000+ pilots employed by major airlines there must be a statistically-significant median experience.

  • The distribution of how pilots get to the majors is bimodal.

    If you can get a military pilot slot and give 4-10 years to the USAF, you can then get an FAA ATP and start interviewing at whatever majors are hiring and have your ex-mil buddies on the hiring board. Great way to get in at FedEx or UPS. This costs a few grand for your ATP but that's about it.

    If you can't get a military slot, getting up to the point you can instruct from nothing can vary wildly in cost. The accelerated flight training programs will do this for around $70,000. Next you instruct until you hit 135 mins and do either that or instructing. At this point you shouldn't be paying for time anymore. When you get on at a regional you'll sit right seat for a few to many years then you'll upgrade. After about 1.5-2 years in the left seat you'll have the bare minimums to apply at a major.

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