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Our son wants to be an airline pilot... I have some questions :)

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Our son wants to be an airline pilot... I have some questions :)

Old 13th May 2022, 14:22
  #1 (permalink)  
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Exclamation Our son wants to be an airline pilot... I have some questions :)

Firstly I would like to start off by thanking anybody who replies to this thread as in this day and age forums are one of the last few places where you can find valuable information from industry experts and people with real-world knowledge rather than YouTube, Twitter and Facebook where adults and children seem to blurt out any old rubbish about any subject and everybody is an expert.....

I'm starting this thread as I have an enthusiastic son of 16 years old who has a dream to be a commercial pilot and fly around the world. We are very supportive of this and what an achievement it will be when he becomes a pilot, but the road is long and lots of effort will be required I know that bit for sure.

So to give you an overview you....we are a British family living in France where our son will undertake his GCSE equivalent in France, he is also currently taking lessons in flying light aircraft and within the next few months will undertake his first solo flight. He also takes additional lessons at college in physics and aviation so he can fast track his career as a commercial pilot.

The questions I have asked him he hasn't been able to answer yet and of course he's only 16 so he probably doesn't know. My advice to him was to sign up to a forum full of experienced pilots that can give you some real world feedback about how the industry works.

He is toying with the idea of moving back to the UK at 18 years old as he is under the assumption that he will be given free training by a company and after 2-years will be given a pilot's licence and will start flying planes. I have my concerns around this as there must be a catch somewhere for example if you have to be 25 years old with 2 years driving experience to hire a van surely there aren't 20 year old flying 300 million planes around, but I am not a pilot and this is why I started this thread to ask these questions. Both his mother and I fully support what he is doing and we are currently paying for him to have private flying lessons so we also take it very seriously but if it sounds too good to be true it normally is and we are being told by him that after 2-years he will earn 60 to 70,000 and that's it- it's all done nothing more?!

Another option is to stay in France and complete his training here. I don't know if there is a school here that offers the same package as the UK but I would be interested to know from people's experience on here, is there a difference in the UK and France and would and in your experience what would be more beneficial to be based in France or the UK as a pilot? Do they pay higher wages in France or the UK?

He has also mentioned that you can pay around 70,000 for a 3 year course and at the end of that course again you'll be a fully fledged commercial airline pilot where you'll be able to walk into a job of around 60 to 70,000. This sounds amazing but one we definitely do not have 70,000 and our advice would be to not borrow the money at such a young age but of course at 18 onwards in the eyes of the law he is an adult and like us all he will learn by his mistakes.

Of course I would love our son to stay with as and the rest of his family here in France but this is not about me this is about him and I'm not a pilot as I'm certainly not clever enough to pass any of the exams let alone fly a plane! I'm just a dad with a passionate about flying son and within the next 2 years he will make some decisions which will change the rest of his life and with all of our children I want to give him the best advice possible.

I won't be able to receive personal messages as I'm a new member here but any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated. As a side note I have the upmost respect for airline pilots, our son has shown us some of the training he will have to go through and some of the things he will have to learn and it seems unfathomable !! I wouldn't even get close ! Our son is learning this in a foreign language as well which blows my mind even more !

Once again thank you for your time and I apologise for any spelling mistakes or inaccuracies above.

Tim
T Father is offline  
Old 13th May 2022, 15:02
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Join Date: Feb 2001
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I’m out of the industry now so can’t contribute much but as a starter given your location I take it you know about this place just up the road from Chez nous….

ENAC

and I guess you have a fair bit of insight into citizenship/right to work complications… .others will know all about that and implications for licenses…..
wiggy is offline  
Old 13th May 2022, 16:06
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Hi Tim,

Just quickly, my responses to a few of your questions. I trained for my ATPL(A) in 1998, so I might be a little out of date. I don't mean to sound callous or cynical but I will be brief.

There is no free ATPL training to my knowledge.

70,000 for an ATPL seems optimistic. Type rating will cost up to 30,000 on top. I have heard of 125,000 in total.

Wannabe pilots basically have to decide between paying for their flying training or getting on the housing ladder. It is taking a big risk to assume that all will be successful and pilot salary will repay all debts.

Won't walk into a job, (no experience).

Probably will have to pay to be offered a job. I have 22 years experience and am Airbus type rated, but just two years ago, a certain low cost airline said I would have to pay them 8,000 for a job at a foreign base.

Salary expectations seem over-optimistic. About half that would be more realistic for the first few years.

Lots of hurdles and hoops to jump through - even if you have an ATPL and a type rating. Even if you have many years' experience.

Piloting is not as much fun as it was. Fatigue, difficult schedules, getting up at 0300 five days in a row, or not getting into bed until 0300 five days in a row.

Becoming a pilot needs four things:


Class 1 medical.
The money for your training.
The ability to fly, and to learn and pass all the exams - written and practical.
Luck - by which I mean being in the right place at the right time with the right airline (for you).


Get the Class 1 medical as soon as you can, before you start anything. No medical, no job, so you need to know if there are any underlying health issues before starting.

Again, I apologise for not presenting my answers very gently, but I wish your son well, I honestly do. It will be an enormous outlay though.

Good luck.
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Old 13th May 2022, 16:31
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Hi TF, I've been around this community for some decades, although never personally worked as an airline pilot, but hopefully my views can be useful.

Originally Posted by T Father View Post
Firstly I would like to start off by thanking anybody who replies to this thread as in this day and age forums are one of the last few places where you can find valuable information from industry experts and people with real-world knowledge rather than YouTube, Twitter and Facebook where adults and children seem to blurt out any old rubbish about any subject and everybody is an expert.....

I'm starting this thread as I have an enthusiastic son of 16 years old who has a dream to be a commercial pilot and fly around the world. We are very supportive of this and what an achievement it will be when he becomes a pilot, but the road is long and lots of effort will be required I know that bit for sure.

So to give you an overview you....we are a British family living in France where our son will undertake his GCSE equivalent in France, he is also currently taking lessons in flying light aircraft and within the next few months will undertake his first solo flight. He also takes additional lessons at college in physics and aviation so he can fast track his career as a commercial pilot.
I assume that's the Bac, which is a good qualification, accepted in the UK as well as France. Maths and physics are the two things he wants to put emphasis on - "aviation" as a school subject, where it exists can be a good motivator but unlikely to actually make a difference to his genuine prospects.

The questions I have asked him he hasn't been able to answer yet and of course he's only 16 so he probably doesn't know. My advice to him was to sign up to a forum full of experienced pilots that can give you some real world feedback about how the industry works.

He is toying with the idea of moving back to the UK at 18 years old as he is under the assumption that he will be given free training by a company and after 2-years will be given a pilot's licence and will start flying planes. I have my concerns around this as there must be a catch somewhere for example if you have to be 25 years old with 2 years driving experience to hire a van surely there aren't 20 year old flying 300 million planes around, but I am not a pilot and this is why I started this thread to ask these questions. Both his mother and I fully support what he is doing and we are currently paying for him to have private flying lessons so we also take it very seriously but if it sounds too good to be true it normally is and we are being told by him that after 2-years he will earn 60 to 70,000 and that's it- it's all done nothing more?!
Those schemes exist, but places are incredibly competitive. I don't need to know anything about your son to state authoritatively that his chances are tiny.

Those 20 year olds exist, both in civil and military aviation - it's all down to the training and examination, not the age, by and large.

Equivalent paid-for programmes are called "Integrated courses", and the current going rate is around 90k, 18 months, plus living costs. Are the chances of being employed after that good?, reasonable, but far from certain. If he does get a job from one, he may still need to pay several tens of thousands after that for a type rating course, and it's doubtfull he'll start on much above 30k, so the pay-back time is substantial. 60k after 2 years?, not a hope.

It is possible to get exactly the same qualifications through self management, this is known as the "Modular route", may take a little longer, may be slightly less good for employability, the costs are nearer 45k, done well.

Another option is to stay in France and complete his training here. I don't know if there is a school here that offers the same package as the UK but I would be interested to know from people's experience on here, is there a difference in the UK and France and would and in your experience what would be more beneficial to be based in France or the UK as a pilot? Do they pay higher wages in France or the UK?
The EU job market is bigger than the UK job market. The licence courses and syllabi are basically identical but for daft reasons related to the way Brexit was handled, a UK issued licence isn't valid in the EU, and vice-versa. The sensible workaround to this, if your son has the right to live and work both sides of the Channel is to find (a) school(s) that teach and examine for both in parallel. The actual teaching and training only needs doing once, the flight tests once, but he would need to take the 14 ground examinations twice.

He has also mentioned that you can pay around 70,000 for a 3 year course and at the end of that course again you'll be a fully fledged commercial airline pilot where you'll be able to walk into a job of around 60 to 70,000. This sounds amazing but one we definitely do not have 70,000 and our advice would be to not borrow the money at such a young age but of course at 18 onwards in the eyes of the law he is an adult and like us all he will learn by his mistakes.
As above, probably nearer 18 months than 3 years, probably nearer 90k than 70k, and probably nearer 30k than 60k. He's basically been listening to the sales spiel from certain organisations who may well provide high quality training, but are often more than a little bullish about the likely outcomes.

Of course I would love our son to stay with as and the rest of his family here in France but this is not about me this is about him and I'm not a pilot as I'm certainly not clever enough to pass any of the exams let alone fly a plane! I'm just a dad with a passionate about flying son and within the next 2 years he will make some decisions which will change the rest of his life and with all of our children I want to give him the best advice possible.
My advice would be to start more basic. Consider helping him to do the PPL, that is the baseline private pilot's licence. He can do it in the UK or France at this stage, it'll take 9 written exams, 45+hours of flying training, and around 12k. It will answer a LOT of questions about his motivation and aptitude, in ways that 2 days at an Integrated Course assessment centre won't. It will all count towards his professional licences if he carries on that way, it may show it wasn't a good idea, it may give him a lifelong hobby but he actually decides that other career routes are for him.

I won't be able to receive personal messages as I'm a new member here but any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated. As a side note I have the upmost respect for airline pilots, our son has shown us some of the training he will have to go through and some of the things he will have to learn and it seems unfathomable !! I wouldn't even get close ! Our son is learning this in a foreign language as well which blows my mind even more !
By all means email me - boffin at engineer dot com will reach me if you want a more detailed private chat.

A further thought, military flying service is incredibly competitive to get into, but would give all the training, the satisfaction, the sense of service that any self respecting youngster could ever ask for. One day he can always go civil after that (but NEVER even in passing suggest that it's the route into civil flying, not nowadays, he'll be out the door before he's finished the sentence).

G

Once again thank you for your time and I apologise for any spelling mistakes or inaccuracies above.

Tim
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 13th May 2022, 16:33
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Thank you very much for the feedback & advice, seems that the cost of learning is such a huge part of flying. Have you met many pilots at 21 or 22 years old flying?
He says EasyJet has courses in the UK & RyanAir also offer a training program :?

Seems crazy to think a 18 / 19 year old can sign up to 100K of debt !!!

Thanks again for the reply
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Old 13th May 2022, 18:13
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I would endorse what Genghis said - if you want to join the miltary do it because you want to do that, not to get hours. They have ways of making you fly desks instead.

Joining a flying club or some sort of forum would be a good first step with an eye to modular training - and I would mention that airlines are not the only game in town - you can do firefighting and all sorts of stuff that is way more interesting , especially as EASA have sucked the joy right out of it (I speak as one who has got his boots muddy with aeroplanes and helicopters). The PPL would sort out whether he likes flying or vice versa! The cost of training at some schools would in excess of 100K these days. I know it can be done in S Africa for about half that as a modular option.

Another tip would be to get a language - probably Spanish but it sounds like French is an option already. Only 21% of the world speaks English.

Get a class 1 medical to start with though - all the training in the world is no good if you fail it!

Good luck

Phil
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Old 13th May 2022, 19:03
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Thank you Paco, I don't think the military route is something he will would into having spoken with him but at least he knows about this as an option. He speaks both perfect French & English / written as well so maybe this goes in his favour :?

If he can fly a small plane on his own is there a market for private charter flights in France / EU ? I have no idea where to start with this for him but it seems crazy to spend 125K to learn to fly to be paid 35 / 40K when you can buy a small light aircraft for less money & then rent it out / private charter or even deliveries ..... (if i'am completely wrong / unrealistic please DO say,)
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Old 13th May 2022, 19:31
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Originally Posted by T Father View Post
If he can fly a small plane on his own is there a market for private charter flights in France / EU ? I have no idea where to start with this for him but it seems crazy to spend 125K to learn to fly to be paid 35 / 40K when you can buy a small light aircraft for less money & then rent it out / private charter or even deliveries ..... (if i'am completely wrong / unrealistic please DO say,)
Yes, there is, but after having spent the last ten years in that sector, the jobs can be hard to come by (and more so now with Brexit, in the UK). Most go on word of mouth - i have never had an interview for a job that was formally advertised.

Salaries may be a little out of date, but for first officer on a small aircraft, you can expect somewhere in the region of 25k...or less, in some instances! Odds are he won't be able to fly it on his own just after qualifying.

Yes. It is crazy!
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Old 13th May 2022, 19:35
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Originally Posted by T Father View Post
He says EasyJet has courses in the UK & RyanAir also offer a training program :?
I think easyJet do not do any courses for complete beginners (they did in the last few years, but only for women, and only for six people).

Ryanair and Easy do have training courses - but for newly qualified/experienced pilots converting onto their jets.

This is a 45k or so training course on top of the 100k for the pilot training...

...if you're lucky the airline pays for it, then bonds you financially for a few years.
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Old 13th May 2022, 19:50
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Hi Tim, I've just pulled a few points I think I can answer.

Originally Posted by T Father View Post

He also takes additional lessons at college in physics and aviation so he can fast track his career as a commercial pilot.
I don't know about the French system, but there are no dispensations in the pilot exams. This knowledge will help, but only to a point; generally, the theoretical knowledge is wide but not particularly deep.

Originally Posted by T Father View Post
He is toying with the idea of moving back to the UK at 18 years old as he is under the assumption that he will be given free training by a company and after 2-years will be given a pilot's licence and will start flying planes. I have my concerns around this as there must be a catch
There are no companies that offer free training from the start any more, because they have realised they can get the pilots to fund it.

​​​​​​​
Originally Posted by T Father View Post
He has also mentioned that you can pay around 70,000 for a 3 year course and at the end of that course again you'll be a fully fledged commercial airline pilot where you'll be able to walk into a job of around 60 to 70,000. Tim
More like 100k, and 45k, if you're lucky, but very easy to take years to get into an airline job. Lots of newly qualified pilots have ended up working in offices/stacking shelves whilst waiting for that elusive first job.

​​​​​​​At the moment there is a definite need for EXPERIENCED pilots - but not newly qualified ones. Who knows where the industry will be in two years.

hobbit1983 is offline  
Old 13th May 2022, 19:56
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Originally Posted by T Father View Post
Thank you very much for the feedback & advice, seems that the cost of learning is such a huge part of flying. Have you met many pilots at 21 or 22 years old flying?
Yes, but both had followed the modular route that Genghis spoke of, so they were able to get into the flight deck much more affordably than the integrated route. For the avoidance of doubt, the ones I met were highly competent, highly motivated, and clearly gave absolutely everything to realising their dream. And they had parental support, not just motivational, but very likely financial as well, allowing them to crack on with their training at a rapid rate without financial worries.
Originally Posted by T Father View Post
Seems crazy to think a 18 / 19 year old can sign up to 100K of debt !!!
Thanks again for the reply
Ah! Maybe there's been a misunderstanding... The 18 year olds didn't sign up to any debt! - at least not with any formal lender such as a bank. It was their parents that signed up to it , sometimes with their home as collateral, and they were the ones who were saddled with the debt. Any private arrangements between parent and 18 year old student remained just that - private!

Good luck to both you and your son, I hope he succeeds. Neither you nor he can expect it to be easy, either financially, studying-wise, or emotionally. But rewarding once completed and successfully in the right hand seat of an airliner, hopefully.
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Old 13th May 2022, 20:02
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Check out EasyJet and Ryanair

There is some very good advice in these posts.
I'm not in the Europe and not a commercial pilot. In the US the market has changed dramatically. I cannot believe the offers high school kids are getting for Cadet programs. A friends 25 yr old brother just started at Delta main line. He went to Auburn. But it comes and goes.
Getting a first class medical and then a PPL would be a good start. I've known a few very healthy people who could not get the medical for assorted reasons.
Really dig and find out what airlines offer training. Ryanair it is not popular on here but my understanding is they offer a cadet program. From what I have heard you can do very well with it. What ever you get , read the fine print and ask a lot of questions.
That your son speaks French and English will make him attractive to some companies. One observation I have is people who only speak English tend to have a view of the world that is not really in sync with what the rest of the world.
The best piece of advice is to have a Plan B.
Personally, mine are grown but I would have pressed them very hard to get a degree or another qualification first if flying was the way they wanted to go. My daughter left the Air Force academy after two years, finished in Engineering , worked a bit in consulting then ended up with a PhD in aeronautical eng. and works at NASA. You never know what will happen.
I would be very wary of what flight schools tell you. As for financing flight training , I would go the modular route , take it bit by bit and be realistic.
France has a lot of flying clubs that offer a low cost intro to flying. Has your son checked any out?
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Old 13th May 2022, 20:09
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Hi T Father

There are some really honest (though might not be what your son wants to hear) good & fair advice given on the various replies given here.

I repeat go and get a Class 1 medical ASAP & keep the flying lessons going.

Up to 3 years ago I was a ground school instructor (TKI) at several of the big UK schools over the last 22 years. My last school did have some under 22s there even on the EasyJet MPL scheme (usually maths or science graduates) at the time but they are extremely difficult to get on & despite what they might tell you still offer no GUARANTEED job. I was instructing at Oxford when 9/11 happened and within 48 hours Aer Lingus had cancelled their fully sponsored course shortly followed by British Airways cancelling one of their fully sponsored courses leaving a lot of very unhappy students some of whom had given up existing safe careers, so much for a GUARANTEED flying job. These were probably the last fully sponsored airline courses, I believe all the others require you to put some of your own money in first to reduce the airlines risk exposure.

You will only hear positive spin from the sales people from the school but I have also heard of a few parents houses being repossessed & a handful of students being declared bankrupt after spending 100k+ but can't get a job to cover the debt.

Beware of the 'selection process' for these integrated courses, it's tame compared to the selection for flying in the UK armed services. Yes there are tests & interviews etc but probably the most important question at the end is "Can you write a cheque for 100,000"! Myself & other instructors were alarmed at some of the trainees who had been 'selected' who clearly from day one shouldn't have been there on ability (just there to boost the sales figures). These trainees often ended up being back-coursed or even eventually terminated, the services would have chopped them long ago, but we are in the murky world of commerce.

To end on a positive note most students will get through the training but it requires 110% COMMITMENT & FOCUS along with an almost non existent social life for several months.

All the best

Richard.
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Old 13th May 2022, 20:10
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Adds meaning to the old adage in aviation, "there's plenty of money in aviation...all of mine is there".
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Old 13th May 2022, 20:16
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One problem with the airline industry is that amplifies the cyclical nature of the economy. You may start training when airlines are begging for pilots, to emerge 18 months later when they are laying off people. 100k debt and no job is not a good place to be. Although Commercial pilots licenses are valid for some time, the type ratings and qualifications attached to them are fairy short lived, so if you don't get a job its difficult and expensive to keep your qualification current. Experience is everything in a poor market, and new joiners have no experience. I say this as one who flew over 46 years and was lucky in the military and civil world. Oh, until the company went under just pre covid! But I enjoyed my time in the air, its great fun if you can get someone to pay you to fly, so long as you know the risks.
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Old 13th May 2022, 21:24
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I'm just a private pilot for my own amusement, but I know several French airline pilot wannabees. All of them have spent serious money getting a "frozen ATPL" - I don't know how much but I guess the figures in earlier responses are accurate. This is money they have borrowed that will eventually have to repay.

Then it's a question of hanging around waiting for someone to offer them a paid job flying. That implies getting a type rating, which is further expense. One of them (who was my instructor for a while) has now got a job flying bizjets for a company in Geneva. The other three are still waiting.

Bottom line... you have to spend lots of money, which unless you have wealthy parents implies taking on a serious debt burden. Then you have to wait and pass a lengthy poorly-paid apprenticeship flying bizjets or working for Ryanair or Wizz, before you finally get a decently paid job with a decent airline.

All that said, the people I know love it and are absolutely convinced they are doing the right thing. I met one guy who is now flying for Air Caraibe and loving it, but he sent several years at Ryanair which he said you just have to like a doctor's internship. He certainly didn't seem to have enjoyed it much.
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Old 13th May 2022, 22:50
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Hi Tim,
One resource I have not seen mentioned is the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

https://www.airpilots.org/

They offer flying scholarships (now closed for 2022) most years for a ppl (they also offer gliding scholarships). Competition for a place is intense. They also offer an airline evaluation course, where you are interviewed by experienced airline pilots and they suggest if you are likely to have the right abilities to succeed in the airlines. If not, this can save you considerable time and money. I think the course is either low or no cost to the applicant.

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Old 14th May 2022, 03:14
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I recommend to not do it, and advise him to get into computer science. He will work remotely and live wherever he wants, never be out of a job and get plenty of money. He can fly for fun if he wishes. The world has changed and so should we.
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Old 14th May 2022, 04:29
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I was flying Jets at 21..course mates were as young as 18

Some great advice ..First class medical...join french flying club and get a ppl. Make himself available for any work including with a broom in his hand.
Join a french gliding club and do a course..they are subsidised for youngsters..do enough work around the field..get tugging.
Meantime study..anything that he enjoys ..which will indicate commitment and give him a fall back career...
RAF requires UK residency for 5 years, exceptional circumstances 3...
Good luck..took me 5 years after my first knock back..then plan B after I lost my medical at 45..Still flying at 72.
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Old 14th May 2022, 05:25
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Uplinker has it right, sadly. I left the industry 2 years ago and, as much as I miss my colleagues, I do not miss the lifestyle. The industry has changed (and continues to change) and the lifestyle for pilots has gone south - as has the remuneration. A combination of advances in technology allowing for longer and longer flights and an industry now being run by HR rather than aviators means that pilots are just a finite resource to be squeezed as much as possible, for as long as possible as cheaply as possible. The real 'gotcha' though is that by the time most new pilots realise this nowadays, they are in in their early 30s, still in debt circa 100,000 euros, financially trapped in an industry that isn't what they thought it would be, are too old to start again and too in debt to be able to get married or buy a house.

If your son really wants to fly, my advice would be for him to get a good job in law or finance and to hire a Cessna at the weekends. He will have a much happier (and longer) life.
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