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How to become a pilot: From zero to… the next zero

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7 months ago

In front of the readers of the portal, there is a comprehensive text on the topic "how to become a pilot in Serbia", which is imbued with personal experience and can serve as a great reference point.

If you want to raise your future travels to a higher level that includes a lot of responsibilities (and maybe just slightly better financial "pleasures" and privileges than, say, IT engineers or YouTube / Instagram influencers with us today) - and personally, from the cockpit - you are separated from that by an intermediate trip that lasts two to three years. The tour included 1,000 theoretical questions in Serbian, more than 16,000 questions in English, about 200 hours of flight time, authority to fly an airplane in different weather (un) conditions, and a lot of patience, discipline, work, and will. You should also take 50,000 euros with you. And that's just the beginning.

Now imagine that you don't know any of this and that you get into the whole story just because you kept someone company at some point when he asked about schooling opportunities, and then it seemed like an interesting opportunity to try something new in life. Welcome to the beginning

Before I start sharing the signposts, I would like to address the common misconceptions and questions I have encountered in conversations with people who know nothing about this topic (although some think they do).

Are you studying to be a pilot? Is it the state one, Vrsac?

- First, it is not Vršac but Smatsa. True, the training is conducted in Vrsac, but the academy is not called that. Secondly, it has not been state-owned for a long time, but private. And it's not cheap at all. Thirdly, they are definitely not the only ones in Serbia who train for pilots, and in my subjective opinion, not even the best.

Wait bro, you wear glasses (wore then). Don't pilots need to be 100% healthy, to see without diopters, all fillings in teeth, etc.?

- That's what I thought until I asked the doctors who deal with these issues. Some prerequisites are not much different from what it takes for someone to drive a motor vehicle and as long as I am within the prescribed limits and limits, I can fly and fly an airplane.

And the centrifuge? Did they test you in that?

- They didn't! I would even like such an experience, but in civil aviation, under normal circumstances, there is no need to test the resistance to high G forces. I believe it would be endless fun for you to see me faint, my face distorted by pressure and speed.

Can't wait to chase the flight attendants, huh? Admit it was only because of that that you went to the pilots!

- I will quote a nice gentleman who long ago, a little sadly, commented on the profession during the strongest years of Jat since I have no other comment on this question: so three weeks away from home… and now, all the paperwork, procedures, short relations… what should a person do when he is already at home at 5 pm? ”

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Aren't you a little old?

- I asked the same question to the owners of the school where I was first interviewed. I was told that I was in my best years and that I had older colleagues in my classes.

Aren't you afraid of heights and that you might fall? How safe do you feel in small planes?

- It seems to me that there is no big difference whether I am in a small or a big plane… Do you remember when we went to the top of Jedinstvo as kids, and how awful it all looked when we looked down? It feels completely different here! From the first flight, it seems to me that because of so many things I have to do before takeoff - check, until check on the runway, check before takeoff - I have the impression that I can influence many things in time before something goes wrong.

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First steps: "It's not the pilots who fly, it's the papers…"

Browsing through correspondence with an elderly man who was interested in sending his son to training, I surprised myself with the first sentence I sent him: "Be sure to visit an aviation doctor before contacting any school!".

In Serbia in 2019, there is officially only one institution that does the so-called initial examinations for the first class. The most important thing you have to determine for yourself before going for an expert examination is - are you afraid of flying. If the answer is one sure no - the sky is not the limit for becoming a pilot. On the contrary.

Once you have determined this, you should know that first class at the level of Serbia, Europe, and ICAO member countries is treated as sufficient evidence that a person is capable of operating aircraft for commercial purposes. In some Member States, this certificate needs to be "transferred"; Some additional examinations are done, but in principle, the first class is the best sign that the person is ready to start training.

On the website of the Directorate for Civil Traffic, otherwise, the umbrella institution when it comes to arranging aviation in Serbia, there is a list of authorized doctors who can renew the first class (every year), but also give a second class that is enough to start training for a sports pilot.

As it has already been said, the examinations for future pilots are not significantly more rigorous than the examinations for motor vehicle drivers, for example. Centrifuges, hypobaric chambers, and other load tests are reserved for cadets of military educational institutions, while the most interesting test I did was that the doctor turned me in a chair to one side and after a sudden stop determined how long it takes for my eyes to find focus. . Something like that.

The best pilot training centers

The largest number of pilot training schools today is located in Belgrade. You can also find a list of all schools on the Directorate's website.

In addition to the mentioned Smatsa, which organizes training in Vršac, among the larger schools is Prince Aviation, which organizes theoretical classes in Belgrade, and practical classes at the Ečka airport, near Zrenjanin, as well as at the Belgrade airport. At the moment, it is the only school that works in that way.

In addition to them, there is also Linx Aviation, which also organizes theoretical classes in Belgrade, while the practical part is being done at the Lisičji Jarak airport.

These are the three largest schools in Serbia, in terms of the fleet of aircraft they have and the number of students who enroll in classes each year.

They are also the only ones that have certified simulators used in the advanced part of the training.

Other schools should not be neglected either, because, in the initial stages of training, there is a really small difference in work between them and larger schools, but it is significant in financial terms and training time, which can be shorter and more effective due to fewer students.

It is possible to move from one school to another. Only Smatsa has a somewhat more complicated procedure because their teaching and training system is organized differently, so some things are recognized from other schools, and some have to be done again.

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It is recommended that potential future pilots contact several schools by phone, inquire about the conditions, and schedule a test flight.

A test flight is a perfect opportunity for one person to learn what will await him for the next two years. What does the road to the airfield look like, what does the airfield itself look like, what do the training planes look like, who will be their flight instructors, what does the takeoff look like, and the perspective from the height that will make up most of the training, what do some basic airplane operations look like? and what some basic maneuvers look like that will be repeated many times during the training.

Start of teaching and training for pilots

By choosing a school, the next step is to form a class and start teaching. The theoretical part includes a certain fund of hours which is organized in approximately 3 to 4 months and during that time students are expected to master the basic concepts that will later accompany them in the practical part of the training.

There are 9 items. They are followed by about 1,000 questions that are available on the website of the Directorate in Serbian, but also in English.

The practical part includes several phases that are prescribed by a single program that applies to all schools.

Here, even if there are deviations, it is exclusively to bring the student as close as possible to the "standard" that is expected of him.

The practical part includes about 50 hours of flight, after which the student should be able to fly the plane independently without the assistance of an instructor.

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What is taught in the practical part of the training?

Preparation of aircraft for flight, phases that follow take-off, flying in the so-called school circle and its rules, schedule of attention between aircraft instruments and the external environment, turns and regularities in certain flight phases, communication in each of these steps using different radio devices and means, the behavior of the aircraft in different positions and at different speeds, flying at low speeds, demonstration exercises in the behavior of the aircraft when the aircraft flies at such a low speed to lose airflow around the wings, sharp turns of 30, 45, 60 degrees, engine failure simulation, procedures and techniques in lowering and landing, going on routes… make a list of things you will learn in the practical part of the training.

What do airplanes look like in pilot training?

All aircraft, not only in our country but also in the world, at the initial level of training, are in 90 percent of cases single-engine aircraft, propeller, high-wing or low-wing, and belong to the Cessna or Piper families. The usual Cessna model used for training is the Cessna 172, while the Piper most commonly seen in Serbia is the PA38 Tomahawk model.

In America and some newer and more modern schools in the world, the model of the Austrian manufacturer Diamond is increasingly seen, but also the model of Cirrus, an American manufacturer from Minnesota.

When it comes to the age of the fleet, some schools have planes from the seventies, while both Smatsa and Prince Aviation have one Cessna 172 G1000 - planes that are less than 10 years old, as well as the so-called Glass Cockpit, ie aircraft instruments displayed on monitors. ”.

To avoid confusion, because some of these planes were christened "flying fiches", each of these planes must go for regular servicing every 50 and 100 hours of flight, and some parts of the plane like the propeller also have their own life. the age which is checked and, if necessary, changed to a certain number of hours. Although many planes do not look representative at first glance, regular inspections ensure greater aircraft safety.

It would not be fair to leave out two models of airplanes that belong to the so-called ultra-light aviation - the domestic airplane Sila and the Slovenian Pipistrel.

Whoever wants to engage in training for a commercial pilot in Serbia, but also in Europe, cannot enter in the flyer the flight made on these planes in the way that he could have flown on a Cessna or Piper. That is, for some reason, the hours realized on these planes are not viewed the same.

There is no such difference in America.

Ultralight planes require a bit more flying skills and precision because they are lighter than their bigger brothers and I would sincerely like to achieve some hours on these planes shortly.

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Now we come to the most important question - how much does an hour of the flight cost?

The average price of an hour is 130 euros. It can be higher, but it is usually lower if an agreement is made between the student and the school and a certain fund of hours is paid in advance.

In America, it is possible to find a plane for less money, but with them, the "assistance" of the instructor is paid separately, often in the amount of the price of an hour of the plane, so in total it will never be cheaper.

In Europe, the price of a watch is identical, if not higher, but the fleet is also more modern.

How much does training for a sports pilot cost and what can you do when you get a license?

Taking into account everything previously written, the price of training for a sports pilot is roughly around 8,000 euros.

In addition to the costs to the school for the theoretical and practical part, part of the costs is transferred to the Directorate and the state for the costs of issuing certificates, fees, permits, etc.

When the lectures are attended, the student is obliged to report the exam to the Directorate and when he is ready - he goes out to take it. Passed exams are a condition for taking the practical part.

The moment when the flight instructor is satisfied with the student at all stages of training, he gives consent for the student to take the practical part and for this segment, an application is also submitted to the Directorate.

Although any of the authorized examiners for the practical part could take the student's exam, the practice is for it to be an examiner working in the school where the student completed the training. The only condition is that the authorized examiner did not fly with the student until then, or if he did, that it was not more than a certain number of hours.

Once it's all over, what can a student, or now a sports pilot, do with his license?

Commercial - nothing! If he has his own plane, which is a very rare occurrence in Serbia, he can fly alone or take the company.

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It is said that there are "creatives" in America who share the cost of fuel when more people travel, so they "iron" some costs that they might put in their pockets. Of course, that is not legal, but people manage.

Secondly, it can fly exclusively in visual meteorological conditions - so there is no rain, no fog, and low clouds, no flying in the clouds, no flying at night.

Third - he can translate it into an American license and gain the authority to fly a plane in America.

Fourth - can continue training.

Continuation of training according to the commercial license

In case you opt for this last option, from the list of training centers authorized by the Directorate you should look for those that offer training for an ATPL license.

There are currently seven such centers in Serbia.

The theoretical part in this segment lasts about 6-7 months of daily teaching, consists of 14 subjects, and in comparison with the theoretical part for sports, the pilot is far more extensive and demanding. Available learning materials are exclusively in English, and so they should be prepared because the exams will be taken in English. Classes are organized so that after passing the chapters, the student takes the so-called progressive tests, to see how well he has mastered the material. Some training centers also organize final tests and do not want to give their students confirmation that they have attended lectures until they have passed all the tests.

Another important difference compared to training for a sports pilot is that there is no official database from which questions for exams are prepared. The two most popular learning bases are the Aviation Exam and Bristol Ground School, and if you randomly asked students you found in Skadarlija at the beginning of the last week of the month in front of the Directorate building which base was the best for learning, everyone would swear by the other.

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The range of questions is between 12,000 to over 16,000 and it takes a really great effort to master each subject sufficiently to pass the exam safely.

Allegedly, there is no way to pass these exams on a whim. Everything is talked about, there is a lot of speculation, the finger is pointed at individuals who managed to "pack" all 14 exams in two or three terms in a row from the first attempt, but that is a part of the world that I personally do not know.

The practical part includes one intermediate step called Time building.

The student, ie now a pilot, must complete 100 hours of flight, which he enrolls as if he were "independently" operating the plane, to acquire the conditions for continuing the practical part of the training. I intentionally put "independent" in quotes because there is no school in Serbia today that allows a student to fly alone on a plane for all those hundred hours. It is said that some schools mostly do this by putting young instructors to fly with students, and instructors do not write in-flight books these hours. Other schools use this time to better prepare students for the final step toward a commercial permit.

Time building is nothing but a mere route flight, ie flying from point A, then a few points in between, and then returning to point A. How each school will use depends on several factors, but it is the student who should already then knows what he wants and where he is weak, to work on these weaknesses in the final - to correct them.

After the completion of the time building, there should be training for night flight authorizations (this can actually be completed earlier), instrument flight training, a simulator, as well as a professional license exam, and an instrument flight authorization exam.

From this moment, the preparation for the real job that every pilot will do tomorrow begins. Some would say that then "real piloting" begins.

In this phase of training, it is assumed that the weather conditions will not always be ideal, that is, that you will fly in the rain, snow, clouds, fog, etc.

For every civil airport, some procedures apply in conditions of reduced visibility, but companies certainly use them for better planning of arrivals at the airport.

Such procedures are practiced in this advanced step, and for 100 hours you need to run in time building comes another 25 hours of instrument flight training, 40 hours in a simulator where you practice these same things only far more efficiently and in the end another 20 hours on a two-engine plane.

The cost of this second part ranges from 30,000 euros and up. Logically, most of the money goes to flying, but extraordinary costs include, for example, fees for the services of Nikola Tesla Airport - if you take off from it - a little more costs to the Directorate for Certification, exam registration, application for practical work, etc.

Where does the money for pilot training in Serbia come from?

As with everything you really want, there are ways. I worked in America in 2015 and came back here with the idea of ​​thinking better about what I would do if I went back to America, and the result of my planning for the future is the experience I am writing to you about now. Of course, I wouldn't have gone far without my family's support.

Many of my colleagues have worked or continue to work "over" - three are stewards in companies from the Middle East, one works on an overseas cruiser, one who is employed on a riverboat plans to start training soon, while two drove trucks around America, yes would then also complete the training here.

In the classes before and after mine, some girls are flight attendants in the national airline.

Individuals are owners of successful businesses in Serbia and Montenegro.

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Of course, a good part of my colleagues have connections with aviation through their parents who worked or work as pilots, ground staff, and the like.

I also have a colleague who works as a system administrator and who claims that he earns more than the captain in Serbia and that he is not interested in the advanced part of the training but only in recreational flying.

Can it be saved?

As I have already mentioned in the text, within the agreement with the school, the price for an hour of flight can be lowered only if a certain fund of hours is bought.

As for the theory, some schools gave the first part of the tuition fee (about 1,000 euros) if you would bring someone else with you, and there were concessions for the theoretical part in the advanced step (about 2,500 to 4,000 euros).

There is a possibility - which I personally saw as realistic on the example of a colleague - to buy a plane, do time building and then sell the plane. The only hole in that plan is that you have to have money to buy an airplane. If you meet this condition, this way you can save a minimum of 5,000 euros, but even if you do not "earn" that money, the experience you gain by flying everywhere in the region is immeasurable with what you gain regularly.

Perspective and finding a job as a pilot in Serbia and abroad

When we talk about Serbia, there are more opportunities here.

First of all, one should separate those who have no one in aviation from those who do, which is a division that should be kept in mind in almost all professions.

Those from the second group have a somewhat easier passage because they have information that is harder or too late to get to those from the first group.

The most common way is to continue training for the type of aircraft, which is often either a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A319 / A320 / A321, the two most common models in the fleets of almost all major airlines in the world. Ryanair is the company with the largest fleet of Boeing 737s in Europe, while Wizzair and EasyJet have the most Airbuses.

The most common model of "entering" the company is the payment of training for the type of aircraft within the training organized by the company with which it is applying. Whether this will happen by paying for training for a specific type of aircraft in full, or by arranging an arrangement under which one part will be deducted from the salary for the next two to five years, is already on the terms determined/agreed by the company.

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The training normally costs between 15,000 and 35,000 euros. Starting salaries range between 2,000 and 3,000 euros, and these are basic salaries, without bonuses and per diems.

Since 2013, when Air Serbia existed and since the fleet was rejuvenated with aircraft from other manufacturers, there has been a constant need for new pilots. This information, however, does not necessarily mean pilots who have just completed training, but pilots with some experience.

It is understood that a pilot who leaves school with about 200 hours of flight time is considered a pilot with zero hours of flight time because the plane on which he will be trained and on which he will fly in traffic is by no means comparable to Cessna or Piper.

The national airline announces job vacancies at least once a year and has announced more vacancies in the past year because they have expanded the destinations they fly to, but also because a large number of experienced pilots have left the company to work somewhere better paid and better off. working conditions. The most recent example is the departure of pilots to Saudi Arabia.

Another company where there are real job opportunities is Wizz Air. With them, the competition is always open.

From year to year, the conditions under which the company decides to admit candidates to its cadet program change. Until recently, there was a story that without 300 hours of flying, it is not worth calling them, but this has now changed a bit and if you pass the tests and interviews, you have a real chance of a job. The bases from which some of my colleagues got the opportunity to start building a career are Skopje and Timisoara.

Of the companies in the field of business aviation, Airlink is one of the most famous and it almost always has room for new promising candidates. Entering it, training for the type of aircraft is forthcoming, which is on average around 25,000 euros, and of course a recommendation from the school center or someone else.

I guess it’s a similar story for Prince Aviation and their business aviation.

Both work well and do a lot.

Starting salaries are not as attractive as for larger airlines, but over time they reach that level, while for some captains they go far above the average and amount to 7,000 to 9,000 euros.

The disadvantage to the national airline may be that there is no precise schedule of work and destinations, but as much work as is done.

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When we talk about Europe, the picture is not very clear and requires certain puzzles.

Brainteaser no. 1 is a work permit in Europe.

Almost all companies, when looking for captains, do not ask questions. However, for first officers, either an EU member state passport or a work permit is required. Some companies have solved this problem by obtaining business visas for one country from where the pilot would fly, after which they are looking for a further solution through the parent company whose headquarters are located in another country.

Someone is also talking about the so-called blue card that is obtained in Denmark.

Brainteaser no. 2 is to equate our license with the licenses of the European Union.

This has been done across Ireland for years.

Germany and France are countries where, according to many, it is not worth looking for a job.

Ryanair has a good program for pilots, but nothing for first officers if they don't work permits.

Companies from the Emirates are looking for a minimum of 2,000 flight hours for foreigners, and there is strong competition, especially from Great Britain, where schooling is light years away from everything that Serbia and the region can provide at the moment.

Potentially interesting markets could be Asian countries.

China is also starting to attract staff in this industry for rather high salaries (mostly captains), but there are also Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. Turkey can also be interesting and I hope to have first-hand information shortly.

When it comes to America, a sports license is easily converted, however, a commercial one must be taken both in writing and practice.

Compared to the European examination system and those 16,000 theoretical questions, the American system includes a total of about 2,000 questions.

Another difference is that a pilot who has just left school can forget to work for large airlines, since the beginning of the 2000s, when their aviation authorities set the minimums for ATP licenses that require 1,500 flight hours.

It’s a journey of about five years that involves working for smaller airlines that serve only a few destinations in remote locations, away from big cities, with a pretty poor salary. After that, it is the turn of regional airlines, which fly from larger airports and which in previous years have been trying to attract pilots with higher salaries, privileges, and working conditions.

Only with the acquired representative experience can you go to larger airlines. Here, the salary is far more serious, the working conditions are excellent, health insurance packages are better, etc.

People are trying in different ways to get a residence and work permit in America, but about that on another occasion.

America remains the only market in the world where the job of a pilot does not have to be the only thing they would do within aviation, but provides a huge number of opportunities, especially in new companies that are already disrupting the market and in the future certainly threaten to replicate Europe and the world. new standards.

To return to Serbia at the very end - in the transition period to a new competition, a new pilot can look for a job in agricultural aviation, participating in the so-called throwing of baits for handcuffs, which is a job that worked well in the past few years. acquires many hours of a rush. It flies in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and recently in Romania. Another job can be parachuting, although it can't take many hours.

In my opinion, the job of a flight instructor is not for everyone and not everyone can do it, but it is not a bad opportunity to enjoy the charms of general aviation flying until it is the turn of "paperwork" and big planes.

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In short: steps towards a professional license

1st grade medical (only one institution in Serbia does the initial examination); optional 2nd class for sports license.

training for a sports pilot, the so-called PPL (theoretical and practical part, passing both)

commercial pilot training, so-called ATPL (theoretical and practical part, passing both)

night flight training

Instrument flight rating training (simulator + practical part)

training for authorization to fly a two-engine airplane

English in Aviation, minimum level 4

subsequently: training for the specific type of aircraft you will operate in traffic.

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I hope that you enjoyed this journey with new information and that if not for you, then for someone close to you, all this written will be useful if he wants to become a pilot. If you have additional questions, contact the editorial office for contact and I will do my best to answer as soon as possible.

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I have interest what next

$ 0.00
7 months ago

its my favourite profession

$ 0.00
7 months ago

I'm an aspiring pilot, I hope I'll make it. The journey would be hard and your article proved that but also inspired me to learn more.

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Oh, this is great and it's gonna be a great success when it is attained

$ 0.00
7 months ago

excellent article. I love it

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7 months ago

My family doesn't supporting this job 🙂 my dream will not successful ...

$ 0.00
7 months ago

When I was a child I think I have to be a pilot . Pilot is a great job . But is a hard working and knowledge maintenance for this

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7 months ago

Right now is my ambition to be a pilot.this article help me thanks

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Bein a pilot is my dream thanks for sharing

$ 0.00
7 months ago

An impressive article, keep it up

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Seeing how beautifully an incompetent girl flies in Indian serials, it may seem that flying is a very easy task, ha ha ha, please don't take it seriously.

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Becoming a pilot is indeed a great chance because it is a great job

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Thank for share that thing.

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7 months ago

I can't stand everything that is high. I'm afraid of heights.

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7 months ago

Thank you shear this article.

$ 0.00
7 months ago