Fat people can become pilots

Pilot: The way to the clouds is expensive

The pilot's profession is one of the most respected in Germany - and training is one of the most demanding and costly.

© dpa

Captain of the skies - if you want to live your dream, you need more than just ambitions. You also need a big wallet.

Gunnar Kötter lives in Hamburg. His professional location is Frankfurt, his field of activity the big wide world. And he often sees it from above - the 52-year-old flight captain with the “Boing 767 type rating” works for the Condor holiday airline.

Most people have a lot of respect for his job. According to a current Forsa survey, the pilot is in third place in Germany, ahead of the doctor and judge, in the most respected professions.

Professional profile: pilot

Mobility and flexibility are required if you decide to do so, emphasizes the 52-year-old. "The shift work goes to the bottom." Gunnar Kötter got the tip from a friend to try an apprenticeship at Lufthansa.

What one in ten applicants succeeded in doing, Kötter achieved a good 30 years ago: the “basic occupational examination” by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Hamburg. In addition to fitness to fly, the ability to react, basic mathematical and technical-physical knowledge as well as English skills are tested.

Training to become a pilot

"The test is tough, but it gives good feedback on professional suitability," says Jörg Handwerg, spokesman for the cockpit pilots' association in Frankfurt. Above all, the way to the cockpit is more convenient via the company's own flight schools than via independent providers. Most airlines do not train themselves, but use airliners on the market.

But until an applicant has the necessary license, the “Airline Transport Pilot License”, or ATPL for short, it can be expensive: the training costs up to 60,000 euros. “It's a bit like a vehicle driver's license: How good you are is shown by how quickly you can get your license,” explains Jörg Handwerg.


Many applicants collect licenses piece by piece, for example at the microlight center in Worms. "First of all, they get their license for private pilots at a small flying school," explains managing director Andreas Scheuermann.

The flight instructor has already had quite a few candidates sitting next to him who he tried to dissuade from dreaming of professional aviation: "This is a job for which you also need a certain psychological aptitude." Cockpit spokesman Handwerg lists rationality, communication skills and dexterity: "A pilot must have his emotions well under control and must not be too dominant, but also not too passive."

Licenses and field of work

Gunnar Kötter learned to fly in theory and practice in two years at the Lufthansa Commercial Aviation School in Bremen, first on the flight simulator, then in an airplane. However, he was only allowed to go on board as copilot when the “Type Rating”, the type rating for the Boeing 767, was entered in his pilot's license. Training for a certain type of aircraft costs up to 15,000 euros on the open market. Many pilots strive for the jumbo, the license for a Boeing 747, because that's where the chances of earning money are greatest.

But the preference for one type of aircraft does not determine the actual workplace. “It's a question of the number of positions,” says Jörg Handwerg. Competitive thinking is taboo in the cockpit. Therefore, the person who is at the top of the list according to his or her seniority will be promoted.

Training to become a pilot

"The prospects are less rosy at the moment, but we advise candidates to behave countercyclically," says Sabine Daniel, spokeswoman for the LGM flight school in Mannheim, which has already trained more than 1,000 professional pilots.

The specialist newspaper “Aero International” also reports that there will not be enough trained pilots in the medium term. Long-term forecasts are difficult to make. At least there are considerations to replace the double occupation in the cockpit.

Earning opportunities for pilots

And the job is no longer one in which salaries are constantly rising. An annual salary of a quarter of a million euros is a top figure, says cockpit spokesman Handwerg. At Air Berlin, the starting salary is 2200 euros per month. With allowances, the annual salary is more than 50,000 euros, according to the airline.

Job prospects of pilots

According to Handwerg, employees have to be available 365 days a year, accept time differences and the risk of social isolation: Pilot - a dream job? "Yes," says Captain Handwerg in spite of everything. “It's fun to take on a lot of responsibility, to deal with technology and to have a varied workplace. And flying is just fascinating. "

Source: dpa

| Updated: Tuesday, March 2, 2021 12:55 PM

Aviation professions