Do companies, regardless of country, tend to shy away from hiring older low-hour pilots? "Older" meaning mid-30s to early 40s.


closed as too broad by Federico, J. Hougaard, jwenting, fooot, ymb1 Nov 18 '16 at 15:27

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, they can pay them less; this doesn't just apply to pilots. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Nov 18 '16 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ Saying "regardless of country" makes this extremely broad. Different countries can have very different policies or economic conditions that affect who they will hire as pilots. "Companies" is also very broad, as this would include everything from large airlines down to small charter or corporate operations. $\endgroup$ – fooot Nov 18 '16 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ Older people generally demand higher quality of life and will not work for peanuts when better options are available, including leaving aviation to pursue better careers. Younger pilots will generally work for less, take more risks, work longer hours, and fly junk planes just to gain hours to move up the ranks. They are just easier to employ. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 19 '16 at 0:32

The answer to that has varied throughout airline hiring history. There was a time when you'd better be young or else your chances of getting hired by the majors was essentially nil. Now, "age discrimination" is a thing, and at least officially (in the US, at least) it is probably against policy to treat the 30 year-old ATP with 2000 hours differently than the 50 year-old ATP with 2000 hours. (Or the 30 year-old commercial pilot with 500 hours different from the 50 year-old pilot with the same resume.)

These days, the regional airlines in the US seem to be so desperate for pilots that if you meet the minimums, it's more a matter of scheduling a class than it is scheduling an interview. So if you're willing to fly for a regional, even the late 40-something pilot can probably get on with an airline.

Interestingly, this dynamic has its roots in the hiring practices of 30-40 years ago, when the airlines hired large numbers of "young" pilots -- meaning that the senior ranks of many majors have lots of pilot who are close in age and who are now reaching the Age 65 mandatory retirement all together. This creates significant vacancies at the majors, who draw their new-hires from both the military (which is a fairly constant supply) and from the regionals (which has become where the "slack" has been that is now getting picked up). The massive demand for hiring into the majors translates into regional captains moving up, and thus out of the regional airline far more rapidly than in the past. This drives upgrade times at the regionals down, and has put pressure on their hiring departments to keep the right seats filled.

Quite literally, I was recently told that the "hiring" process at one regional has become nothing more than a confirmation that the candidate does meet the basic minimum qualifications (commercial license, 2nd class medical), and scheduling a class date. If they pass the training, they're hired.

That is a snapshot in time in one country; throughout history that sort of a process is anomalous if not unprecedented.

  • $\begingroup$ There are the Aeronautical Science colleges which also provide a source of young pilots for First Officers. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Nov 18 '16 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ @SMSvonderTann Such graduates will be going to the regionals, not the majors. Moreover, such graduates will still need at least 1000 hrs, so will almost certainly have worked at least one (from my observation, usually 2+) flying jobs first before being eligible. It really isn't accurate to suggest that someone with an aeronautical science degree is going to go straight to any airline after graduating, if that is what you meant. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Nov 18 '16 at 2:32
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters I thought it was only 750 hours for an ATP-r for graduates of such programs. I was just adding that on as another way of pilots getting into the industry. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Nov 18 '16 at 3:44
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    $\begingroup$ @SMSvonderTann 750 for military pilots, 1000 for graduates of approved 4 yr colleges. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Nov 18 '16 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ @SMSvonderTann The majors want to see turbine PIC time on a resume, which means that somebody trusted you with their jet or turboprop for long enough that you've had a year or several flying it as the captain. Nobody coming out of the 4-year programs has that, unless they flew daddy's King Air on the weekends. Those colleges you mention are a great route into the regionals, but not into the majors directly. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Nov 18 '16 at 4:29

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