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I am a current year 10 student wanting to become a pilot. I am choosing between going to ADFA (Australian Defence Force Academy) to take a course in aviation and the airforce fast jet pilot and going to UNSW (University of New South Wales) to take a course in aviation. I am wondering if it is ok to graduate from ADFA and then apply for an airline company straight away without doing extra studies nor licenses because I have heard that earning the license requires lots of money. If I go to ADFA and then apply for an airline would I be wasting time and money?

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    $\begingroup$ My advice would be to join the military only if you are eager to serve in any capacity. There are no guarantees, you could graduate from the academy and end up running a supply depot for 8 years. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Oct 11 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ Hi. Re "I am wondering if it is ok to graduate from ADFA and then apply for an airline company straight away without doing extra studies nor licenses" – it seems you're asking what qualifications does ADFA provide, which would be a more direct and better question than asking for opinions, which this site isn't suited for really. $\endgroup$
    – ymb1
    Oct 11 at 9:44
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    $\begingroup$ In the US, the military academies expect a certain minimum military commitment (years) after graduation. You may want to check to see if the ADFA also requires a long term military commitment, then decide if you're willing to serve your country that long before deciding that it's one of your educational options. (The US MAs are also very selective, and it often takes recommendations from state or federal legislators to gain acceptance - it may be different in Aus.) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 11 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan The answer is no. While ADFA is nominally for military personnel, like the US military academies, certain courses of study are open to civilians. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Oct 12 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user71659 interesting info, thanks for sharing! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 12 at 12:37
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Whichever route you choose you'll end up having to get type certificates at the very least. Historically the airline would pay for those but ever more airlines won't hire pilots unless they already have them (given the glut of airline pilots on the market after the massive scaledowns of many airlines and downright closures of others the last few years that's to be expected, but it was going on longer than that).

As the military won't teach you to fly a B777 or A320 (for example, few militaries exempted where you might end up in a special flight flying VIP transports, but those are usually very senior pilots with decades of experience, not a green as grass hiree who's only looking at the air force as a free learning experience for a future airline job).

And of course if you do go the military route you're not at all guaranteed a flying job. You sign up for the air force, the air force decides what you're going to do, and it may well end up deciding that you're better suited to be a security guard or truck driver rather than a fast jet pilot (a job that won't give you the experience or certificates needed to fly an airliner anyway, and in many air forces these days won't even give you the hours required to keep your PPL current, many air force pilots ending up renting or buying light aircraft with their own money to get those hours up).

Used to be your best job to get into the airlines would be transport pilot or flying ASW patrol aircraft. At the very least you'd have your multi engine experience. Not sure if even that is still relevant, it may be.

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You won't be able to do it straight away, because the Air Force has a minimum service requirement, which for ADFA pilots is about 7 years after you've completed your training (which itself takes the length of the degree, plus about 2.5 years if you get all the way through to the fast jet program). Basically, you'll be in your mid-30s by the time you can start to look at other jobs.

Once your minimum service is completed though you can convert your military qualifications to a civilian licence and apply for airline jobs with that. The conversion process is pretty straightforward and only costs administrative fees. So going through the military will always be cheaper, but a lot more difficult and competitive, and will take a lot longer if your ultimate goal is to get to the airlines.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, don't forget, in the military, you may end up with people shooting at you. Rarely happens in a civilian flight school. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 11 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ This is wrong. Certain ADFA courses of study are open to civilians. I assume the OP wants to pursue an aeronautical engineering degree because she says she isn't seeking a license. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Oct 12 at 5:00
  • $\begingroup$ My understanding is that there is no such thing as an ADFA pilot class anyway. Like the US you get a degree in aeronautical engineering or similar, which gives you a leg up for actual pilot training at the Air Academy. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Oct 12 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 ?? the opening line is that she wants to become a pilot, and is considering joining the fast jet pilot course of the RAAF so I'm not sure why you assume otherwise. The two pathways into the RAAF pilot programs are either direct-entry officer or through ADFA (which yes, is open to civilians and offers a lot more than aviation-related degrees). $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Oct 12 at 5:11
  • $\begingroup$ @user71659 Your understanding of how ADFA works and my understanding of how it works seems to be the same. I think you got confused by my use of "ADFA pilots" - I used this because the minimum service for direct entry officers is 11.5 years (for men), but slightly different if you join via the ADFA route. It's true that there's no ADFA pilot course as such, only RAAF pilots, but as I said, one of the ways in is through ADFA. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Oct 12 at 5:16

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