Pilots have the opportunity to travel the world, seeing amazing places and meeting a variety of people. If you want to spend your days at 20,000 feet, you might be wondering what steps you’ll need to take to achieve this goal.

There's no perfect path to becoming a pilot, but here's one great start to make it happen. Enjoy the journey along the way, it's a long one!

Basic Qualifications

A. Educational Attainment

College degree is not a requirement for earning the basic pilot license. You can get a student pilot license (SPL), a private pilot license (PPL), or even a commercial pilot license (CPL) with a senior high school diploma. However, if your goal is to work in major airlines in Philippines, a college degree is a critical requirement. Some companies do really look into it, while others do not.

You can take any degree/course in college. Airlines accept from diverse industries as long as they are degree holders. Some airline pilots are suggesting to take non-aviation related courses, so that if you have second thoughts about it, you’ll have a backup course, as well as other career options. If you intend to get an aviation related course, take the bachelor’s degree major in aeronautics, aviation, avionics or aerospace engineering.

This is a very competitive industry and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a job even after earning all the required flight hours and licenses.

B. Physical Fitness

To ensure that you’re physically fit to fly an airplane, you’ll be required to get a medical certificate before beginning your flight training.

There are different types of medical certificates being issued to pilots.

  • Second-class medical certificate (Class 2) for Student Pilot License and Private Pilot License
  • First-class medical certificate (Class 1) for Commercial Pilot License and Airline Transport Pilot License

To secure a medical certificate, you have to be assessed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

They will combine the results from different medical professionals to come up with a report. These includes the following:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Vision Test which includes Color Blind Test, Depth Perception Test and Snellen Chart
  • Audiometry or Puretone
  • Chest X-ray
  • Dental Exam
  • Urinalysis
  • Drug test
  • Blood Test (CBC)

Common Questions

Is there a height requirement to become an airline pilot?

Answer: Height requirement differs depending on the airline requirements. However, there’s no height requirement included in the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR).*

Should I have a 20/20 vision? Can an airline pilot wear eye glasses?

Answer: Pilots can wear glasses but a certain extent of grade. But the most important thing is you are not color blind.

Is there an age requirement or age limit to start?

Answer: In Philippine Civil Aviation Regulation, the minimum age requirement to get a license is at least 16 years old. However, for a career, it all depends on the age requirement of your chosen aviation school or airline company.

C. English Proficiency

English is the international language used in aviation; radio communication is vital in ensuring the safety in every flight. Therefore, if you can’t speak or understand the language well, you will have a hard time following the direction from the control tower.

Some flight schools are offering aviation English course for those students who are from non-English-speaking countries.

Pilot License and Career Pathway

Stage 1: Get a Student Pilot License

This license is issued at the earliest stage of pilot training. The minimum age requirement for student pilots is 16. You can earn this license by enrolling in a flying school after graduating from senior high school.

Requirements to get Student Pilot License (SPL):

  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Certificate
  • Class 2 Medical Certificate
  • Birth Certificate for Filipinos only
  • Passport and Visa for Foreigners only
  • Student Study Permit (SSP) for Foreigners only

The training is usually divided into two phases:

  • Ground School– The duration of this program usually takes 1 -2 months, in this training you’ll learn the basics of air law regulations, weather, flight aerodynamics, navigation, radio communication, and other fundamentals of aviation.
  • Flight Training– After learning the basic knowledge, you can now start taking actual flying lessons from a certified flight instructor.

You will also undergo some examinations in order to proceed to the next level which is the Private Pilot License (PPL).

  • Private Pilot License Knowledge test in Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
  • Radio License in National Telecommunication Commission (NTC)
  • English Language Proficiency (ELP) test in Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
  • Skills Test or Check ride with Check Pilot from Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)

Stage 2: Private Pilot License

This license will enable you to fly any single-engine, non-high-performance airplane requiring a single pilot for operation. You cannot use this license to earn any income or compensation.

To continue obtaining a Commercial Pilot License (CPL), you have to undergo another ground school and flight training. Here’s the summary of requirements that you need to complete:

Note: The duration of SPL to PPL usually takes 3-4 months and you have to build-up at least 40 to 50 hours of flight time.

  • Applicants should meet the legal age in the Philippines to work which is at least 18 years old.
  • Must have a Private Pilot License (PPL), you can’t apply for a Commercial Pilot License if you don’t have a PPL yet.
  • A total of at least 150 flight hours. This is a combination of the 110 minimum flight hours required in CPL Training and the 40 (or 50) hours you’ve earned through your private pilot license, for a total of 150 hours.
  • English Language Proficiency (ELP) in at least Level 4
  • Radio License (NTC)
  • Class 1 Medical Certificate
  • Passed the Commercial Pilot License Knowledge test in Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
  • Passed the Skills Test or Check ride

Stage 3: Commercial Pilot License

The Commercial Pilot License (CPL) holders are usually hired by private corporations and individuals to fly planes for specific purposes such as transporting cargo, performing agricultural spraying, flight tours or can work as a flight instructor (Flight Instructor license is required). This license allows you to get paid while earning the flight hours required to work for commercial airlines.

In order to join in airlines, the Commercial Pilot License holder should also have add-on rating.

Note: The duration of PPL to CPL usually takes 6 to 8 months and should have at least 150 hours of actual flight time.

a. Instrument Rating

The Instrument Rating enables you to fly an aircraft in any weather condition. This is added to a Private Pilot and Commercial Pilot License and refers to the qualifications that a pilot must have in order to fly under Instrument Flight Rules or almost zero visibility flight. This rating is also a basic requirement in airline companies.

The training is usually divided into the following:

  • Ground School
  • Flight Simulator training of 20 to 30 hours
  • Actual Flight Training of 10 hours to 20 hours – some schools are offering actual night training which will give the students a competitive advantage to enhance their Instrument Flight skills.
  • Passed the Instrument Rating Knowledge test in Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
  • Passed the Skills Test or Check ride

b. Multi-Engine Rating

The multi-engine rating can be added to a private or commercial license. This will allow the pilot to operate as the pilot in command in an aircraft with twin engine. The good thing is not all airline companies are requiring Multi Engine Rating (MER). However, it will give you an advantage to have this type of rating.

The training is usually divided into the following:

  • Ground School
  • Actual flight training of at least 12 hours
  • Passed the Multi Engine Knowledge test in Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
  • Passed the Skills Test or Check ride

Stage 4: Airline Pilot

After spending a significant amount of time to earn flight hours, and after getting multiple pilot licenses and ratings, getting hired as an airline pilot is like reaching the finish line.

In airlines, the pilot will undergo certain type of training like Airbus Type Rating, a training to provide the pilot with comprehensive knowledge of the system and skill needed to fly a particular type of aircraft. The A320 type rating is the most common in the Philippines and other Asian countries.

If you get accepted, you’ll be working alongside the Captain as a First Officer, an entry-level position. However, if you persist and gain more flight hours, you can move up the ladder as Captain. Usually the captain position will require at least 4500 hours flight time.

This is also the time that you will start to obtain the Airline Transport Pilot License which is considered as the highest civilian license.