The career of charter pilot is best-suited for people who like performing a variety of flying jobs and on a very flexible schedule. They should be comfortable with working mission-to-mission if need be; rather than being paid full-time on an indefinite basis.
Typically flown using single or twin-engine propeller planes, a charter pilot could find themselves flying short-range air taxi services, sightseeing tours or taking skydivers up for parachute jumps.
Charter pilots can also be found towing gliders aloft or flights for clients with very specific needs; particularly if they work for a charter company that allows paying customers to decide on destinations, mission types (including aid flights to stricken areas) and the types of aircraft.
Those traffic aircraft that keep radio listening-motorists updated about highway slowdowns? They too are flown by charter pilots. Basically, charter pilots fill the gaps in civil aviation.
Because charter pilots fly so many different missions, there are many job opportunities available – with varying amounts of flying hours required.
Pilots considering this field should consider what kinds of charter work they’d to do – and what kind of aircraft fly these missions – so that they can tailor their education plans accordingly. This includes learning to fly helicopters, which are often used for charter work.
How to Learn
There are a few ways to learn to become a professional pilot. All begin by obtaining a private pilot’s licence, before moving into a specific career stream.
The traditional way to learn to fly is by enrolling at a flight school; either close to home or in another location. Training is usually full or part-time based on the student’s personal schedule, the training program and financial resources. The learning includes in-class training (ground school) and in-aircraft training (flight training).
Flight hours also matter. They are the amount of time the student spends flying. Many aviation jobs require licenced pilots to have accumulated a specific minimum amount of flight hours, before they will be considered for employment.
Across Canada, community colleges and universities are now teaching students to fly on a full-time or part-time basis; often in partnership with local flight schools. This option can offer an aspiring pilot a faster route to their licence, by fitting more education and training into a shorter time. But unless the student has access to some form of educational subsidies the cost will be comparable over time to the flight school.
Many aspiring charter pilots work as flight instructors to build up their flying hour totals. This helps qualify them to apply for more-demanding charter piloting jobs.
Being a flight instructor is also a good way for a charter pilot to earn a living, while they are building up their flight hours.
The amount of job and aircraft options open to a charter pilot will improve as they gain flight hours and get trained on more aircraft types. Again, it makes sense for charter pilots to consider becoming helicopter pilots as well, to expand their career opportunities.
Entry level salary typically starts at $40,000 per year. More seasons charter pilots can earn up to $150,000 per year.
Depending on the educational choice, training to be a charter pilot can cost anywhere between $50,000 and $75,000. These costs are for the basic training and Integrated ATPL. Once employed by an airline, training is usually covered by the employer.
Some provinces do offer subsidies/grants to help students pay for pilot training. Student loans may also be available from financial institutions.
Need More Information?
Visit the Pilot Career Centre Canada for information about about flight training, how to choose a flight school and listing of schools across Canada.
The Government of Canada also offers guidance on how to select a flight school and the steps needed to start training.