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Do pilots have to be in good shape?


Are you dreaming of being a pilot? The work of an airline pilot is intriguing and rewarding while also demanding and challenging. There’s no need for superpowers or laser vision; being an ordinary healthy person can get you far in becoming an airline pilot. The work is irregular as pilots may work at any time of the day. The length of the working day depends on the aircraft used and the routes flown, and you’ll get instant feedback for your work.

Dream job: being a pilot

What is it like to work as an airline pilot? Go on a flight with Pia as she reveals how she became a pilot. The video is in Finnish.

Join a training flight

Follow pilot students’ training flight at Lappeenranta. The video is in Finnish.

Helsinki from above

See our A350 above at the Kaivopuisto aviation show. The video is in Finnish.

How to become a Finnair pilot

To work as an airline pilot, you need a commercial pilot licence. In addition to basic aviation training, you must go through further training provided by airlines before you can start working in the cockpit. Fluency in the Finnish and English languages is required for all Finnair pilots.

Basic training

In Finland, basic training for pilots is usually provided by the Finnish Aviation Academy in Pori. The training takes approximately two years and is split into several phases. Upon graduation, pilots will have a commercial pilot licence, instrument rating and multi-engine type rating.

Further training at Finnair

After receiving the commercial pilot licence, you can apply for further training provided by Finnair or other airlines. The training includes a first officer’s course and simulator training, followed by type rating courses for different aircraft types. The training takes about two to three months, after which you will be ready to work as a first officer on Finnair flights. Once recruited by Finnair, you’ll be facing a career that can lead to working as a captain on a wide-body aircraft.

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to the frequently asked questions about becoming a Finnair pilot. If you don’t find an answer to the question you have in mind, you can ask us via email:

What is it like working as a pilot for Finnair?

Working as a Finnair pilot is intriguing and challenging, and you get to work in an international and varying environment in a dynamic company together with like-minded co-workers.

I would like to become a pilot for Finnair. What should I do?
Focus on education and training and lead a healthy lifestyle.
What are the entry requirements for becoming a Finnair pilot?

  • Commercial pilot licence
  • Degree from an upper secondary school or completed vocational upper secondary qualification of at least three years (180 ECTS credits, 120 in the former credit system)
  • The minimum height requirement is 163cm
  • Good language skills in Finnish and English
  • Fulfilling the medical criteria defined by Finnair
  • Passing a brief security clearance by the police

What medical requirements are there for Finnair pilots?

If you are healthy and in good shape, you most likely meet the medical requirements of a Finnair pilot.

The medical requirements are based on the European aviation authority’s definitions regarding the health of a professional pilot, with some additional Finnair-specific restrictions.

A good rule of thumb is that you should not have any chronic illness that requires regular medication. Flawless colour vision is a must but wearing glasses is not a limitation.

Each applicant’s medical fitness is assessed individually, and all pilots must have their medical fitness approval renewed yearly throughout their entire career. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise routine, adequate rest and a healthy diet is recommended for everyone wishing to become a pilot.

Visit Traficom website to see the general requirements for aviation professionals in Finland. Airlines may also have additional requirements.

Can I become a pilot if I wear glasses?

Yes, you can become a pilot as long as your eyesight is adequate with or without correction.

What other requirements are there regarding eyesight?

Vision is one of the most important tools for a pilot. Therefore, significant deficiencies in eyesight cannot be allowed.

Visit Traficom website to see the general eyesight requirements for pilots in Finland. Airlines may also have additional requirements.

Is there an age limit for applying to become a pilot?

There is no age limit for becoming a pilot for Finnair. Anyone meeting the acceptance criteria can apply for the job.

How many pilots does Finnair have?

We have approximately 850 pilots.

Can I become a pilot if I have completed an intermediate math degree?

You can get into a pilot training with a good grade from intermediate math studies.

Do I need to be a Finnish citizen to become a Finnair pilot?

Finnish citizenship is not a requirement, but Finnish language skills are.

I have a criminal record. Can it prevent me from becoming a Finnair pilot?

A criminal record is not allowed for Finnair pilots. A few minor speeding tickets may still be tolerated. Applicants who have entries in the security clearance will be handled case by case. During the application phase, it is recommended to disclose any convictions, violations and fines openly.

All Finnair pilots regularly go through a security clearance. Following the rules is an essential part of aviation; therefore, those who ignore the rules of society are not considered suitable for working in the aviation industry.

Why is the minimum height for Finnair pilots 163cm?

The requirement comes from the fact that the pilot needs to be able to reach all the buttons and controls in the aircraft cockpit. In some instances, the aircraft is controlled with foot pedals, for which a person under 163cm cannot get enough pedal power. Therefore, the height requirement is a flight safety issue.

Are tattoos and piercings allowed for Finnair pilots?

Yes, as long as the tattoos and piercings are covered when wearing the uniform.

When can Finnair pilots retire?

The retirement age for Finnair pilots is currently 55–65 years.

What is the starting salary for a Finnair pilot?

The starting salary for each pilot is determined based on the collective agreement in force at the time. Currently, it is around 4,500 euros per month, including flight allowance.

Career stories

The Finnair pilot sailing solo around the world

After OVER 100 days at sea, the finish line is in sight for Finnair A350 pilot Ari Huusela. Ari has been racing in the Vendee Globe since November 2020.

Read full article (Opens in a new tab)

From cabin crew and flight crew to developer – and back!

Annika and Antti work in the Internal Digital Development team at Finnair and develop software and applications for Finnair’s employees. When it comes to developing something for our cabin crew and flight crew, their previous experience as a cabin crew member and a pilot is a huge benefit.

Read full article (Opens in a new tab)

Flying over the North Pole: Well-planned is half done

On 9 March 2022, flight AY073 from Helsinki to Tokyo Narita departed at 17:30 local time. However, instead of heading east, the flight headed towards the North Pole. With this flight, Finnair resumed its service to Tokyo Narita, skirting around Russian airspace that closed on 28 February.

Contact us

If you have questions, please contact us via email. You can follow the open positions online and on social media.

US airlines are combating the pilot shortage by raising pay, lowering requirements, and hiring from Australia

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  • Airlines are once again bracing for a shortage of pilots as air travel ramps up.
  • Pilots are in short supply and pilot training is costly, long, and arduous.
  • Airlines are raising pay scales while offering massive sign-on bonuses and lowering education requirements for new hires.

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Aviation’s pilot shortage is back with a vengeance following a temporary reprieve during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airlines are pulling out all the stops in an effort to attract talent and encourage more people to become pilots. And after decades of low pay, intense training, and furloughs, pilots are being given an opportunity to shape their own career path while getting paid more.

Breeze Airways, the startup airline founded by David Neeleman of JetBlue Airways fame, has already raised the pay for its pilots after seven months of operations. New hire first officers flying Breeze’s Embraer E190/E195 aircraft will see an 11% increase to $61 per flight hour, while first officers assigned the Airbus A220 aircraft will see a 24% increase to $68 per flight hour.

Many airline pilots who are just starting out will no longer have to endure low wages as they work their way up the ladder. Regional airlines, often the first stop for pilots that hope to fly for major carriers, are back to offering big sign-on bonuses to new hires.

Missouri-based regional airline GoJet Airlines is offering $20,000 bonuses to first officers, while pilots that have enough experience to join the airline as a captain are being offered $40,000. US regional carriers often have to fight the hardest to attract talent given the variety of competition.

Pilots looking to make the jump over to a major carrier will now have fewer barriers to doing so. Delta Air Lines is reducing its education requirements for prospective pilots when applying by eliminating the requirement to have a four-year college degree.

«While we feel as strongly as ever about the importance of education, there are highly qualified candidates – people who we would want to welcome to our Delta family – who have gained more than the equivalent of a college education through years of life and leadership experience,» Delta wrote in its announcement. «Making the four-year degree requirement preferred removes unintentional barriers to our Delta flight decks.»

United Airlines similarly prefers but does not require a bachelor’s degree for its pilot applicants and American Airlines does not list any preference or requirement for having a degree. Independent flight schools allow pilots to earn their required licenses and ratings without the additional cost of a college education.

«Ab initio» programs, where prospective pilots with no prior training can get all of their required licenses, are also growing in popularity in the US with airlines like United getting ready to open their own pilot academies in places like Arizona. Though pilots still bear the cost of training, they will have a set career course to fly for a major airline and have access to financial aid including loans.

Some pilot requirements are outside of an airline’s control, including the required number of flight hours a pilot must possess before being hired by a passenger airline and the Federal Aviation Administration’s mandatory retirement age of 65. But not all airlines are looking for pilots who intend to stay for decades.

Breeze, for example, wants to hire older pilots who retired from the airline industry amid the pandemic, even if they only have a few years before reaching retirement age.

«Anybody who has three years left would be great because they bring in maturity, discipline, and lots of experience,» Christopher Owens, Breeze’s vice president of flight operations, told Insider.

Another lever that airlines including Breeze are pulling is hiring pilots from Australia under the E-3 visa program for skilled workers. Breeze has seen at least 120 applicants for the program, which more airlines are adopting to increase their supply of pilots.

Airlines are realizing that they can’t afford to not address the pilot shortage as they are already feeling its effects. Regional airlines flying on behalf of United, for example, have been forced to ground hundreds of aircraft as well as cut and reshuffle routes.

«I’m a little less optimistic that that situation is going to reverse itself in the near term unless we do something to increase the supply of pilots,» Scott Kirby, United’s chief executive officer, said in a Senate hearing last month.

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