How to Realize Your Dream of Becoming A Commercial Pilot
Are There Minimum Hight Requirements for Pilots?
December 12, 2010
This Hub is in answer to a request from fellow Hubber Nguyen Thuy Trang who wrote:
I really wanna be a commercial pilot but..unfortunately my height is just 1m52cm...Can I have any chance to be a pilot? Because I really love this work although I know it's a hard work?
Hubber SeveoMc left this response in the answer box on the request page:
This may be a problem since many airlines require 1.6.
To which Nguyen Thuy Trang replied:
I know that, you are right..but i know a female pilot, she is now working for VietNam airline...hmmmmm, her height is just 1.55cm....1.52 with 1.55..what do you think about that ? :(( because I really really really love pilot work Y_Y
I did some quick research and found a number of discussions on the web pertaining to minimum and maximum height requirements for commercial pilots around the world.
The 1.6 meter (just under 5 feet 3 inches) did appear in some discussions as the minimum height but others indicated that there was no minimum height requirement.
At 1.52 meters (approx 4 feet 11.8 inches), Mr Trang is eight centimeters (about 3 inches) short of the 1.6 meter requirement that some commercial airlines apparently have.
Following Your Dreams
According to Mr. Trang, becoming a commercial airline pilot is his dream and I have always been one to encourage people to follow their dreams. However, achieving a dream requires the setting of a goal and then working to accomplish that goal.
In many cases there is a major barrier or barriers to accomplishing the goal. In the face of barriers one has to ask themselves two questions:
1) Is the barrier blocking you absolute in that it cannot be overcome (in this case, if all planes were designed such that one had to be at least 1.6 meters tall in order to safely or effectively fly them)?
2) Are you ready to make the sacrifices and put forth the effort needed to overcome the barrier?
There are very few things in which the answer to the first question is an absolute No. The world is full of stories of people who have succeeded in overcoming barriers that seemed impossible, in order to achieve their dream. So, question number one above is more of a challenge or test of the depth of a person’s desire to achieve a dream rather than a simple is this possible? type of question.
Question 2 above is the real question one has to answer because the cost - time, effort, money, sacrifice, etc. - of achieving a dream can be high. This means that while most dreams are technically achievable one has to ask themselves if achieving the dream is worth it in terms of what they have to do to achieve it.
The 1.6 meter minimum height requirement may be the rule with many commercial airlines and, in some countries, may even be a law or regulatory requirement (my quick research indicated that there is no such law or regulation in the United States where I live although some commercial airline companies may have such a rule for their pilots).
My advice to Mr. Trang is to do some research. He should start by finding out what bureau or agency is responsible for licensing or certifying pilots in his nation (I discussed pilot licensing in my Hub Age Requirements for Learning to Fly) to see if they have any minimum height regulations or laws. If there are no minimum height rules for obtaining a commercial pilot license, there is no problem.
If there are such restrictions then check further to see if the minimum height rule applies to all commercial pilot licenses (generally a commercial license is required to pilot a plane carrying paying passengers or cargo for others while a private license allows one to fly by themselves or with friends and family only) or just to some classes such as large passenger jets as opposed to smaller commuter and cargo planes.
If the ban is absolute, he should then check the rules in neighboring and other nations as flying is a global industry with many pilots working in nations other than their own. Many nations such as India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), etc. whose economies are growing and whose rising middle class is seeking to travel have a rapidly expanding airline industry that is actively looking for pilots.
Commercial Aviation is a Very Broad Field
If there is no height restriction for obtaining a commercial pilot license, he should then begin checking flight schools and commercial airlines in his country to see what their rules regarding height are.
In doing this he should keep in mind that commercial airlines refer to all types of airline companies and planes and not just those flying large, passenger carrying jetliners. The commercial airline business encompasses a wide range of companies and airplanes whose only common denominator is that they charge for their flying services and pay their pilots.
While flying one or two fishermen at a time in a single engine seaplane to remote lakes in Canada is not as glamorous as flying jumbo jets between Paris and Tokyo, both are commercial flying jobs. Sometimes one has to start small and work up while in other cases competition is such that only a few can achieve exactly what they want.
Achieving You Dream is Easier If You are Flexible
Often times achieving a dream is easier if the goal is broader. The more
narrowly one sets their dream the more difficult it is to achieve.
This is not to say that one shouldn’t go after a very specific dream such as
piloting a jumbo jet carrying passengers between the world’s major
However, being that specific in a very competitive field means
that it will require great effort and sacrifice and one should ask
themselves if they are willing to bear such a heavy cost to achieve
their dream. This is especially true when a person can achieve a large
part of their dream at a much lower cost.
So, my advice to Mr. Trang and others seeking to fulfill a dream of becoming a commercial pilot, is to first determine how much they are willing to sacrifice and endure in order to achieve their goal of a career as a commercial pilot.
The second thing they should do is to invest time and effort in researching what it will take to achieve their goal.
For some, like Mr. Trang, it may be a possible physical barrier, for others it may be the cost of flight schools, the rigors of flight training, or lack of job opportunities for commercial pilots where they live, etc. More than likely there will be multiple barriers of varying degrees. What you want to do is get an idea as to what it will take to reach the goal and achieve the dream.
If it turns out that the expected satisfaction of achieving the entire goal (such as flying jumbo passenger jets between the great cities of the world) is worth what the cost will be then go for it.
However, if you feel that the cost is too much but still want to fly airplanes for a living look at the multitude of other flying opportunities besides flying jumbo passenger jets to and settle for one that allows you to fly planes for a living but does not require a sacrifice that you are not willing to make.
Even If You Cannot Become A Commercial Pilot, There are Still Career Options that Involve Flying
Finally, even if you decide that all jobs as a commercial pilot require more than you are willing to sacrifice, there are still other, non-flying jobs in the aviation industry as well as jobs in other industries that involve extensive air travel.
There is also the possible option of simply obtaining a private pilot license and flying for fun.
The important thing is not to simply give up on your dream simply because some people tell you that they don’t think you will qualify.