Pilot Career -
Monday, 14 November 2005 11:24
Hi Captain Lim,
My name is Tony and I am from Melbourne, Australia. I came across your site and it is fantastic. I have certainly learnt heaps. I would want to become a pilot one day as it has always been my dream. If I don*t reach there, at least I want to do something dealing with planes such as getting an aviation degree or become an aerospace engineer.
I was just wondering - is there a certain height you to reach to become an airline pilot? I am currently 17 years old and I am 163 cm tall. Many people have told me that it is hard to become an airline pilot but I am determined to work hard to reach there. I was just wondering whether I can become an airline pilot when I am that short?
This is the most common (and repeated) question I receive from aspiring pilots. Nevertheless, I will repeat my answers.
In the early days of hiring pilots, there was a minimum height for pilots at most airlines. Generally, these requirements have not strictly being followed today and some have mainly fallen by the wayside. To some, the only requirement is that a prospective pilot can fly the simulator provided during the interview process without undue problems due to height or strength (i.e. he can reach the rudder pedals and see over the dashboard or can control an airplane without restriction, etc). I remember when I was doing my training in the United Kingdom - a course mate of mine who was only 158 cm (5* 2") was selected for the flying training. Even though he satisfied the minimum height, they later realized that his legs were too short to control the rudders (had problem recovering from the spin - a difficult flying maneuver) and was terminated from further flying training.
So really, there is no official height restriction in order for one to be issued with a professional pilot license, either by the UK CAA, the FAA or any governing bodies. However, airlines on their own may impose their requirements. It is a matter of company policy.
Let me quote you some airlines that still require pilots to have minimum or maximum height restrictions:
To qualify for the Cathay Cadet Airways Pilot Program, you must be at least 160 cm tall. Malaysia Airlines would require their pilots to be at least 163 cm (5* 4") tall and Singapore Airlines requirement is 165 cm.
Some airlines in UK have various height restrictions between 158 cm (5* 2") to 191 cm (6* 3").
The physical requirements of US American Airlines: Able to lift, push and pull heavy articles as required and to reach all emergency equipment on all aircraft types. Pilots* heights must not exceed a maximum of 6* 2" and ideally, be between 5*1-1/2" to 6* 0".
So I cannot really advise whether you are too short for an airline job. You got to find out from the specific airline yourself. If you choose to fly for General Aviation, your height of 163 cm is not a problem at all.