Place of work: cockpit
The route into the cockpit starts with a multi-stage selection procedure and in-depth training. As a pilot, you carry an exceptional level of responsibility every day. Not only for the passengers and crew, but also for the aircraft.
The pilot plans the flight, calculates the takeoff and analyses the weather. He or she fully understands the complex technology on board. The Commander of the aircraft is responsible for the passengers and crew. As manager, coordinator and decision-maker in an unusual and fascinating position.
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Ab initio pilot
• Safe and economical operation of a commercial aircraft
• Flight preparation and implementation in accordance with legal requirements
• Cooperation with ground staff and air traffic controllers
• Responsible for crew and passengers
• Swiss nationality or an EU-EFTA citizen
• 20 - 33 years of age (33rd birthday) on submission of the application
• Minimum height 1.60 m / maximum height 1.98 m
• Applicants liable for military service must have completed basic military service (CH: Rekrutenschule – Military Training School) or civilian service (CH: “langer Einsatz” – long-term duty) at the time of application.
Swiss European Air Lines
• Minimum requirement: highest college grade with completed work apprenticeship (at least 3 years)
Swiss International Air Lines
• Matura/A-level (school-leaving examination) or work apprenticeship/advanced technical college entrance qualification or certificate of accreditation at a college of higher education
Language of instruction at the aviation school.
• Applicants with German as their native language or language of everyday use:
No proof of German required.
• Applicants with French as their native language or language of everyday use:
Intermediate German knowledge is required at the time of solicitation. To this end, four years of German instruction must be proven (school certificates/course confirmation). Later, about four months after the start of the selection process, the German skills should be so good that the interview (last step of the selection process) is possible in German. Should the exhibited level not correspond to our requirements, then the German skills must be improved and be documented in the form of the corresponding certificate – Goethe Diploma or AKAD Language+Culture Test (see information sheet).
• All other applicants:
Applicants who cannot prove the required four years of German instruction must be able to show that they possess the corresponding certificate – Goethe Diploma or AKAD Language+Culture Test (see information sheet) – at the time of the application.
Native language or certificate of level B2 (7), e.g. Cambridge First Certificate A or B, (see information sheet) required at a later date.
Ready Entry pilot
Direct Entry pilot
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Suitability and training
Your place of work is the cockpit. As a pilot, you bear all the responsibility in an exciting and challenging profession. Your training with SWISS will commence after a multi-stage selection procedure.
Step 1: Selection procedure and aptitude test
Anyone who wants to join SWISS as a pilot will go through a multi-stage aptitude test. This selection procedure tests the applicants' intelligence and their knowledge of various subjects such as geometry, physics or mathematics. The candidates' flying skills, medical condition and personal aptitude will also be checked. No prior aviation skills are required in order to pass the test.
The Association's aviation training platform, SPHAIR, enables interested parties aged between 17 and 20 to undergo two weeks' flying training and an aptitude assessment, and provides them with valuable insights into the profession of pilot. SWISS recognises this course, and offers graduates a simplified selection procedure. The relevant certificate and aptitude assessment must be submitted with the application.
Step 2: Training with SWISS Aviation Training
Those who pass the aptitude test will commence their pilot training. Depending on the particular course, this will take between 18 and 23 months. It consists of theory blocks, training in the simulator and flying training. For the latter, the students will fly twin-engine aircraft both in Switzerland and abroad.
The theory modules deal with subjects such as "Radio Navigation", "Flight Instruments" and "Human Performance and Limitations". Speakers from Skyguide or Meteo Schweiz will talk about their fields of speciality. Those who successfully complete their training with SWISS Aviation Training will then be trained on a specific aircraft type ("Type Rating Training"). This is followed by the line intro at SWISS.
Step 3: A career in the cockpit
A pilot starts his or her career with SWISS as a First Office on short haul flights. Together with the Commander, the First Officer controls the commercial airliner and manages the flight operations. He or she is also the Commander's deputy.
The next stage in the First Officer's career is progression to long haul flights, so he or she will learn SWISS's complete route network. Once he or she has gained a number of years' experience and undergone further training, he or she will be able to achieve the rank of Commander, starting on short haul and then moving on to long haul. In this function, he or she will bear full responsibilty for the aircraft, the passengers and the crew.
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Frequently asked questions pilots
If you are interested in working as a pilot, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions here. Concerning the requirements, training and future employment with SWISS.
- What level of education do I have to have in order to apply to the airline as a pilot?
- Can I become a pilot if I have poor eyesight?
- How old do I have to be before I can start my training?
- Are there any other requirements that apply?
- How can I prepare for the aptitude assessment?
- How much is the registration fee for an "ab initio" application?
- When are the application interviews held?
- When will I be informed of the results of the assessment?
- What other documents does SWISS need with my application?
What level of education do I have to have in order to apply to the airline as a pilot?
Swiss European Air Lines AG
The highest level of secondary education, at least three years' professional training (apprenticeship).
Swiss International Air Lines
One of these levels must be: Matura, Abitur (A Levels), passing the entry examination for university or technical college or completion of a minimum of three years' professional training (apprenticeship) with higher vocational diploma (Berufsmatura).
Can I become a pilot if I have poor eyesight?
Wearing contact lenses or glasses is no longer an obstacle. As a general rule, we accept long- or short-sightedness to +5.0/-6.0 dioptre if there are no other eye disturbances. Most airlines will also accept earlier laser surgery to the cornea provided there were no complications and it was performed at least one year ago (SWISS ruling). However, every applicant will have to be seen by a BAZL optician.
How old do I have to be before I can start my training?
Minimum 20, maximum 33 years of age (based on your birthday).
Are there any other requirements that apply?
If applicable, applicants must have completed their military service (cadet school) or the basic training for community service or civil defence.
How can I prepare for the aptitude assessment?
You will find various preparatory courses and a range of training software options in the Internet. However, these sources often include untruths. In the first instance, use the materials provided by SWISS, which you will receive with the invitations to the respective modules. We advise against attending preparatory courses.
How much is the registration fee for an "ab initio" application?
A registration fee of CHF 300 (EUR 230) is charged on submission of the application. A copy of the payment transfer and the completed reimbursement form must be uploaded with the electronic application. "Ab initio" applicants who have already undergone part of the pilot assessment with SWISS and opted for reconsideration following a negative result do not have to pay the registration fee.
When are the application interviews held?
Assessments are carried out all year round. The interviews are held at the end of the four- to six-month selection procedure.
When will I be informed of the results of the assessment?
You will be notified by email after a few days.
What other documents does SWISS need with my application?
A complete application dossier will contain the following documents:
- Application form
- Recent passport photo
- Receipt confirming payment of the registration feeform for the "Reimbursement of the fee for the aptitude assessment"
- Copies of all school reports from when you were 12 years of age onwards
- Copies of all references
- English diploma (if appropriate)
- German diploma (if not your mother tongue)
- Extract from the Central Criminal Register or CRB check
- Copies of your flying licences (if relevant)
- Eyesight form
- Medical questionnaire
You will find all the important information on these enclosures on the last page of the published application form.
- How good should my German be?
- How good should my French be?
- Is it an advantage if I speak any other languages apart from German/English/French?
How good should my German be?
German is the training language at the flying school.
Applicants whose mother tongue or language of habitual use is German:
no evidence required.
Applicants whose mother tongue or language of habitual use is French:
average German language skills are assumed at the time of application. You must be able to provide evidence of four years of German lessons (school reports/course confirmations). Around four months after commencement of the selection procedure, your German should be good enough for the interview (the final stage in the selection procedure) to be held in German. If the level does not meet with our requirements, then you must improve your German skills and have this confirmed by an appropriate certificate (Goethe Diploma or AKAD Language+Culture Text; see information sheet). Applicants who are unable to provide evidence of the required four years of German lessons must be able to provide the above certificates with their applications.
All other applicants:
Evidence of the required certificate (Goethe Diploma or AKAD Language+Culture Test; see information sheet) at the time of applying.
How good should my French be?
No French language skills are required at the time of application. Verbal skills are important after training since the announcements from the cockpit are made in several languages.
Is it an advantage if I speak any other languages apart from German/English/French?
Of course. Every additional language will make it easier for you to deal with our international clientele.
- When do the pilot training courses start?
- Will I be trained on short- and long haul aircraft?
- Will I be able to keep private appointments such as flat-hunting or doctor's visits during my basic training?
When do the pilot training courses start?
Pre-financed training courses with SAT (Swiss Aviation Training Ltd.) for future commercial pilots with SWISS start quarterly. These courses are open to those who received a positive decision after their assessments.
Will I be trained on short- and long haul aircraft?
Swiss European Air Lines:
You will be used on short haul aircraft type AVRO RJ-100 within Europe.
Swiss International Air Lines:
You will be used on the aircraft in the A320 family, which are used on medium and long haul flights. Later on, you will convert to the A330/A340 long haul fleet.
Will I be able to keep private appointments such as flat-hunting or doctor's visits during my basic training?
As a rule, missed training sessions cannot be repeated. There is little time for absences during your training.
When will I receive my contract?
As soon as all the formalities have been dealt with and the tests (including your Medical Test) have been completed.
Do you offer part-time employment?
We only offer new employees full-time contracts.
On the job
- Do I have to arrange and pay for my hotel accommodation abroad?
- Do I have to live in or near Zurich?
- I have special dietary requirements. Can this be combined with operating a flight?
- When are the pilots' duty schedules published?
Do I have to arrange and pay for my hotel accommodation abroad?
SWISS arranges for your hotel accommodation and your transport to and from the hotel while you are on duty, both the organisation and the costs.
Do I have to live in or near Zurich?
No. However, it is more practical to do so for short haul flights because you will also have to be able to get to the airport early in the morning, at night or at the weekend.
I have special dietary requirements. Can this be combined with operating a flight?
Food or nutritional intolerances may either prevent employment, or will require further medical investigation. Strong medication is not to be taken directly before a flight.
When are the pilots' duty schedules published?
SWISS publishes the duty schedules no later than on the 24th of the previous month for the following month. Pilots can use their personal login details to access their work rosters wherever they happen to be.