Getting into contract/freelance biz jet flying


Well-Known Member
Ok I have an entrepreneurial spirit. So let's say I have my ATPL with 1500-2000 hrs TT of mainly instructional time. And I decide to get into freelance/contract corporate flying, would getting a type rating in a common biz jet like a Citation be advisable? I see citation type rating courses for about $6-8000. You see, I am trying to figure out how best to enter the freelance corporate pilot arena at a later stage in my career (I'm still working on my CPL). I can see myself doing some freelance instructing as well as freelance/contract work flying biz jets as the main gig. Basically I want to assume the risk of working for myself, but embrace the flexibility freelancing can offer. I assume a type rating and recurrent training are part of the start up and operating cost of running a self employed business like freelance charter flying. Can someone advise?


Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
Sorry for this Doug, but it's a fantastic web site. I have no affiliation to this web site, other than being a member...

Go to . That will get you started looking at the life of contract pilots, and what it entails. When you read up on that, come back into the expatriate forums, where hopefully later today (or tomorrow) I will finally have some time to put some stuff up.

My advice to you is build your time, get up to 1000TT-1500TT, with a little bit of multi, then go get on at a charter company. Most of the time, the lifestyle is not the greatest, but if you get time in a jet, get better pay than regionals usually, and spend 1-2 years there, then you will start to become qualified to do what you are wanting.

One last thing, start networking now. Get to know as many people as humanly possible. Trust me, it will help in the future.


Well-Known Member
Be careful when looking at those "cheap" type ratings..... most insurance companies will specifiy which training vendors they allow - if you go to Company X and want to be their contract pilot but your type rating is from a school that's not on the insurance company's approved list, it ain't gonna' happen. Most of the insurance companies are not going to recognize the $6K type rating places. If you're serious about contract flying as a career, get your type rating and recurrent training from a name brand - FlightSafety or Simuflite. SimCom is approved by alot of insurance companies but not all. If you're going to be taken seriously, you training needs to come from one of those three and preferably one of the first two.

Contract flying can be a great lifestyle, but it's a tremendous amount of work and even more expense. I would encourage you to pursue it if that's what you want to do but the reality is this -- you're not going to get any contract work with 1500 hours and no time in type even if you do have a type rating. If you're the world's best networker, you may be able to pull off a couple off jobs but you won't have enough work to make a business out of it. Your first step should be to get yourself to a charter company flying the types that you want to contract in. To be a serious contract pilot, you really need some time in type.


Tries to keep it fun.
Very good points thus far. Here's my .02 as a charter guy:

If you can break into the charter world at 1500 hours I'd say you've done quite well. Most of those jobs companies want guys with 2000-2500 tt with about 500 multi time.

Insurance companies dictate the times required more often than not. And if you've mostly done straight flight instruction, that would not be as appealing to a company as prior experience as a freight guy, or regional pilot. I would advise one of those jobs as a stepping stone to get where you want to go. Would it cost more or less to insure a CFI than say a regional FO/freight dog? That's what you'll have to deal with.

Paying for your own type is generally not looked upon very highly. It takes a fair amount of time to get comfortable in a jet. Yes a type can possibly open some doors for you, but not as many as you might think.

Personally I notice a difference in my flying when I've not flown for awhile and then hop back into the Lear, even if it's only a week. Most of the captains I have flown with say the same about themselves. I went through a period of about 6 months when I had been out of the Lear, and it took awhile for me to get back to being where I felt I was truly competant, even though I had about 500 hours in the jet. If you don't use the skills you lose em. My point is getting the type and not using it right away, and often, will not help you very much.

Also, time in type is critical as Jason said, but actively flying that equipment is very important too. Say you pay for the type and can't get much work until it's recurrency time for you, will you be able to foot the bill to go to recurrent and then continue waiting for the work to appear?

So my advice would be if you really want to be a freelance biz jet pilot, fly charter for quite awhile first, and to make it to charter flying you may need to be a regional pilot/freight dog before that, and all that while: network network network.

Further edit: Thanks for the link Jason, very informative!


Well-Known Member
All great posts so far. For our company all pilots must be from a Part 142 school. In the biz jet world it mostly leaves FSI and Simuflight.

As for paying for a type rating. There are different ways on looking at this. Before I say anything consult a tax professional. Should you pay for one, there is a tax expense. Also, when you are a contractor you are your own business. Unless you have a long term contract you may have to pay for recurrents and such. Consult the website as there is a wealth of knowledge regarding this. There are contracts out there where the company will pay for type/recurrent and they are long term. For instance mine is thru 2010. They invest into you and expect you to stick around for some time. Also, keep this is mind. Many places such as an airline will not allow you to do extra contract work as it counts against your total allowable commercial flying time in a year. Everyone I know in contract work does it full time. Good luck.