Awesome: EasyJet Hires A Teenage Pilot!

Filed Under: Media, Other Airlines

When I was younger I always wanted to be an airline pilot. It was my biggest dream. Things change over time, and while that never materialized, I guess I can’t complain about my current situation too much. 😉

Nonetheless I still believe that this office…


…is even better than this “office.”

Etihad-A380-First-Class - 49

In the back of my mind I do always wonder what life would be like if I pursued being an airline pilot, especially given that there are now plenty of people my age in the cockpits of “heavy” aircraft.

With that in mind, I couldn’t help but smile when I read the story of a 19 year old who is a commercial airline pilot. This made waves in the media a few weeks back, though somehow I missed it at the time.


Luke Elsworth, 19, was offered a job with easyJet after taking one of the fastest possible routes to becoming qualified.

He enrolled in the airline’s pilot training programme at CTC Aviation in Southampton almost as soon as they would accept him – just nine days after turning 18.

Mr Elsworth completed the course – which included six months on simulators and a stint flying light aircraft in Arizona, USA – in 18 months and he was appointed as a first officer for easyJet in April.

He’s officially the youngest airline pilot in the UK, and possibly the youngest airline pilot in the world. His dad is a captain for EasyJet, though he insists he wasn’t pressured to become a pilot. While there will always be skeptics thinking that someone young can’t do a specific job well, I think this is really impressive. That being said, I might still look twice if I saw him at an airport in a pilot’s uniform, since he really does look like a kid.

Photo: PA/Tim Anderson

Here’s a TV interview with him — he’s very well spoken.

Would you feel comfortable on an Airbus A320 with a 19 year old pilot?

(Tip of the hat to Point Me to the Plane)

  1. This is insane, and reflects the massive difference between Europe and the US. This guy wouldn’t even sniff an interview at a US carrier — particularly for mainline aircraft … he’d be laughed out the door and told to come back with 10 more years of experience.

    While the libertarian in me is not a huge fan of our military expansion, it does mean we have lots of pilots with lots of flight hours actually flying … instead of baby-sitting autopilot.

  2. I’ll end up like lucky by 2020
    I’m currently 17.9 and I always wanted to be an airline pilot but things aren’t working out atm.

  3. @Justin

    Very true about the US vs Europe difference. My ex boyfriend Diego who is 22 is now a pilot for RyanAir and when we were talking last week, told me that when he approached American for an interview, they literally told him no American carrier would hire him until he’s over 30. His dad works for Emirates and could have gotten him an interview but he wanted to avoid working in the same airline so he went to Ryanair but truly shocking that European and Middle Eastern carriers are so much more open minded and accepting vs the old school backwards ideologies of the US ones.

  4. Everyone is babysitting the autopilot in the airline world so, in that sense, he might be better qualified than an old, er, experienced, military geaser. When it comes to stick and rudder skills thou, that’s a different story.

  5. Hmmmm that might change pretty soon. I’m currently 19 and 3 months, and I’m going to be doing my 737NG type rating next week. Hopefully someone else would become the youngest commercial pilot in a couple of weeks 😉

  6. An immediate NO!

    I suspect that the vast majority on here does not fly that airline anyway.

    With that said. Smiling over childhood dreams that one can bring into reality (harder and harder nowadays) I’m very happy for him. He’ll be a captain of an EK A380 in 2 years after he grows tired of EasyJet.

  7. How many hours can he possibly have if he only started at 18? I certainly would prefer someone with more experience in a bad situation.

  8. Some silly comments here. So a 30+ guy who was flying fighter jets is better qualified than this guy? I mean, ok, he is really young, but that is how he will learn, by flying with older, more experienced pilots… Flying a fighter jet and airliner is very different thing!

  9. He’s very cute but he looks like he’s playing dress-ups in dad’s uniform. Not taking away from his skills or qualifications but at the end of the day someone that appears that young at the helm of an aircraft carrying hundreds of passengers doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

  10. He is soooooo cute.Wtf?

    Its not OK to comment on a guy’s physical attractiveness. That is sexual harassment and I hope women that engage in that kind of talk get disciplined and sued.


  11. @Jonathan best of luck!

    @Thomas yes they are different things, but there are scores of commercial pilots worldwide who are former military and they do a great job, so it’s as valid a career track as any.

  12. To those skeptical I say better an airline that takes initiative and accommodates a young pilot sitting on the right who has passed all possible tests including psychological ones than an airline whom failed the system to ban a sycko from crashing over a hundred lives into a mountain.

  13. I really don’t get the issue here? What is wrong with having a 19 year old first officer, really? I know Air Traffic Controllers that are 21, I don’t see the issue.

  14. Nothing wrong with a young pilot. Easy jet training knows what they are doing.

    By the same standard, would you jump out the door if you saw me sitting in the right hand seat of a BA320 at age 19?

    I’d guess not.

  15. So for those who equate military experience with a fighter jet forget that there are transport aircraft the military operates. Also it’s about emergency management. I am sorry but if [email protected]$ hit the fan who would you want behind the controls. Happy for the kid and I won’t judge him because I don’t know him but I know why US airlines hire the way they do.

  16. No, I would not want a pilot that young, no matter how enthusiastic he is. It’s not a matter of opinion or discrimination; people that young are still developing mentally. They don’t have the capacity for judgment calls that older people do. Science estimates the cutoff to be around 25. Here’s a layman’s version of the info

  17. I mean I would feel a little bit uncomfortable if i spotted him in the first officer seat, but then I think to myself , why would I be.

    The reason in my mind is I would think he would not be very experienced. But then I DO understand we all have to start somewhere, he would have been through the same training that a pilot starting at 30 would have just completed, so I feel they have the same skill level. In a way I might think that this younger guy might even be better as he has tried so hard to do it at such a young age, he is probably fairly smart.

    I mean even when he is 21 he will have more flying hours than a lot of say 30 year old pilots in Europe/Asia.

    I think when we all see someone who is young flying us we are nervous because we think he won’t be experienced, but then older pilots also make mistakes. You could think that a younger pilot might be able to react better in a situation than an older pilot because the younger pilots mind could be quicker.

    It’s a tough line, but like I said, we all have to start somewhere and if he’s done the training then fair enough to him for achieving his dream, i’m sure hes very passionate.

    I’m also torn over the Europe V US divide, when I moved from the UK to the US i was shocked by how many hours you need to be a pilot, most pilots I meet or that are friends have mine have been in the US military for a number of years before being snapped up as a commercial pilot.

    The realistic aspect is Europe combined does not have the Military power that the US does, so where are young European pilots going to build up the hours, you could argue at flight school and then becoming an instructor for 1500 hours, but the problem is the world needs more and more pilots at a quicker rate.

    its a tricky choice

  18. “we all have to start somewhere”, but we don’t have to start with an aircraft flying somewhat long haul with up to 180 passengers. Short hops with a commuter jet holding 40 to 50 would seem more appropriate to me.

    I’m sure he can fly the plane under normal circumstances. It’s unexpected emergency situations that call for both emotional maturity, and flying experience. I’m now less likely to fly with EasyJet, knowing that they are cutting costs by hiring inexperienced pilots.

  19. I’m sure they aren’t paying these young pilots much which is probably the fundamental reason they have 18 year old pilots. Frankly I would prefer that inexperienced pilots do their “internships” elsewhere like the military rather than on a commercial airline. I’ll take experience over youth in every situation. Six months in a simulator is no substitute for 1500 hours of actual flight time………

  20. I don’t see an issue with age. A younger pilot is more apt to have better eyesight, quicker reflexes, and more stamina. That said, an experienced pilot probably has a better instinct on how to react to an unusual situation.

    While this young man didn’t get his experience in the military, I’ll take a guy who can land a plane on a heaving flight deck any day of the week.

  21. I don’t want a pilot or first officer that took the quick route. How about a 15 year old pilot? How about 12? No more ridiculous than a 19 year old first officer. I wouldn’t be comfortable flying with him.

  22. I stopped reading after “his father is a pilot at easyjet” .

    On another note, is he single? Asking for a friend.

  23. At his age I could not legally fly airplanes but, I did go to war .You know , life and death stuff . Some do not have the presence of mind and self discipline needed at any age . I would not bet against him . Best of luck to him.

  24. @dalo: Why could you not legally fly airplanes at 19?
    I was licensed and instrument-rated at 17, commercial pilot and flight instructor at 18. At the time there was not a demand for airline pilots and the corporate pilots I saw did not have glamorous lives…sleeping in FBO’s and available at a moment’s notice.
    It’s not that glamorous a job any longer.
    As to the personal comments, “cute” isn’t going to save your life in an emergency. It’s long been said flying is long hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.
    I can attest to the veracity of that.
    There are certain experiences one has when gaining hours –experiences the pilot says to himself, “well, I’ll never do that again.” It’s not a question of age, rather of flight hours.

  25. @losingtrader

    I agree with much of what you’ve said. What folks fail to realize is that at such a young age, the total time spent manipulating the controls in the cockpit is usually very low. Additionally, in the case of a “commercial pilot” with 300 hours total time, that most likely equates to one (1) hour of experience 200-250 times . While that may not be the case with this young pilot, US air carriers will NOT and cannot hire this young man to sit right seat due to his “inexperience”. He may be well trained, but the FAA requires that ALL new hires now have 1500 hours TT (with some reductions for past experience) before the pilot may fly for a Part 121 Carrier (that would be all jet and heavy turboprop airlines with US Certificate of Operations). This is primarily due to the Regional Airline accident several years ago in BUF and the ensuing knee jerk reaction of Congress. Being an excellent pilot is directly related to having excellent training and varied operational experience. Unfortunately, PC has found it’s way into the flight decks (formerly known as cockpits) of many airlines and pilots who are minimally qualified are hired. In years past, if a pilot couldn’t perform within the prescribed syllabus, they were terminated by the airline. Now, in many cases, it is “train to proficiency” (read pass the simulator check ride) and put them on the line. I think it’s difficult to “teach” a pilot to become a Captain, while CRM (crew resource management) has helped, it takes many years to “learn” how to become an experienced Captain. While that may not necessarily be a function of age, it is a function of time and experience.

    Not every pilot is babysitting the autopilot. I will agree that much of the tedious en-route flying is better handled by the autopilot, a pilot still needs to be completely aware of what it is doing as evidenced by the recent Airbus loss of control accidents. I had been flying Boeings and DC-9’s then moved to the Lockheed L-1011. I always suspected that with the technology advancements made, the Flight Engineer position would be history. That is until I flew the L-1011 Tristar. The L-1011 was so technologically advanced (in 1980) that I started thinking that the pilots would soon be obsolete and the Fight Engineer would remain. Technology has evolved to this being possible . . . but not plausible. I for one will not be flying in any aircraft where the pilot has been replaced by a technician that is babysitting the autopilot, either in person or especially from the ground. I want someone who can take over and override when the autopilot and the computer farts, which they all do on occasion. Passengers should not be the only ones on-board that have “skin-in-the-game”.

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