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Career prospects after license suspension

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I fully expect a lot of unfavorable responses to my inquiry here, but any valuable contributions are most appreciated.


Many years ago I started helicopter training, got my PPL and was working towards commercial and instrument. I wasn't able to train continuously and as a result had a lot of instructors, whom I would say all felt that my skills and progression were above average as a student.


My training was interrupted when I decided to pursue college and ended up moving away from my flight school.


Somewhere along the way I ended up getting my PPL suspended because of a marijuana charge. The whole story and my motivations in it would come across as insincere and like someone just trying downplay an irresponsible decision, so assume what you want as far as that goes. For what it's worth, this wouldn't have even carried legal ramifications where it occurred now, and after a drug treatment center evaluation I was deemed to not require any treatment or classes. I wasn't actively flying then at all. That was several years ago now. I'm not a drug user, other than the occasional beers. I fully recognize that intoxication of any kind has absolutely no place in our operating environment.


I went on to graduate from a prestigious engineering school and now work as as operations engineer for a Fortune 500 (that conducts rigorous background checks and frequent drug testing. I can assure you that chapter of my life is passed and sealed, and was pretty unremarkable anyhow). While I'm good at my job and it is quite lucrative, money isn't everything and I long to fly again. At this point I have enough experience in my industry that it would stay a viable fallback for quite a while, and I could easily afford to finish my training out of pocket (I retained my flight hours in the suspension).


My question is if this suspension would derail my hopes to crack into the industry professionally. Realistically is anyone going to hire a pilot that had a drug-related suspension? I'm assuming there are insurance ramifications that may be triggered by this, but I do not know that for certain. My criminal record is spotless but the FAA is a little less forgiving. It's an event that is completely irrelevant to who I am now, as I hope would be demonstrated by everything that's transpired since over many years. I'll be working towards getting my PPL back soon but I just wanted to get some outside perspective as I weigh going all in for the dream to fly for a living.


Your insights are sincerely appreciated.

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I think every operator for whom I've flown, whether Part 91, 135, or 121, etc, has asked about FAA administrative and enforcement actions. Every employer has asked about FAA certificate action, suspension, revocation, accidents, or incidents.


Answering yes to any of those does not end your career, but depending on your career track, it can certainly put a damper on it, as well as limit the field somewhat for you.


Work in real time. Don't decide your future by forecasting in hindsight. Press forward with your flying if that's what you intend to do, and let the chips fall where they may. Some employers may discard your resume, others may disregard your distant past and focus on the here and now. You won't know until you apply.

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I would stick to what you are doing, fly for fun. I say this more because you have a successful career than because of the drug charge. If you had already invested $100k in your training than maybe I would say something different. When you get paid to fly it turns into a job and any job stops being fun after a while. And after a while a flying job is no more glamorous than the one you have now. Keep making good money, work a normal schedule, move up the ladder and fly when you want to not when you are told to.

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