Your Step By Step Guide To becoming a pilot

Your Journey to becoming a pilot

To embark on the journey of becoming a pilot, it’s crucial to understand the foundational requirements and qualifications necessary for this career path. Here’s a breakdown of what aspiring pilots need to know:

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  • Licenses and Certificates:

    • Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL): Obtainable through integrated, modular training, or the Multi Pilot Licence (MPL) routes.
    • Class 1 Medical Certificate: A must-pass requirement for airline pilots, issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
  • Skills and Qualifications:

    • Essential skills include maths and physics understanding, technical information comprehension, spatial awareness, coordination, communication, teamwork, quick decision-making, calmness under pressure, discipline, self-confidence, commitment, and leadership.
    • Academic prerequisites include good GCSE passes in mathematics, English, and science. A-level passes are beneficial, and while a degree isn’t mandatory, it can serve as a fallback in this volatile industry.
  • Training and Age Requirements:

    • Minimum age to start pilot training: 18 years.
    • Minimum age to acquire an ATPL: 21 years.
    • Training costs range between £70,000 and £130,000.
    • For commercial pilots: Training for a Frozen ATPL is necessary, including a Multi-Engine CPL with Instrument Rating, passing 14 ATPL theoretical exams, a Jet Orientation Course, and a Multi-Crew Cooperation Course.

Understanding these prerequisites provides a clear roadmap for those looking to pursue a career as a pilot in the UK, setting the foundation for a successful journey in aviation.

Choosing the Right Training Path

Choosing the right training path is a pivotal decision in the journey of how to become a pilot in the UK. Aspiring pilots have the option between:

  • Modular Training:

    • Duration: Approximately two years (part-time)
    • Flexibility: Allows students to work while studying
  • Integrated Training:

    • Duration: Around 1.5 years (full-time)
    • Intensity: More immersive and structured

Both paths lead to obtaining an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), but the choice depends on individual circumstances, such as time, financial resources, and career goals.

Considerations for Selecting a Training Path:

  • Cost: Ranges from £70,000 to £130,000, varying by school and program
  • Aircraft Type: Training on DA42 and Diamond DA40 aircraft at FTA Global
  • Specializations: VA Airline Training for APS MCC programs; Wings Alliance for EASA certification and UK CAA license

Educational Institutions:

  • For Theory: Bristol Groundschool excels with over 24 years in pilot ground school education

Deciding between modular and integrated training involves evaluating personal circumstances, career objectives, and financial considerations. Both paths demand dedication and lead to rewarding careers in aviation.

Gaining Experience and Building Hours

Upon completing the rigorous pilot training, the journey to becoming a pilot in the UK shifts towards gaining experience and building the necessary flying hours. This phase is crucial for applying theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios and acquiring the skills needed for a successful aviation career. Here’s what to expect:

  • Preparation and Initial Steps:

    • Complete essential paperwork and provide a detailed employment/educational history.
    • Study technical manuals and company Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
    • Undertake aircraft-specific ground school and simulator training, focusing on emergency procedures, approaches, and all-weather operations.
  • Building Experience:

    • Engage in line training, flying passengers for the first time under supervision, to demonstrate effective teamwork and improve qualifications.
    • Participate in additional courses such as Security and Dangerous Goods, AVMED, and Safety and Emergency Procedures (SEP).
    • Expect regular assessments, including twice yearly simulator checks, yearly medicals, and line checks.
  • Networking and Continuous Learning:

    • Leverage networking and contacts for job opportunities; mastering interview skills is as crucial as flying abilities.
    • Stay current with flight experience and consider volunteering or instructing to gain more hours.
    • Pursue additional ratings and endorsements, like instrument or multi-engine ratings, to enhance flying opportunities and experience.

This phase of the journey is marked by hard work and commitment but is essential for securing a pilot role and advancing in the aviation industry.

Securing Your First Pilot Role

Upon completing pilot training and entering the Graduate Placement Pool, the pathway to securing your first pilot role in the UK becomes clearer. Here’s what aspiring pilots can anticipate:

  • Responsibilities and Work Schedule:

    • Daily duties include flight plan checks, fuel decisions, operating the flight management computer, and communication with air traffic control.
    • Shifts vary, covering weekends and bank holidays, with no set pattern. Example routes: London Gatwick to Dalaman (approx. 4 hours) or London Heathrow to New York (approx. 7 hours and 10 minutes).
  • Salary Expectations:

    • Starting salaries for second/first officers range from £24,000 to £28,000, with potential growth to £58,000 and £75,000, respectively.
    • Captains can earn between £97,000 and over £140,000.
  • Employment Opportunities:

    • Airlines hiring in the UK include British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, and TUI Airways, alongside cargo carriers like Amazon Air, DHL, TNT, and West Atlantic.
    • The post-pandemic recovery signals increased recruitment across UK and European airlines in 2023.

This phase marks the culmination of hard work, with the dedicated team from the Graduate Placement Pool working tirelessly to secure employment opportunities for new pilots, ensuring a smooth transition into their first role.

The modular journey to your dream career


Frequently Asked Questions?

At Pilot Path, the student is at the heart of everything we do. It is important to us that you have the knowledge and understanding of the road ahead before beginning your flight training journey.

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To pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot in the UK, you must obtain an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and a Class 1 Medical Certificate. You can start pilot training at 18 years old, but you’ll need to be at least 21 to receive an ATPL. Without any prior flying experience, it typically takes about 16 to 18 months to qualify as a pilot.

The journey to becoming a pilot involves several key steps. Initially, aim to get your Commercial Pilot License (CPL). You must accumulate a certain number of flight hours, often between 250 to 300, complete all necessary training, pass the CPL written examination, and successfully undergo the CPL checkride.

Prospective pilots should have completed their secondary education, with a particular focus on passing English, mathematics, and physics at GCSE level. Additionally, a medical examination is required to assess hearing, eyesight, coordination, and general health to ensure fitness for the role.

The time frame for obtaining a pilot license in the UK varies, with students typically taking between 12 to 24 months. The flexibility of scheduling flying lessons allows for training to be adapted to individual availability and commitments, influencing the duration of the process.

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