HOW DO YOU BECOME AN AIRLINE PILOT?
Take a trial flight. If you have never had the privilege to fly in a light aircraft this is a must, although you are of course planning to fly much larger aircraft! Your training will be conducted in light aircraft, and the trial flight is the motivation needed to press the button and start on the wonderful path to becoming an airline pilot.
Next, do your research. If you know someone in the industry try to speak to them about how they trained and the job. Learn about the day to day aspects of being a pilot – it is surprising the number of students that don’t know this. If, like most people, you don’t have access to a pilot, then go online and read through training blogs etc. The UK CAA website is also a wealth of information.
Maths and physics – make an honest appraisal of your knowledge in these subjects. If you are lacking in knowledge, brush up on your skills before you start your training, otherwise you will find you start training on a back foot.
Obtain a Class One medical. To work as an airline pilot you must have a current Class One medical, details of which can be found here.
Decide on the route you wish to take, there are 2 main routes both with different options within them.
Route 1: Modular
1. Complete your ground school plus 9 exams, then your flight training, plus radio licence and a flight test for issue of a Private Pilot’s Licence.
2. Build your hours. This can be done in the UK, although some people decide to go overseas and complete a night rating (allowing you to fly at night).
3. Complete your ATPL theory course and 13 exams (previously 14 ICOM & VCOM now combined).
4. Complete a commercial pilot’s licence course and flight test.
5. Complete a Multi-engine rating (allowing you to fly a twin-engine aircraft).
6. Complete your instrument rating (allowing you to fly and safely navigate in low visibility, cloud etc on the aircraft’s navigational instruments).
7. Complete a mandatory multi crew cooperation course and optional jet orientation course.
This a simplified explanation of what is a complex set of decisions. Our team of pilots and ex pilots will be very happy to talk you through your options.
Route 2: Integrated
Integrated is a course where, as the name implies, all your training (Ground & Flight) is integrated into one course and done through one training organisation. These courses normally start with a selection process to check you have what it takes to successfully complete the pilot training and go on to reach command level within an airline. This is followed, if you are successful, by ground school, which lasts of approximately 6 months.
Once this part of your pilot training is complete, you will then move on to basic and advanced flight training as well as building the pre-requisite number of hours. Once the flight training is completed, you will attend a Multi-crew cooperation course, sometimes combined with a jet orientation course.
This will provide you with your CPL/ME/IR licence, which is the minimum required to apply to an airline.
Route 3: MULTI PILOT LICENCE
MPL is a much newer integrated route that has to be directly linked to an airline and a specific aircraft type. The training is done in a different way, with the majority completed in a simulator of the aircraft type to be flown and a minority carried out in light aircraft.
At the end of training you do not have the same licence as someone on the previously explained route, and you are also not able to easily move from one airline to another.