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How do I become a Pilot?

Self-financed training could cost between £35,000 and £50,000. Entry requirements: a medical test plus good GCSEs, A levels (or equivalent) including mathematics, English and physics/science; a relevant degree is also useful, but not essential. Membership of a local Air Training Corps,  a Private Pilot’s Licence or participation in schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will strengthen an application for training. Up until a few years ago, airline companies would fully sponsor a pilot’s training, but this is no longer the case.

However, there is some good news in the form of the British Airways Future Pilot Programme.  British Airways are looking to recruit 800 pilots by 2016. 400 of these will be new pilots from their Future Pilot Programme.  The cost of training will be covered with a security bond totalling £84,000. Successful trainees who get a job with BA will repay this bond through their salary over a 7 year period.  Eligibility criteria:  age 18-55, 7 GCSEs, 3 A levels (or equivalent) or an honours degree plus the right to work in the UK. Successful candidates will join one of 3 approved flight training organisations.

Most civilian airlines no longer offer direct sponsorship schemes but instead recruit new pilots from external pilot training organisations, such as CTC Wings and Flight Training Europe; these organisations will pay for training, which will be repaid once the pilot is recruited by an airline.

It is possible to train as a pilot in the RAF, the Army Air Corps or the Fleet Air Arm. However, bear in mind that the RAF has made a quarter of its trainee pilots redundant this year and that all the services are facing budget cuts/staffing reductions. A DVD is available about the RAF selection process.

Private Pilot’s Licence:  Training for this licence and the cost of buying or hiring a plane once qualified, fuel fees, maintenance, hangar-rent costs, and landing fees will be very, very expensive.


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