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How can I train to become a commercial pilot?

Flight training requires skill, dedication and hard work but, once qualified, you can expect excellent career prospects, great pay and opportunities to travel the globe.

If you’re seriously considering a career in the industry, you must first decide which route is most suited to you. Our FAQ provides all the essential information you’ll need to make the right choice.

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WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR PILOT TRAINING?

If you want to become a commercial pilot, you need to have a frozen Airline Transport Pilot Licence (fATPL) which enables you to work as a First Officer role with an airline. There are two ways of obtaining a fATPL, Integrated or Modular. Integrated means a full time intensive course with one training provider. Modular, as the name suggests, divides the training into individual modules. These can often be completed part-time and with a variety of different training providers.

If you want to fly recreationally or find out whether you have the skills to embark on a career in the industry, then a Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) is the best starting point. However, it’s useful to know that you can enrol on an integrated course with zero flying hours or experience.

What training does the Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) involve?

A PPL allows you to act as a pilot in command of certain aircraft. You can also take passengers for day trips or joy rides but not take paying customers. A PPL is the first module in obtaining a fATPL (if completing the modular route).

You can start building hours for your PPL from the age of 14, although the earliest you can apply for your licence is 17.

The training includes:

• Nine written theory examinations in:

  • air law
  • aircraft general knowledge
  • flight performance and planning
  • human performance and planning
  • meteorology
  • navigation
  • operational procedures
  • principles of flight
  • communications

• 45 hours' flying training (including 10 hours' solo flying)

• five hours' solo cross-country flying

• at least one solo flight of no less than 150 nautical miles. (This must include full-stop landings at two or more different aerodromes (excluding the departure base)

The pass mark is 75% for each theory exam. Prior to each theory exam you will undertake progress tests to find out whether you’re ready for the official. To start your training, you should have a good level of science and maths and a class 2 medical.

The cost of FTA’s full-time Private Pilot’s Licence course is £12,025.

Aircraft instruction

You will typically complete a PPL in a single-engine aircraft. At FTA, we teach the PPL in a Diamond DA40 – a sophisticated aircraft which has a similar cockpit interface to those used by commercial airlines. We operate one of the largest and most modern fleets of Diamond training aircraft in the world, chosen for their exceptional safety record.

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WHAT IS A COMMERCIAL PILOT’S LICENCE (CPL) AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM THE PPL?

A CPL allows you to act, and be paid, as an aircraft pilot. The minimum age is 18. Together with an instrument rating, completed ATPL theory exams and a multi-crew cooperation course (MCC), you would hold a Frozen airline transport pilots licence (fATPL) allowing you to fly for an airline.

Commercial pilot training consists of theoretical and aircraft flight instruction. The flying phases are spent in various aircraft and simulators. For a CPL, you will need to complete more extensive training and gain more in-depth theoretical knowledge than for a PPL.

As part of the application for CPL, you will need to pass exams in 14 ATPL subjects, which are as follows:

Module One:

  • Meteorology
  • Aircraft General Knowledge covering; power-plants, systems and electrics
  • Air Law
  • IFR Communications
  • VFR Communications

Module Two:

  • Principles Of Flight
  • Instrumentation
  • Performance
  • Flight Planning

Module Three:

  • Operational Procedures
  • General Navigation
  • Radio Navigation
  • Human Performance and Limitations
  • Mass and Balance.

At FTA, we provide world-class commercial flight training and equip students with the skills, experience and confidence needed to become proficient pilots.

The cost of the CPL depends on the route you choose. Full details about course fees are available on our website.

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CAN I STUDY FOR THE CPL PART TIME?

FTA offers two routes to completing your commercial pilot training: modular and integrated. The integrated route is a full time and intensive course of training, whereas the modular route can incorporate a slower pace of training by building in breaks in between modules. FTA would recommend that all individual modules are taken on a full-time basis.

The full-time Integrated Flight Deck Programme typically takes 18 months to complete; this offers a faster route to completion than modular training.

With the modular option, you take individual courses at your own pace which is a good choice if you wish to combine your training with employment and spread the financial cost. The duration depends on you, but the course typically takes around two years to complete.

You can see a more detailed comparison of the two options on our website.

Do I need to complete an aptitude test or pre-entry assessment?

You do not need to complete a pre-entry assessment to enrol with FTA. If however this is something you would like to do, the Honourable Company of Air Pilots offers aptitude tests. These tests are designed to give you an indication of your potential to succeed in professional flying. Click here for the next available assessment date.

What are your entry requirements for the CPL?

For the CPL/IR integrated programme, you should hold at least five GCSEs (including Maths and English and science) and two A Levels (or equivalent). You will need to pass an aeromedical for all flight training, and more information on what to expect from your medical exam can be found here.

The entry requirements for modular courses vary, depending on which phase of flight training you have already completed. All the pre-requisites for our modular courses are available on our website.

Pilots need to have many more skills beyond formal academic qualifications, AirlinePrep have created an online quiz to help you assess your current skills and aviation knowledge, click here to test your knowledge.

I ALREADY HAVE A PPL. CAN I STILL APPLY FOR AN INTEGRATED CPL COURSE?

Absolutely. Your integrated course can be adjusted to account for some of your flight experience if you hold a PPL. That said, if you have completed your PPL over a long period and accumulated a large number of hours, the modular route may be more appropriate. The choice depends entirely on your circumstances. Please contact our admissions team to discuss the best option for you.

WHAT IS THE CHEAPEST ROUTE TO BECOMING A COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT?

No element of flight training is cheap, but modular training offers a great, stage-by-stage way to complete your flight training – with consistency in instruction and aircraft availability. At FTA, we aim to make the training as flexible as possible, regardless of whether you choose full-time or part-time programmes.

WHY ARE pilot TRAINING COSTS SO HIGH?

Training to be a pilot requires a large financial investment due to the nature of the instruction and equipment involved. But this investment will pay dividends with excellent pay and career prospects if you are willing to devote the necessary time and hard work to your training.

At FTA, we strive to deliver the highest quality training to as many people as possible. We work hard to make this accessible by continually improving efficiency and investing in the right systems and equipment. We are large enough to benefit from economies of scale but small enough to keep the personal touch.

 

WHO WILL I TRAIN WITH?

We pride ourselves on our outstanding pilot instruction and training. We have very high levels of student satisfaction, and we continually look for ways to enhance what we offer.

At FTA, the ratio of full-time students to instructors is optimised so; you benefit from close supervision and personal attention.

 

WHERE DO fta GRADUATES WORK after THEIR TRAINING?

FTA graduates have secured roles with major airlines globally, including EasyJet, Ryanair, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Thomas Cook, TUI, and many more.

We are keen to support our students to find fulfilling careers and offer help with career preparation and development. Consequently, we now offer an MCC with Jet Orientation Training as standard, with our Integrated Flight Deck Programme. This specialist training is delivered through our expert training partners Jet MASTERCLASS, who work directly with recruiting airlines.

It may be however, that you fall in love with flying the Piper and Diamond aircraft and grow interested in becoming an instructor yourself. Flight instruction offers excellent career prospects and an opportunity to gain extensive hours and flight experience. Click here for a video about working as a flight instructor at FTA, alternatively you can read some of our graduate success stories here.

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WHEN CAN I ENROL?

Full details about the start dates are available on our website. Some programmes have very limited availability, so early booking is advised.

CAN I STUDY IN THE UK AND OVERSEAS?

All our pilot training is delivered in the UK. If you enrol on our integrated programme you will complete the elementary stages of your flight training in a Piper PA28 and the more advanced flight phases in our Diamond aircraft. The busy airspace in the South East combined with the demanding weather conditions provide the optimal training experience.

If you don’t know where to start, or which option is best for you, please contact our operations and admissions team. We will give you all the best advice for your circumstances based on our knowledge and experience of training hundreds of pilots over the years. You can also arrange a campus visit to learn more about how we deliver pilot training.

Find out more, by visiting the 'about us' page on our website: www.fta-global.com.

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