Latest news from FTA

Your top pilot training questions answered...

1.Who does FTA train?

FTA is a commercial pilot school. We take students from the age of 18 and teach them to become the next generation of professional pilots. In 2017 22% of the students that enrolled on our integrated courses were female. The majority of students are British and aged 18-34 but we welcome students from all over the globe and of all ages.

2. How do you teach pilots? How long does it take to become fully trained?

We offer courses which allow students to go from zero flying experience to a commercial pilot’s licence in as little as 14 months. In fact we’ve had a number of students who have completed it in less time, and some have even gone on to be employed by the airlines in less than 18 months from the first day of training.

Trainee pilots use a range of training environments to learn their skills, from classroom study and using realistic and high tech simulators, to flying the real aircraft. Our courses use a range of these techniques and environments to ensure that graduates are well trained, and as prepared as possible for the world of professional aviation.

3.What aircraft do you complete your flight training in?

We do get some people that think that pilot training is completed in a large commercial aircraft such as a 737. In fact, students start their training in a light fixed-wing aircraft.

At FTA we use conventional, single-engine aircraft based our in Spain (Piper PA28 Warriors) and Diamond DA40s and DA42s in the UK.

The Diamond aircraft are one of choice for many flight schools as they are very fuel-efficient but also feature a G1000 glass cockpit as well as air data computers (ADC), and full authority digital engine control (FADEC); systems similar to those found in the airlines.

Cadets will also spend some time in a multi-engine and jet simulator as well as 6 months in a class room environment. There they will learn about the theoretical side of becoming a pilot, such as air law, Meteorology, Aircraft General Knowledge.

4.How many people are trained at FTA?

At any one time we have around 90 students. These will all be at different stages of their flight training, some will be renewing or re-validating their licencess, others may be learning to fly without ever having been in an aircraft before.

5. What does it take to be a good modern day pilot?

The best cadets are focused, hard-working and passionate about aviation. You need more than a love of flying to become a pilot but it’s a great place to start. Students that do well in the theoretical side of the training are often good in STEM subjects at school such as physics, engineering, and math. That said, you don’t need a degree to be a pilot, which is often a misconception. Good GCSEs and A’Levels provide an excellent starting block for pilot training.

6. What are the main challenges of being a commercial pilot?

The perceived cost of pilot training often deters people from pursuing their dream. We have a number of students that have commenced their training later in life, after selling a business or saving up the funds through a different career. The reality is that not enough people are training to be pilots, the industry is seeing unprecedented growth with 617,000 new pilots required, globally over the next 20 years. As it stands, less than 1,000 new pilots are becoming qualified each year and we estimate that this is a shortfall of 500 students each year - for the UK alone.

7. What is the difference between training to be a commercial pilot and a non-commercial pilot?

To become a commercial pilot you need special ratings and qualifications in all aspects of flight. A Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) is very much a recreational licence, so for a person’s hobby or personal transport. A commercial licence is a professional licence, so this is required in order to operate as a professional pilot and apply for jobs with airlines.

8. Do I need to be an experienced pilot before I start my commercial pilot training?


That said, a private pilot’s licence is an excellent place to start – if you want to one day become a commercial pilot. 

9. How is the flight training constructed - what do I need to complete?

If you enrol on one of our Integrated Flight Deck Programmes you will start by completing your basic theory (in the UK). If enrolled on Option A you will then travel out to Teruel, Spain to complete phases 1-3. If you enrol on to Option B during the winter you are likely to go straght in to ATPL ground school (as it makes more sense with the weather). Otherwise you will also start your pilot training with flight phases 1-3. 

These elementary stages of flight training are comprised of a total of 80 Hours / 3-4 months flight instruction. It is when will be when you fly solo for the first time and build up the necessary hours and experience to progress onto the next stage of your flight training.

Once complete you go into ground school for 6 months. Here you will complete three theoretical modules and 14 exams. ATPL ground school is based in the UK at our main campus, Brighton City Airport.

After you have completed the theoretical side of your pilot training you can then progress on to the advanced stages of flight instruction. This is when you complete your Multi-Engine Instrument (ME IR) and Piston Rating (MEP) and Commercial Pilot's Licence (ME CPL).

The final module of your fATPL training is the Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC) which teaches you how to operate an aircraft when part of a crew. It takes 2 weeks to complete in a simulator/classroom and no exam needs to be taken.

And then that's it you're done!

10. When can I start applying for a job as an airline pilot?

As soon as you've completed your Multi-Crew Cooperation Course. FTA will train you to be the best pilot you can be. We also support you to apply for jobs with airlines and once you approach the final phase of your flight training.

FTA offers a CV and interview workshop (delivered by our partners AirlinePrep) the cost of this is included in your integrated course fee. In addition, you can enrol on an airline preparation course with one of our partner organisations, Kura Aviation or Virtual Aviation.

They both specialise in specialist airline preparation and have links with recruiting airlines. More information about the courses they offer is available here: Airline Preparation.

You may also want to complete a type rating. Pilots that choose to do this want to add something to their flight training which helps them stand out from other cadets, also applying for jobs.

However, it is worth researching who is recruiting and what the requirements are, as some may bond or even fund your type rating, (upon successful completion of their interview process). More information about airlines recruiting 'low hour pilots' is available here: Who is recruiting 'low hour' Pilots?


Subscribe to Email Updates