1. Research the industry
Before you decide if you want to become a pilot, it is important to research the realities behind this career path. Try to immerse yourself within the aviation world. You can do this by visiting different airfields and airports, and researching the flight schools who provide your desired training programme – most flight schools offer a tour around their campus where you can visit the environment you would be training in and ask any important questions you may have. Try to attend careers shows such as Pilot Careers Live, visit school comparison sites such as Pilot Network and subscribe to lots of aviation news blogs; this will help you to stay on top of all the current issues and trends within the world of aviation. You could also book a ‘Trial Flying Lesson’ to experience what it’s really like to be in control of an aircraft.
The main aim of researching is to ensure you know all the essentials before committing yourself to becoming a pilot. Make sure you can answer the basics such as; how to get your PPL, what licences are required to become a commercial pilot, find out the difference between modular and integrated courses, what the average salary of a pilot is etc. Once you know these you can then make a fully educated decision of whether this is the right career path for you.
2. Think finances...
Training to become a pilot is a massive financial commitment and is not a decision to be taken lightly. A few airlines do offer financial sponsorship schemes, however these are very competitive and have a very limited amount of spaces. A number of students often fund their training with assistance from their family or finances they have managed to save over a long period of time. Our 2021 Integrated Flight Deck Programme is 100% UK-based. The course costs £87,950 and includes lots of extras and an APS/MCC as standard.
If however if these course fees are too big a stretch, it may be better to focus on Modular training. Modular courses allow you to train in specific ‘chunks’, allowing the fees to be spread out over a longer period of time and this method also gives you the opportunity to gain employment in between modules.
We advise that whatever the cost quoted for your pilot course, that you save/allocate an additional 20% for unexpected costs and challenges during your training. Inspect your enrolment information carefully and ensure that you have budgeted for all items such as your uniform, equipment, takeoffs, landings and test fees (especially as a modular student).
The reality is that learning to fly is never going to be cheap, but once you are qualified you can potentially reap the rewards of extremely generous pay. The salary of experienced pilots can range from £36,000 to £48,000 in a first officer role, but eventually more than £140,000 as a captain for a major airline*. *(*Source: Prospects.ac.uk).
3. Book your pilot medical certificate appointment
You cannot operate an aircraft by yourself until you have obtained an Initial Class one or two Medical Certificate, however an Class one medical certificate is required for commercial operations and training. Successful completion of the examination means that you are physically and mentally fit to become a pilot.
We advise completing your aeromedical with an AME that can offer both an EASA and CAA examination simultaneously. Possessing both an EASA and CAA aeromedical will give you the option to pursue both an EASA and CAA commercial pilots licence. Centreline Aviation Medical Services are able to complete FAA, CAA and EASA exams and we recommend that you get in touch regarding the costs and options.
To obtain a Class 1 medical certificate you can expect to be medically examined for up to 4 hours. The medical examinations include a broad range of things including heart and lung functioning tests, hearing and eyesight tests, lipids and cholesterol testing and also an extensive examination of your entire medical history. All medical examinations must be conducted by an approved Aeromedical Centre (AeMC) in order to be valid.
If enrolling with our ATO, we advise that you complete your initial class one aeromedical with an EASA approved exam centre. A list of these can be found on the EASA website, however we understand that the following centre (based in the South East) offer these exams: AMS London AEMC. If you are enrolling with us, we would advise an Austro aeromedical.
4. Learn as much as you can on the ground
Before you take a seat in the aircraft for the very first time, it is sensible to try and learn as much as you can beforehand so that you are fully prepared for your first flight. Make sure you have read through and fully understood any information in the textbooks you have been provided with for your pilot course. Revise any material your flight instructors may have distributed to you in ground school – if you can fully understand it now, it will be easier to apply later on. Try to get yourself familiar with all the different checklists you will need to be using. Training to become a pilot isn’t easy, make sure you put in the hard work from the beginning to ensure you are more than capable to fly when you get the opportunity to.
If it's been some time since you last studied maths or physics, then our ground instructors advise that you refresh your knowledge with you GSCE course handbooks. Any familiarisation you can do with core maths and physics will help when you start your foundation knowledge and ATPL theory.
5. Develop the best attitude
We don't ask our students to complete an aptitude test before they start their training, instead we only ask that you have the core academic requirements.
What will help you throughout your pilot training is the right attitude. Pilot training is unquestionably a hard process; it takes a lot of dedication, drive and commitment. The hours needed studying to pass exams are painstakingly long and complex, but if this is the career for you, you will find a way to get through it. The experience you gain in managing your time, and dealing with despondency when weather disrupts your training will pay dividends when you finish your fATPL and start to apply for pilot roles with the airlines.
If thing's get tough, don’t give up when you hit the first hurdle. Our Student Services Team are here to help and support you throughout your time at FTA and are available to assist with all sorts of accommodation and welfare enquiries. Make the most of your resources, your instructors and the support staff at FTA and enjoy your experience.