Hints & Tips

Make sure you do plenty of research before you spend any money, and have a contingency plan for when things don’t go the way you expect them to. For instance, you may need to get a job working at an airport in ground handling while you build up your contacts in the airlines. Make sure you can afford a lower paid job initially and still be able to cover the costs of loans.

Get a medical assessment before you start flight training. To hold a commercial pilots license you will need to pass a “class one” medical examination. You can book a check-up with the Civil Aviation Authority. If for any reason you aren’t able to qualify for one, it’s far better to know before you have spent any money on flight training.

Network. Your chances of finding employment after you qualify can be greatly improved by knowing people in the industry. If you get involved in organisations like BALPA and offer to help out during open days you may be able to make useful contacts within the airlines.

You may find that you need to invest in additional training to get your first job. It’s often the case that airlines will only employ pilots who have experience of flying the type of aircraft which they operate. You can pay for a course which will qualify you to fly a particular airliner, and some airlines even offer a scheme where you can pay to work for them, in order to build your experience levels. This is extremely expensive though, and will cost up to £30,000 in addition to the cost of your basic flight training. While it isn’t a situation which any pilot would condone, it’s far better to know about the level of competition facing new graduates and decide if you want to gamble on getting a job. Unfortunately Aviation is an industry that has few safety nets for newly qualified people and this makes being part of BALPA a very important step.