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Checking out the landscape of flight training

by Wendy Pursey Head of Membership & Career Services

Ensuring aspiring pilots know what to expect from their training and helping them understand their options is a vital part of what BALPA’s Membership and Career Services does.

There are many different routes for people to consider and finding what suits each individual can be a challenge. But at BALPA we pride ourselves on having a thorough understanding of the training options available, including modular schemes and integrated. So, when I was invited to find out more about one particular scheme, I jumped at the chance to investigate further and experience what they had to offer.

The Wings Alliance venture is a flight training programme with a difference. They are a not-for-profit trade association looking to provide a more affordable option to potential pilots, whilst providing excellent training. The Wings Alliance pride themselves on being fair, honest, ethical and affordable. Importantly, they believe in quality training and their aim is to help trainees gain employment as professional pilots, rather than making a profit.

Wings Alliance opened its doors to BALPA, inviting us to experience one of their assessment days for potential cadets.  I attended the Bristol selection centre and found the day efficient and supportive.  The selection process is comprehensive, because Wings Alliance are committed to making sure that those who make it onto the programme are strong enough candidates to succeed.  They don’t want to waste the money and time of hopeful pilots who may not quite be ready for the training.  

It was a full day made up of competency-based interview questions, a group exercise and an individual exercise all designed to challenge the attendees.  The interview questions were challenging, but well designed to give applicants a chance to showcase their critical thinking and analytical skills.  The competencies and evidence given by the applicants were discussed in detail by the assessors, forming part of a very thorough marking process.  The selection team was made up of two experienced assessors and a training assessor, who provided excellent support.  

The team exercises measured ability to prioritise and work through challenges with time constraints which is integral to the testing but is generally useful to boost employability of the potential pilots. 

Wings Alliance charge for these selection days (as do other pilot training facilities), however, what I witnessed is their investment in the process doesn’t only test the applicant, it provides an excellent learning experience and leaves the candidates well-rehearsed for their future pilot interviews. 

If a potential trainee fails, depending on the reasons, they can normally re-sit the day for no charge.  Each applicant also receives a follow up call from the assessor to go over their feedback, giving them the chance to work on specific areas.  They also receive a symbiotic report that is not used in the assessment process but provides additional feedback and learning opportunities for the applicant.

Overall, Wings Alliance provide a thorough assessment which is both personal and enriching.  There is plenty of opportunity to receive feedback and advice on how to improve or succeed in the selection process.

Importantly, the thorough assessment means that trainees won’t waste money on a course they are not right for, which in turn protects the Wings Alliance brand and ensures a high standard of pass rates.