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The pilot training cost scandal

by Wendy Pursey Head of Membership and Career Services

Time and again I meet aspiring pilots who’ve dreamed of reaching for the skies for many years. Many have preconceptions about what the process of becoming a pilot will be like, and all too often I see their dreams shattered by the realisation that the image of scholarships and training paid for by airlines is a mirage… a throwback to times gone by.

Today, the harsh reality is that to become a pilot you need money. Gaining a commercial pilot costs up to £130,000 and airlines no longer cover the cost. Today the trainee has to find the funding themselves.
In times gone by banks were willing to loan trainee pilots money towards their training.  However, today, they won’t stump up and it is often left to the bank of mum and dad to find the funding.

Too often I have seen families resort to remortgaging their homes or taking out multiple credit card to fund their child’s dream. But for some… the cost of training is a hurdle that’s just too high. Many potential pilots from less affluent backgrounds simply can’t afford to take up piloting as a profession.

What this all means is that there is essentially a financial filter to the piloting profession. At BALPA we believe that is wrong. We want to see the profession open to all and recruitment based on talent not finances.

It has become fashionable for decision makers in the aviation industry talk about their campaigns to bring about greater diversity in the industry. We’ve seen drives to recruit more women and to recruit pilots of greater diversity.  However, talk is not enough. BALPA is challenging the airlines, the Government and regulators to really understand and tackle the issue.

This week at the Aviation Industry Skills Board, Pilot Special Interest Group meeting.  Industry decision makers from airlines, and Government were there to look at how to tackle this problem.  The focus being the pilot apprenticeship and looking at funding options to make this training pathway more accessible.

BALPA was there calling for greater investment in the next generation of pilots to ensure the industry thrives, is truly open to all and to work towards ending the scandal that is the cost of pilot training.

Resources and information for aspiring pilots are available on the BALPA website.