The average member of the public has an outdated perception of what it is to be a commercial pilot. Most assume that pilots enjoy a well-rewarded jet-setter lifestyle, flying with glamorous cabin crew to exotic locations. Today, unfortunately, the reality does not always live up to the image.
Historically, airlines paid for an individual’s training, but now the expectation is that the aspiring pilot must bear the burden of cost, while being rewarded with ever-diminishing salaries in real terms, yet with the same enormous responsibility.
This guide has been updated because of the increasing challenges BALPA has witnessed within the pilot community. We believe there is a lack of impartial advice available for hopeful pilots. Every flight training organisation has its glossy brochure which perpetuates the public perception and makes enticing promises. However, these promises are not always deliveredin a way that may live up to the would-be pilots’ expectations.
There are many publications outlining the training path and qualifications required tobecome a pilot; what we felt was missing was the inside story – what does it really take, whatare the problems and challenges, and what are the pitfalls to avoid along the way?
We have solicited assistance from a large number of graduates who have shared their experiences with us, and we hope this booklet will provide every aspiring pilot and their families with additional guidance and a more complete understanding of what they are embarking on before they commit huge amounts of time, energy and money.
We at BALPA want to ensure that you make an informed choice about your career. Read between the lines of the marketing brochures carefully, network, speak to as many people as you can and take time to make the right decision for you personally, otherwise it could prove very costly – and not just financially.
Remember that the training path takes approximately two years, and as aviation is extremely volatile the job market can change drastically between commencing and completing your training. It is vital to research what opportunities there are likely to be when you graduate, and whether you are prepared to go anywhere in the world to secure employment. The more flexible you are, the more likely you will be to succeed.
Please take time to read this booklet and make an informed choice about your future career.
Head of Membership and Career Services