With many new pilots qualifying every year the one worry for everybody on a non tagged scheme is are there any new pilot jobs?
Well the answer is yes there are, however you may not get a job within your first few months or even years. This is something that you will need to be prepared for and will need to put a contingency plan in place.Of course there are people who qualify and get a job flying within a few weeks and this could happen to you which of course would be great. However for everybody who has been so lucky there are people who haven’t and are months / years into trying to get their first job.
The main question you need to answer is how will I put food on the table if I cannot find a flying job anytime soon? For me the answer is to keep working in my current industry (IT) until the job I need shows up.
If you do not have a career behind you then you need to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep the cash coming in. You have to remember that as a qualified pilot you will want to one thing more than anything else and that’s fly! Flying is not cheap, this is something we all know.
On top of this you will have to renew your ratings & medical yearly, which again is going to take more of your hard earned cash.
If this is your dream chase it I say, life is short, too short for regrets but make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Make a business plan, work out the costs, put in contingencies and most importantly get somebody to check it over to make sure the numbers and figures add up.
The jobs are out there, you just have to be prepared to relocate anywhere and possibly wait for them to be offered to you. Being flexible is a benefit, if a job comes up in Italy tomorrow you need to be willing to take it. Your first job may not be in the United Kingdom.
Remember, you only fail if you give up.
Training as an airline pilot is a very complicated, time-consuming and intense process, much more involved than many people think.
There are two routes to becoming and airline pilot, one is called integrated (ab initio) or the modular route.
The modular route is where you do your training in stages then keep adding to it. Modular training costs anything from £40,000-£65,000 depending on where in the world you go to do it. When you have completed training and if you are lucky enough of be offered a job, depending on the airline you may have to pay up to £30,000 for a Type rating. Type rating is specific training so you can fly a certain type of aircraft. For most new pilots this will likely be the A320 or the 737. Modular training involves gaining the following qualifications.
- PPL (Private Pilots Licence)
- Hour Building
- ATPL Theory
- CPL (Commercial Pilots Licence)
- MEP (Multi Engine Piston)
- IR (instrument Rating)
- MCC (Multi Crew Co-operation)
- JOC (Jet Orientation Course)
- Apply, hope, pray & never give up.
As you can see it is quite involved. The good thing about the modular route is that it allows you to gradually build up the skills required to get your FATPL (Frozen Air Transport Pilots Licence). The bad thing is in recent years airlines seem to be showing a preference for Integrated students. There are some airlines who still hire modular (Ryanair, Jet2, Flybe, Thomas Cook) however a lot of airlines are launching their own integrated cadet courses with the 3 big training schools (CTC Aviation, CAE Oxford and FTE Jerez).
Now there are two types of integrated training. The FATPL training as detailed in the modular section (minus the PPL) and the newer MPL (Multi Crew Pilot Licence). The MPL is interesting because it is set up to take you to the deck of a multi crew aircraft for day 1. However the most important thing about it is, it is sponsored by an airline from day 1 and comes with a conditional job offer on competition. In the UK both EasyJet, Flybe and Virgin offer this type of training. Obviously for this reason competition is high and while the FATPL training is still good and the flight school will help you to find a job there are no guarantees at the end of it. The airline industry is a very expensive risk but when it pays of, it’s amazing.
Now don’t get me wrong modular training can and does work so I’m not making out it’s all doom and gloom because it isn’t. The MPL seems to be the best route at the moment due to the airline sponsoring you from day one.
If an MPL is not possible I would look at modular training due to the cost savings over a FATPL training course.
However all routes can and do lead to the cockpit and people from both paths are successful every year.
I hope that this is the flight training process explained.
This is a big question that every aspiring pilot must answer, just how to I afford to follow this dream. I recommend every pilot take a long hard look at the finances of doing this. Lets look at the main ways for financing flight training.
- Get the money from family – If you are in the position where a parent or family member can afford to give you the money to train, then this would be the best way. Paying cash and having no debt will be a massive bonus and will make the lower salary on offer less of an issue.
- Repaid sponsorship – unfortunately there are not many of these around, in fact the only ones I know of are the BA Future Pilot Programme and the Aer Lingus program. Competition is ridiculously high but you should of course apply to this. I believe this is the best way into the profession.
- Loan – This is the one that I really want to spend some time talking about. A popular way to fund the training with the big flight schools is a loan with BBVA. I think this is a horrible way for financing your flight training, let me tell you why.
You will take out a loan for around £100,000+ secured against either your, or your parents house. That should be first red flag, I will state it again. £100,000 loan secured against a house, you could make your parents homeless if you cannot afford to repay this.
The salary on offer does not allow you to comfortably service this loan and live a comfortable life. You will not have much spare money, you will have to live at home or even a bed sit / rent a room.
Currently we are at an all time low rate of 0.5% Bank of England interest rate. When I looked at this loan it was 3.0% apr PLUS the Bank of England interest rate. So the loan may be just about manageable now, what happens when the rates go up and the repayments get higher? Can you service this on a salary of £30,000? Not likely.
I understand the desire to fly is a strong one but please do not let your heart rule your head. This is not a good idea, at all.
- Go Modular – If you can get a job, live frugally and save, the modular route works very well. It allows you to pay as you go and add ratings bit by bit. Yes it is still expensive but it costs quite a bit less than integrated training (£40,000-£60,000). However please remember you may be required to fund a type rating (up to £25,000) on top of this.
So earlier this year I took the skies for the my first flying lesson at a local school called Cranfield Flying School. I had applied for the British Airways future pilot programme and realised how ridiculous it would be if I had never had a flying lesson, even thought the programme says you don’t need any flight time.
When I arrived I was met by my flight instructor Daniel (who is about to go fly for Ryanair) and had a good chat about the training and what was involved. We then went out to the plane a Cessna 172 where he explained a bit about the aircraft and did all the pre flight checks.
I then was allowed to taxi down the runway before my instructor took of and before I knew it we was airborne and after a few short minutes I was given the controls and we went through some basic maneuvers.
This was honestly one of the best days of my life and even though the time in the air was only around 20 minutes I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I knew this would happen and it was why I put of taking to the skies while I saved.
Since my lesson I have been saving money to be in a position to start training and now is the time. I am 30 years old and not getting any younger, it is time to start training towards my commercial licence and the first step is the PPL.
I am going to book another lesson for next week and then look at getting my class 1 medical done before I take anymore. The reason for this is because I plan to go all the way, I want to become a commerical pilot and without a class 1 medical you have no chance of that happening. Anyone who plans to follow this route I suggest you do the same before plouging so much cash into this.
I plan to stay in my current career as long as I can so I can keep money coming in to fund this. The more I can fund without touching what I have saved so far the better.
I plan to share my journey with you on this blog as I make my progress.
One of the less “fun” parts of gaining your FATPL (Frozen Air Transport Pilots License) is pass all the ATPL theory exams. Now there are two methods that you can use to do this. You can study in-house in a classroom environment or you can do distance learning normally around your job. Everybody is different and has different needs so it’s up to you to decide which is best for you. ATPL ground school in house v distance learning.
The benefits of the ATPL in house ground school
- No interruptions – A distance learning course can of course be done full time however most people choose it as they need to fit it in around their current job. You will study full time Monday to Friday with addition revision done at home in the evening and weekends. This will be an intense period of study with the aim to have all the exams passed in a few months.
- Teachers to ask questions to – Having a teacher to ask questions is another useful learning tool. This is especially useful if you find yourself stuck or struggling on some of the information.
- Classmates to study with – Again having classmates to study with and just bounce things of makes the material easier to learn for some people.
The benefits of ATPL distance learning courses
- Can fit it in around your life – Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of work to get through. You can keep your full time job but you need to be prepared to give up your evenings and weekends to get through the material. In fact it will most likely feel like you are holding down 2 full time jobs.
- Refresher courses – Before you sit your exams you will normally have a 1 week course to make sure you have learnt the information in a classroom with teachers and other distance learning students.
- Cheaper – You are not in an office full time and do not need as much of the teacher’s time so the cost of the distance learning course is normally significantly cheaper than the full time course.
As you can see, both methods have their place and it really depends on your approach to your flight training. If you need the full time submerged training you have the full time in house course. If you need to fit it in around work then the distance learning is an option. It is up to you to decide which method is best for you.
I would prefer to do an in house ground school course but that would mean giving up my job and my income. Unfortunately I need this to complete my training and help fund the CPL/ME/IR so I will have to do a distance learning course.
With the youngest pilots being around 21 years old, it is natural to ask when you are later in life am I too old to be a pilot?
The internet is awash with stories saying that some airlines only want to hire people in their 20’s and while I can’t confirm that this is or isn’t true, I can confirm that airlines are giving jobs to people in their 30’s and even their 40’s.
At the same time we have to be realistic, for instance the British Airways retirement age for pilots is currently 55 years old. It would be illogical to plough so much money into to training at say 50, however at 40 you still would be able to fly 15 years. You would be able to fly even longer at airlines with a higher retirement age.
I am currently 30 years old, I would have loved to start my training in my younger years however it was impossible due to finance. I did however decide to save with an aim to be able to start training in my very early 30’s. The good thing about having to save up is I have a career, I can come back to this when I am qualified to keep money coming in while I am searching for my first flying role.
Everybody is different you need to analyse your situation and work out if this is right for you, nobody but you can make that decision.
We only get one life and unfortunately many people live theirs with regrets. Do you want to look back in 30 years and say to yourself, I wish I had the determination to follow my dreams and I really regret not doing so. Or would you like to say I’m glad I took a risk, a chance, a leap of faith and followed my heart and took a shot at my dream? I know which one I would prefer.
Personally I am single, young, healthy with no kids so this is the perfect time for me. Your circumstance may be different but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Modular training can be integrated around your current life with ease that’s the beauty of it.
Just have a Google for stories of older people who didn’t follow their dreams and now regret it. Speak to older family members and see what they say. In fact one article I read suggested as much as 50% of people regret not following their dreams. This shocked even me, it’s easy to get stuck in a career but you need to ask yourself. Do you want to look down on the world from 35,000 ft or do you want to look at a computer monitor from 9-5.30?
So when you ask am I too old to be a pilot? The answer is, you tell me, are you?
Sometimes in life you have to take a risk without knowing if it will all work out at the other end. That’s life, that’s the way it goes.
One thing I can tell you however, you will NEVER fly for an airline without your license.
Is integrated flight training overpriced? I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone bar the schools selling it that would answer you anything but yes. However this does not mean that integrated training isn’t any good, because the standards at the big schools is good, very good in fact. However with integrated FAPTL courses costing £100,000+ and MPL’s costing £110,000 and modular training costing £40,000-£60,000 it is impossible to say that they are not overpriced.
That being said, this is the price of such training. If you want training from the big schools it is going to cost this amount and there is nothing you can really do about it. So the question then becomes, is integrated training worth it to me?
Well that’s something that you need to answer for yourself, and you should probably consider the following points.
- Do I have £100,000+ spare? If you do then you will get high quality training from some of the best in the business that will see you through to the issue of you licence. Modular flight training can be done for as little as half the cost of an integrated cost. Is the value of the integrated cost worth double the fee to you? The big schools also offer hold pools to try and place you with airlines.
- Do you want to study full time? The big schools offer you full time training with the same class right through to completion. You will have the same teachers and the same instructors at each part of your training, this consistency has a value.
- It’s proven to work. The airlines are partnering with the schools because they are happy with what level of pilots they are providing. An MPL (Multi Crew Pilot Licence) will also get you in with an airline.]
- Surrounded by like minds. Throughout your training you will be surround by people with the same goal as you. This makes it easy to bounce ideas of them and ask for help. Modular you will be training on your own a lot of the time. Saying that you can enrol into ground school full time and have the classroom experience.
So you all aspiring pilots have a decision to make, which route is best for your personal circumstances. Can you afford integrated training and is it worth it?
We all know that with modular training that you can train at our own pace. I personally do not think training over a long period of time is the best idea so I will tell you why spreading lessons out isn’t the best idea. Don’t get me wrong if you need to take a break after a section, say your PPL then you can but you shouldn’t take a break during it, you should train at a constant pace.
- It will most likely take you longer. If you are spreading your lessons out over a long time then it is going to take you more hours to learn as opposed to constant training. This is natural as people tend to forget or become rusty at things that they are not doing on a constant basis.
- It will cost more. More lessons = More money. Obviously you want to spend as little money as possible as flight training is already expensive. It will most likely be more cost effective to save the total amount and do you lessons over a shorter period of time. Even if you are still in full time employment you can do 3-5 hours on a Saturday and 3-5 hours on a Sunday. That will give you 6-10 hours a week flight training and will get you up to the required amount in around 2 months.
- The money you saved can be used better. You can then move on faster from say you PPL to the ground school and then fly an hr or 2 a weekend while you are studying. Not only will this count as your hour building but it will also keep your skills up to date while you study. I feel this is more useful than going over something that you have learned on your PPL but gotten rusty at or forgotten.
For these reason alone I think that keeping your training concentrated is the best way to go about it. Think about most of your education in life, it has been concentrated training as this is the best way to learn and the way you have been conditioned to learn.
When we decide to commit to flight training the big sticking point is how should we fund it. The integrated training is easy to answer, you need to have all the money up front, it’s that simple. Modular flight training poses a different question of how to pay for modular flight training
Well the answer to that question really depends on what you want to do. For instance right now I am working full time, I have enough money to do my PPL, hour building and ATPL theory. However at this point I would run out of cash, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue if I was going to stay at work and learn on weekends etc, but I want to do my training continuously. I don’t think stop start training is the best way to learn and while it is possible to do so (many people do) I don’t want to go backwards at any point and need things like refresher lessons. I also want to go to ground school full time which means that I wont be working during this period. In other words when I commence training I want no distractions. This works for me because when I finish training and commence job searching I have a fall back career to go into, a career that offers permanent and contracting opportunities so I should be able to find work of some sort.
You however may look at it differently, you may want to stay at work and keep an income coming in. You may be happy to do a distance learning ground school stage and are happy to do your training in segments. That’s the beauty of modular training, everybody is different and it is flexible for their needs. If you are happy to spread your training out over a couple of years then this works perfectly for you.
I would say if you want to get your training done in the shortest possible amount of time then you should have the finances in place before commencing, otherwise you will find that your training is quite stop start and may take you years to complete. I understand having such a lump sum available is hard, believe you mean there are many days I think I might as well just do my PPL for now but then my logical side takes over and tells me to continue saving.
There is no right or wrong answer to how to pay for modular flight training as it all depends on your personal circumstances. Sit down and work it out, do a cash flow. If you are paying as you go also factor in things such as what you will do if you lost your job.
Integrated flight training costs anything from £100,000 – £120,000 a figure that most people understandably do not have. The two big major schools offer a loan through a bank called BBVA.
This is a terrible idea! Do not take a loan to fund integrated flight training (unless it’s a small affordable amount).
Let me explain to you why in detail that this is such a terrible idea. NB – Unless you get accepted on the BA Future Pilot Program then go for it as BA will repay this back to you.
- Pilot salaries are being driven down year on year. The glory days of pilots earning huge wages seem to be a distant memory, you will most likely start on £20,000 – £35,000.
- You most likely will not be assigned your home base. A lot of people just assume they will be flying from the nearest airport to them. For most of the airlines you can be based right around Europe! So out goes the option of living with parents to save money as you will need to pay rent, bills and food out of this salary. Oh yeah don’t forget that HUGE loan repayment you have signed yourself up for.
- Interest rates are at an all time low. The last time I looked at the loan it was 3% plus the Bank of England interest rate which of course is 0.5%. It will not be staying there with the head of the bank saying that he expects them to rise as soon as next year. Lets do some simple math shall we. The loans are over 10 years and including the Bank of England rate that gives you a repayment of £988 a month. This does not even include the two years that the loan will gain interest as you train. Now we will assume you will earn 30k a year, with no student loan which will give you a salary of £1,957.27 per month. Take away the £988 loan payment and you are down to £969. Out of this you need to pay for your rent, food, bills etc.
Now lets say the interest rate goes up to 5.5% this now makes your payment £1085.25 a month. You are now left with just 872.02 a month. At 7.5% you repayment rises to £1,187.02 and you get the picture. The numbers do not add up, at all, no matter which way you look at them.
- You have put a house up against this loan. Basically if you cannot afford to service this loan at any point the bank will come in and take your house or even worse, they will come in and take your parents house. How will you feel about making your mum, dad, siblings homeless? Like crap that’s how you will feel.
Please anyone even looking at this, do the math, do it again, get your parents to do the math, get your friends to do the math, ask a stranger to do the math before even considering this! Get a job and go modular for as much as half the price.
This is defiantly a case where your head has to rule your heart.