61 Spe­cial Sup­ple­ment: Go Com­mer­cial!

There are two main routes to be­com­ing an airline pi­lot: In­te­grated and Mo­du­lar train­ing

Pilot - - CONTENTS - By Jenny Ross & Philip White­man

A sec­tion in the mag­a­zine ded­i­cated to train­ing for a com­mer­cial li­cence, from 61 Mo­du­lar v. In­te­grated routes to 62 ad­vice from the lead­ing avi­a­tion train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions,

68 a day in the life of a BA Ci­tyflyer cap­tain and, fi­nally, 77 ban­ner tow­ing — an ex­am­ple of us­ing your com­mer­cial li­cence for some­thing other than car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers or freight

Find­ing your way to a ca­reer as an airline pi­lot re­quires de­ter­mi­na­tion and it isn’t cheap — so this is not a choice to be taken lightly. You can start train­ing as a school leaver, but the min­i­mum age at which you can be is­sued with a full Airline Trans­port Pi­lot Li­cence (ATPL) is 21. Al­though no aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions are re­quired to en­rol on an ATPL course, you are more likely to land a job with an airline if you have GCSES and A-lev­els. Ad­di­tion­ally, knowl­edge of maths and physics will give you a dis­tinct ad­van­tage when tak­ing the writ­ten ex­ams.

The first thing you need to do is ob­tain an EASA Class 1 med­i­cal, which is far more strin­gent than the one re­quired for a Pri­vate Pi­lot’s Li­cence (PPL). If you can­not pass the med­i­cal it is the end of the road as far as your com­mer­cial fly­ing ca­reer is con­cerned — but it is bet­ter to dis­cover this early, be­fore you have paid for any train­ing!

In­te­grated cour­ses of­fer in­ten­sive, full-time train­ing. Gen­er­ally the ap­proved train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions (ATOS) that of­fer this type of train­ing have close links to air­lines. The In­te­grated route is the quick­est way to get the pro­fes­sional li­cence, ob­tain­ing the qual­i­fi­ca­tions to fly as a first of­fi­cer within one or two years, and has par­tic­u­lar appeal to en­trants with lit­tle or no fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It is also the most ex­pen­sive way of ob­tain­ing an ATPL. Some cour­ses have links with banks that can pro­vide fi­nance to stu­dents to help them make it through the course.

More ap­peal­ing to ex­pe­ri­enced pi­lots and those who need to spread their train­ing costs over an ex­tended pe­riod of time, the Mo­du­lar route en­ables stu­dents to break their train­ing into chunks so that they can com­plete them part-time, at their own pace and ac­cord­ing to their fi­nances (as ever, we would cau­tion would be trainees never to pay large amounts of money up front and, as far as pos­si­ble to pay as you go).

The ATPL exam syl­labus con­sists of four­teen sub­jects, in­clud­ing Prin­ci­ples of Flight, Op­er­a­tional Pro­ce­dures, Me­te­o­rol­ogy, Comms and Nav­i­ga­tion — each of which cul­mi­nates in a mul­ti­ple choice exam. The ex­ams can be taken at a num­ber of lo­ca­tions around the coun­try.

Flight train­ing starts with the fa­mil­iar PPL. Next comes the CPL (Com­mer­cial Pi­lot Li­cence. It nor­mally takes be­tween four and six weeks (weather/ex­pe­ri­ence de­pen­dent) to com­plete a CPL course. At least five hours — plus the skills test — must be flown in a ‘com­plex air­craft’ with a re­tractable un­der­car­riage and a vari­ablepitch pro­pel­ler. If you have never flown in what’s termed a com­plex air­craft be­fore, it is rec­om­mended that you choose a course which cov­ers more than the min­i­mum num­ber of hours.

In prac­ti­cal terms, to be­gin work­ing com­mer­cially you will re­quire a mul­ti­engine rat­ing and the all-im­por­tant (and rather daunt­ing) In­stru­ment Rat­ing, too.

To work for an airline you then need to reach the ‘frozen’ ATPL stage while you build up your fly­ing hours to the 1,500 min­i­mum for the full li­cence.

It is now manda­tory for pi­lots to un­dergo Multi Crew Co­op­er­a­tion (MCC) or Crew Re­source Man­age­ment (CRM) cour­ses be­fore they can ap­ply for a job. Some air­lines may re­quire a type rat­ing on ei­ther an Air­bus or Boe­ing air­craft, al­though a num­ber will pro­vide this as part of in-house train­ing.

Some ATOS are able to place their stu­dents with a part­ner airline, but for many prospec­tive pi­lots it will be a case of send­ing off CV af­ter CV and maybe tak­ing on other work un­til they land their first airline job. When they do, it will prob­a­bly be as co-pi­lot or First Of­fi­cer, work­ing on short-haul flights along­side a Train­ing Cap­tain.

You might ex­pect to be­come a Cap­tain af­ter around 5,000 hours of ex­pe­ri­ence, de­pend­ing on the airline. It’s a long road to fol­low, but what­ever type of com­mer­cial fly­ing you do, many would say you will still be work­ing in ‘the best of­fice in the world’.

To work for an airline you will need to reach the ‘frozen’ ATPL stage...

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