We’ve compiled a quick list of FAQs to help you in making a decision. Feel free to get in touch via our contact page if you have any other questions.
What qualifications do I need to become an airline pilot? I heard I need to have a degree?
There are no formal academic requirements to become a pilot. It is however necessary to have a good understanding of mental maths and physics – ideally at GCSE / High school level.
Some integrated training organisations will ask applicants to have at least five GCSE’s including English language, maths and physics. This is because you commence the ATPL theory training at the start of your course, before beginning any form of flight training and an understanding of maths and physics is necessary to succeed. The modular route starts with the Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) training, where you will study and sit 9 theoretical exams, which include basic mathematics and physics.
How old do I have to be to commence training?
To register with us as a Wings Alliance member, you must be at least 16 years old. This is due to the minimum age requirements outlined by the aviation authorities for licencing issue. During your PPL training, you can legally fly solo at the age of 16 (subject to a sign off by your instructor), and you can be issued with a licence on your 17th birthday.
We respect and encourage a professional piloting career amongst those of a young age. If you are between the ages of 13 to 17, we recommend joining the air cadets in the UK. They offer a range of activities relevant to flying, such as gliding and air experience flights. More information can be found here.
How do I really assess the quality of a training provider when I’m not an expert?
We realise what a challenge that is; and how important your decision is. We have a wide network of training providers who are renowned for excellence in training, price competitive and equipped with the best training aircraft and instructors. We do encourage you to discover this for yourself, as ultimately it is your decision to make. Here are some tips to consider when choosing an Air Training Organisation (ATO).
Where are they located? The airport the ATO operates from can have a big impact on the quality of the training you receive. Usually at the Private Pilot’s Licence stage, you should ideally be looking at schools who are in a close proximity to complex airspace. This will help develop your understanding of the different air traffic services and procedures you will be using as a pilot. You may also consider choosing a school close to where you live, in an area you are familiar with.
What training the school provides? To progress through the modular route, a Private Pilot’s Licence is the first step. Most UK General Aviation aerodromes will have flight schools or clubs who offer Private Pilot’s Licence training. However, considering a school that specialises in commercial pilot training and multi engine instrument training as well, may give you more continuity of training. This is not essential; however, it may be something you’d wish to consider.
What fleet of aircraft do they have? This is one of the most important questions to research. The standard of a school’s fleet should be equipped with the necessary navigation equipment required to excel in your training. Piper Warriors, Piper Arrows, Diamond DA40’s, DA42s and Cessna 152s are the most common aircraft to train in.
What is the school’s availability? Ideally, a flight school should be open 7 days a week, to give you the flexibility to train when you are available. The school should be working around your requirements and availability, so whether you are available to train full or part-time, ensure the school can give you the flexibility you need.
How do I know that I have ‘what it takes’ to succeed in a competitive industry?
Airline pilots require a standard level of attributes which are vital to excel in an airline career. They must be motivated, attentive to detail, be able to remain calm under pressure, have a willingness to learn and a positive attitude.
The first step is to book a trial lesson with a flight school, to see whether flying is definitely for you. Once you have tasted your first flight, booking a block of five lessons will cover the first few lessons of the PPL syllabus, which will include: effects of control, climbing and descending, straight and level flight, turning, and stalling. Successful completion of these lessons will determine your suitability to progress with the course.
When you have completed all stages of your flight training, you will hold a frozen ATPL which will enable you to apply for your first airline job. Attending airline assessment and preparation courses will help to prepare you for your airline interviews. Typically, these course will include: Help with your CV and covering letter, interview techniques and group exercises.
How do I know that, at the end of the day, I’ll get a job?
Nobody, whatever they say, will guarantee you a job ahead of training. However, our unique focus on employment outcomes, track record of graduates success and, quality of training; maximises your chances of you getting that all important first job.
You will be supported by us throughout your training, providing you with information on who is hiring, industry updates, guidance and support and peer mentoring with other trainees.
Airline recruitment opportunities can come in waves, so it’s important to apply for as many positions as possible as and when they are posted.
How do I know whether I should study the modular or integrated route?
Well, the licence you get out of it is the same, whichever route you chose. Wings Alliance supports students training through the modular route. The benefits of modular training include:
- It is cheaper, and you are in full control of what you spend and when, as you pay on a “pay as you fly” basis
- You have the ability to train at your own pace;
- You can study full-time, part-time or in short bursts of full-time; whatever suits you and your circumstances;
- You can continue to work while training.
Wing Alliance offers maintenance of your training records from your ATO –on agreement of the training providers. Wings Alliance on your request, will keep up-to-date training records ready for your airline assessments should they be required.
If you want to know more on this subject, have a look at this article.
Do you have to be medically fit to become an airline pilot?
There are medical requirements and assessments set out by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency, which you must pass and maintain throughout your career. Obtaining a Class 1 Medical certificate is compulsory to fly as a commercial pilot. Information regarding medicals can be found here for UK CAA medical requirements, and here for EASA medical requirements. There is a list of Aero Medical centres for initial class 1 medicals which you can find on the authorities’ websites EASA and UK CAA.
Do I need to do a Class 1 Medical before the CPL?
As you may realise, you need a Class 2 medical for PPL flying and a Class 1 for the CPL. The danger of getting a cheaper class 2 for training than the Class 1 just before your CPL course is that you may pass the Class 2, but fail the Class 1. This is uncommon but would be a disaster. Therefore, we always recommend that you get a Class 1 before committing to the time and expense of commercial training. If it lapses during your training, it will revert to a Class 2 automatically and then you could renew just before your CPL course.
Which licence should I choose? EASA or UK CAA?
Since the UK CAA left EASA, students have had to decide what licence or licences they would like to aim for. This decision needs to be made when it comes to the ATPL theory stage of your training.
It would be recommended that a UK citizen gains a UK licence at a minimum to be able to operate G registered aircraft.
A UK Citizen can obtain an EASA licence too if they would like to, it is uncertain at this stage how useful an EASA licence will be to a UK citizen due to residency and rights to work in the EU.
Airline licencing requirements vary between airlines. You may find that one airline will predominantly only employ EASA licence holders, where other airlines will only employ UK CAA licence holders. Due to this, we ultimately encourage you to sit both UK CAA and EASA ATPL exams to broaden your prospects of employment closer to the time.
For further information regarding this please visit the Bristol Groundschool website.
If you have any other FAQs, you can contact us via email or phone during office hours: 08:30-16:30, Monday to Friday.