Arguably the greatest barrier to many people realising their dream of becoming a pilot is the cost of training. Depending on which route trainees embark on it can cost anywhere up to £120k!

If, like me, you don’t happen to have £120k sat in your bank account, you may be asking how can you realise your ambition? Well, fear not there are several routes you can follow, each with varying funding requirements.

This article aims to highlight the options available to yourself and identify which one may be most applicable to your individual circumstances.

Option 1 – Integrated Course

One popular route is to complete what is known as an integrated course which takes you from zero to ATPL in approximately 18 months, training full time. This is the quickest route to the cockpit, but unfortunately comes with the largest price tag. Depending on the flight school and course particulars, this could cost you in the region of £120k, typically payable in instalments over the 18 month duration.

A common way of funding this is to raise funding through a secured loan through banks specialising in this funding. This requires some form of security to raise the loan against, typically in the form of a property. This can either be your own property if you are in that position or a parent’s property if they are willing to let you use that.

Although coming in at the highest cost, the main benefits of an integrated route are the quick time to the cockpit, an established training record with one school and the partnerships that some of the major schools have with the airlines for providing pilots.

Option 2 – Sponsored Course

Although rare these days, a variant of the integrated course is the airline sponsored course, which is where an airline acts as sponsor and provides a conditional offer of employment on completing the course. What this ultimately means is that the airline will act as guarantor on the loan, meaning access to security is not required. You are still required to take out the loan to cover the cost of training, however you can usually expect this to be repaid through your salary, over a defined period, once in employment with that airline.

As mentioned above, these are few and far between, however do occasionally crop up with the British Airways Future Pilot Programme and Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers programme being examples of these in the past.

Option 3 – Modular Route

The most cost effective, and increasingly popular, route is to complete modular training. This means that you break the training components into chunks, first completing your PPL then ATPL ground school and hour building, followed by MEIR, CPL and APS MCC.

By breaking it down in chunks you can keep the cost to a minimum (the lowest I have heard is £37,000 from zero to ATPL) and also complete training in your own time. A great benefit of this is that you can work throughout your training which allows a continuous source of income to pay for the training. Further to income from employment, due to the lower total cost required, this route also opens up unsecured loans and credit card financing to pay for elements of training if applicable and affordable.

Historically, the modular route has perhaps been looked down upon slightly, however this is changing. Airlines are looking to recruit future captains and the life skills that modular pilots bring, from previous employment and other experiences, position those following the modular route in positive standing.

In summary, there are multiple routes available to prospective pilots looking to fulfil their ambitions and it can be quite daunting where to start. The finance options need to improve to ensure that nobody is unable to realise their ambition due to a lack of finance and this is something that is gradually being recognised in the industry. There are schemes currently in development looking to address this, with Mentour Pilot in particular driving the change required to make this finance available. For more information on this see https://mentourpilot.com/how-to-solve-the-funding-problem-in-airline-pilot-training/

The routes to becoming a First Officer  | (c) FlightDeckFriend.com

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