How to Become a Pilot

There are many routes a prospective pilot can take in becoming a commercial airline pilot. The most ideal option is to be awarded a cadetship from an airline. Many airlines advertise for cadetships usually on an annual basis and after an extensive interview process may award successful candidates a cadetship. Each airline takes a different approach to the funding of training. Some airlines will pay the full cost of flight training and the successful applicant will commit to the airline for a number of years to pay off the cost of the training. With other airlines the trainees will finance the cadetship themselves but will be guaranteed an airline job on finishing training.

Pilot Flight Training Academy

Another option is to pay for flight training yourself. Many flight training academies have payment schemes pre-arranged with local banks.The full cost of training could be as much as €70,000-€140,000 depending on the training location and how quickly and efficiently the training takes place. Remember that you may have to pay for accommodation and subsistence during the training which may take up to 18 months or more. Training at an academy is highly recommended as the academy will generally follow an airline approved course of training and the trainee will follow the same process as airline cadets.

Military Flight Training

Another option is to apply for a military cadetship. The military will pay for the training and the trainee will have to commit to the military for a minimum of 12 years usually. Military training is one of the best training a pilot can receive flying both fast, high performance aircraft and top of the range helicopters. Upon completion of military service the pilot can apply for a direct entry position into an airline.

Before training commences the prospective pilot will first undertake a class one medical. This ensures one has the medical requirements to become an airline pilot. Then once commercial pilot training commences the pilot will have to earn all of their certificates ultimately earning a Frozen Airline Transport Pilots Licence, which is a collection of licences grouped together.

The Frozen Airline Transport Pilots Licence consists of the following:

  • Theoretical ground school examinations – 14 exams must be completed.
  • Earn Private Pilot Certificate. This starts in single engine aircraft focusing on general handling and the fundamentals of flight.
  • Complete Instrument, Multi-Engine Ratings and Multi Crew Cooperation Course MCC. After a significant course of flight training the Instrument Rating is received upon completion of an Instrument Rating Examination which enables a pilot to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) in poor weather and the Multi Engine rating enables the pilot to fly larger and faster multi engine aircraft. The MCC course teaches the pilot how to operate effectively as a crew member. Teaching them how to lead, follow, be assertive and introducing them to airline Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Earn Commercial Pilot Certificate. To earn this certificate plots must meet the requirements of the aviation authority. They must meet a high standard of flying and experience which thus enables them to be paid to fly.
  • Once 1500 flight hours have been completed the pilot can then earn their ATPL Airline Transport Pilots Licence.