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How to Become Airline Pilot UK: Requirements and Procedure

how to become air line pilot in UK

Commercial pilots operate and navigate commercial planes and helicopters. Pilots for full-service, charter, and low-cost airlines fly planes that transport passengers and cargo on a set schedule.

They work for commercial airlines and are in charge of transporting passengers who are either on vacation or on business. Their primary responsibility is to fly the plane, but they may also check the weather or perform pre-flight checks throughout the day. Pilots are also responsible for the safety of the entire flight crew and passengers.

Many people search for answers to questions about how to become an airline pilot UK? In this article we will guide you with necessary steps on becoming a pilot in UK. First let’s have a look at what an airline pilot is and then we will move on to how to become an airline pilot UK?

Responsibilities of Airline Pilot

The tasks of pilots vary depending on the circumstances, such as whether the flight is long-haul, international, or a one-hour domestic flight.

Some of the general pilot tasks are as follows:

  • Before takeoff, all instruments, engines, fuel, and safety systems aboard the aircraft are checked.
  • working with flight controllers to create the most efficient flight path
  • Taking care of cargo, luggage, and fuel loading
  • The cabin crew is briefed prior to the flight.
  • The instructions of air traffic control must be followed.
  • Changing the flight path in the event of a weather emergency
  • Informing cabin crew, passengers, and crew about the status of the flight Writing end-of-flight reports on problems
  • Routine inspections of the aircraft’s technical performance, as well as pre-flight safety checks on navigation and operational systems.

Qualifications and Skills required to become Airline Pilot

You must first get an Airline Transport Pilot License before working as a commercial pilot (ATPL). Training for this can take up to two years and cost up to £100,000 in some cases.

You must have excelled in school in order to be accepted into a pilot training programme. A*-C (9-4) grades and A-levels in English and Math, for example. Science and a second language would be really beneficial.

You must also be 21 years old and pass a background security check in order to apply for an ATPL. A Class 1 Medical Certificate will be required as well.

Most Approved Training Organizations (ATOs) will administer their own tests to ensure that you have the necessary personality and abilities to be a successful pilot. Through a series of written papers, interviews, group exams, and simulator testing, you will be asked to demonstrate problem-solving, spatial awareness, and people skills.

Commercial pilots must have strong leadership qualities, the ability to remain focused and level-headed under pressure, sophisticated problem-solving skills, decisiveness, and excellent communication skills, to name a few.

How to become Airline Pilot UK

Following are the steps that must be taken to become a pilot in UK:

  • Research the available flying training options in the United Kingdom
  • To become a pilot, be sure you satisfy the admission requirements and possess the necessary qualifications.
  • Choose which training phases you’ll have to go through.
  • Admission in Flight School
  • Think about your career options.

Let us explain these steps in detail !

Step 1: Research the available flying training options in the United Kingdom.

You must educate yourself on the various pilot training programmes available in the country and determine which one is best for you. This is the point at which you should consider your aviation goals. Are you interested in obtaining a Private Pilot License (PPL) or a Commercial Pilot License (CPL)? Do you want to work as a flight attendant? If you said yes, you should think about getting an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). Do you aspire to a college diploma as well? Do you wish to join the military, specifically the Air Force?

If you have any questions about the conditions or need help deciding which license is best for you, please contact us and one of our experts will gladly assist you.

You have the following options:

Flying School

There are over 200 flight schools in the United Kingdom where you can choose from a variety of pilot training programmes. Make a list of your preferred flying school(s) so that you can compare which is best for you. Each school has its own set of policies and criteria, and tuition varies depending on which pilot training courses you choose.

Pilot programme for airline cadets

Meanwhile, if becoming an airline pilot has always been a childhood dream of yours, you should look into airline cadet pilot programmes. These programmes are frequently sponsored by airlines, and students are guaranteed employment upon completion of the course.You will get an Airline Transport Pilot License with this pilot programme (ATPL).

College degree program related to Aviation

If you want to get a college degree while also taking flight lessons, you should look into aviation-related college degree programmes. These programmes allow students to earn a college diploma while also receiving aviation training. In most cases, you will receive a college diploma as well as a pilot license, such as the Commercial Pilot License (CPL). This will give you the best of both worlds.


Finally, you can serve your country by joining the Royal Air Force. The government will pay for your flight training, but you must serve in the military for at least 12 years before applying to commercial airlines.

Step 2: To become a pilot, be sure you satisfy the admission requirements and possess the necessary qualifications.

An Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) and a Class 1 Medical Certificate are required to work as a professional commercial pilot. You must finish the requisite pilot training in order to acquire your ATPL. Moreover following requirements are necessary:

  • Prospective cadets must fulfill age and height requirements, as well as language, education, medicals, visas, and background checks, in order to be considered for a pilot training school.
  • To apply, you must be 17 years old, and to begin training, you must be 18.
  • 5ft 2in (157cm) is the minimum height, while 6ft 3in is the maximum height (191cm)
  • English fluent (verbal and written). Prior to beginning, non-native English speakers must acquire an IELTS score of 5.5 in each component and an aggregate score of 5.5 in the IELTS or an ICAO level 4 equivalent.
  • A minimum of five GCSEs at grade C/4 or higher, including Mathematics, English, and Science 

Job-specific skills required to become a pilot:

  • A solid understanding of math and physics
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work well in a team and demonstrate leadership skills
  • Excellent spatial awareness and coordination, as well as the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • After completing your pilot training, you will be issued a ‘frozen ATPL,’ which allows you to apply for jobs as a First Officer. To ‘unfreeze’ your ATPL, you must log 1,500 hours of flight time.

Step 3: Choose which training phases you’ll have to go through.

In general, depending on the student’s aim, there are five (5) distinct pilot training phases that they must complete. The following are the phases of pilot training:

Student Pilot Permit (SPL)

A student pilot license is the first license you’ll need to get. With this license, you can begin your flying training.

Private Pilot’s Permit (PPL)

The private pilot license allows you to fly solo, with passengers or freight, but not for a fee. To obtain a Private Pilot License, you must complete the following steps:

  1. you must be at least 17 years old;
  2. be in possession of a Class 2 medical certificate
  3. complete 45 hours of airplane flying training, 5 of which may have been performed in an authorized flight simulator (an FSTD – flight simulation training device), including at least:
  • a total of 25 hours of dual flying training,
  • 10 hours of supervised solo flight time, including at least 5 hours of solo cross-country flying time, including at least 1 cross-country flight of at least 270 km (150 NM) with full stop landings at two distinct aerodromes.

Commercial Pilot’s Permit (CPL)

A commercial pilot license is required to begin earning money from flying. With this license, you can work as a paid professional pilot. You must complete the following basic qualifications in order to earn a commercial pilot license in the United Kingdom:

  1. be at least eighteen years old;
  2. be in possession of a Class I medical certificate;
  3. have a total of 150 hours of instrument ground time (not including type rating training). This includes all progress tests and up to 5 hours of instrument ground time. The following elements must be included in the complete flying training requirement:
  • 80 hours of dual instruction, with up to 5 hours of instrument ground time;
  • PIC of 70-hour;
  • Cross-country flying: 20 hours as PIC, including a VFR cross-country flight of at least 540 kilometers (300 nautical miles), including full stop landings at two separate aerodromes;
  • Night flying: 5 hours, including 3 hours of dual instruction and 1 hour of cross-country navigation, as well as 5 solo takeoffs and landings;
  • Instrument Type: 10 hours, up to 5 of which can be spent on instrument ground time in a suitable simulator.
  • 5 hours if the aircraft is approved for at least 4 passengers and has a variable pitch propeller and retractable landing gear.

Both 4 and 5 are optional add-ons to your pilot certificate.

Instrument Rating (IR)

Instrument-rated aircraft may be flown in any weather situation (for example, low or no visibility) using only the instruments. Along with commercial pilot training, flight schools provide Instrument Rating. This, however, may be obtained separately.

Multiple Engines Rating (MER)

You will be able to fly multi-engine aircraft with the multi-engine rating. Along with private pilot and commercial pilot training, flight schools provide Multi-Engine Rating. This, however, may be obtained separately.

ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License):

This is the highest level of Aircraft Pilot Certificate, allowing you to fly on scheduled airlines as a pilot in charge. You must be at least 21 years old to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot License.

  1. possess a medical certificate of class I;
  2. have logged at least 1500 hours of flying time in aircraft, including at least:

500 hours of multi-pilot aircraft operations;

  •  500 hours as Pilot in Command Under Supervision (PICUS) or 250 hours as Pilot in Command (PIC), with a minimum of 70 hours as PIC and the remaining as PICUS;
  •  200 hours of cross-country flying experience, including at least 100 hours as pilot-in-command or pilot-in-command under supervision;
  • a total of 75 hours of instrument time, with no more than 30 hours of instrument ground time allowed;
  • 100 hours of night flying experience as a pilot-in-command or co-pilot.

*Of the 1500 hours necessary for total flying experience, up to 100 hours can be performed in a suitable simulator (FFS or FNPT – but only up to 25 hours in a FNPT).

Step 4: Admission in Flight School

After you’ve done your research on the sort of license you want, the next step is to figure out which flight school is best for your budget.

So, how much does it cost to train for a pilot?

It’s worth noting that becoming a pilot necessitates a specific budget. The cost of flight training is determined by the nation in which you train, the flight school you choose, and a variety of other considerations.

On the other hand, there are a lot of popular nations to pick from if you prefer to take your flight training overseas. The United States, Canada, and Australia are among them. Aviationfly works with pilot training institutions all around the world. One thing to keep in mind is that once you’ve completed your training, you’ll need to apply to the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority to change your license to a UK pilot license (UK CAA).

Another option is to enroll in an airline pilot programme, as previously suggested. You will be hired by the airlines that have set up the programme once you have completed your pilot training.

Step 5: Think about your career options.

Many prospective pilots have a certain professional route in mind, but others do not. The alternatives for what you can accomplish with a pilot license are listed below.

  • Piloting a plane for a major airline or a smaller regional carrier
  • Cargo pilots, charter / air taxi pilots, flight instructors, and medical/air ambulance pilots are all examples of corporate or business aviation pilots.
  • Agricultural pilot and a slew of other possibilities


How much does it cost to become a pilot in the UK?

Training to become a pilot in the United Kingdom is quite expensive, so be sure it’s the appropriate option for you before enrolling.

The exact costs vary depending on the route taken, but we’re talking tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of pounds. To give you a clearer sense, pilot training costs between £70,000 and £120,000 on average.

For example, an integrated course at a flying school like the FTA costs £87,950, whereas an integrated course at L3Harris Airline Academy costs £79,950. Modular courses are less expensive and may be stretched out over a longer period of time.

How much money might a pilot make?

Those joining the aviation sector may expect to earn between £20,000 and £30,000 as a starting wage. First officers and captains with experience can earn between £38,000 and £90,000. Pilots with the greatest experience working for the world’s major airlines may expect to earn £140,000 or more.

What is a Commercial Pilot’s Career Path?

Airline pilots typically begin their careers as first officers, co-pilots, or flight engineers with a regional carrier. All pilots will have completed an intensive flight training programme and achieved a commercial pilot’s license or airline transport rating. Depending on the needs of their particular flying function and airline, most will additionally have completed one or more advanced ratings such as instrument, multi-engine, or aircraft type ratings.

How long does it take to get a pilot’s license?

Integrated ATPL courses typically last 72 weeks, depending on capacity and schedule.

Malick Warda

Warda is an editor at ProBritisher, her interest in writing developed when she wrote a poem for her brother on his birthday in 2019. Since then she is a writer by profession and reader by hobby.

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