FAQ ( Frequently Asked Questions) About Becoming an Airline Pilot

become an airline pilot

Whether you are seriously considering becoming an airline pilot, or you’re just seeking some background information about how to achieve it.
We have everything you need to know right here.

It can be a complex process, but we’ve made everything as clear and easy to understand as possible.

So we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions on the topic of becoming a commercial airline pilot.
Some of the questions require more in-depth answers than others

How long does it take to train as a commercial pilot?

This depends on how you choose to go about your training, There are two different types of training called “integrated” and “modular”.

Integrated training:

You complete all of your training in one full-time, intensive aviation program with one of the flight instructors in the Flight Training Organisation (FTO).
From having no flying experience to holding a commercial airline pilot license, it typically takes around 18 months.

This would allow you to apply to airlines as a First Officer.

However, on acquiring your first flying job, you would need to complete a type rating before flying passengers on a large commercial aircraft.
This would typically take an additional six months.

Modular route training:

You complete your training program at your own pace, flying when you can afford it and building your experience levels gradually.

This could take you two years or five-plus – it’s up to the individual.

How many hours do airline pilots work a year/month/week?

Limitation Airline pilots to fly is 900 hours a year.
The number of hours you actually fly will depend on which major airline you join.

Short-haul pilots will typically fly between 700-900 hours a year whereas long haul pilots would expect less than this, typically 400-750 hours a year.
Cargo and business jet pilots tend to fly much less, usually between 300-400 hours a year.

Pilots can work approximately a maximum of 35 hours a week and 100 hours a month.

How many days do pilots spend away per week/month?

This is completely dependant on the airline and its type of operation.
At low cost or charter short-haul airlines (such as Ryanair or EasyJet), you can expect very few nights to stop and will typically be home most nights.

At legacy short-haul carriers, tours are common where you might spend 3 – 4 nights away per week.
At long haul airlines like British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, the length of tours varies, but you can be a way for as many as 10 days at a flight time on a long tour.

How much money does an airline pilot earn per year?

It varies between airlines, your position, and the size of the aircraft but typically airline pilots are well paid.

Generally, the larger the aircraft you operate and the further you travel, the more you are likely paid.

An airline Captain can expect to earn between £80,000 and £150,000 a year depending on experience and the airline.
A First Officer can expect to earn between £35,000 and £80,000 a year depending on flight experience and the airline.

What’s the difference between integrated and modular training?

The Integrated training:

Complete Integrated training through a single flight training organization (FTO), specifically authorized to conduct such training.

This training is design to take zero flying experience cadets through to holding a frozen air transport license (the license required to act as a co-pilot / first officer in an airline) in a period of around 18 months.

Completing all training at the same training organization on a full-time basis.

The Modular training:

Modular training is obtaining the various flying licenses and theory examinations at the student’s own pace and from various training organizations.

See the “Airline Pilot Training” section for further information.

What are the respective advantages of integrated and modular training?

Integrated Training Advantages:

– Favored by various airlines such as British Airways
– Training completed on an intensive course which is respected by airlines
– Integrated flight schools have links with various airlines which may help with getting a job on completion
– Quickest way to obtain a frozen air transport license Modular Training Advantages
– Often significantly cheaper
– Conduct training at the pace dictated of the individual
– Adjusting the timing of training based on airline employment market factors
– Completing training alongside another job

Modular Training Advantages:

– Overall cost is substantially less than an integrated course + breaks in between allow you to save up if required.
– There is greater flexibility which means you can complete alongside education/employment.
– It provides less risk as you can choose where and when you want to do parts of your training.

How much does it cost to train as an airline pilot?

Depending on which route you take, you can expect to pay between £40,000 and £120,000 to train as a commercial airline pilot.

There are now many airlines who now charge you for your “type rating” when they offer you a job offer which is typically an additional £20,000 – £35,000.

Am I too old to start commercial pilot training?

In short – if you’re under 65 then no you’re not too old.

But the older you start your training, the more limited your employment options may be, and the less money you can expect in return over the course of your career.

Should I go to University before starting professional flight training?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, it is completely dependent on individual circumstances in getting a college degree.

What is a type rating?

A type rating is a qualification to fly a specific model of aircraft.

Any aircraft which has a maximum take-off weight of more than 5,700 kgs or is turbine-powered requires a type rating to operate it.

A type rating course consists of a technical ground school course, covering the aircraft’s systems and performance, and a simulator course, where you learn to fly the aircraft in normal and emergency situations for approximately 30 hours.

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