How to become a pilot in UK would be a frequent question in your mind if you have chosen to make your career in aviation. Although difficult, expensive and challenging, the journey to becoming a pilot is not unachievable. But you should be aware of the eligibility criteria and the various stages that you would need to complete before earning your pilot’s license.
Since safety is the most important aspect which lends credibility to the aviation industry, all aspiring pilots must undergo intense and rigorous training, thorough and regular medical exams and keep upgrading and sharpening their skills constantly. It is absolutely essential to keep oneself physically and mentally fit and alert in order to maintain the high standards required of the aviation industry.
The very first step
Pilots don’t necessarily need to be degree holders but it having one may give you a slight competitive edge over the others. The degree could be unrelated to aviation. However this is not mandatory and you can begin your quest to become a pilot by aiming for the Private Pilot License (PPL). You need to join a flight school where you will be given theoretical and practical training.
Eligibility criteria for a Private Pilot License:
- At least 17 years of age
- Possess a class 2 medical certificate
- Complete 45 hours of flight time
- Pass the written exam consisting of multiple choice questions
The training required to obtain the PPL could cost as much as 3,000 to 3,500 pounds.
The Commercial Pilot’s License
After you get your PPL, you would aim to acquire the Commercial Pilot License (CPL). For this you need to accumulate flying hours and this can be done by working as a flight instructor (but you need to be a certified instructor before you can get hired). You need to have a flying experience of 200 hours after which you would attend a commercial pilot training course. On completion of this course, you would undergo a flight test. Once you clear this, you earn your CPL and are authorized to get paid for flying.
Rating: This is an additional qualification that boosts your employability quotient. There are many kinds of ratings eg:-
Night rating: permits you to fly an aircraft at night
Multi Engine rating: Allows you to fly an aircraft having multiple engines.
Instrumentation rating: Allows you to fly even in cloudy and turbulent weather conditions
Instructor rating: Authorizes you to impart pilot’s training and give flying lessons
The Multi Crew Coordination Course
This is also an add on qualification consisting of a week long course that sharpens your coordination and communication skills to enable you to smoothly fly alongside other aircraft. This course needs mandatory attendance before you can apply for a job.
Air Transport Pilot License (ATPL)
This is the final step to achieving your ambition. You need to have obtained all the essential ratings and accumulated up to 1000-1500 hours of flying time in order to qualify for this license. With this license you are eligible to be hired by the major airlines. However certain regional airlines do hire pilots who have not yet earned the ATPL. They use that time to gain the required experience and then upgrade to obtaining the ATPL.
Once you are hired by an airline, you will begin at the designation of first officer and within a span of a few months get promoted to the position of senior first officer. With more experience, in due course of time, you will fulfil your dream and proudly command the aircraft as Captain.