How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot


There’s a growing demand for airline pilots. Boeing have said that in the next two decades they expect there to be demand for more than 500 000 new airline pilots. Be warned that it is a time-consuming and expensive process, however. When you finally do qualify, there is a lot of competition for jobs with the major airlines. But if you persevere there are both personal and financial rewards available.

There are a number of steps that you have to take to become fully qualified to fly a commercial airline in the UK.


Training can cost up to £100000 and takes roughly 2 years. Some airlines offer assistance by financing the training as a form of loan that you pay back through your wages when working for them. Unfortunately, these kind of loans are quite hard to come by, so most people end up paying for it themselves.


First check whether you have the right qualifications and whether you’re eligible to fly commercially, there’s a good reference guide here. If you have no flight experience you can do integrated training that takes you from the ground up, with theory first before building into practice. Integrated courses are full-time.

If you do have some flying experience or you can’t give up your day job, you can opt to do a modular course. This type of flight training allows you to take the training units at different times, so you have the option of part-time. In a short space of time you will find yourself in the air. You’ll start by flying light aircraft, as well as doing flight simulator training and classroom study.

Once you have got multi-engine rating you can then try for the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). At this point you can fly business jets or train other pilots, but you won’t be able to fly airliners.

If you continue with the training with more flight and ground practice, you will eventually be able to get an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL). This will allow you to fly airliners, so you at this point you can start to apply for jobs. If successful, the airline will train you in flying their type of airliner and you will build up your flying hours. Once you reach 1500 hours of training flying hours you will be fully qualified.