How Do I Become a Pilot?

At present there are several routes to become a professional pilot. We know from experience that the different routes combined with unfamiliar terms such as CPL, ATPL and ATPL frozen, often cause a lot of confusion. Each route has its pros and cons and each will suit some people more than others. By reading this we hope that you will gain a general understanding of the advantages and disadvantages between each route and be able to make an informed choice about your future aviation education.

There are three accepted routes to obtain a licence enabling you to fly an airline. They are commonly known as:

The integrated and modular routes both result in the same licence whereas the training towards a Multi-crew Pilot Licence is somewhat different and will result in a licence with certain restrictions.

  • About pilot licences

    Before explaining each route in more detail let’s first take a look at some of the different licences that exist. Generally speaking, the following licences can be obtained:

    • Private Pilot Licence (PPL)
    • Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)
    • Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL)
    • Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL)

    The Private Pilot Licence requires the least amount of training, and, once obtained, allows you to fly aircraft for recreational purposes. At the very minimum, to act as a professional pilot you would require a commercial pilot’s licence. As you gain experience flying for an airline you may, at some stage, fulfil the requirement to apply for an Airline Transport Pilot’s licence. This is the highest licence you can achieve, and it requires a substantial amount of experience and theoretical knowledge. The theoretical knowledge will usually be obtained during your training at a flight school and will consist of 14 subjects. When you have the required theoretical knowledge yet still lack the practical experience you will have what is called a “frozen ATPL”. In addition to the different types of licences mentioned above you can also add ratings to your licence. A good example of a rating is the instrument rating, which allows you to fly in weather with limited or no visibility. The relevant rating will be added to your PPL, CPL or ATPL when you have completed the required training and passed the skill test.

    In addition to the different ways of training and licences there are also different regulations around the world. In Europe all licences are issued based on regulations devised by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), formerly known as Joint Aviation Authority (JAA). In the USA, aviation is administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and, although the types of licence issued have the same name, you cannot use these licences in Europe without having received additional conversion training. This conversion training is an additional cost that, in most cases, will turn out to be more expensive and time consuming than getting a European licence directly. In general, the training towards a European licence is considered the most extensive, and is therefore easier to convert to other countries.

  • Integrated training

    The integrated route is an intense and structured training program that is completed within a relatively short period of time. This program is designed to take you from no experience to obtaining a commercial pilot’s licence with guidance from experienced instructors from beginning to end.

    The integrated training program is generally regarded by airlines as the preferred option and will, in some cases, allow you to apply for a job with a reduced amount of flying hours. In contrast to the modular training route you are required to pass a selection test. This will give both you and the flight school some idea of your suitability before starting the course.

    During the integrated course your progress will be closely monitored from the beginning. At the end you will receive a flight school report that can be used as a testimonial of your performance during training. The integrated course will require you to wear a uniform throughout the training program. This plays an important part in helping acquire the attitude and professionalism required by the airlines. 

    We offer integrated training for students without previous flying experience. You can find more information about our Integrated Professional Pilot Program here.

  • Modular training

    In comparison to the integrated program, the modular route is a more flexible training path. After graduation you will acquire the same licence, however, on a modular course the training will initially be towards the PPL.

    After obtaining the PPL you are required to gather experience without lesson plans and guidance from an instructor before starting the training towards the CPL. Since the program is not structured and monitored as closely as the integrated program many students take a longer time to complete it, and find it harder to gather the documentation required by many airlines when applying for a job.

    We offer modular prilot training for licensed pilots. You can find more information about our Advanced Training Program here.