I’m considering becoming a pilot – what advice can you offer?
We have pilot bases at both London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports. We have a number of ways that you can join us a pilot, including our sponsored cadets or newly graduated ‘Whitetail’ cadets from the airlines partner colleges, experienced pilots from other airlines and military pilots looking to change careers at the end of their military engagement. We are always keen to have a mix of previous experience in our pilot community and, while specific campaigns for a particular entry scheme may or may not be running at any one time, in the long term we would look to continue recruiting our pilots from a range of backgrounds.
Here are some ways you can develop to support your dream of becoming a pilot:
- A solid grounding in your academic studies is very important. For most cadet and training schemes you need a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade A to C, including Mathematics, English and a science (or equivalent). You may also need A-Levels or the equivalent. Academic criteria is set per campaign.
- There are certain things we look for in candidates - good hand-eye co-ordination, taking part in a wide range of sports would be advantageous; knowledge of current affairs and the commercial aspects of aviation, ensure you’ve done your research beforehand; and a good ability to interact well with other people
- No particular flying experience is required, although potential airline pilots who have endeavoured to achieve some flying or aviation experience, for example one of our programmes such as work experience or Your Flying Future, with the Air Training Corps, at a local flying or gliding club, The Air League, Airpilots, or working at your local airport. All of these would be looked upon favourably by any potential training establishment or employer.
Take a look at our other questions below to help answer some of your queries:
How long does it take to train to be a British Airways Pilot?
Depending on your experience level this can vary greatly. Pilots selected for a cadet scheme generally complete their Commercial Licence training – including ground-school – with one of British Airway’s partner flight training schools in approximately 18 months. Type rating and Line training will then take up to 3 months to complete. If a pilot joins with experience from another airline – then in-house specific Type training takes approximately 4-6 weeks depending on the type. The pilot will then start their ‘line-training’ on the aircraft which can take up to 2 months.
I wear glasses, am colour-blind or have a specific medical condition – can I still become a pilot?
All our pilots must achieve and maintain an EASA Class One Medical Certificate. Generally wearing glasses does not prevent someone from becoming a pilot, however this will be assessed by the Civil Aviation Authority Aeromedical Examiners during your initial medical examination. They will determine your suitability to hold a Class One Medical Certificate. For all questions relating to medical suitability please see the CAA website (http://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Pilot-licences/Regulations/Medical/Guidance-for-medical-certification-of-professional-pilots/).
What will be my expected working hours or pattern while working for British Airways?
Work is allocated (or "rostered") in accordance with CAA regulations and Union agreements, which have been built up over many years. Essentially pilots bid for work on a seniority basis and once this work has been allocated crew are free to swap trips with each other provided the roster remains legal and all work remains covered. Time away from home will depend on the fleet you operate, your seniority and whether you have elected to go onto a Part Time roster. Both short haul and long haul fleets will require some time "down route", which can vary from one night to over a week on the longest trips that are operated. Some routes however will be there and back, allowing you to spend the evening back at home.
Our airline operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and as such you can expect to work any day of the week, as well as over Public Holidays such as Bank Holidays and Christmas/New Year.
Will having a tattoo prevent me from becoming a pilot?
There are no specific regulations governing tattoos, although to work for us and comply with our Company Uniform Standards no tattoos must be visible on the face, hands, neck or arms (when wearing a short-sleeved shirt).
How much can I expect to earn as a pilot?
Salary and benefits for being employed as a pilot reflect the hard work and commitment, as well as disruption to lifestyles that can be expected of individuals. Most airlines have a discounted flight scheme, a substantial pension and other benefits, including private healthcare schemes and corporate discounts. Salary generally increases with experience and may include a portion of flight pay, for each hour or flight worked, and an overnight expense allowance.
For an up-to-date summary of pilot remuneration, consult a website such as Glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com).
In preparation for becoming a pilot I would like to take part in work experience with British Airways – how can I do this?
For students who are aspiring pilots, we would suggest to look into aviation-related organisations such as The Air Training Corps or a local gliding club. We do have a corporate work experience programme for students in full time education, attending school in our local communities; further details can be found at: https://careers.ba.com/work-experience
We have also recently launched a new programme for young people aged 13-18 called Your Flying Future. This is where we run evening workshops to come along and find out more about becoming a British Airways pilot. With this programme, we also sponsor 200 students for a flying lesson and experience day during summer, where you can also build the essential skills needed to become a captain of the future.
For younger pilots looking to gain knowledge and experience within aviation we would recommend downloading the Youth Aviation App for Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hr.apps.n207009078) or iPhone (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/youth-aviation-app/id1134548739?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4).