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Airline Pilot

Although an airline pilot is not your typical driving job it is worth adding to the list as it is technically a driving job and could well be of interest. If you like a challenging job with a great wage that matches the responsibility then this is the one for you! There are many skills required in which only the most important are covered in this article.

So what does it involve?

Becoming a pilot is not easy. Simple. You do not get to fly a Boeing 747, or equivalent, full of people without being fully qualified and having undergone some serious training. Typical requirements of a potential pilot involve:

  • Checking of safety systems, instruments, engines and fuel.
  • Understanding and interpretation of weather systems.
  • Compliance with traffic control information.
  • Delivering information to crew and passengers.
  • Filling in documentation regarding the flight.
  • In some cases helping with unloading of luggage (for smaller planes).


The amount of flight crew onboard depends on the type of distance being undertaken. For the most part a three part flight crew is normal and this includes a captain, first officer and second officer. Shorted flights can sometimes consist of a two part crew of a captain and first officer.


Pilots can work any hours of the day, week or year including weekends, nights and holidays but are always governed by a regulatory body to ensure passengers are safe. The time you spend away from home depends on the route you will be flying and ins some cases you will have to stay overnight at a location of which is normally funded by the company you work for.


Apart from the glamour of being a pilot, the income can easily entice the best of us. To be a first officer or co-pilot an income of anywhere up to £45,000 can be achieved which is dependant of the experience and a captain can demand anything from £55,00 upward to over £100,000 per year.

I will now give you a moment to let that sink in….Airline Pilot

Training Requirements

Initially most pilots start their career as a first officer. To achieve this they would have attained their Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL) which enables them to co-pilot for a captain. This is usually a provisional or a “frozen ATPL”. Progression is achieved by following a few routes to become a captain but before this a pre-check must take place. The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN) offers an aptitude test for potential pilots to determine whether they have what it takes to be a pilot. This is an excellent way to determine if the applicant is suitable and avoids them spending money (as this is not optional) to only discover he or she would should fail.

Training for ATPL

There are various types of training available to a potential pilot including the following options:

  • Private Training- Hosted with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which is an approved flying school if you will, they will take you on fee of upwards to £60,000.
  • Armed Forces- Joining the RAF would mean you could avoid the fees that private training require but also requires a minimum term of of employment. I would also guess that once you have flown a Tornado GR4 then being an airline pilot would seem a little boring!
  • University- Yes some universities offer courses in air transport and some have pilot training also, who would have thought!


The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) have information relating to the routes into the industry and can offer sponsorships, scholarships and bursaries.

Training and Achievement

You must first be a frozen ATPL for anywhere up to 36 months depending on the route you decide to take. There are further basic training requirement to under take including:

  • A full understanding of flight principles.
  • Meteorology to determine how weather patterns work.
  • Navigation and communication skills.
  • Understand of aviation law and operation procedures.
  • Being tested in flight simulations followed by real flight training.


All of this culminates in at least 200hrs of flying time to allow you to be a first officer and after around 1500 hours, with 500 hours as a co-pilot you can achieve a full ATPL and become a qualified Captain. Following this full testing on new systems must be maintained and regular medical examinations are required for the safety of your passengers and co-workers.

Other aviation jobs.

Other areas of aviation work include crop spraying but this is rare in the UK, flight testing and training of new pilots.

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