Getting a place as a cadet pilot on an airline sponsored scheme is perhaps the most secure, time and cost efficient way to become an airline pilot.
Secure, because you enter training with the confidence that there is a job waiting for you at the end; time efficient as the training can take as little as 18 months from zero to fully qualified and cost efficient as most come in all inclusive packages - some airlines even offer financial support with loans and bonding.
It’s not entirely risk free, as you still have to reach the high standard required by your airline throughout your flight training in order to get the job at the end!
Often applications are open for a very short window at a time as they are super competitive, so it’s worth keeping up to date with these types of programmes all year round.
We’ve rounded up the top cadet programmes around in the industry right now.
This programme is perhaps the only fully sponsored cadet programme left in Europe. Cadets are even paid an allowance throughout training - which is virtually unheard of in today’s industry!
Training takes just 14 months and you return to Aer Lingus to start career as a first officer on Airbus A320 and A321 LR NEO aircraft. You’ll do your training with FTE, based in Spain.
While the intake has closed you can keep up to date with the Aer Lingus career site for when applications re-open.
The British Airways programme is a self sponsored course that aims to take you from zero flying experience through to an MPL or an ATPL. Learn more about the difference between this on our blog here.
Training will last around 18 months with one of BA’s training providers and its likely you’ll spend some of your flight training abroad.
You will start off on the British Airways short haul aircraft, currently the A320 but will have the opportunity to work on many different aircraft types throughout your career.
easyJet are one of the largest recruiters around, with their ‘generation easyJet’ pilot training programme they employ a large number of trainees from L3 Airline Academy and CAE Oxford in the UK, FTE Jerez in Spain and ENAC in France.
This programme gives you the chance to join easyJet with an MPL or an ATPL depending on your results from your initial selection, the training will cost around £110,000. The airline occasionally takes trainees from the whitetail programmes of the training providers mentioned.
With easyJet you will be flying their A320 family (319,320,321) over their large route network and have the opportunity to be based in any of their many European or UK bases.
The Virgin Future Flyers Programme is unique as it is the only airline in Europe to offer people with no experience to fly a wide body aircraft from the start of their career. This course will take 18 months and once again will be an MPL, the cost of this is around £110,000.
You will be London Gatwick or Heathrow based and will start your career on the Airbus A330 flying to locations such as New York, Antigua and St Lucia.
Thomas Cook have offered two types of programmes this year, one through FTE Jerez designed for those with no experience and a programme designed for those with a fATPL, who are seeking their first job.
The Platinum Pilot Scheme available to pilots with a fATPLrequires no upfront funding from the cadet. All of your training will be included, but you will be bonded to the Airline.
Thomas Cook has a fleet of A321s, B757s and A330s so you will have the choice of both short and long haul.
Wizz Air are a fast growing, low-cost airline based in Hungary. With over 100 aircraft and 140 routes it has the variety to keep a newly qualified pilot entertained.
They are currently offering a self - sponsored Integrated ATPL through various flying academies. The course takes around 18 months and costs €128,800.
After successful completion of the programme you will be assigned to one of Wizz Air’s European bases and will fly on the A320 family of aircraft.
For those looking outside of Europe, Qatar Airways may provide the perfect opportunity for you. With a global route network and a variety of aircraft, Qatar Airways could provide you with an cultural career experience.
This course is available to students of all nationalities through a self sponsored scheme and to Qatari Nationals on a sponsored programme.It is another MPL programme that will see you start your career on the Airbus A320 fleet.
These programmes all face fierce competition to get into and we recommend doing thorough preparation before application. Read more about how to prepare for selection and also how to get ready for a pilot training interview here.
Once you’ve started Pilot Training you will need to keep a log of your flight hours for when you wish to ‘unfreeze’ your licence or move Airline. We recommend our Personalised Pilot Logbook so your stand out from the crowd!
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