The first ever apprenticeship for commercial airline pilots in the UK is now available for airlines to use.

The apprenticeship, developed by a group of leading aviation employers and organisations, has been approved for delivery, paving the way for a more accessible career option for many.

Put together by the Aviation Industry Skills Board specialist sub-group, the apprenticeship standard for first pilot officers has the backing of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) and the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, and is supported by aviation employers such as British Airways, Flybe, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The introduction of the apprenticeship also works towards the Department for Transport’s proposed aviation strategy in ensuring the industry has a ready supply of talent to meet both current demand and future need.


BALPA has previously raised concerns over the “phenomenally high” costs of pilot training, which can run to £100,000 or more. The union says the expense may be putting off talented potential pilots from less affluent backgrounds.

BALPA Head of Membership and Career Services, Wendy Pursey, said: “BALPA has been working with the industry to get the first UK pilot apprenticeship programme off the ground. This is important to open up the profession to all those who are capable and passionate about flying, not just those with the deepest pockets.

“Anyone wanting to become a pilot usually has to find around £100,000 to fund their training which puts a flying career out of reach for too many people. Piloting should be an equal opportunities career; we hope the new pilot apprenticeship programme will make that a reality for more people.”

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