The Honourable Company of Air Pilots incorporating Air Navigators

Careers Information

In the sub-pages of this section, a link to the flying careers website 'Flying-Start', as well as information regarding the Pilot Aptitude assessment sessions at RAF Cranwell.

Other careers advice will appear in this location from time to time


CAA Advice issued  October 2012 - and just as relevant today

.... relating to protecting your investment with regard to Commercial Pilot Training.  

Protect Your Investment




A note of caution before you embark on, or pay for, a CPL training course:

It is an employers’ market in the European airline world at present.  An eighteen month downturn in airline recruitment has resulted in a large pool of unemployed newly-qualified commercial pilots, which far outnumbers the demand for pilots as the airlines themselves struggle to stay in business.

One result is that there is an increasing trend for airlines to ask for money from potential employees in return for being given the chance to fly.  Just two years ago, airlines were finding it difficult to crew their aircraft and as a result graduates from commercial flight training courses were often being offered First Officer positions practically before the ink on their licences had dried.  But the situation has now reversed and pilot demand is so low currently that some pilots are choosing to sign contracts that effectively require them to pay to fly for their employers.  The only alternative for many is to wait for the airline industry to recover in line with a general economic recovery and for pilot recruitment to restart in earnest among Europe’s airlines.

The current pay to fly schemes vary from airline to airline.  One arrangement is for a pilot to pay for his/her aircraft type rating, which can cost up to £20,000.00, and then have to wait until they have passed line training before starting to get paid work for their employer – a practise that is common amongst Europe’s budget carriers.  Other operators are taking the scheme further and are asking pilots to fund not only type rating training, but also their line training and even their first hundred or more hours thereafter costing in the region of £35,000.00.  For many of these pilots, this further investment, on top of their original licence training costs, provides little or nothing in the way of a guarantee for ongoing employment with the airline once their pay to fly contract is complete.

Ensure you understand and can confirm the following:

  • that you have proven to have the aptitude to be a commercial pilot
  • that you understand the financial risk you may be taking
  • that gaining a licence is not the final objective and doesn’t secure you a flying position

Aptitude assessment is highly recommended before you pay for any training.

For further information on where/how you can do aptitude assessment and be able to speak to experienced, current and retired commercial pilots, contact the Honourable Company of Air Pilots on