L3Harris Airline Academy

How To Become a Pilot
in the UK & Europe

Deciding to become a pilot is a life-changing step towards an exciting and rewarding career! Flying passengers around the globe as a commercial pilot in an office above the clouds with spectacular views is a job that’s hard to beat! Airline pilots ordinarily earn good salaries, enjoy travel benefits, healthcare perks and have the opportunity to meet new people every day. Kickstart your commercial airline pilot career at L3Harris Airline Academy.

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What Do You Need to Become a Pilot in the UK?

Airline pilot training is no mean feat and there are things you’ll need to know before you start your journey to become an airline pilot. To be able to commence Airline Academy training, you need to have specific qualifications and meet certain requirements.

Once you have met the requirements and been accepted to train as a pilot, you'll need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and a Class 1 Medical Certificate to become a commercial airline pilot. Upon completion of training:

  • You will be issued a ‘frozen ATPL’ at the end of your commercial pilot training, this enables you to apply for jobs as a First Officer
  • To ‘unfreeze’ your ATPL, you need to complete 1,500 flying hours 
  • You have the choice to obtain a UKCAA or an EASA pilot licence, which enables you to operate a UK-registered or an EASA-registered commercial aircraft respectively
  • It takes 70 weeks to completeflight school training before cadets embark on their rewarding careers

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Skills Needed to Become a Pilot

To become a pilot, you will need to exhibit a strong set of skills alongside any formal qualifications. You will need: passion, self-discipline, technical aptitude, problem-solving skills, teamwork, spatial awareness, a good understanding of maths and physics, excellent communications skills and the ability to make decisions under pressure to become a successful airline pilot.

To learn more about the skills, qualifications and requirements needed to embark on a commercial airline pilot career, take a look at our Airline Academy entry criteria.

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Ways to Become a Pilot With L3Harris

There are several routes to becoming a pilot depending on what works best for you. When you choose L3Harris as your pilot training provider, you could undertake an Integrated ATPL or BSc (Hons) Aviation - Pilot Degree Programme with ATPL.

UKCAA / EASA Integrated ATPL

  • Full-time course
  • From little to no flying experience to a fully qualified airline pilot in approximately 70 weeks
  • Includes 39 weeks of flight training

Integrated ATPL details

BSc (Hons) Aviation - Pilot Degree Programme with ATPL

  • Full-time, three-year degree course
  • Graduate with an aviation degree and an ATPL
  • Access to student finance available

BSc (Hons) Aviation details

Your Steps to Becoming a Pilot

Research Pilot Training Programmes

There are plenty of commercial pilot training programmes to choose from. 

L3Harris Airline Academy is renowned for the quality of its pilot training. What sets us apart is our state-of-the-art flight school and training facilities, modern aircraft with the latest aviation flight deck technology and our team of Instructors with thousands of hours combined experience.

You will also need to meet entry criteria relating to age and height, language, education, medicals, visas and background checks. For course-specific entry requirements, please visit each of our pilot training courses

Discuss your options with us


We will only accept applicants onto our pilot training programmes who have the potential to become a commercial pilot. The L3Harris selection process is as follows:

  • Your application will be screened by our selection team
  • Upon successful screening, you are be invited to a selection event remotely or in-person at our London Training Centre 
  • Prior to selection day you will be asked to complete an online behavioural assessment

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Once through selection, you will officially begin your journey towards becoming a pilot and begin ground school, known as Theoretical Knowledge training.

Often the most exciting stage of becoming a pilot, you will then take to the skies, learning to fly piston aircraft for the first time at our location in Orlando, Florida

When you reach the stage of commercial (CPL) and instrument (IR) flight training, you will be well on your way to become a pilot in the UK. 

Once you have completed CPL and IR training, it is time to commence your simulator flight training which is the step before being placed with an airline - a crucial milestone in your commercial airline pilot career. 

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Securing An Airline Role

Upon graduation, you are placed in our Graduate Placement Pool where our dedicated team will work to secure your employment as a Co-Pilot with a global airline. We are proud to have strong relationships with major UK airlines to help provide excellent commercial airline pilot career opportunities for our cadets.

Once employed or selected by an airline, you will undertake aircraft specific Type Rating training to prepare you to fly the type of aircraft your airline operates, as well as their standard operating procedures.

Congratulations on becoming a pilot in the UK! You are now employed as a First Officer, sitting in the right-hand seat of the flight deck flying passengers on commercial aircraft.

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Where Will I Complete My Commercial Pilot Training?

You will complete your commercial pilot training at our flight schools located across the UK and U.S.A.

Each of our L3Harris flight schools in Orlando, Crawley and Cranfield are modern sites equipped with the latest training facilities.

With excellent Flight Instructors, world class aircraft fleet and state-of-the-art facilities, our aim is to help you learn how to become the most successful commercial pilot you can be.

Flight schools

A RealitySeven Full Flight Simulator

Cost to Become a Pilot in the UK

The cost of pilot training is reflective of the future benefits and rewards you can expect to receive when you become a qualified commercial pilot. 

The exact cost to become a pilot will differ depending on the route you take and the Approved Training Organisation (ATO) you opt for. 

Our pilot training course costs:

Cost and funding guide

We have a pilot recruitment pathway with British Airways!

How Your Salary Is Likely to Grow as a Pilot

Being a pilot can be a very rewarding career. As well as offering great career growth, airline pilots also benefit from potential salary growth dependent on the airline you work with and the position you hold.

Senior First Officer

£48,605 - £86,699 per annum*

On average, depending on airline.


£103,525 - £173,000 per annum*

On average, depending on airline.

*Glassdoor, August 2023

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What Pilot Jobs Are Available When I Graduate?

Our commercial pilot training courses are designed to be the first step towards securing a successful career in aviation and a career as a commercial airline pilot. Our dedicated Placement team assist you in securing your first role as an airline pilot.

You can expect your commercial airline pilot career progression to be as follows:

  1. First Officer
  2. Senior First Officer
  3. Captain

Learn more about how much a pilot earns in the UK.

Career opportunities


Our latest graduate employment statistics

How to become a pilot FAQs

How long does it take to become a pilot?

Typically, Integrated ATPL courses take 70 weeks to complete. For more information, please visit our Integrated ATPL course page.

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How much can I expect to earn as a pilot?

As a commercial pilot, you can expect to receive high earnings well above the average. 

The starting salary for a newly qualified commercial pilot could range from approximately £22,000 to £28,000 depending on the size of the airline.

For more experienced commercial pilots, salaries could be anywhere between £54,000 to over £140,000, again depending on the size of the airline.

For further information, please visit: Aviation Job Search 

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How can I prepare myself for becoming a pilot in school?

If you’re passionate about becoming a pilot you will be required to have completed secondary education, achieving grades A – C, or 4 or above, in at least 5 GCSEs including English, Mathematics and Science.

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How can I obtain my EASA ATPL licence?

To obtain your EASA Licence you will need to complete your commercial pilot training.

This Integrated ATPL course will take you from little or no experience to becoming a qualified commercial pilot. On successful graduation cadets will qualify with a frozen ATPL licence ready to start their flying careers at one of Europe’s major airlines. This really could be the start of a rewarding career flying commercial passenger or cargo aircraft.

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How can I obtain my UKCAA ATPL Licence?

To obtain your UKCAA Licence you will need to complete your commercial pilot training at our flight schools in the UK and Florida.

Our Integrated ATPL course will take you from little or no experience to becoming a qualified commercial pilot. On successful graduation cadets will qualify with a frozen ATPL licence ready to start their flying careers at one of the UK’s major airlines. This really could be the start of a rewarding career flying commercial passenger or cargo aircraft.

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Do you offer a dual licence for UKCAA & EASA?

Yes, we do. The dual licence allows cadets to complete both a UKCAA and EASA licence in one combined course. Cadets will be required to take both UKCAA and EASA Theoretical Knowledge exams. There will also be additional flying hours to meet both regulatory authority requirements plus skills tests that must be taken in both UK and EU airspace.

The dual licence potentially opens up greater employment opportunities as cadets will be qualified to work for airlines registered and operating under either the UKCAA or EASA. Please note however, if you wish to work in the EU you must have a right to live and work in the EU.

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Have L3Harris Airline Academy secured any employment opportunities for graduate cadets?

Yes. Thanks to the hard work of our Graduate Placement team and our strong airline relationships, thousands of our graduates now fly for airlines across the world. Click here for the latest information.

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