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 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!

How to become a pilot with L3Harris Airline Academy, at a glance: 

You will need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and a Class 1 Medical Certificate to become a commercial pilot.

  • 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 will need to complete 1,500 flying hours of experience
  • 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 an average of 74 weeks to complete your flight school training, giving the aviation industry time to recover from recent global events, before cadets embark on their rewarding careers
  • Our Integrated ATPL course provides the most direct route to become a commercial pilot and is designed for cadets with little to no flying experience and trains them for a rewarding career on the flight deck
  • Our Modular ATPL route enables you to pay and train for your ATPL qualification in bitesize chunks so you can train alongside other commitments
  • You will need passion, self-discipline, technical aptitude, problem-solving skills, teamwork, spatial awareness, and the ability to make decisions under pressure to become a successful pilot

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What does a pilot do?

As a pilot working for a commercial airline, you can expect to work weekdays, evenings, weekends and bank holidays on shifts completing typically between 39 to 41 hours a week.

You’ll take it in turns with your co-pilot to communicate with air traffic control to identify any potential obstructions and complete paperwork, this usually involves creating a flight plan and recording your flight.

What’s more, you’ll also be required to perform pre-and post-flight inspections and checks during your journey such as checking weather reports and ensuring all instruments, engines, fuel and safety systems are performing correctly.

You will also need to brief cabin crew and provide passengers and crew with regular updates regarding the journey progress.

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1: Research pilot training programmes

With so many routes to becoming a pilot in the UK and Europe, it can feel difficult to know where to start. From integrated and modular training courses to structured programmes specific to major airlines, there are plenty of 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.

Pilot training courses
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2: Check you meet the entry criteria & have the common skills required to become a pilot

To work as a professional commercial pilot you will need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and a Class 1 Medical Certificate. To obtain your ATPL you will need to complete the necessary pilot training.

To apply for a pilot training course, prospective cadets 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

  • Be at least 17 to submit an application and 18 to commence training
  • Minimum height: 5ft 2in (157cm) | Maximum height: 6ft 3in (191cm)
  • Fluent in English (verbal and written). Non-native English speakers must achieve level 5.5 individual and overall in IELTS or equivalent ICAO level 4 prior to starting training
  • A minimum of five GCSEs grade C/4 or above, including Mathematics, English and Science

Job-specific skills to become a pilot:

  • A good understanding of maths and physics
  • Excellent communications skills
  • Ability to work well in a team and to demonstrate leadership skills
  • Excellent spatial awareness and coordination, and ability to remain calm under pressure

Upon graduation from your pilot training, you will be issued a ‘frozen ATPL’ which enables you to apply for jobs as a First Officer. To ‘unfreeze’ your ATPL, you will need to complete 1,500 flying hours of experience.

Entry criteria
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3: Selection

We won’t sugar coat it, selection to become a pilot at our flight schools is challenging, but as long as you are prepared there is no need to be nervous. We will only accept applicants onto our pilot training programmes who have the potential to become a commercial pilot and we will assess you on both the technical and non-technical skills required.

The L3Harris selection process is as follows:

  • Once you have completed your application for your chosen pilot training programme it will be screened by our selection team
  • Providing your application passes our screening process you will then be invited to a one-day selection event, either remotely (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), or in-person (Wednesday) at our London Training Centre located near Gatwick Airport
  • Prior to your selection day you will be asked to complete an online behavioural assessment
  • Your selection day which will consist of an interview and Cut-e aptitude tests (only applicable for Integrated ATPL courses, Private Pilot Licence course or the Airline Pilot Standards (APS) Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC) course)

If you have any questions regarding selection, please contact one of the team at: wings.selection.cts@L3Harris.com / +44 (0)2380 748085. 

How to apply
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4: Ground school training

Once through selection, you will embark on the initial phase of flight training known as ground school. You will meet your fellow coursemates at one of our approved training locations and complete your classroom and computer-based Theoretical Knowledge training as part of your training to become a pilot.

5: Foundation flight training 

Often the most exciting stage of the course, you will take to the skies, learning to fly single-engine piston aircraft at one of our global training centres. The exact aircraft, location and duration of this phase will depend on your programme.

6: Commercial and instrument flight training 

The content of this training will depend on the course you have chosen but will involve single and multi-engine aircraft and assessments in our Full Flight Simulators.

7: Intermediate flight training 

If you are on a Multi-Pilot Licence (MPL) route, this will involve aircraft specific Type Rating training in an A320 or Boeing 737. On our Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) route you will take our world-renowned Airline Pilot Standards (APS) course, which includes Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC), Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Jet Orientation Training (JOT).

Pilot training courses
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8: (ATPL students only) Airline placement 

Eligible students will be placed in our Graduate Placement Pool where our dedicated team will work to secure your employment as a Co-Pilot with a global airline.

9: Advanced pilot training 

You will undertake aircraft specific Type Rating training to prepare you to fly for your airline. You will also complete Line Orientated Experience (LOE) and line check with your airline employer as well as safety, emergency and procedures training.

10: First Officer 

Congratulations! You are now employed as a First Officer, sitting in the right-hand seat of the flight deck flying passengers on commercial aircraft. L3Harris can provide all the further training you need to progress your career up to the rank of Captain.

Our airline relationships

First solo

During flight training, one of the biggest milestones is completing your first solo. Here's L3Harris Airline Academy cadet Abdulaziz Aldousari reaching that very moment!

Get in touch today and start your journey!

Do you have any questions about starting your pilot training journey at L3Harris Airline Academy? Please send us a message and our Airline Pilot Careers Advice Team will be happy to assist.

What are the alternative routes to becoming a pilot?

Whilst we recommend cadets complete our Integrated ATPL training (which follows the above steps and is the most direct route to becoming a pilot), there are alternative routes to consider.

Modular ATPL training enables cadets to train to become a pilot in bitesize chunks. You’ll learn to fly alongside your other commitments and pay as you train. You will need a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and have logged 150 flying hrs to commence your training.

A degree is not essential to becoming a pilot but does offer an alternative approach when combined with pilot training. We have a partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to offer pilot training alongside their BSc (Hons) Aviation - Pilot Programme. In approximately 3 years, you will graduate with a degree and your ‘frozen’ ATPL. Integrating this degree into your commercial pilot training may provide access to financial support from Student Finance England.

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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, whether that's becoming a commercial airline pilot for a UK or European airline. 

With more than 40 years of heritage in pilot training and a dedicated placement team to secure your role as a pilot, you couldn’t be in safer hands than with L3Harris Airline Academy. 

In order of rank, you can expect your pilot career progression to be as follows:

  1. First Officer - second-in-command to the airline Captain
  2. Senior First Officer - the most senior position in the right-hand seat
  3. Captain - you will command the aircraft in the left-hand seat
Your career opportunities

How much does it cost to become a pilot in the UK?

It is no secret that becoming a pilot is a large investment, however, 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:

Integrated ATPL = £79,950 (starting price)

Private Pilot Licence = £13,000

Theoretical Knowledge (Classroom-Based Learning) = £6,950

Theoretical Knowledge (Distance Learning) = £2,400

Hours Building = £16,000

MEP CPL IR = £39,500

APS MCC = £8,900

Fund your pilot training

Where will I complete my commercial pilot training?

You will complete your commercial pilot training at our flight school located across the UK and Europe.

Each of our L3Harris flight schools are modern sites equipped with the latest training facilities including over 100 aircraft, flat panel trainers, fixed training devices and our flagship RealitySeven Full Flight Simulators (including: Boeing 737 and Airbus 320).

With excellent Flight Instructors 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 school locations

How to become a pilot FAQs

How long does it take to become a pilot?

Typically, Integrated ATPL courses take 72 weeks to complete, depending on capacity and scheduling. For more information, please visit our UKCAA Integrated ATPL course page.

For our EASA Integrated ATPL course, the timeline is 89 weeks. Find out more here.

Modular ATPL training is more flexible than the integrated approach and cadets have three years to complete training once they have passed their Theoretical Knowledge exams. For more information, please visit our Modular ATPL course page.

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 more information, please visit: How much you can earn as a pilot in the UK 

For further information, please visit: Aviation Job Search 

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.

Whilst a degree isn’t necessarily, it is favourably you have A Levels.

How can I obtain my EASA ATPL licence?

To obtain your EASA Licence you will need to complete your commercial pilot training at our European flight school in Portugal.

This EASA Integrated ATPL course will take you from little or no experience to becoming a qualified commercial pilot at one of the largest and best-equipped flight schools in Europe. 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.

How can I obtain my UKCAA ATPL Licence?

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

Our UKCAA 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.

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 price of the dual licence is £85,950 and 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.

Have L3Harris Airline Academy secured any employment opportunities for graduate cadets in 2022?

Yes. At the time of writing (mid-March 2022), thanks to the hard work of our Graduate Placement team and our strong airline relationships we can announce that more than 100 of our UK and European graduates have been offered employment opportunities since January 1st 2022 - with 50+ joining EasyJet and nearly 30 who have started their Type Rating with Ryanair.

  • 40+ years heritage
    in pilot training
  • 5 global academy
    locations
  • 100+ aircraft equipped with 
    the latest technology
  • 20+ modular and
    integrated courses

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