A frozen Airline Transport Pilots Licence for under £65k

Thsi aticle has been updated to reflect fair and avergae costs as of April 2024.

We’ve all salivated once upon a time over the glossy brochures advertising Airline Pilot training courses’ only to be left feeling sick when it comes to the £110k+ price tag attached to many integrated courses offered by the larger training providers. Here’s how it could be done for under £65k.

It’s quite simple why there can be a whopping £50 to 60k price difference between the integrated and modular training routes; it’s called fake news! Many integrated training providers will have you believe through clever marketing strategies that their courses are far superior and are specifically designed to get you a job faster than any other school or alternative training routes.

Whilst some might have an agreement with a specific airline, and may even have a make-shift cadet scheme built around that agreement, it by no means promises that there’ll be a job in the right-hand seat of a shiny new Boeing 737 on completion of their course. Read their terms & conditions before parting with your hard earned £120k; or was it a bank loan that will ultimately mean the repayable debt is closer to £150k? Oh geez, you really didn’t re-mortgage the house on a new 25 year deal did you? meaning that repayable debt could be as much as £300k in the long term! Or maybe you’re just fortunate enough to have the money surplus or mum and dad are footing the bill. If you don’t fall into the latter categories, then please read on; you might find what we have to say very enlightening and save an enormous amount of money.

So here goes, this is how you do it very comfortably for a tad under £65k:

ATPL for under 65K

So why is it advertised to be so much more expensive, like up to £50k more expensive and just where have we got our figures from we hear you all shouting?

An integrated £110k+ program is usually fast-track with one training provider throughout. You’re in and out in as little as 18 months; most of that time spent abroad in the desert. It’ll take even longer if you fail any exams or flight tests, and yes, it’ll cost even more money if you fail anything. You do get a white shirt, clip-on tie, 2 gold bars and some dark blue trousers thrown in for that price though. Or do you, maybe they charge for those as well nowadays, do check. Also think about the absolutely massive sums of money needed to be paid up front for these courses and the money those schools earn on it whilst it sits in their accounts earning them interest…whilst you pay interest on it! Assuming you’ve borrowed the money of course.

The modular route allows for you to pay as you go (or fly) quite literally, thereby allowing you to reap the immediate benefit of only having to find significantly smaller sums of money at each stage in the training process. You can even take time out to work or work part-time as you train to fund it all. Sure, it might take longer, but what’s the rush? You’ll even get a Pilots Licence early on in your training (PPL) and be able to fly alongside doing your ATPL ground school. This is a major bonus and helps with moral when the ATPL ground school starts to wear you down, and it will. Integrated courses don’t have this important luxury. Another benefit to the modular route is that you can train in different places and even different countries (do check that the schools are EASA compliant though). This allows for greater flexibility, busman type holidays, price negotiation and in our opinion, produces a much more rounded pilot in the process.

Back to the cash related stuff. Why have we specified doing the professional flight training courses in the order we have? A CPL needs to be done on what’s referred to as a complex aircraft; all this means is that it must have a retractable landing gear and a variable pitch propellor. Many professional flight training schools just buy a multi-engine aircraft as it fulfils this requirement and it also allows them to teach 3 courses on it, a multi-engine rating, a CPL and an IR, with just one maintenance bill. There is a big snag though; a really big snag actually. It costs you a lot more money. Many of these schools insist on you doing an IR first!. Why on earth would you do that when it takes an extra 5 hours of flying if you don’t have a CPL? By doing a CPL first, you save 5 hours on your IR and guess what? It makes the IR much much much easier as you do 9 hours of instrument flying on your CPL! So, do consider a training school that has invested in a complex single as well as a multi-engine aircraft, as you will be far better served doing your CPL on a single engine as opposed to a multi-engine. Why? Because Jumping out of a Cessna 150 into a turbo-charged multi-engine aircraft is analogous to passing your test in a Vauxhall Corsa and jumping straight into a Ferrari. Whilst this might be appealing, it can be a very big jump for many pilots and additional hours are often spent getting to test standard. These additional hours all cost much more money when done on a multi-engine aircraft and so do the failed tests. The order and aircraft type we’ve suggested in our list is a winner if you want to save money and have a flight training program that runs in a naturally progressive manner and makes life easier all round:

PPL Single Engine, CPL Single Engine, IR Single Engine, Multi-Engine Rating, ME-IR Conversion = Winner!

So, that’s how you can save £50k. Just think what you could do with that! A type-rating or three which may get you to the front of the queue when applying for a job? A flying instructor rating so you can earn money to pay for other parts of your course? A deposit for a house? A car? A holiday? Nah, you really don’t need us to tell you what to do with a £50k saving!

For those of you that come with cargo (wife/husband, kids, cats, dogs, budgies, hamsters and gold fish) please do remember that they will all still need feeding. We’ve heard the horror stories time and time again where would-be Airline Pilot comes home and blurts out at the dinner table “I’ve always wanted to become an Airline Pilot and now is the time. I’ve re-mortgaged the house and handed in my notice at work”. Doesn’t always go down as well as you might think. It can break and sometimes totally destroy families. It should go without saying, but please do ensure that you have the love and support from your nearest and dearest, it could end up being a road to hell if you haven’t. We’re not joking. Think it through carefully, do your research, talk it through with family. Take it one step at a time. It’s not a race. Modular is the way to go.

We do hope you’ve all found this article useful. Please remember that the views and opinions expressed are those of the articles contributors at TGC. We are a forward thinking company though, and are always prepared to put our money where our mouth is.

Prices current as of April 2024, sourced from both UK and European EASA compliant DTOs & ATOs.