Airline training cost

Once you have completed your basic and advanced training to achieve your frozen ATPL the next logical step is to apply for a job with an airline willing to employ ‘low-hours pilots’. When you have secured a position, you will be trained at the airline to gain the type rating for the aircraft you will be flying, and you will be taught the company’s policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This will generally consist of Ground School, Simulator Training, Base Training and Line Training.

Ground school: theoretical lessons on an aircraft and the airline SOPs

Simulator training

Base training: landing, take offs and trial flights on real aircraft.

Line training: flying regular line flights, supervised by a training captain.

Until a few years ago this path was the same for everyone.

Today due to an increase in the number of unemployed pilots, many airlines outsource this type rating and line training or charge the pilots for it. Training hours are sold as a ‘package’ to the pilots at a cost. Unfortunately, this still does not guarantee a job for the pilots.

The prices for such “self-sponsored” type rating and line training can go up to €50.000. This comes on top of any pilot training loan or costs. This phenomenon, known also as Pay-to-Fly (P2F) means pilots are functioning as an employee of an airline but either receive a very low salary or have to pay the airline themselves.

Contracts in this phase tend to vary a lot. Some airlines ask the pilot to fully pay for the type rating, but in this case ‘no bond’* is imposed. Others follow the opposite route. All type rating schemes offered to pilots tend to promise high employment chances in the end, but such marketing can be deceptive. Aspiring pilots must be very careful and question fully what the airline offers and guarantees. An acceptable option could be that the airline imposes a bond to a potential employee.

*Bond: a contract with the airline which entails that when you leave the airline within a number of years (e.g. 3 or 5) you will have to pay back a proportional part of the airline training cost.