Financing commercial pilot training
There are world regions where some airlines will sponsor their pilot trainees, but only their own nationals. These are rare, and becoming more rare.
Elsewhere, airlines do not have a tradition of paying pilots to train for their pilot licences, though some will pay for a fully qualified pilot to undergo specific type rating training if they need pilots in that part of their fleet.
This tradition of not training pilots to licence standards stems from the days when airlines could source all their pilots, ready-trained, from the military. Those days have long passed because of shrinking military personnel numbers and a growing commercial aviation industry.
But now the airlines and FTOs are having to find ways of helping their potential trainees to access the considerable finance needed to pay for ab initio training to commercial pilot licence/Instrument rating (CPL/IR) or multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) level. The cost can vary from about $100,000 to $200,000.
There are variations in the arrangements. Almost all involve the FTO or the airline guaranteeing the sum advanced to the student by a bank, and graduate pilots beginning repayment when they start work. Agreement to guarantee the loan follows a selection process, including aptitude testing, by the FTO and/or the airline, but the airline may not enter the equation until the student is established on the course and is getting good progress reports.
Anyone wanting to follow this path should contact FTOs to find out what arrangements they offer, and watch this part of the Flightglobal website and Flight International magazine to see when airlines or other operators are advertising for pilot trainees.
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