Now he’s sharing how he landed his first role onboard an Airbus A320…
It’s been a turbulent time for trainee pilots over the past 3 years, believe me, because I was one of them! The industry was already heading towards a global pilot shortage before the pandemic, so many airlines instituted cadet pilot programs to fill their talent pipelines. For trainees such as myself, these reports were music to my ears, with the prospect of a career as a pilot very much in my own hands.
But as in many walks of life, things didn’t go according to the master plan, although I have to say, there wasn’t much I could do about it. When the global pandemic struck, operators paused or cancelled trainee pilot programs around the world and plunged many trainee pilots into uncertainty over both our short and long-term futures. Thankfully, airlines and operators have now resumed their focus on new pilot development, although concurrently, the industry also faces a global shortage of certified flight instructors, which has had a direct impact on qualified pilot numbers.
Recovery for the industry — a new hope.
As the industry started to recover from the pandemic in the early part of 2022, demand for staff across the aviation industry increased significantly. There are plentiful opportunities available across Europe, with Boeing reporting European airlines must hire 6,000 pilots a year for the next two decades.
How my journey unfolded.
For budding commercial airline pilots, the flightpath to earning your wings is a long and winding one. Once you get through the aviation academy you then take your ATPL Theory at Ground School, before moving to your Flight Training Base — mine was at Lleida-Alguaire in Spain. There, you achieve your instrument and multi-engine piston ratings, put in your flight time for upset prevention and recovery, etc., before you can start your Type Rating and go out into the big wide world to find your first job as a pilot.
Finding that first job is perhaps the hardest part of the entire process. If you’re lucky enough to get snapped up by an airline early, then you may be able to get your type rating training sponsored. However, it’s a super competitive part of the process, particularly for major airlines, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a sponsorship. I was confused as after attending several interviews, I was being asked if I had my type rating training qualification already, something I thought would always be provided for me.
To type, or not to type.
I researched the subject and there seemed to be a divide as to whether it was worth investing in type rating training or not, as some airlines do pay for the qualifications including Wind Jet, Meridiana Fly, and Avion Express to name a few. However, I had also heard the opinion from several different pilot trainees that told me if I completed the type rating training independently, it would give me an additional competitive advantage in the selection process. That was all good and well, but I knew the cost for taking the training independently was somewhere in the region of €20k — €30k, which would be a big gamble without a guarantee of a job on the other side.
Taking the plunge.
As you can imagine, I was at real cross-roads. I was being rejected for opportunities and I had two choices. Wait it out and keep going, or pay for the training up front at my own cost? I started to research again. And again. I found out that in many cases, if I secured a role and the airline covered my type rating training, I’d still have to pay it back out of my salary. I’d also be bound to that airline for a long period of time, upon signing a contract. It seemed I could be given the type rating training completely free of charge. I also read in some circumstances that pilots had even paid 50-60% more with interest over the duration of their contract. I still wasn’t 100% convinced though.
Well, that was until I ran into an acquaintance from my flight school in the airport of all places! She told me that she herself had invested in the A320 type rating training with BAA Training and that she had the choice to complete the training at schools in either Spain or Lithuania on the A320 Full Flight Simulator (FFS). She then continued to tell me about the training program, which included a bespoke airline interview preparation module, taught by an experienced pilot. The plot started to thicken…
Another stand out feature of the package was the guarantee of an airline interview. The full BAA Training package included:
- Type Rating (Airbus A320)
- Airline interview preparation course with psychological coaching
- Base Training
- Airline job interview guaranteed for students with good academic results
I was given a good quote for the package, and I was also offered additional technological innovations that I could use independently at home, namely VR glasses for interactive training and practice, which I naturally accepted and used continuously throughout the program. A dream becomes a reality. The training was a tough but enjoyable 2 months, and due to the results, I achieved, BAA Training recommended me to one of their airline partners, and that’s where I find myself today. My dream as a child became a reality and I’m now at the end of my line training, with the finish line in sight. I’ve since found out that around 50% of completed self-sponsored type rating trainees from BAA Training secure a role with an airline. There’s still no guarantee, but what I can say is that if you achieve good results then you will be way ahead of the competition when it comes to those who are fresh out of their airline qualification course.