How to become a pilot and how much it costs to train, according to a British Airways pilot

Helen Geering, a first officer and pilot for British Airways, explained to Sun Online Travel how she gained her pilot's license to fly commercially and how others can too.

There are a number of ways to become a pilot, Helen revealed.

She told Sun Online Travel: "I had my first flying lesson at university before getting my private pilot's licence, followed by flight school for 14 months before getting a commercial licence.

"However, there is no need for university.

"You can go to flight school from the start to the end having never flown before – although I would suggest that anybody wanting to be a pilot should do a trial flying lesson first."

Flight school involves both exams and simulator exercises, as well as of course theory.

But you don't have to train full time.

Helen said: "You can also do it in bits and bobs, such as a private pilot licence on a weekend, and do the commercial and instrument rating part as a separate module."

She added: "Another route is to go into the military – I didn't do this because my arms are too short!

"I was doing it for fun initially and then went on to get my licence at an integrated school (full-time school) because I thought that would be a fast track route into the cockpit."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) warns it can be expensive to get a commercial pilot's licence, with an Airline Transport Pilot Licence costing over £100,000 over two years, although many offer programmes or funding.

However, Helen explains it can easily be done without spending a fortune.

She said: "It can be done part time so you can do it around your main job.

"You can instruct for free to increase your flying hours, and can even get paid for it.

"Scholarships and bursaries are also available, especially for women."

Doing a "modular" course allows the training to be staggered over time, which takes longer, but you can stay in employment while you do it.
On International Women's Day, Helen also hopes to inspire young girls to become pilots.

As part of BA's Centenary activities, the airline hosted an International Women's Day event that welcomed 100 female students to its Global Learning Academy at Heathrow yesterday.

And Helen was one of the pilots who was there to give an insight into a career as a pilot.

For young children and teenagers who want to become pilots, Helen revealed: "Most of flying is managing other people.

"Developing skills like teamwork, leadership, sports and STEM subjects can all help".

Sun Online Travel previously revealed some of the lingo that pilots use on flights.

For example, wilco is an abbreviation of “will comply”, meaning received the message and will comply.

We also shared how you can visit a cockpit.

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