It’s the most common question and often the biggest barrier into a career as a professional pilot. How can I get funding for my training so I can get the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) that I need to be hired by an airline?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Money doesn’t get handed out for free, and the word scholarship is a thing of the distant past. If you want to learn to fly for free, you are going to have to join the military. Places at military flight schools are incredibly competitive and you might end up getting shot at! Granted, they do fly some of the best planes though… For those of you who prefer a more leisurely existence flying commercially let’s talk about costs you are going to have to consider.
An Integrated ATPL training course, required to become a commercial pilot, can vary significantly in price. There are many factors that can affect this including location, experience, training authority etc.
A European ATPL is of greater value than other authorities in terms of future job opportunities (see our EASA Article here). If a school has a good track record of students graduating and getting jobs as airline pilots, their course is of more value to you. Some countries, like Spain, are able to take advantage of Taxation Laws in their region to pass on savings to their customers.
You need to be careful to check exactly what is included in the pilot training course that you choose. Some flight schools advertise one price but do not disclose additional costs that you will have to pay in order to obtain your ATPL. This can easily add thousands of Euros to the overall fee you are paying. Below are some examples to look out for. You can see more details of equipment you’ll need in our article about what you will need for pilot training here.
- Theoretical Exam fees. These can vary from country to country but tend to be between €60 and €90 per exam. Bear in mind that the ATPL course requires 13 official exams to be completed, so you could be looking at over €1000 of extra costs. More if you need to resit any exams! Here at FlyBy the first attempt for all exams is included in the fee, and with a first time pass rate of over 95% we are confident you won’t have to worry about this. You won’t be put forward until you have passed an internal mock exam and both you and your instructor feel confident that you’ll pass.
- Examiner fees. During the training you will be required to pass various practical exams in the aircraft. Some schools will charge extra to pay for the examiner. These flight examiners are often highly experienced aviators who demand a high fee. This can range from €100 per hour to €300 per hour. A 2 or 3 hour Multi-Engine exam can therefore add a significant amount to your training costs. Of course, these fees are included in our all inclusive price!
- Medical licence. A professional pilot requires a Class 1 Medical in order to operate. Students on an ATPL course therefore require a Class 1 Medical for their training. The cost of the initial Class 1 medical ranges from €350-€500 Euros. This then needs to be renewed every year for the remainder of your career (every 6 months after the age of 60) at a slightly cheaper fee.
- Accommodation. The cost of accommodation obviously varies according to where you are doing your training and how much luxury you require. Training near a large city not only causes issues with a busy airspace but also with higher rental prices. Be sure to research the available properties close to the location of your aviation school. Also consider that many landlords will prefer to have students staying with them that can speak the local language. If you don’t want to deal with a language barrier, large upfront deposits and disputes over rental increases then consider accommodation provided by the school. Granted it’s not available at all schools but here at FlyBy we offer all of our students private bedrooms and bathrooms in our residences nearby to the airport we train at. Once again, this is included in the all inclusive ATPL with FlyBy but there are options to find your own accommodation if you wish.
- Uniform and Equipment. Flying a plane requires a pilot who is well prepared, professional and equipped with the necessary tools. Most flight schools will require their students to wear uniform and have a list of required items (Shirts, Trousers, Jumpers, Tie, etc.). They may work with local providers but with it being a “pilot” shirt you can often find the price being higher. You’ll also need to purchase equipment required for flying (Headset, Charts, etc.). We have a detailed article about the equipment that is required for pilot training which you can find here. You guessed it, the uniform and equipment required is included here at FlyBy.
Our course as you may have gathered is ALL INCLUSIVE. We have no hidden costs and all of the costs that you have seen above are included in our package. We do have multiple packages available so you can decide whether to include accommodation or not, meals or not and shuttle or not. Once you have arrived at our facilities in Spain you won’t need anything else however often people have a budget to pay for snacks, treats and occasional social activities.
You can spend hours and hours scouring the internet for scholarships but the fact that they are essentially nonexistent in aviation. You might get lucky and find a specific scholarship in some countries of the world. Usually these come in the form of government funding. They will not come from the flight school. We get tens of requests each month about fully funded flight training and unfortunately the answer is the same each time. No, we don’t offer scholarships, we never have and we never will.
The deal is the same with airlines. There are hundreds of people each year who graduate from flight schools around the world and have dreams of becoming professional pilots. The supply of pilots is generally there for airlines. They therefore do not have to consider offering to pay for people to train and join them. Perhaps one day in the future this may become a thing again when the airlines really feel the strain of the upcoming pilot shortage but for now and certainly for the next many years you will have to pay for your training and then airlines will hire you once you have your ATPL.
Getting a bank loan can be complicated but there are advisors in banks who will be able to guide you through the application and tell you what is required. In most cases banks will require you to be a native to the country you are applying for a loan in. We are unable to refer non Spanish nations to banks in Spain unfortunately. You will need to contact banks in your own country. A loan will need to be secured against something of value like a property. This means that if you are unable to fulfil the repayment terms of the loan then the bank or loan provider will be entitled to seize the item/property. If you are in contact with a bank and they request certain documents then we will do all we can to assist you, please let us know.
Some countries have government programs which support their citizens by paying for qualifications. Whilst many are designed to be used in conjunction with university degrees, many can also be used for vocational training too. As we are offering the EASA ATPL (The most highly regarded pilots licence in the world), there are countries who have sent their citizens to our facilities to gain their commercial pilot licence with a job secured for them upon return. We aren’t all this lucky however it is worth researching.
Other countries have funding available to citizens who are training in different countries. For example, in Sweden there is the CSN program which supports Swedish Nationals including those who study outside of Sweden. FlyBy has had Swedish nationals use this method to pay for their training. Be sure to search whether your country offers a program like this. It may be a loan, a grant or a full scholarship if you are lucky. Even if your country’s government doesn’t say they offer funding for aviation training, make sure you ask. The more people asking, the more pressure put on them to support their citizens with further education.
The hard truth is that you might not be able to afford your pilot training right now. It may take a few years of hard work and frugal spending but you can make your dream come true. Personally, I had to put my dream of becoming a pilot on hold for a few years whilst I worked to raise funds. I ended up moving to China and setting up a business and the proceeds of the sale enabled me to finally realise my dream and join a flight school. Take steps towards your goal and eventually you too could be working as a commercial pilot.
Here at FlyBy we endeavour to provide you with excellent value for money. Our all inclusive ATPL is highly competitive. We welcome students from all backgrounds, many of whom have their own way of funding their pilot training. We will support you however we can but it will be between you and another company if you are trying to obtain a loan or scholarship.
Please contact me via WhatsApp (+34685750240) if you would like more information or if you need supporting documents for applications to financial providers. We are able to provide details of the course and conditional offer letters which are regularly requested by banks and other loan providers.