How does one become a commercial pilot?

I know you will need a huge amount of answers from me in order for you to answer, however, I would like this topic to help others alike.

I live in London, 20 years of age and I didn’t finish college (UK). I currently work as an Events Operations Executive at a museum so a huge change for a passion.

I guess I’m seeking answers such as costs, different methods, requirements ect…

Thanks in advance. I’ll answer your questions in the comments section.


@Yuan_Tugo @Heavydriver

Please, guys. Let the tagged experts answer this question. Remember, this is Europe, not the U.S.


Then I’d suggest tagging guys from Europe, such as Yuan, @RAH and @Aernout


Yuan is European. Melvin’s been over there a lot as well. Get your eyes checked. Try dictionary-fying every pilot on here.

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Which is why I tagged Yuan. And thank you, Smithley


shouldn’t this topic be in #real-world-aviation ?


He is a Basic User. But I think it’s okay as he is asking an interesting question. This question might inspire us who wants to be a pilot in the future.


Some of the stuff will be similar to what happens here in the US. The best thing to do is check the Aviation governing authority website. Read about all the requirements involved in getting your commercial license. Go down to the local flight school, and start asking questions. Cost will always depend on how fast you learn, and skill set. In the US you could take your check ride right at 250 hours for a CPL but others may require more to be prepared. Ask questions around the area, and read everything that applies to what you want to do.

Hope that helps.


EU rules can be complicated and JAR specs are not my expertise. Somethings are easier in Europe… ATPL vs the US and the whole “pay to play” is very evident in Europe. In the US while some buy 737 types hoping to get on with Southwest it is frowned upon for the most part to buy your way in. Also the 250 hour Pilot has bo chance at the airlines (anymore) in the US unlike the European Market.

I think I’ll leave this one to Arnout or Yuan to answer


Without going too much off topic, is that why most pilots start at a smaller airline such as Republic and American Eagle?

Even those that start at the regional Airlines (smaller airlines) have 1500 hours in the USA of experience before they even are considered to apply for a smaller airline. Then most fly for a few years in smaller jets 75 (passengers or less) and build their experience before going to fly bigger aircraft for Major US carriers.

EU model is put a 250 hour pilot in a 737 with an experienced captain and a load of passengers and go. Personally not a fan of this method but it works for them.


Last time i checked hasn’t been any crashes any time soon because of this policy (in Europe) gives more inexperienced a chance to fly with a highly experienced pilot there as well.

I know this might be a dumb point but by the time pilots get experience to fly big planes most are in 30’s and at that time reactions and other important flying characteristics start to slowly decade so having a young pilot with high reactions and a older pilot with experience is a good mix.

Are there any real airline pilots on this fourm?

Nope. None that I know of. 🤷🏼‍♂️


Basically three ways to get into commercial aviation:

Sponsored (cadet scheme)
Self funded then DEP (direct entry pilot)
or Military then DEP.

The only ‘real’ difference between cadet schemes and self funded is that your sponsor airline will act as your ‘guarantor’ for the massive load you’ll need to pay for flying training. As a self improver you’ll need to stump up and guarantee your loan yourself. The sponsor airline will then provide an integrated training package tailored to that airlines operations. Be wary that some operators only provide for the Multi Pilot Licence which is slightly more restrictive in your early years and ties you somewhat to that company.

A point to bear in mind when looking at the ‘self improver’ route is that it can either be done ‘modular’ where you choose when and where you do the specific ATPL training requirements and you choose your own training provider, your own ground school provider etc. etc. or integrated. With integrated you go to a school, hand over a wad of cash and they take you in and spit you out with a frozen ATPL after 12-18 months.

Modular is cheaper as you can choose the providers and you can choose your own living accommodation/costs etc. HOWEVER! Many airlines don’t like modular trained pilots. It’s nothing to do with ability but the training departments of many airlines want to see consistent training records preferably from a single training establishment. Modular doesn’t provide that in many cases. So keep that in mind.

Military obviously requires a separate commitment and also the military do not ‘gift’ you an ATPL at the end of your career. You have to do the legwork and the exams yourself. That said many airlines do like to take military DEP’s as they bring a different experience level to commercial operation.

Cost wise, well that depends upon how well you live and how much you eat/drink. I think, on average, including JOC and a type rating you won’t be looking at much change from £130,000 for a frozen EASA ATPL(A) on an integrated package. That is a rough figure though. You will need to talk to various training providers to get an accurate figure and, as always, get it in writing!!!

Military -> At least 8 years of blood, sweat and tears but you do get to muck around in some cool toys. :D

Hope that helps.


Is this for the EU? In the US I think there are also university programs too

The guy is in London so it’s for the EU hence EASA ATPL not FAA ATP.


I think the question has been answered but the main training providers in Europe are:

  • CTC Aviation
  • Oxford Aviation Academy
  • FTE Jerez

A lot of airlines have partnerships with these training providers, they also do open days which I highly recommend you attend to get your questions answered. I’m afraid undertaking this kind of training is a very big decision and also a massive financial commitment. Make sure you do a lot of research before going ahead

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Although I shouldn’t really be promoting another website, you will find a lot of information in this site which is aimed for giving pilot information (whereas this is an IF specific forum). Visit PPRuNe.

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Be very wary of PPRUNE. Whilst there is a lot of good information there is also a lot of mis-information. It can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff.