Cost of commercial pilot training
Pilot training is very expensive and the cost may end up being as high as the cost of your house or flat. You have to consider it as an investment and think about many things before you start. Because of the complexity and many factors influencing the cost of pilot training, it can be anywhere between £35000 – £105000 (€40000 – €120000).
Let’s have a closer look at the average price in the UK and across the regions of Europe, the correlation between the price and quality, what influences the price, what the price is composed of, and financing options of the pilot training at the end of the article.
Average cost of pilot training in the UK and across Europe
The price can differ significantly across the Europe. Below you can find the average cost of modular / integrated pilot training up to airline pilot level (CPL/ME/IR+MCC, type rating excluded) in different regions of Europe and the UK:
- UK + Ireland: 105,000 GBP (120,000 EUR)
- Northern Europe: 85,000 GBP (95,000 EUR)
- Western Europe: 60,000 GBP (65,000 EUR)
- Southern Europe: 60,000 GBP (65,000 EUR)
- Central Europe: 40,000 GBP (45,000 EUR)
- Eastern Europe: 35,000 GBP (40,000 EUR)
The further east you go, the cheaper the flight training tends to be. Be aware, this does not have anything to do with the quality of the training. The cost of work, rents and services is usually cheaper in the eastern regions, which in turn may positively influence the price of the training.
On the other hand, don’t choose your flight school just by price. Although there may be no correlation between the price and quality, the cheaper training within the given region is more likely to be lower quality.
Be aware that wherever you complete your training, you always receive a licence with the same privileges, as long as the country is a member state of EASA.
The cost of MPL forms a separate chapter. There are not many flight schools in the UK & Europe providing such training, as you need modern certified flight simulators to train cadets through these schemes. So, a multi pilot licence is offered only by large, approved training organisations, such as CAE, L3 Airline Academy, FTEJerez, or by airlines themselves, such as Lufthansa.
What influences the price of pilot training?
Apart from location, there are some other factors which influence the cost of the airline pilot training. These are the types of airplane being flown, the airports used for the training, the quality and – last but not least – the type of training (modular, integrated, MPL).
Training on new glass cockpit-equipped planes will be more expensive than flying an plane with conventional gauges and instruments. Large international airports will have higher landing fees than a small grass strip next to your house. MPL training with a guaranteed job at the end will be more expensive than modular training with no job connected at all.
Remember the more money you wisely spend on your training, the more benefits it can bring you in the future.
What is the price composed of?
Different flight schools include different things in the published price of pilot training. There is no standard as to what is usually included and what is not.
The published price may or may not include:
- Instructor cost – The cost of instructors may account for around 5 – 10% of the total cost of the training. If not included, you may be surprised by how much more you paid compared to the initial calculation.
- Landing fees and navigation fees – Also landing and navigation fees may not be included. The cost can vary depending on what airport you use. There could be a flat rate fee for landings at a small airport, but a £100 fee per single landing at a big international airport.
- Fuel surcharges – Because of the unpredictable price of fuel, some flight schools may charge you fuel surcharges to compensate for the increase in the fuel cost during your training. Fuel surcharges can account for approximately 10% of the training cost.
- Exams and administration cost – You have to pay for both examinations (e.g. theoretical exams and skill tests) and administration (e.g. licence issue). Depending on the country you train in, examination and administration fees can be very high as well. For example, in the UK, the fee for a single ATPL exam is £71, so £994 in total (14 exams).
- Training materials – Training materials, such as books, eLearning access or ATPL question banks may be charged as an extra cost as well. Again, even here you may have to pay a few thousand pounds more than initially expected.
- VAT – In most European countries VAT is around 20%.
During your flight school research, it’s important you know exactly what is included in the price so that you can make a precise comparison. As you can see, the final cost of your training may be much higher than the price advertised by the flight school.
Financing options of the pilot training
How can I fund my pilot training? The question which usually comes to mind first when you see the cost of pilot training. Let’s have a closer look at the available options.
The ideal situation is when you have the money ready from your own funds. But even if you do not, it’s still an option.
The solution is to find a job with high earning potential and enrol for modular pilot training. With this type of training you can stretch your studies to several years and earn as you go to pay for flying lessons.
Probably a better option than earning money as you go. It may sound stupid, but let’s make a calculation. Normally you can finish your training within 2 years. If it takes on average 5 years to make all the money to complete the training, you lose 3 years of employment as an airline pilot, which means 36 pilot’s monthly salaries. That’s more than £100K, supposing a First Officer earns at least £3000 / month.
To get a loan you usually need security (property) or a high income. If you can’t reach the credibility required to receive full funding, you can still combine two methods – start a job to earn part of the money and get a loan for the rest.
There are cadet programmes where some airlines may underwrite the loan for you, so you don’t need property to secure the loan.
It’s possible to have loss of medical certificate insurance nowadays. And the surprise is – even during your flight training! With this you can secure your investment a bit, which makes your decision to become an airline pilot less risky.
One of the companies to provide loss of medical certificate insurance during your training is french APPN.
If you have been living in the UK for at least 3 years, then you can apply for “Professional and Career Development Loans” provided by the government. You can borrow up to £10000 to be used on your career development (so, for example, becoming an airline pilot). To be eligible for this, you have to be at least 18 years old, plan to work in the UK, the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) after the course and have citizenship of the UK, a country in the EEA, including Switzerland, or a country in an EU overseas territory. Also, your education provider (flight school) has to be on the approved organisations list. The advantage of a professional and career development loan is that you start repaying the loan and interest after you leave the course.
Pilot sponsorship schemes
You may be lucky and able to reduce the cost of your pilot training by participating in a pilot sponsorship scheme. Schemes are usually run by airlines or flight schools and in some cases can cover the whole price of your training.
There is usually limited space available and the start of the training is subject to assessment. For more information about sponsorship options refer to a separate article in our pilot career guide.
Follow our news to find out where and when the latest sponsorship programmes are opening to apply for.
Moving where the cost is lower
As indicated in the first chapter of this article, the cost of pilot training may differ significantly across Europe. So sometimes moving to a location with cheaper flight training may be an option for you.