UK pilot trainees to get student loans

Starting in September, aspiring UK commercial pilots will be able to apply for student loans up to £14,500 a year for their three-stage ab-initio pilot training course. 

If that sounds too good to be true, you can find the details at the Aviation Skills Partnership website.

The course, which will take place at any accredited UK aviation training organisation, will follow the existing academic and flight training syllabus and take about three years. But rather than just getting a licence, graduation will be recognised by the award of a BSc (Hons) degree in Professional Aviation Pilot Practice, awarded the day the graduates start work with their employer airline. 

Middlesex University oversees the courses and awards the degree.

This massive change in attitudes  is the result of government acceptance of the concept of pilot training as a Higher Apprenticeship, and therefore agreeing to provide backing for student loans toward tuition fees and maintenance costs. These are obtainable through the same Student Loans Company system used by undergraduates accepted for any other degree. It is part of a broader government decision to support, through student loans, the development of high level skills that translate direct into the workplace.

Students can apply through UCAS, the standard access agency for higher education places. The course is known as the Higher Apprenticeship in Professional Aviation Pilot Practice (HAPAPP).

The new scheme has been under development for several years led by Simon Witts, the chief executive of the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) working with the airlines, SEMTA (Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing), and People First. He says he intends to extend the system to cover all the high level skills associated with the aviation industry, including air traffic control, airline operations management, engineering and maintenance, and airport operations. 

Witts says all the airlines are backing the scheme, and the three aviation training organisations accredited so far are CTC, CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, and Flying Time at Shoreham.

The scheme will be open to pilots no matter which of the licences they train for: CPL/ATPL or MPL/ATPL.

The airlines, says Witts, all welcome the scheme as a way of opening up the pilot profession to candidates who may not otherwise have been able to raise the cost of training. As in the case of other degree courses, those with restricted means can also apply for a grant.

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5 Responses to UK pilot trainees to get student loans

  1. Petar Georgiev 13 September, 2013 at 1:13 pm #


    I am very interested in this scheme and I am emailing in regards to the application process and how and where that takes place. I would be very grateful if you could let me know and I look forward to your reply.

    Yours sincerely,
    Petar Georgiev

    • David Learmount 16 September, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      If you are eligible for UK student loans, you apply for this in the same way as you would going to university. You can see from the story which university manages this course.

  2. Anup 8 October, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Can you provide a link of Middlesex university to apply for this course? I have checked almost entire website but cou’dn’t find any details about this course.

    • David Learmount 11 October, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      Suggest you try the telephone. Middlesex doesn’t provide this course, it provides the academic oversight that ensures the qualification is at degree level. FTOs provide it.

  3. Gaurav Gupta 17 November, 2014 at 5:46 am #

    Respected Sir
    I would be very thankful if you help me in becoming pilot
    Thanking you
    Gaurav Gupta

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