British Airways aims to broaden the pool of potential pilot recruits with its new Future Pilot Programme (FPP), which it claims will put an end to the situation in which only the rich can raise the finance to complete pilot training to airline level.
Unlike its former ab-initio programmes of more than 10 years ago, BA admits it will put no money directly into student pilot training. However, Robin Glover, BA's head of pilot recruitment, said the airline will take "a small risk" by guaranteeing the finance to pay to train carefully selected students, enabling those without assets, savings or wealthy parents to raise the £100,000 ($165,000) or so needed to cover the cost of training from selection to line-flying.
Glover said the cost of type rating on the aircraft the pilot will fly for BA "is part of the training package", with the cost recovered by the airline on a non-profit basis. Base training after that, however, will be free.
A pilot's BA salary will begin from the moment type rating is successfully completed, as will the pay-back to the finance company.
Glover said, however, that the pilots will not be bonded to the airline for a specific period. If they were to receive a more lucrative offer from another carrier they would be free to go after their normal notice period.
"We are keen to use this programme to get the very best," Glover said, claiming that removing the finance barrier enabled the carrier to fish in a bigger pool.
All successful trainees will be based at London Heathrow or Gatwick but applications are welcome from anyone who has the right to work in the UK.
Ab-initio pilots will train to the traditional "frozen" air transport pilot licence, but Glover said BA is watching the development of training to the multi-crew pilot licence to see if it fits BA's way of doing things.
If it does, he said, some could transfer from the ATPL route to the MPL, or BA might adopt it in future.
Testing and selection of candidates will be carried out at the three chosen flying training organisations involved in the BA FPP - CTC, Flight Training Europe and Oxford Aviation Academy. They will recommend a shortlist to the airline for approval.