Virgin Atlantic has announced its first ab initio pilot-training programme aimed at attracting young cadets into a commercial airline career.

Also, in a European first, Virgin will be using the multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) system to deliver graduates straight into the co-pilot's seat of widebody airliners.

The "Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers" programme, operated by the airline in conjunction with UK flight training organisation CTC Aviation, will offer 12 aspiring pilots with no previous flying experience the chance to train for a career with the airline. The carrier will take the first six into training "in spring" and the second six later in the year. Virgin says it may repeat this in following years as its crewing needs dictate.

The airline says the programme is the only one in Europe to envision new MPL recruits flying long-haul aircraft immediately once they receive their licence. Applications opened today on the CTC Aviation website.

"We're delighted to offer this opportunity to a whole new generation of flyers," says David Kistruck, Virgin's general manager of flight operations. "They'll be part of the Virgin family from day one and will enjoy an opportunity like no other as the only trainee pilots in Europe to fly straight on to long-haul aircraft once qualified, building their career as an ambassador for one of the world's most iconic brands."

The 18-month programme includes ground school and flight training in Phoenix, Arizona. Full-motion flightdeck simulation at CTC Aviation's crew training centre in Southampton is also part of the course, which leads towards the UK Civil Aviation Authority's MPL and a position as a Virgin first officer operating the Airbus A330-300.

This piece corrects details in an earlier Flightglobal story

Source: Cirium Dashboard