In a move designed to make a career as an airline pilot more accessible to everyone, British Airways announced today that it will launch a new pilot cadet programme, the Speedbird Pilot Academy.
The programme is set to fund up to 60 aspiring pilots’ training costs annually. The airline’s multi-million-pound initiative will remove the high-cost barrier to professional pilot training, which can reach around £100,000.
This new approach will make the profession much more accessible by funding the initial training costs for its next generation of pilots. Successful candidates will be offered a place at an approved flight training school and, upon passing the course, they will secure a position as a British Airways pilot.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “The Speedbird Pilot Academy will make the ambition of becoming a British Airways pilot a reality for people who’d previously written the option off because of the cost barrier.
“Our aim is to attract the very best talent out there for our future generation of pilots. Whether someone is just leaving school or embarking on a second career they never thought possible, we’re levelling the playing field by removing the initial training cost barrier to make a flying career more accessible to a wider range of people and giving everyone an equal chance.
“We fly to more than 200 destinations around the world on a range of aircraft types, providing pilots with an abundance of opportunities and making a career as a British Airways pilot extremely rewarding. This first-in-a-generation initiative will allow anyone to make it a reality.”
The airline also expressed a commitment to boosting diversity in the aviation industry. The initiative will actively seek applications from people from all backgrounds, ensuring a more diverse pool of talent for the future.
Hannah Vaughan, British Airways Senior First Officer and former cadet, said: “This is a great career for anyone. You’ll naturally need a love for flying and travel, but being a British Airways pilot offers so much more.
“From working with an incredibly dedicated team and meeting customers from around the world to benefitting from world-class training facilities – I would absolutely recommend it as a career path.”
Applications for the programme will open in September 2023, and the training is planned to start in the new year. Requirements for applicants include having six GCSE’s (or equivalent), a minimum height of 5ft 2in, and being aged between 18 and 55. Once training is complete, cadets can expect to earn a starting salary of approximately £34,000 per year, plus allowances.
The Speedbird Pilot Academy is part of the airline’s broader pilot recruitment plan, which includes continued recruitment of current commercial pilots and collaboration with the UK Armed Forces to offer military pilots new career opportunities in commercial aviation.
British Airways, in collaboration with Fantasy Wings, a leading UK organisation promoting diversity in aviation, plans to further promote careers in the aviation industry to young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, as well as young women.
Aspiring pilots can register for alerts on the British Airways careers website. Applications are due to open in September 2023.