If you’re considering a pilot career, but still not sure about which training route is for you, there’s no better way to decide than to visit an ATO (Approved Training Organisation) in person and meet people who have been there, flown the aircraft and got the t-shirt.
Training towards a pilot career is a big commitment and you need to be certain that it is the right path for you. At free-to-attend open days, you will be able to get advice on training routes, pilot medicals, financing and ask the questions you need to know directly to the people who will deliver the training.
FLYER visited CAE Oxford Aviation Academy on its biggest Airline Pilot Career Day of the year on 9 November, when the academy welcomed over 650 visitors to its facility at Oxford Airport.
The day included a presentation about CAE OAA from Centre Manager Andy McFarlane (above right). The ATO also hosted BA Manager Pilot Recruitment Lindsay Craig who talked about the British Airways Future Pilot Programme (FPP), a training opportunity with the airline which has recently opened its third round of applications.
The event also gave visitors the chance to tour the academy’s facilities and see the aircraft and sims which cadets train on.
During the day, it was also announced that the Foundation degree currently offered by the academy could become a full BSc degree in the near future, while the ATO will soon welcome seven twin-engine Piper Seneca Vs to its fleet.
During the day, FLYER met cadet Ed Dudley, 26 (right) from Stafford, who explained more about his particular route to an airline career. “During my degree, I gained about 14 hours of flying experience through the University Royal Naval Unit – during one of those flights, something just clicked for me and I knew that this was the career I wanted.”
Ed didn’t initially pursue his pilot dream; following his degree, he initially worked as an IT manager, before deciding to change career. He was selected in the 2011 round of BA’s FPP and chose to train at CAE Oxford.
“I considered a number of training routes, but the BA FPP was obviously my first choice because of the financing option, as well as the amazing chance to train towards a position with BA. Out of the three options, I chose Oxford because of the course structure, the stable flight training path that it offers and also because of its reputation.”
Ed will now go on to complete his line training and fly A320s out of London Heathrow.
PREPARATION AND PASSION
Manager Group Marketing at CAE Oxford, Emma O’Donnell explained, “We advise anyone considering a pilot career to come and visit, see our training facilities and ask any questions they may have.”
As for what the ATO looks for in cadets, Emma added, “We work very closely with airlines to find out what they look for in potential pilots and tailor our selection process accordingly, both for airline schemes and our regular cadet entry. But there’s really no set mould to anyone who can apply for any of our training programmes. Above all, we look for a certain passion and enthusiasm, someone who is well-rounded and can bring some sort of life-experience, whether that’s from a Saturday job or an extra-curricular club. You can’t neccessarily revise for a selection process, but there are ways that you can prepare. Attending an Open Day is certainly a good way to start.”
Centre Manager Andy McFarlane reiterated this, saying, “At the end of the day, we want to believe that if we cut you in half, we’d be able to see aviation written right through you.”
As the Open Day drew to a close, the team at CAE Oxford was setting up the marquee in preparation for one of its largest ever graduation ceremonies. Later that evening, over 840 guests gathered to celebrate the graduation of 238 men and women who had successfully completed their ATPL or MPL training. The next step for many is to find that coveted airline position and there is little illusion about how difficult this is in the current climate. However, the team at Oxford was optimistic, telling FLYER that airline Ryanair has recently reopened its requests for pilot candidates.
It’s going to take hard work and a huge amount of passion to get you there, but a career in the airlines is available for the taking and it could be you celebrating with your family and friends in two years’ time.
The next open day at CAE Oxford takes place on the 25 January 2014.