How to become a commercial pilot during the Coronavirus pandemic? There’s no straightforward answer but student pilots training with Bristol Ground School are sharing their stories on a blog. Here are two of their stories in brief.
Nick has wanted to become a pilot from a young age. “I have always loved flying, and can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a pilot,” he writes, “especially after I’d completed gliding and flying scholarships through the Air Cadets.”
Nick is nearly halfway through training, and was about to attend BGS’s Module 2 revision week before government restrictions came into force. “I was booked on the April revision course and exam week, we all know what happened there!
“I was planning on being finished with Module 3 in August, starting my CPL in September around work. This timeframe is clearly going to shift to the right, but as soon as exams can restart it will be clearer as to exactly how long the delay will be.
“Getting the CPL MEIR completed as soon as possible after finishing exams is still the aim. I am lucky that I am still working full time and in a position where I can financially commit to keeping a MEIR current, and have been able to pay-as-I-go for training.
“I am established in a professional career in a different industry, which I can maintain along with my ratings until I can get a flying job. I am not considering delaying my training. I’ve gone down this path understanding that the worst-case scenario is that I come out a better pilot – being paid to fly would be a bonus!
“I will likely do a flying instructor course if the jobs market has not recovered some time after completing the MEIR and look into instructing alongside my current career. I’ve also never been emotionally tied to working in the UK/Europe, so moving abroad to far flung continents that economically recover quicker may well be an option for the foreseeable future for cadet pilots.”
Harry Tait has also wanted to be a pilot since a young age. But another factor was the level of demand.
“Five years ago when I began training there was a pilot shortage – not something that can be said at the moment!”
While government restrictions have put a temporary pause on exams and classroom revision weeks, Harry is still able to put his time to good use, and carry on learning ATPL theory. Bristol Ground School has been running interactive webinars for students during the pandemic. He says he’s currently studying both Modules 2 and 3 during lockdown.
He’s also managed to secure a place at flight school in Sweden, so will be ready to continue flight training come October.
“I won’t be delaying my training if at all possible, I will instead be continuing, and trying even harder for jobs at the end of it, probably with an interim job to keep the ratings valid.
“In terms of COVID-19, the modular training allows me to be more flexible, and to do more of my distance learning ATPL theory course whilst stuck at home.
“I don’t think the industry will recover to 2019 levels of flights for a couple of years, especially when you account for the longer term economic downturn this will cause. The surplus of pilots will hopefully return to pre-COVID rates sooner though, as airlines pick up the slack from those that have sadly gone bust.
“The next couple of years will certainly be turbulent as the demand for flights fights the need for social distancing whilst the virus is still going around.
“What we can say is that there will be an aviation boom once again, as demand is only ever increasing on average over the years.”