More than 1,900 aspiring pilots arrived at the Sofitel Hotel, Terminal 5 London Heathrow on Saturday 5 November, to find out more about a pilot career.
While there has been evidence of fewer people entering into the profession in recent times – a factor that is contributing to news of a global pilot shortage – at least in the initial information-gathering stage, the career seemed to be more popular than ever. A mix of young people and career changers packed out the exhibition hall when doors opened at 10am, with the free seminar programme offering advice throughout the day.
There were virtual reality experiences on offer, with FTA giving visitors the chance to experience a trial flight through immersive headsets, which proved a popular part of the exhibition. Many aspiring pilots took the chance to test their aptitude, with PAT SurePilot, The Honourable Company of Air Pilots, and Airline Prep, offering snapshots of the professional tests that they use to determine if an individual is suited to the career. Tom, 18, from Leeds, explained, “I’m definitely going to make sure go through some kind of selection before paying any money for training. I’d be devastated if it’s a no, it’s my dream to be a pilot and I can’t say that a bad aptitude test result would stop me from following the career anyway, but at least I would have the information at the start.”
British Airways once again supported the event, and although there was no new round of the carrier’s popular Future Pilot Programme to announce, BA’s Assistant Manager Pilot Recruitment, Andy Perkins, was keen to emphasise that the airline is still committed to inspiring and supporting the future generation of airline pilots. “We’re talking to a number of the training organisations here today, and we’re always looking at ways to reach future pilots and improve on our existing programmes.” As for his message to aspiring pilots, it was to simply get airborne. “If you’re passionate about aviation, passionate about being a pilot, get flying and get airborne,” he said. “There are lots of ways to make it a bit more cost effective, there are scholarships on offer from the Air League, from the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, that can make it much easier.”
The Air League launched their 2017 flying scholarships on the day of the show, with representatives on hand to talk about applying. Virgin Atlantic pilots also joined the team at the CTC Aviation stand, offering crucial advice on applying to the airline’s Future Flyers Programme, which is taking applications until 14 November.
For the first time, the event also offered information about a career in Air Traffic Control, with a presentation from NATS, while both NATS and EuroControl had stands in the main exhibition hall. With NATS set to hire as many as 200 controllers over the next five years, it’s a great time to find out more.
In other news from the show, Aviation South West has secured a deal with a charter airline to provide ten hours commercial experience for recently qualified ASW pilots in a King Air BE 200 and Piper Navajo, which the trainer says will help students to stand out when it comes to the pilot recruitment process, on CVs and when it comes to interview. Students that signed up for ASW’s DCT course at Pilot Careers Live received ten hours of Commercial Airline Charter Experience in King Air BE 200 and Piper Navajo.
Elsewhere, Approved Training Organisation CATS Aviation was sharing news that it will soon be offering an Integrated training programme for the first time, using the facilities of Portuguese flight training provider, GAir. CATS has always been a champion of the modular route, and Matt Harvey, Director CATS Aviation, explained that while the trainer will still be offering its modular programme, the new Integrated route will include post-PPL selection and offer an alternative for people choosing to train with CATS. The programme already has approval from easyJet and other European airlines, and will offer a zero-to-ATPL route for £80K. More news to be released in the coming weeks, and more info at catsaviation.com/courses/
Pilot Careers Live will return to London in April 2017, with the date to be announced in the coming weeks. There are also PCL events to take place in Rome on 19 November, followed by Dublin and Frankfurt in Spring 2017.