A guide to pilot licences

A guide to pilot licences

There are different types of pilot licence depending on the aircraft you want to fly, where you want to fly, and whether you want to fly professionally or not. There are also ‘ratings’ which you can add to your licence after further training to get extra privileges, such as flying in different conditions or flying a different type of aircraft. To help you decide which licence is best for you, we’ve put together this guide.

The first thing to note is that there are different licences for flying professionally and for general aviation. If you want to fly commercially as an airline pilot, for example, you will need a professional licence. If you need a licence for recreational flying, a general aviation licence would be better suited to you. You can’t be paid for any flying you do with a general aviation licence, apart from some flight instruction. To help make the distinction between these types of licence clear, we have divided this guide into professional licences and general aviation licences.

Another distinction to note is between EASA and non-EASA licences. Regulations for licences are being standardised across all countries which are members of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which includes the UK. You will now need an EASA Licence to fly most aircraft in Europe. Exceptions to this include some smaller or vintage aircraft which can still be flown with a national licence.

If you wish to fly internationally, you will also need to consider whether you need a licence which complies with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules. Some non-ICAO licences are only valid in certain countries.

 

General Aviation Licences

EASA licences for general aviation:

Private Pilot Licence (PPL):

This is an internationally recognised licence for aeroplanes and helicopters.

 

Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL):

This licence can be used for aeroplanes, helicopters, balloons, or gliders. Aeroplanes and helicopters that can be flown with this licence are limited to a take-off weight of two tonnes and can’t have more than three passengers. This licence has a shorter training course and lower medical standards than the PPL.

 

Sailplane Pilot Licence (SPL):

This is the usual licence required for those who wish to fly gliders.

 

Balloon Pilot Licence (BPL):

This allows you to pilot hot air balloons.

 

Non-EASA licences for general aviation:

These are regulated by national authorities and are sometimes known as ‘National’ licences.

National Private Pilot’s Licence (Simple Single Engine Aeroplanes) (NPPL(SSEA)):

This licence allows you to fly small, vintage, or kit-built aircraft.

 

National Private Pilot’s Licence (Microlight) (NPPL(M)):

The licence required to fly microlights.

 

Licences can have ‘ratings’ added to them. These give you the authority to do things such as flying at night or in adverse weather conditions. You can also get ratings which will allow you to fly different classes of aircraft.

 

 

Professional Pilot Licences

If you want to fly commercially you will need one of the following licences.

 

Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL):

This is the highest licence a pilot can hold and allows you to captain multi-crew aircraft. The training to earn your ATPL can be expensive and takes several years. To find out more about becoming an airline pilot in the UK, read our article.

 

Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL):

This licence will allow you to fly commercial multi-crew aircraft. You will not need to do as much training to earn this licence as the ATPL, however, you will only be able to fly as a First Officer as Captains require an ATPL.

 

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL):

This licence will allow you to train students or pilot aircraft for some commercial operations subject to restrictions. See the CAA website for further details on restrictions.

 

Type rating: To fly commercial aircraft, you will also need to train to earn type ratings for the aircraft you are going to fly. For example, if you are to fly Airbus A380s, you will need to have a type rating for this type of aircraft. The training for type ratings can be expensive, between £20,000 and £30,000. You will usually have to fund your first type rating yourself, however, your employer will usually pay for any further qualifications necessary.  

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How to become a pilot in the UK

How to become a pilot in the UK

Becoming a pilot is the dream of many, however relatively few make it to the end of the difficult and expensive training required. To work as a commercial pilot, you will need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL). Training for this can take around two years and can cost as much as £100,000. It is therefore very important that you know all your options before you start applying for training courses. Our guide covers the different routes you can take to get your licence and includes a few things to watch out for before you apply.

 

Before you apply for a training course

To get onto a pilot training course, you will need to have performed well at school. You will need GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4) and A levels in at least English and Maths. Subjects such as science or a second language would be an advantage.

You must also be at least 21 years of age to apply for an ATPL license and you’ll also need to pass a background security check.

You will also need to have a Class 1 Medical Certificate. The CAA have guidance material on their website for those who might be concerned about this. There’s no need to worry if you wear glasses or contact lenses, your vision just needs to be correctable to 20/20.

It could also be useful to take an aptitude test before you embark on years of expensive training to make sure you have what it takes to become a successful airline pilot. The Honourable Company of Air Pilots hold an aptitude test at RAF Cranwell and they use some of the tests used by the RAF in their selection process.

 

Preparing for pilot selection

Flight training schools will also want to make sure that you are suited to a career as a pilot before they invest so much training in you. Most Approved Training Organisations (ATOs – for a full list, see the CAA website) will put you through their own testing to make sure that you have the right personality and skills to be a successful pilot. Over a series of written papers, interviews, group tests, and simulator tests, you will be expected to demonstrate skills such as problem solving, spatial awareness, and people skills. You will also need to demonstrate your dedication to your chosen career with a good level of general knowledge about the aviation industry.

You should treat this stage as seriously as you would treat any job interview and do as much research and preparation as you can.

 

How much does it cost to become a pilot in the UK?

How you plan to finance your commercial pilot training is an extremely important consideration before you apply. The training required to obtain your ATPL can cost as much as £100,000 and can take around two years to complete.

If you are financing the training yourself, it is really important that you do the research before you sign up for a course. Make sure that you are aware of all the terms and conditions before you pay a penny. Some ATOs have ceased trading unexpectedly before their students have finished courses and their fees have been lost. Make sure there is a scheme in place to prevent this from happening before you sign up.

Some UK airlines have fully sponsored training programmes, such as British Airways’ Future Pilot Programme or the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers Programme. Places on such schemes are limited and highly contested, but are fantastic opportunities if you manage to secure a spot.

Types of Courses

Integrated course

If you don’t have any previous flying experience, an integrated course is a popular option. This will teach you everything you need to know right from the beginning. It will be run by an ATO and will be a full time. You will start your training in the classroom and with simulator exercises. You will start flying in light aircraft and pass milestones such as the multi-engine rating and obtaining your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). This will allow you to train students or fly business jets. You will need to complete your training to earn your ATPL in order to fly airliners.

These courses are often run in dedicated facilities with excellent equipment and they sometimes have established links with airlines.

 

Modular Course

If you already have some experience flying a plane, or want to keep working while you study, there is the option to take a modular course. The real advantage of these courses is that you can take modules individually and when they suit you. They also end up costing a lot less than the integrated courses – sometimes they can be half the fees of the full-time course. It will probably take you longer than an integrated course to qualify via this route.  

 

Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL)

Another option to consider is qualifying for an MPL rather than ATPL. You don’t have to do as much training to qualify for this licence and the process is quicker. The disadvantage of this qualification is that you will only be able to fly as a First Officer as all Captains must hold an ATPL.

 

Apprenticeship

There are now apprenticeships available to trainee pilots. Students study in a similar way to those on the integrated course with both flight and ground-based training. This is usually done at a university and students will have access to financial support in the form of loans or even grants.

 

Degree

There are now degrees in aviation available that include commercial pilot training. Although the high fees for ATPL training still apply, these courses are increasingly popular because students can now get loans of up to £42,000 from the government to help them fund their studies. In addition to the financial help this route offers, you will also qualify with a degree. This will give you further options for employment should you find securing a role as a pilot difficult.

 

Type Rating

Once you have earned your ATPL via one of the routes above, it will be a ‘frozen’ licence. You will still need to fly 1,500 hours in total before you become a fully qualified commercial pilot. The next stage is to train for a ‘type-rating’ which allows to you fly different aircraft. For example, you will need to complete more training to earn the type rating necessary to fly an Airbus A380 or a Boeing 747. You will usually have to pay for your first type rating training yourself and any further qualifications will be paid for by your employer. The training for each type rating can cost somewhere between £20,000 and £30,000.

 

For more information on working as a pilot, see our detailed job description or browse our current vacancies.

 

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Helicopter Engineer: Job Description

Helicopter Engineer: Job Description

A helicopter engineer is responsible for the maintenance and repair of helicopters. These roles are usually based at airports or at flight service centres. You could work on helicopters used for transport, by the emergency services, for private use, or by the military.

You need a license to work as a helicopter engineer and different licences allow you to work on different parts of the aircraft. For example, B1 licensed engineers work more on the structure and mechanics of an aircraft. B2 licensed engineers work more on communications and navigation systems.

This job is sometimes on a shift basis. You may be required to work during the evenings or even at the weekend. You are also likely to have call-out duties.

If you are practical, have a technical mind, and have an interest in the aviation industry, a career as a helicopter engineer could be for you.

What does a helicopter engineer do?

Your day-to-day responsibilities might include:

  • Routinely inspecting aircraft.
  • Diagnosing faults with aircraft and deciding how best to repair them.  
  • Carrying out any necessary repairs or replacing parts.
  • Testing repairs and measuring the general performance of the aircraft.
  • Ensuring that the aircraft meets all safety regulations.
  • Keeping records of all work carried out on specific aircraft.
  • Being available on-call for any emergency repairs.
  • Providing clients with technical advice.

 

What qualifications do you need to become a helicopter engineer?

To work as a helicopter engineer, you’ll need a Part-66 licence which is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). There are different sub-categories to the licence depending on the parts of an aircraft you want to work on.

A B1 licence will allow you to carry out work that is largely mechanical. You will work on the structure of an aircraft, as well as the electrical and mechanical systems.

A B2 licence will enable you to work on avionics systems. You will work on the instruments and electrical systems that are linked to communications and navigation.

There are two routes to getting a licence. You can either study for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) exams relevant to your licence. This is known as the self-starter route. The other option is to take an EASA Part-147 approved course.

If you follow the self-starter route, you will need a minimum of five years’ maintenance experience in addition to passing all of the examinations before you can apply for a licence. A benefit of the EASA Part-147 route is that you only need two years’ experience to qualify for a licence.

 

What skills do you need to become a helicopter engineer?

The ability to work in a team: You will need good teamwork skills to work alongside other engineers, diagnosing and fixing problems.

An eye for detail: This is important for finding faults with aircraft and for making complex repairs.

Problem solving ability: This will help when deciding how best to solve a fault.

Communication skills: These are important for giving technical advice to clients and for giving instructions to fellow engineers.

A technical mindset: You will need to be able to understand complex systems and how they work together to control the aircraft.

 

How much does a helicopter engineer earn?

Starting salary: £30,000 – £35,000

Experienced: £35,000 – £45,000

Senior: £50,000

These figures are intended as a guide and come from the National Careers Service.

 

What are your career prospects as a helicopter engineer?

As you gain experience, you could take on a senior role as an engineering manager and supervise other engineers. You could also progress to become a design engineer and work on enhancing the design of an aircraft.

You could also do further training to work on other types of aircraft, such as commercial planes.

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It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

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Aviation jobs: The complete guide

Aviation jobs: The complete guide

There are a wide range of roles available in the aviation industry, from pilots to office workers. There are opportunities to progress careers in areas as diverse as engineering, design and customer service – whatever your skills, there is something for you.

To help you decide what kind role your skills might be suited for, we’ve put together this guide to take you through the different jobs in the industry. We explain what each job involves, the skills and qualifications you need, and how much you could expect to earn. Navigate to the job guides by scrolling down or by using the menu.

Pilot

Airline pilots

What does a Pilot do?

Pilots are those who fly and navigate aircraft and helicopters. Airline pilots fly aircraft for airlines which transport people and cargo on a fixed schedule. They are responsible for transporting passengers who are usually going on holiday or travelling for business, and generally work for commercial airlines. Their primary responsibility is to operate the aircraft, but throughout the day, they can find themselves checking the weather, performing pre-flight inspections. Pilots are also responsible for the safety of all crew and passengers onboard the aircraft.

 

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of pilots vary from day to day, depending on factors such as whether the flight is a long haul, international, or a one-hour internal flight. General duties include:

  • Pre-flight checks of all the instruments, engines, fuel and safety systems aboard the aircraft
  • Working with flight dispatchers to create the best flight path
  • Supervising the loading of cargo, baggage and fuel
  • Briefing the cabin crew members before flight
  • Following the instructions given by air traffic control
  • Adjusting the flight path in case of weather emergencies
  • Informing the cabin crew and passengers and crew about journey progress
  • Writing end reports about in-flight issues

 

Qualifications

In order to qualify to be a pilot, you’ll need to earn an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL), the training for which can be completed in 18 months or taken part-time. The cost of this ranges between £60,000 and £90,000. To qualify for the license, you will need to complete the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Class 1 Medical course.

 

Skills

  • Strong leadership skills
  • The ability to remain focused and level-headed under pressure
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Excellent communication
  • The ability to make decisive decisions
  • The ability to interpret complex information
  • The ability to make split-second decisions

 

Average salaries*

Starting salary: £20,000 to £30,000

Experienced co-pilot and captain: £38,000 to £90,000

Highly Experienced pilots: £140,000

Figures from the National Careers Service.

Cabin Crew

cabin crew

What does the Cabin Crew do?

Also known as flight attendants, air hostesses, and/or flight stewards, the cabin crew are responsible for the welfare, safety, and comfort of airline passengers travelling during flights. The cabin crew are the face of the airline and therefore must remain friendly and professional. Their main role is providing quality customer service to on board passengers whilst ensuring their comfort and safety throughout the flight. They strive to make the flying experience as pleasant as possible for the passengers through the provision of on flight amenities (blankets, snacks, drinks) and are further trained to deal with security and emergency situations, and administer first aid. As a cabin crew member, you could work on long haul or short flights.

 

Responsibilities

Daily responsibilities for the cabin crew involve a high level of customer interaction, including:

  • Greeting passengers as they board and exit the aircraft
  • Showing passengers to their allocated seats on the aircraft, and if need be, showing special attention for passengers with specific needs (i.e. the elderly, unaccompanied minors, disabled passengers)
  • Checking that there are enough supplies on board
  • Making announcements throughout the flight
  • Demonstrating safety procedures and the correct use of emergency equipment
  • Administering first aid in case of emergency
  • Serving meals and refreshments intermittently throughout the flight
  • Selling commercial duty-free goods in flight and distributing sales targets and in flight entertainment
  • Write flight reports upon the completion of a journey
  • Adding up and record all food and drink orders, and duty free sales.

 

Qualifications

To qualify to be a cabin crew member, you’ll need to have GCSEs (A* to C) in English and maths, a valid passport, and have a good level of general fitness. You’ll also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The majority of airlines expect staff to complete training courses covering a variety of topics from safety, to legal and immigration issues, as well as basic hospitality training. Once recruited, you will complete a mandatory 4-6 week training course, called the SEP (Safety & Emergency Procedures).

 

Skills

This role especially and be both physically and emotionally demanding, as cabin crew members must remain calm, professional, and diplomatic with all passengers, as well as spend an extended time on their feet. You will be expected to show:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Confidence in dealing with people
  • Commercial and sales awareness
  • Diplomacy and tact
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • Numeracy skills for handling foreign currency
  • Discretion when dealing with VIPs
  • Exceptional customer service skills

 

Average salaries

Starter: £12,000 to £14,000

Experienced: £15,000 to £21,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000

Figures from the National Careers Service.

Air Traffic Control

Air traffic control radar

What does the air traffic control do?

A fast-paced job requiring quick decision making and sound judgement, air traffic controllers are responsible for managing communication with pilots and providing assistance in the event of an emergency. Their primary concern is the safe flight of the aircraft, and are further responsible for managing the flow of aircraft in and out of the airport. They must work rapidly, with the utmost efficiency, and often work in towers or control facilities. Typically, air traffic controllers work within airport traffic control towers, at the terminal or Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC), to direct all air traffic, and ensure that pilots receive appropriate instructions for taxi, takeoff, and landing.

 

Responsibilities

  • Issue takeoff and landing instructions to pilots
  • Monitor and direct the movement of aircraft on the ground  through the use of radar and computers
  • Control the majority of ground traffic at airports
  • Provide pertinent information to pilots, such as runway closures, weather updates as well as other critical information
  • In the case of emergency, alert airport response staff
  • Tracking and guiding aircraft
  • Managing aircraft as they approach the airport
  • Coordinating with the pilots to help them land, park, and line up for take-off

 

Qualifications

To qualify to be an air traffic controller, you’ll need to get an air traffic control licence from the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which can take around 3 years to train. You’ll complete your training whilst working as a trainee controller. Getting work as a trainee control will require at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, a medical examination, and DBS security clearance.

 

Skills

  • The ability to be calm under pressure
  • Attention to detail
  • A technical mind to compute technical information  
  • Generally be proficient in IT skills
  • Excellent communication skills (to give instructions to pilots)
  • The ability to interpret information from different sources to assess situation
  • Excellent troubleshooting skills
  • Strong problem solving skills
  • Active listening skills

 

Average salaries

Starter: £17,000 to £21,000

Experienced: £32,500 to £36,000

Highly Experienced: £46,000 to £50,000

Figures from the National Careers Service.

Flight Dispatcher

Flight dispatcher

What do Flight Dispatchers do?

Flight dispatchers are the unsung heroes of airport operations, ensuring that pilots and passengers are able to fly safely. Without them, the flight crew would not be able to manage the flight effectively and safely. They normally work at the operations center of the airline. Their main job is to make airline operations run smoothly, and are responsible for monitoring safety guidelines and weather patterns.  Known widely as the ground pilot, the job of a flight dispatcher is one of intense decision making and high stress as they must monitor and take into a variety of factors, including winds and thunderstorms, turbulence forecasts, airspace restrictions, and airport conditions.

 

Responsibilities

  • Preparing preflight administration, flight plans and flight briefings
  • Maintaining the aircraft schedule to ensure they meet airport and airspace regulations
  • Remaining in constant communication with pilot to ensure that the flight adhering to its flight route
  • Acting as the middle man between the pilot and ground services
  • Signing dispatch release forms to provide authorisation for aircraft flight
  • Checking the visibility at both the departure airport and the destination airport to identify potential hazards 
  • Preparing flight plans containing information about the conditions, maximum allowable takeoff plan, weather conditions, and other information vital to the safe completion of a flight
  • Reviewing the aircraft weight, cargo load and fuel loads
  • Providing pilots with alternative flight plants in case of an emergency
  • Communicating with the flight captain to solve any issues that may arise on flight

 

Qualifications

Flight dispatcher applicants generally need to have acquired a few GCSE’s at grades (A*-C), especially in English and maths. Qualifications such as a GCSE in leisure and tourism, an A level in travel and tourism, or a Diploma in aviation operations may further aid your application. Degrees in travel, airline or aviation management are also useful for qualifying for this role.

 

Skills

  • Active listening skills to effectively communicate with pilots who might be mid-flight
  • Effective Communication, as you will spend a great deal of your time communicating with others to assure that flights go smoothly.
  • Good Judgment
  • The ability to make decisive decisions
  • Excellent Problem-Solving skills
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure
  • An analytical mind to looks for solutions to unexpected problems

 

Average salaries

Starting: £14,000

Experienced: £20,000

Managerial positions: £25,000 and £50,000.

Ground Crew

Airport ground crew

What does the ground crew do?

The ground crew form the support personnel that service the aircraft on the ground. These include roles such as ramp agents, customer service agents, and flight dispatchers. Tasks can vary from day to day, and can include marshalling (greeting and pointing the aircraft in the direction of the gate in which they need to taxi), or complete a brief clean of the aircraft interior. The ground crew can also be responsible for assisting with unloading and transporting bags, restocking food and beverage stores on flight, aligning the jet way for passengers boarding.

 

Responsibilities

  • Responsible for clearing the runway and gate area of debris
  • Visually inspecting the tarmac and removing foreign items found, prior to the aircraft’s arrival and departure
  • Handles the loading and unloading of passenger bags
  • Direct landed aircraft to taxi spots
  • Provides other necessary services such as steps from the aircraft to allow passengers to disembark
  • Marshalling the aircraft to their taxi location
  • Cleaning the interior of the aircraft
  • Aligning the jetway  
  • Performing tasks as necessary

 

Qualifications

Generally, ground crew members are expected to have completed secondary school and/or be a graduate from recognized university. Some agencies prefer those who are bilingual, but the most important factor is to have a pleasing personality with high customer service skills.

 

Average salaries

Starting salary: £15,000

Experienced salary: £20,000

Highly experienced: £25,000

Airline Customer Service Agent

Airline customer service agent

What do airline customer service agents do?

Airline customer service agents act as the first point of contact for passengers boarding flights, and provide customer service to passenger’s desiring to travel. They are vital for ensuring that passengers, as well as their luggage, board the correct aircraft at the right time. Expect to work on a shift system and at the airline check in desk. They are critical for maintaining positive relationships customers to ensure the success of the airline. Their role encompasses checking in and ticketing passengers, and escorting them, if necessary.

 

Responsibilities

  • Assist passengers with checking in
  • Issue boarding passes
  • Deal with enquires regarding flight arrival and departure
  • Look after the needs of particular passengers (those with special needs, young children, the elderly)
  • Help first time travelers through immigration and customs
  • Escort passengers with connecting flights, and occasional unaccompanied minors
  • Weigh bags and deal with excess weight charges
  • Check passengers’ travel documents are all in order
  • Inquire into passenger seating preferences
  • Issue labels for hand luggage

 

Qualifications

To qualify to be an airline customer service agents, you’ll need GCSEs in subjects like English and maths at grades (A* to C). It may be useful to have experience in a customer service role, and a second language may also be required by the airline agency.

 

Skills

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Strong communication skills, both spoken and written
  • A polite and professional approach
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • The ability to deal tactfully with upset or angry passengers
  • Good IT skills

 

Average salaries

Starting salary: £13,000 to £16,000

Experienced agents (those with supervisory roles): £16,000 to £22,000

Highly experienced agents: £40,000

Figures from the National Careers Service.

Aircraft Engineer

Aircraft engineering

What does an aircraft engineer do?

Aircraft engineers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing aircraft structures, engines, and other mechanical systems. They are also responsible for improving flight safety and fuel efficiency aboard the aircraft. Specialists, known as avionics technicians, handle the electronic maintenance of the aircraft. Aircraft engineers use instruments to measure wear and replace defective components of the aircraft, and are primarily concerned with improving overall flight safety, fuel efficiency, as well as addressing and reducing the environmental impact of air travel.

 

Responsibilities

As an aircraft engineer, you will be expected to:

  • Regularly check that the engines, airframes, and mechanical systems of the aircraft are in working order
  • Replace faulty parts or systems of the aircraft
  • Test the parts and systems of the aircraft to ensure they work
  • Maintain and service the aircraft
  • Keep records of all aircraft repairs
  • Conduct pre-flight checks to detect any defective equipment

 

Qualifications

If you wish to establish a career in the as an aircraft engineer, you must undertake professional training leading to the appropriate qualifications and certification for the area you wish to specialise in.

 

Skills

Aircraft engineers must have:

  • Meticulous attention to detail to maintain the aircraft
  • A mathematical mind
  • Strong communication skills
  • The ability to work in a team
  • Strong problem solving skills
  • Computer proficiency
  • Dexterity

 

Average salaries

Starting salaries: £22,000 to £28,000

With experience: £28,000 to £40,000

Senior levels: £45,000 to £60,000

Figures from Prospects.

Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft mechanic

What does an Aircraft Mechanic do?

To keep aeroplanes operating in peak condition, airline mechanics are responsible for performing scheduled maintenance, making repairs, and completing inspections. Thus, Airline mechanics are the people who are responsible for aircraft repairs. They also perform scheduled maintenance on aeroplanes and helicopters and inspect aeroplanes and helicopters to ensure they conform to industry standard. Mechanics are critical for ensuring the safety of airline customers and maintaining the reputation of the airline by ensuring the aircraft are on par with industry standards and run smoothly.

 

Responsibilities

A job requiring a high level of complex technical ability, aircraft mechanics are expected to:

  • Examine the aircraft parts for defects
  • Diagnose mechanical or electrical problems that may arise on the aircraft
  • Measure aircraft parts for wear 
  • Read maintenance manuals to identify the best methods of repair
  • Repairs wings, brakes, electrical systems, and other aircraft components
  • Replaces defective parts 
  • Tests aircraft parts with gauges and other diagnostic equipment
  • Inspects completed work to ensure that it meets performance standards
  • Keeps records of maintenance and repair work

 

Qualifications

Similar to the qualifications for an aircraft engineer, to qualify to be an aircraft mechanic you will need to have attained a Level 3 Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance, which will enable you to work towards EASA Aircraft Maintenance License. This qualification is accredited by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This qualification is also and is included in the apprenticeship standard for Aircraft Maintenance Technician.

 

Skills

  • High attention to detail to maintain aircraft to their specific standards
  • High dexterity to use their hands to manipulate and work with a number of components
  • High level of technical skills
  • The ability to be able to read gauges, understand instrumentation and diagnostic tools when assessing and repairing aircraft
  • The ability to troubleshoot and find solutions for problems that arise with the aircraft
  • The ability to adhere to both industry regulations and the manufacturers’ instructions to impeccable detail
  • Excellent communication skills
  • The ability to work in an organized
  • Time management skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Technical skills

 

Salary

Average salary: £26,000-£27,000

Aircraft Design Engineer

Aircraft design

What does an Aircraft Design Engineer do?

A job as an Aircraft Design Engineer falls under the broader career category of Aerospace Engineer, and because of the specialized nature of the field, duties vary. Generally, this role requires applying the principles of science to create aircraft and their supporting equipment. They perform engineering duties in designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, and may conduct basic research to evaluate the materials and equipment used to create aircraft. they may even recommend improvements in testing equipment.

 

Responsibilities

A job as an Aircraft Design Engineer requires a high level of technical skills. Generally, you will be expected to:

  • Formulate conceptual designs for aircraft products and systems
  • Direct and coordinate the activities of engineering personnel
  • Conduct experimental tests on aircraft prototypes
  • Write technical reports, such as handbooks and bulletins
  • Analyze project requests to determine feasibility, cost, and production time of aircraft products
  • Write technical reports or other documentation, such as handbooks or bulletins, for use by engineering staff, management, or customers.
  • Maintain records of performance
  • Coordinate activities concerned with resolving customers’ reports of technical problems with aircraft

 

Qualifications

The most common route to becoming an aircraft design engineer is to study aeronautical/aerospace engineering. However, those with degrees in computer science, software engineering, electronic engineering, mathematics, and physics may also be eligible. There are a variety of graduate training schemes and entry-level positions the engineering field which require a good degree, with a 2:1 or above.

 

Skills

As an aircraft design engineer, you will be required to have a highly technical mind and skill set. You will be expected to have:

  • The ability to think creatively and innovatively
  • A strong technical knowledge of aerospace systems and manufacturing
  • Excellent problem-solving and analytical skills for dealing with repairs
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • methodical approach to work
  • General commercial awareness and knowledge of the aerospace industry
  • Strong communication skills
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • The ability to work to close deadlines
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills
  • the ability to cope with new demands and new problems to be solved

 

Average salaries

Starting salaries: £22,000 to £28,000

With experience: £28,000 to £40,000

At senior levels: £45,000 to £60,000

Airline Office Jobs

Aviation office workers

What does an airline office worker do?

The perfect job for an efficient administrator who wants to work behind the scenes, airline office workers are employed to provide administrative support in running of the business aspects of the airline. Located in the corporate headquarters rather than the airport, airline office jobs involve bookkeeping, managing research projects, and prepping reports. They further are responsible for carrying out phone and administrative duties whilst representing the executive office.

 

Responsibilities

Responsibilities vary from day to day but can include:

  • Handling correspondence
  • Directing calls
  • Necessary bookkeeping tasks
  • Making appointments
  • Filling out paperwork to meet industry compliance
  • Planning presentation for executives
  • Preparing reports

 

Qualifications

There are no hard qualifications for being an airline office worker, but previous office and administrative work may prove useful, as well showing understanding of the airline, its flight routes and culture.  

 

Skills

  • Good organization skills
  • Excellent time management
  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Discretion with the business details of the airline
  • Competency with various Microsoft Office packages (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

 

Average salaries

Starting salaries: £19,000

With experience: £25,000

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Passenger Check-in Officer: Job Description

Passenger Check-in Officer: Job Description

The first member of staff a passenger will come into contact with at the airport is often a check-in officer. These roles are therefore very important to airlines looking to promote a positive image of their business.

Check-in officers, or ‘airline customer service agents’, need to have excellent communication skills, patience, and most importantly, an instinctive ability to cope with difficult situations in a calm and professional manner.

The role typically deals directly with customers just as they are embarking on their journey. The main responsibilities include checking passengers in, weighing and checking in baggage, issuing boarding passes and luggage labels, allocating seat numbers, asking security questions, and answering passenger queries prior to their flight.

Further duties might involve walking passengers to and from aircraft, arranging facilities for people with disabilities and generally ensuring all passengers are boarding in time for their flights. Check-in officers may have additional duties at the boarding gate which might involve a final check of boarding passes and passports before passengers may get onto the aircraft.

Due to the long hours that airports are open, this role is often on a shift pattern. This may involve working late evening shifts or early morning shifts. You may also have to be available for work at the weekends and on bank holidays as these tend to be popular times for flights.

If you enjoy working directly with customers, have good communication skills and a professional approach, a role as a passenger check-in officer could be a good option for you.

What does a passenger check-in officer do?

The day-to-day duties of a passenger check-in officer might include:

  • Greeting passengers on arrival at the airport
  • Answering any queries passengers might have about their journey
  • Checking bookings and issuing boarding passes
  • Keeping passengers updated on any changes to flight information
  • Directing passengers to the correct gate for their flight
  • Weighing and checking in luggage
  • Responding in a calm and professional manner to customer complaints
  • General administration duties
  • Make sure that late passengers get to their flights before the departure time or are booked on an alternative flight
  • Following security procedures
  • Checking boarding passes and passports at the boarding gate

 

What qualifications do you need to become a passenger check-in officer?

You will need to have achieved some GCSEs such as English at grades A*-C (9-4) to apply. Experience of working in a customer service environment will help make your application more attractive. The ability to speak another language may also be useful as you could be dealing with customers from around the world.

If successful with your application, you will usually have to undergo a training programme that may last around four to eight weeks. This is likely to include learning how to use computerised and manual reservation systems, telephone skills, gaining proper knowledge of emergency and evacuation procedures, and extensive security training.

It is common for check-in officers to start their careers in temporary work during busy periods at an airport. If you manage to impress your superiors with an excellent level of customer service, you will have a good chance of securing a permanent role.

As well as on-the-job training, it’s also possible to qualify with National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in Handling Air Passengers,at levels 2 and 3, awarded by City & Guides and EMTA Awards Ltd.

 

What skills do you need to become a passenger check-in officer?

Customer service skills: As the majority of the role will be in direct contact with customers, you will need excellent customer service skills. As you will be acting as a representative of an airline and usually the first member of staff a customer will come into contact with at an airport, employers will be particularly keen for you to demonstrate these skills at interview.

Communication skills: These are essential in order to relay flight details to passengers. You will be responsible for letting them know where their flight will be departing from and if there have been any last minute changes to the flight.

The ability to stay calm under pressure: You may be faced with complaints or customers who have been delayed. As a representative of the airline, you will be expected to deal with this in a calm and professional manner.

Problem solving skills: These skills will help you deal with customer queries or complaints in a helpful and efficient way. You may need to help customers find alternative routes to their destination.

IT skills: Many of your duties will be computerised. Having good IT skills will help you with administration duties and with checking passengers in.

Organisation skills: You will need to have good organisation skills to deal with customers quickly and efficiently, especially in busy periods.

 

How much does a passenger check-in officer earn?

Salaries can vary depending on which airline employs you. Some airlines may offer a higher salary if you can speak multiple languages and may offer benefits such as subsidised travel.

Starting salary: £13,000 to £16,000

Experienced: £16,000 to £22,000

Senior salary: £40,000

These figures are intended as a guide and are from the National Careers Service.

 

What are your career prospects as a passenger check-in officer?

Most of the job opportunities for airline customer service agents are through airports, airlines and handling agents. Some jobs are seasonal initially, with the possibility of becoming permanent at the end of the season. In the UK, most jobs of this kind exist at London’s two major airports – Heathrow and Gatwick – with other vacancies in regional airports, including Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, Birmingham and Glasgow. It is important to consider how close to an airport you live as you may have to relocate for this role. 

Airlines that are often looking for staff include easyJet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Flybe.

Naturally for those who excel in the role, there will be the chance of promotion with time, and perhaps further management training, or the option to specialise in another area of airline work such as Cabin Crew.

Search for the latest passenger check-in jobs on Aviation Job Search. Need some more inspiration? Take a look at some of the other roles in the aviation industry and find the career that’s right for you. 

 

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Air Traffic Controller: Job Description

Air Traffic Controller: Job Description

Air traffic controllers are responsible for the safe flight of aircraft and for providing pilots with details on when and where they should land at an airport. They work in control centres or in airport control towers to track flights using radar and radio equipment and communicate advice and instructions to pilots. They play a vital role in managing airspace and keeping aircraft safe.

There are different types of air traffic controller who specialise in the different stages of a flight. Area controllers work in regional control centres and guide aircraft through their own sectors. Approach controllers take over once the aircraft starts to approach the airport. They give pilots clearance to get into sequence with other aircraft in preparation for landing. The final stage in the landing process is overseen by aerodrome controllers. They work from the control towers in airports and are responsible for guiding the aircraft to a safe landing. They also ensure that the planes then reach their parking stands safely.

If you are confident with technology, have an interest in the aviation industry and have good problem-solving skills, a career as an air traffic controller could be for you.

What does an air traffic controller do?

The duties of an aircraft controller depend on what stage of the flight they are in charge of. The general duties of area, approach and aerodrome controllers include:  

  • Using sophisticated radar and radio technology to track the progress of aircraft.
  • Maintaining contact with the pilots on board each aircraft in their sector.
  • Advising pilots on weather conditions and how this might affect their flight path.
  • Instructing aircraft on the routes to be followed towards an airport.
  • Coordinating a safe distance between planes whilst in flight.
  • Instructing pilots as to the cruising height appropriate for their flight plan.
  • Adjusting flight plans in unexpected circumstances or emergencies.
  • Directing the movement of aircraft on the ground to and from runways.
  • Coordinating the sequence of aircraft coming into land in an airport.
  • Coordinating any traffic around the terminals, such as aircraft, ground crew, passenger buses etc.

 

What qualifications do you need to become an air traffic controller?

To become an air traffic controller in the UK, you’ll need to qualify for a licence from the National Air Traffic Services (NATS). To begin your training, you will need to have at least 5 GCSEs at grade A*-C (9-4), including English and Maths. Although a degree isn’t essential, further study of a mathematical or scientific subject may help with your career prospects due to the technical aspects of the role.

You will also need to prove that you have a good level of physical and mental health and meet the standards of the European Class 3 medical certificate as set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). A final requirement is that you pass a security clearance which will check for details such as a criminal record.

Once you have passed these checks you can apply for the NATS air traffic controller training course. This is a rigorous course of assessment and training that takes between three and four years to complete. NATS accept around 20 trainees per 3,300 applicants and only around 15 of these will complete the training and receive their license. See their infographic for more information on this process.

 

What skills do you need to become an air traffic controller?

  • You will need excellent communication skills in order to relay information to pilots and instruct them on any changes to flight plans.
  • You will need a great deal of motivation to succeed in a career as an air traffic controller. NATS UK only accepts a handful of applicants and even if you become a trainee, the course is demanding.
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure is essential when faced with any emergencies with aircraft in the air or on the ground.
  • You will need to be able to concentrate over an extended period of time as pilots and other controllers will be relying on the information that you provide.
  • Your role will require confidence with technology as much of it will revolve around the use of sophisticated radar.
  • You will then need to be able to interpret the data the technology is relaying and process large amounts of information in a short space of time.
  • Being decisive with this information and communicating important aspects of it to pilots is essential for the safety of the airspace.
  • You will also need to demonstrate good problem-solving skills in order to deal efficiently with unexpected circumstances and ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
  • Teamwork is also an essential skill as you will have to work with other controllers and pilots to coordinate the positions of aircraft in the airspace.

 

How much does an air traffic controller earn?*

The NATS website offers a comprehensive run through of the salaries you can expect to earn at each stage of your career. Once accepted as a trainee your basic salary will be £13,154.40 and you will be eligible for a benefits package. Once you’ve completed the first stage of your training in college, you’ll be posted to a NATS Unit where you’ll receive the next stage of your education. This comes with an increase in salary to between £17,066 and £20,479.

Once qualified your salary will be in the region of £32,522 – £36,247. As you gain experience, you will be eligible for rises in salary and experienced controllers who work in Heathrow Tower and at Swanwick Centre can earn in excess of £100,000. Below are estimates of an air traffic controller salary in the UK:

Trainee: £13,154 to £20,279

Qualified: £32,522 to £51,781

Experienced: £100,000+

 

What are your career prospects as an air traffic controller?

Air traffic controllers usually train as either area, approach or aerodrome controllers and stay in their chosen discipline throughout their careers. In each of these areas is the opportunity to become managers or supervisors and take on the responsibility of managing other controllers.

You could also work as an air traffic controller in the RAF.

Some controllers decide to take on training roles and work in colleges or assessment units for new recruits.

The international language used in air control is English which opens up the possibility for work in other countries.

Search for the latest air traffic controller jobs on Aviation Job Search. To find out more about other careers in the aviation industry, read our complete guide to aviation jobs

 

*Salaries are meant as a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

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