How to become an airline pilot!

The selection is rigorous, the process is demanding and the course is overwhelming. In this post, I try to give you everything I wish I knew before joining L3 Airline Academy as well as my best advice.

Choosing the right school and programme! 

So many training organisations and independent flight schools offer the same product so it can be hard to determine who to choose for your training and why. Whether it be their airline links, facilities or training locations, each establishment has its benefits and drawbacks. When choosing my flight school, I visited and researched all of my available options. Some I disregarded straight away, others it was difficult to determine what they could offer me in comparison to other flight schools – I wanted somewhere that was going to be right for me and help me gain quality training into an airline.



L3 offered an intense training course with high quality facilities such as new generation aircraft and state of the art in house simulators. When I completed my selection day, it was still known as CTC Aviation – they ensured a very personal touch and really seemed to care about the individual.

Integrated or modular? 

Before beginning my journey with L3, I researched heavily into the modular training programmes and the benefits they have over the integrated course. They tend to be cheaper, you choose where you want to complete ground school and your flight training. In that regard, you could make your training exactly what you want it to be. However, I chose the integrated course as it offered me the quickest route to the flight deck, something which I was conscience of as I want to get into the right hand seat as quickly as possible. The knowledge that L3 had unrivalled airline placement statistics instilled confidence in me that I had made the best choice for my training.


At the time of applying this question never really crossed my mind. MPL’s have been designed by the airlines for the airlines – it allows them to get their standard procedures into their cadets much sooner in training as well as allowing you to work with future colleagues during training. Flight schools don’t offer a non-airline specific MPL course, hence why the L3 Integrated ATPL Whitetail course is so popular. The term “whitetail” simply means the cadet is not sponsored or part of an airline training programme and will apply for jobs on completion of training.

I chose the Whitetail course as I wanted choice over my first airline. However, after entering the industry and realsiing that most accept any airline job offer that comes their way, I wish I had done some more research into the MPL routes their airlines had to offer. Other than that, there is not much choice on ATPL or MPL as I stated above due to schools not offering a non-airline specific MPL course.


The dreaded question: how much does it cost to be a pilot? Integrated routes are known to be extremely efficient, however they come with a much larger price tag than a modular route. In some cases, integrated routes can be nearly twice as expensive. L3’s Integrated ATPL Course costs £96,800, not including type rating – however airline MPL programmes can cost just shy of £130,000. Banks and training organisations have some solutions to help overcome funding issues – L3 have a unique package which allows those who cannot afford to train to be a pilot gain access to the funds required, you can read about that here:

This question is best answered based on your personal situation and what you deem to be the most economically viable option for yourself. That, weighed up with everything else should leave you with an answer as to which training organisation is the best fit for you.

Additional Costs

This is certainly something I wish I had thought about more before joining. Additional costs may be low in cost, but they come in their plentiful, below is a list of the items not included in the training cost:

  • Selection fees
  • Class 1 Medical (Initial and yearly renewal) and any additional required tests
    • Initial: Approximately £550.
    • Renewals: Approximately £115 – I complete mine with Aviation Medicals Wessex, they provide a 25% discount as an L3 student pilot, the link to their website is here:


  • Insurance (Travel, loss of license, medical)
    • Provided by Finch Group Insurance Brokers.
  • Living costs
  • Additional uniform and equipment – L3 require an iPad for their programmes
  • Exam costs and resists if required (if course doesn’t include them)

I hope this gives you an insight and helps you decide on your path to becoming an airline pilot. I’ve included a contact form below if you have any more questions or feel free to message me privately on any of my social media accounts. Stay tuned for future posts!