For those interested in taking their passion for aviation and making it their career, there are two methods of gaining the correct licences, Integrated or Modular.
Modular training is seen as the traditional method, whereby a pilot gains each of the separate licences and ratings individually, before combining them together to gain the correct qualification. Modular training is the perfect method for a pilot to train at their own rate, often around work and other commitments, at a pace that suits them. The eventual licence that will be gained will be a Commercial Pilots Licence with Multi Engine Instrument Rating, or as it’s commonly known, a Frozen ATPL.
To start down this route you must first obtain your Private Pilots Licence. The PPL is the building blocks for all licences and if your plan is to go commercial, this is no different. A minimum of 45 hours is required to gain your PPL which will allow you to fly light single engine aircraft for pleasure or fun. More can be read about the PPL here.
Once the PPL is complete, two parts must be complete before moving on, those being the Airline Transport Pilots Licence Theory and your hours building. The ATPL theory is a set of 14 exams which cover the required theoretical knowledge needed to fly commercial transport aircraft. The subjects vary from Air Law, to Aircraft Performance, Meteorology and much more. These 14 exams are usually studied by either distance learning or by visiting a school which specialises in commercial training, which you can find here.
The hours building is nothing more than hiring aircraft to build the required amount of hours to start your commercial training. There are several ways to do this, but on average 175 hours of flying is required, of which 100 hours must be as pilot in command. This time can include any training you have done in your PPL.
It’s also convenient at this time to complete a night rating, a short 6 hour course which is normally completed during the winter when nights are longer and you can fly in the dark earlier. Not all schools provide this course as it needs specialist runway lighting, but you can find your nearest Night Rating school here.
With the required hours met and all 14 ATPL theory exams complete, it’s now time to change your training from that of a private pilot to that of a commercial. The CPL(A) course is effectively using the skills you learnt during your PPL and honing them to a higher level. Accuracy of flying is much higher, navigation is more precise and the technical skills are more advanced. It is however still a VFR course, with only a short period devoted to flying on instruments. Aircraft used for the CPL are also more complex, often larger and have variable pitch propellers and retractable undercarriage and often multi engine aircraft are also used. This course is only 25 hours in length (15 if you already have your IR) so it’s quite intense, but very enjoyable.
The multi engine rating is completed next, if not completed as part of the CPL. This course is another short, one, just 5 hours, where you will learn to operate an aircraft with two engines. Normally this course is spent with just a single hour learning to handle a twin aircraft, then it’s on to engine failures and emergencies! You will learn to handle the aircraft, make approaches, go-arounds and landing a multi engine aircraft with just one engine giving thrust, this is harder than it seems and requires fine rudder handling and a good eye on speed and climb rates.
After this is the final part of the flying course, the biggest section, the Instrument Rating. The IR starts usually with 30-40 hours in the simulator, moving from basic headings and altitudes to flying in airways and performing complex approaches. This course is flying by numbers, as at no time do you look out of the window when flying. After your flying standard is high enough it’s on to the aircraft, where you will take your first trips into class A airspace, flying amongst large passenger jets, often arriving into airports from the other side of the world. This course is completed by a skills test covering everything you have learnt in the course and upon passing completes the flying section of the Modular Frozen ATPL(A).
After this, you will have to complete an MCC course, which is explained in it’s own guide here.