Pilot training in the U.K. and Europe.

How to become a pilot in the U.K. and Europe

Making the decision to become a pilot with L3Harris is a life-changing step towards an exciting and rewarding career. Flying passengers around the globe in an office above the clouds with spectacular views is a job that’s hard to beat! Here at L3Harris we are dedicated to helping our cadets secure their dream role as a Co-Pilot with a commercial airline.

The airline pilot career programs we offer at our global airline academies are all slightly different. This page will provide an overview on how to become an Airline Pilot in the United Kingdom and Europe. This means you will undertake an EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) pilot training program.

The journey to becoming an EASA certified Airline Pilot is both an exciting and challenging one. It takes an average of 18 months to 2 years to complete your pilot training and be placed in a role of Junior Co-Pilot with an airline.

The type of training program you choose to undertake will depend on your ultimate career goal. Many of our cadets do not like the idea of being tied to one particular airline and so choose to take an L3Harris Program such as our Integrated ATPL program, meaning they can select which airline they apply to at the end of training. Other cadets prefer the security of having a conditional job offer at the end of their training and apply for an Airline Program, where training is tailored to one specific commercial airline including Virgin, British Airways and easyJet.

Some people wish to study at their own pace and choose to take a modular route, while others are interested in other aspects of aviation aside from becoming a pilot and choose to study a college or university degree alongside their pilot training.

Your journey to become a pilot

Discover the journey you will take to become an EASA certified pilot at our UK & European Academies.

Nothing comes close to the exhilaration of airline flying and the views from what could possibly be the best office in the world. We look forward to welcoming you to L3Harris and helping you to launch your Airline Pilot career.

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Stage 1: Research

With so many options for pilot training in the U.K. and Europe, it can feel difficult to know where to start researching. Many of our trainee pilots say the blog posts from current and alumni cadets helped them get a feel for L3Harris Airline Academy, as well as attending our events where you have the opportunity to speak with our careers advice team and professional pilots.

As part of L3Harris, our Airline Academies stand out as we are able to train using the very latest aviation technologies from across the business. We also have a reputation in the industry for having friendly, approachable staff who provide outstanding training.

Stage 2: Application

We advise all prospective pilots to take their time, read the Application & Selection documents carefully and check that they meet the entry criteria before submitting their application. Your application will be screened by our selection team and, if successful, we will invite you to attend a selection day.

Ready to enroll? Apply online today
Stage 3: Selection

We won’t sugar coat it, our selection days are challenging but as long as you are prepared for the day there is no need to be nervous. We will only accept applicants onto our pilot training programs who have the potential to eventually take command of a passenger aircraft and we will assess you on both the technical and non-technical skills required to become an airline pilot.

You can find further information on our selection process and how to prepare below.

Find out more
Stage 4-7: Training

Stage 4: Ground school
Once through selection you will embark on the initial phase of flight training known as ground school. You will meet your fellow course mates, settle into your accommodation at one of our approved training locations and complete your classroom and computer-based theoretical knowledge training.

Stage 5: Foundation flight training
Often the most exciting stage of the course, you will take to the skies, learning to fly single engine piston aircraft at one of our global training centers. The exact aircraft, location and duration of this phase will depend on your program.

Stage 6: Commercial and instrument flight training
The content of this training will depend on the course you have chosen, but will involve single and multi-engine aircraft and assessments in our Full Flight Simulators.

Stage 7: Intermediate training
If you are on an MPL route, this will involve aircraft type-specific training on the plane you will be flying with that particular airline. On our Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) route you will take our world-renowned Airline Qualification Course (AQC).

Stage 8-10: Airline Phases

Stage 8: (ATPL students only) Airline Placement
Eligible students will be placed in our graduate placement pool where our team will work to secure you employment as a Co-Pilot with a global airline.

Stage 9: Advanced training
You will undertake aircraft type-specific training to prepare you to fly for your airline. You will also complete Line Orientated Experience (LOE) and line check with your airline employer as well as safety, emergency and procedures training.

Stage 10: Junior Co-Pilot
Congratulations! You are now employed as a Junior Co-Pilot, sitting in the right hand seat of the flight deck flying passengers on commercial aircraft. L3 can provide all the further training you need to progress your career up to the rank of Captain as well as other airline training courses.

Learn about our Integrated ATPL program
Where you will train

If you are successfully selected to become a pilot in the U.K. or wider Europe your training could take place at one or more of L3Harris' approved training locations in the U.K., Portugal and New Zealand. You may be based in one location for the duration of your training but it is likely you will be required to travel between locations as you progress through your pilot training course. The cost of travelling between L3Harris' global academies will be covered as part of your training fee.

L3’s approved training locations
Pilot training courses

Becoming a pilot in the U.K. or Europe means your pilot training will be regulated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and your training will be tailored to meet EASA requirements. The other main regulatory body is the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) which governs flight training in the U.S.A.

Pilot training courses
Your future pilot career

Most British or European applicants who apply to become a pilot with L3Harris aspire to fly for a commercial airline such as British Airways, easyJet or Ryanair.

We have relationships with airlines across the globe and eligible students graduate from their flight training program into our airline placement pool where our dedicated team will work to find you a Co-Pilot role with an airline.

Career prospects
Entry criteria – United Kingdom & Europe

The following entry criteria applies to applicants applying for L3Harris Airline Academy’s Integrated ATPL career program. Airline MPL routes vary so please check before you apply.


Be at least 17 years of age to submit an application.
Be at least 18 years of age to commence commercial pilot training (program dependent).

Minimum height 5 ft. 2 in. (157 cm), maximum height 6 ft. 3 in. (191 cm).i


Hold a minimum of 5 GCSEs (or equivalenti) in different subjects at grade C or above, which must include Mathematics, Science and English language.

Be able to demonstrate that you have successfully completed secondary or high school education (or equivalent).

Be fluent in English (verbal and written).i


Be able to obtain an EASA Class 1 Medical without restrictions.


Produce a criminal record check (CRC) basic disclosure certificate before training can commence.


Have the unrestricted right to live and work in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.


Pass an application and selection process.

Get in touch today

It is time to start your airline pilot journey. Request info or speak to the team.

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Selection process & how to prepare

For our full-time, integrated programs, aspiring pilots are required to pass an application & selection process consisting of online testing, group exercises and interviews. The process is designed to assess the core competencies and skills required to become a trainee, Co-Pilot, future Captain and beyond.

Selection events vary from program to program to ensure we are assessing to specific airline requirements. If your application is successful, full information will be provided about your forthcoming selection process to give you a true expectation of the day.

The selection process will challenge you, but our experienced selection team will make you feel at ease and create an environment that allows you to relax and be yourself. It is important we get to see the real you at these events and our team are here to support you through the process and facilitate the day.

    Selection process

  • Technical assessment

      You will be required to sit the full suite of aptitude tests designed by our partner Cut-e. These ability tests are directly aligned and related to the key aptitude indicators required of a commercial airline pilot’s competencies. The test is comprised of six elements which include the two verifier assessments which are sat at the online stage. The whole technical test will take around 45 minutes to complete which includes a briefing.

      For further information about our Cut-e assessments and to try some example aptitude tests, please visit the Cut-e website

      Area assessed using Cut-e

      • Spatial orientation
      • Complex control
      • Reaction speed
      • Monitoring ability
      • Multi-tasking capability
      • Applied numeracy (with calculator)
  • Non-technical assessment

      During the day you will be invited to complete a group activity exercise allowing you to demonstrate your interpersonal skills and qualities.

      These exercises are designed to encourage discussion and debate from all team members and are often based around fictional scenarios. You will be required to read through relevant briefing information and adapt to changing goals. Remember to get involved; the assessors can only comment on what they see.

      Once all elements of the morning session are complete you will be able to take a lunch break – lunch is provided for you.

      Non-technical skill

      • Communication
      • Team working
      • Leadership
      • Situation awareness
      • Decision making & problem solving
  • Interview

      The interview is conducted on a one-to-one basis and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. If you are applying to an Airline Program, it is not unusual for an airline representative to also attend the interview phase. During the interview we are looking to get to know you better and understand some of your past experiences. This is a competency or evidence-based interview and you will be required to provide recent and relevant answers.

      Key areas of focus

      • Communication
      • Motivation
      • Commercial awareness
      • Leadership (potential)
      • Team work & cooperation
      • Decision making & problem solving skills
      • Workload management, resilience & standards
  • Further airline assessment

      If applying to an Airline Program, you may be required to complete a further assessment with the airline or our team may conduct this on behalf of the airline. This will vary depending on specific airline requirements but could include further technical tests and interviews.

      If you apply to an Airline Program and you are invited to attend a selection event, full details of the process will be provided by our team.

    How to prepare

  • Before you arrive

      Be prepared
      Before any selection event ensure you are clear on what to expect from the day. Read your invitation email carefully so you know where you need to be and what time you are expected to arrive.

      Have your documents ready
      Prepare all the documents you are required to bring with you on the day, including any copies.

      Sickness and lateness
      If you are feeling unwell please contact the selection team as soon as possible and arrange to reschedule your selection event. This is an important day for you and we would prefer you rearrange to ensure you have the opportunity to perform to the best of your abilities.

  • Preparation

      Technical and non-technical preparation
      Prepare for your numeracy test by practicing and improving the speed and accuracy of your mental calculations. This can be achieved by using a revision guide and a stopwatch to apply time pressure. For the non-technical elements, try to anticipate what you bring to a group environment and what areas you can develop in.

      Interview preparation
      Research is key. Ensure you are fully conversant with airline industry current affairs; giving particular focus to the airlines we work with and how they operate. Do not fall in to the trap of preparing “model” responses. This can often backfire because applicants may not answer the questions being asked.

Unsure? Try our careers quiz

Complete our careers quiz to find the best path for you

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Upcoming pilot career events

Pilot Careers Live: London Heathrow, 18 April 2020
Apr 18 2020 | Airline Academy
Pilot Careers Live: London Heathrow, 18 April 2020
Heathrow, London
Pilot Careers Event: Women in Aviation 2020, London Gatwick UK - March 7
Mar 07 2020 | Airline Academy
Pilot Careers Event: Women in Aviation 2020, London Gatwick UK - March 7
London Gatwick, UK
Airline Pilot Careers Event: Southampton - February 22, 2020
Feb 22 2020 | Airline Academy
Airline Pilot Careers Event: Southampton - February 22, 2020
Southampton, United Kingdom

Pilot training news & updates

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Why L3Harris Airline Academy?
29 years heritage in pilot training
29 years heritage in pilot training

7 global Academy locations
7 global Academy locations

Dedicated graduate placement team to secure your pilot role
Dedicated graduate placement team to secure your pilot role

95% of our 2019 graduates already working as Co-Pilots for 22 commercial airlines
95% of our 2019 graduates already working as Co-Pilots for 22 commercial airlines