Do you live overseas but want to become a commercial pilot in the UK?

by L3Harris Airline Academy on Nov 24 2020
Do you live overseas but want to become a commercial pilot in the UK?

Taking the leap to study abroad and become a pilot may feel daunting. Not only is it a huge financial investment, but leaving your friends and family to live in another country takes guts. But to become a pilot, you'll need exactly that.

At L3Harris, we want you to feel at home. That's why we help our cadets source excellent accommodation, so you'll feel comfortable and a part of a community while you receive training from a leading British airline academy.

Pilot training in the UK and with L3Harris will open new doors. Not only will you be set for the future, but it's where you make lifelong friendships and create lifelong memories.

Are you ready for a life of learning in the UK? Let’s find out.

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Tips for relocating to the UK for study

Deciding to relocate to the UK to study will give you a massive to-do list. Here are our tips to help make your move swift and simple:

  • Plan your funding 

All of our pilot courses are self-funded, our cadets usually pay for their world-class training through either finance, savings/inheritance, or loans.

While we recognise that this is a hefty investment, it’s also a valuable one. The cutting-edge facilities and industry-leading training are what puts us on the map. You will also recoup the investment costs in your potential earnings, as starting salaries for newly-qualified commercial pilots range from £22,000 to £28,000 per annum.

As you progress, your earnings will too. A starting salary for a Captain can vary between £57,000 to more than £140,000, making this a highly positive ROI. Learn more about how much you could earn as a pilot in the UK.

  • Obtain a student visa, if necessary

To kickstart your pilot training, you'll need to meet the United Kingdom Visa & Immigration Service (UKVI) requirements to qualify for a Short-term visa or Tier 4 Study Visa.

From the 1st of January 2021, EU students, students from the EEA and Swiss students will need to apply for a student visa via the methods stated below. Until then, you don’t need to apply for one.

However, for students from countries outside of the EU or EEA (excluding Switzerland), things are slightly different. If you are studying in the UK for less than six months, you'll need a short-term visa, currently at the cost of £86. You can also apply for an 11-month short-term visa, priced at £186.

If you are planning on working during your studies, you'll need a Tier 4 student visa. This is perfect for those who'd like to opt for our Modular ATPL Course.

To apply, you'll need to obtain three essential documents. These are as follows:

  • Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)
  • Proof of finances
  • Proof of English Language skills — usually acquired through taking a SELT test.

The Tier 4 visa costs £348 if you're applying from outside the UK, and you'll need to be in your home country to apply.

  • Arrange accommodation 

For obvious reasons, organising accommodation is hugely important. At L3Harris we can assist you in arranging accommodation in close proximity to our flight schools.

  • Open a student bank account. 

Setting up a student bank account will make it easier to pay bills, keep your money safe and avoid foreign currency exchanges.

Once you arrive in the UK, you’ll need to schedule an appointment at your chosen bank. You’ll need to bring some essential documents along with you. These are as follows:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid visa (Non-EU students only)
  • Proof of address in the UK — typically acquired through a tenancy agreement or utility bill.
  • Proof of address in your home country
  • Proof of student status —You'll typically receive this once you enrol in your course.
  • Proof of income — this is to establish you will be able to maintain the account.

  • Ensure you've got health insurance

All international students, from both inside and outside the EU, will need to get health insurance. If you're from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, you'll just need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will enable you to access free or reduced healthcare from the National Healthcare Service (NHS) during your studies.

However, if you’re from a country outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you'll need to pay the health surcharge as part of your visa application; this will give you access to the NHS during your studies.

  • Know how many hours you're allowed to work 

This is important. If you're from a non-EU or non-EEA country, you'll be able to work up to 20-hours per week while studying. If you're coming from an EU or EEA country or Switzerland, you are free to work as many hours as you wish.

Learning to fly at our UK flight schools

At L3Harris, our flight schools are where you make lifelong friendships and memorie, and build a successful career as a reputable commercial airline pilot.

You can benefit from:

  • Courses regulated by the UK CAA and the EASA.
  • State-of-the-art-facilities including the LTC and Ponte de Sor in Portugal – one of the largest Academy locations in Europe.
  • Expert tuition; Many of our Theoretical Knowledge and Flight Instructors are ex-Airline Captains with thousands of hours combined experience on the flight deck.
  • Modern training fleet including Diamond and Piper Archer PA28 aircraft with glass cockpits and Garmin G1000 instrumentation – similar to that found in a commercial jet.
  • 40-years experience training first-class pilots
  • 5 Global academy locations making us one of the largest Airline Academies in the industry.
  • We are part of L3Harris Technologies, which operates in the defense and commercial aviation industries, employs over 40,000 people globally and reported revenues of $17 billion dollars in 2019.

Train to fly with leading British training academy, L3Harris. Are you ready?

Our flight schools

Are you ready for a life of learning in the UK? Discover your Pilot training options
Integrated ATPL Programme

Integrated Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) courses are designed to take you from little to no flying experience to fully qualified airline pilot in approximately 74 weeks. On successful completion, you will graduate with a frozen ATPL issued by the UK CAA or EASA.

With a UK CAA licence you can become a pilot for airlines registered in the UK such as easyJet or British Airways. With an EASA licence you can become a pilot for airlines registered in Europe such as Ryanair, Turkish Airlines and TAP Air Portugal.

Here are some more details:

  • Cost: £79,950
  • Status: Full-time
  • Duration: Approximately 74 weeks, subject to scheduling
  • Type: UK CAA or EASA Pilot licence
  • Required experience: Little or none
  • Training: On the latest-generation devices
  • Locations: United Kingdom and Portugal

Learn more about our Integrated ATPL course

Modular ATPL Programme

If you’re in need of flexibility whilst training to become a pilot, our Modular ATPL programme could be the course for you. With the ability to complete the course in segments, you can train around your studies or work commitments. The courses are as follows:

  • Theoretical Knowledge Training (Ground School)
  • CPL MEIR (Commercial Pilot License with Multi-Engine Instrument Rating)
  • Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC) Training.

To qualify, you'll need to secure your Private Pilot License (PPL), and you must have logged 150 flying hours before kickstarting your CPL course. The details are as follows:


  • Cost: £13,000
  • Duration: Approx. 10-weeks
  • Location: Portugal

Hours building:

  • Cost: £20,000
  • Duration: Approx. 15-weeks
  • Location: Portugal

Theoretical Knowledge:

  • Cost: £6,950 (Classroom-Based) or £2,400 (Distance Learning)
  • Duration: Approx. 29-weeks
  • Location: Gatwick (Classroom-Based) or Home (Distance Learning)


  • Cost: £39,500
  • Duration: Approx. 23-weeks
  • Location: UK or Portugal


  • Cost: £5,699
  • Duration: Approx. 3-weeks
  • Location: Gatwick

Learn more about our Modular ATPL course

Combing university with pilot training

Our BSc (Hons) Aviation – Pilot Programme has been designed to prepare students for a career as a professional pilot. The programme has been developed between L3Harris and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and is approved by aviation regulators UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Course details:

  • Status: Full-time
  • Duration: Approximately 3 years, subject to scheduling
  • Qualification: ATPL + BSc (Hons)
  • Required experience: Little or none
  • Locations: United Kingdom / global academies
  • Employment: Pilot or Aviation industry

Successful graduation from this programme will provide you with:

  • BSc(Hons) degree
  • ATPL Theoretical Knowledge training
  • Commercial Pilots License with Multi-Engine and Instrument Rating (CPL/ MEP/IR)
  • Airline Pilot Standards Multi-Crew Cooperation (APS MCC) certificate
  • Upset Prevention & Recovery Training (UPRT)

ATPL Theoretical Knowledge, CPL MEP IR, APS MCC and UPRT combined are known as an ATPL.

Learn more about this course

Funding your world class tuition

For many aspiring commercial airline pilots, the greatest barrier to becoming a pilot is securing the funding for pilot training. At L3Harris, all of our training programmes are self-funded by either finance, savings or loans.

While we're unable to offer any pilot training financial advice, we do suggest that prospective pilots speak with their partners, families, banks, or independent lenders for guidance.

We recognise pilot training is a big investment, however, it's also a valuable one. The course cost reflects the industry-leading quality of training and cutting-edge facilities we offer. Although more expensive than a university degree, the key difference lies in the potential earnings.

The starting salary for a newly qualified commercial pilot ranges from approximately £22,000 to £28,000. At the top end, you could earn over £140,000, making this a positive ROI.

So, what are you waiting for? Fly better, fly bold and fly British with L3Harris today.

Integrated ATPL
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