In addition to the shock and anxiety triggered by losing your income, many pilots are left with high levels of debt. In the UK it can cost in excess of £130,000 to train to become a commercial pilot. Many years ago, airlines used to cover these costs, but today pilots self-fund with loans. The majority of redundant pilots are going to be unable to pay off flight training loans as well as other financial commitments.
Pilots also dedicate many years to qualifying – and maintaining these qualifications. The tremendous investment pilots put into building the technical skills needed to fly often leaves them feeling pigeon-holed into a very niche profession. In addition to this, regulations require that pilots specialise in flying certain aircraft types, meaning that they can’t simply fly a different type of aircraft – not without investing even more time and money in training.
Many pilots feel as if their experience leaves them with no career options as pilots and with no transferable skills relevant outside the profession. We disagree with this and believe that pilots are highly employable across a range of jobs. We work with pilots to build their confidence, bolster their CVs, and help them find bridging work until they can one day return.
Also, unless pilots maintain a certain number of training/flying hours each year, licenses can lapse and stop them from flying – thereby preventing them from easily returning to the cockpit as airlines recover. Training sims are an important way pilots can keep their hours up, but they are prohibitively expensive for individuals to access on their own (often costing almost £1000 an hour). We work with pilots to help provide access to training facilities at heavily discounted or subsidised rates.