Gaining the job title of ‘Pilot’ is the dream of countless children across the globe and only a few truly go on to follow that dream – but how do they do it? Becoming a cargo airline pilot is no easy feat. Between schooling, further training and logging up more flight time just to get a licence, knowing exactly what it takes isn’t exactly common knowledge. For those of you still holding onto that dream, we’ve decided to give you a head start with our quick guide to becoming a freight cargo airline pilot! Read on to find out more.


As you might expect, becoming a pilot involves schooling. Looking for a flight school is the ideal place to start and thankfully there are plenty to choose from across the UK. Brunel University in London offers an Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies course as an undergraduate degree, opening prospective pilots the opportunity to get professional training after graduation. There’s also the option to get a year of work experience at Heathrow airport with their four-year courses.

Kingston University in London is another alternative that offers you training included. You’ll get a broad knowledge of the industry from experts and guest speakers, and in the second year, you’ll study at the Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training centre. Get in touch with your chosen university or school to find out more about this stage.


The next step is to get the right training to obtain your Airline Transport Pilot License. To do this, you’ll need to have obtained your PPL (Private Pilot’s Licence) and start training for the following: Instrument Rating, Commercial Licence, Multi-Engine rating and a Certified Flight Instructor Rating. These courses can be quite costly, though there can often be funding available for those who need it dependant on your financial situation.

Flight Time

To be able to gain your Airline Transport Pilot Licence, you’ll also need to have at least 1,500 flight hours. To begin with, you’ll train as a co-pilot, assisting a fully licenced pilot on deliveries and flights to log those hours and get more and more experience of the industry as a whole. Once you’ve logged that many hours, you can apply for an ‘unfrozen’ ATPL. It’s important to note that you need to be at least 21 to get your full ATPL, though this is usually the case due to the sheer number of hours that you’ll log prior to being able to apply.

Apply For A Job!

Some airlines offer training programmes and you’ll find that you get a job straight after your training, however, if this isn’t the case, your final step is to start applying for jobs! After all of your training and once you have your full licence, you can start applying for jobs. In some cases, airlines might require extra training though this is entirely dependent on the job you apply for!

So there you have it, a brief overview of how to obtain your pilot’s licence and get to flying cargo planes. Your best bet if you wish to follow this career path is to talk to a university or training centre directly – good luck!