The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) helped establish the first apprenticeship standard for commercial airline pilots in the U.K., which is now on the shelf for any airline to pick up and use.

Put together by the Aviation Industry Skills Board specialist sub-group, the apprenticeship standard for first pilot officer has the backing of BALPA, and the Honourable Company of Air Pilots and is supported by aviation employers, including British Airways, Flybe, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The introduction of the apprenticeship also works towards the Department for Transport’s proposed aviation strategy in ensuring the industry has at its disposal a ready supply of talent to meet both current demand and future need.

BALPA has previously raised concerns over the phenomenally high costs of pilot training, which can run to £100,000 or more. The union says the expense may be putting off talented potential pilots from less affluent backgrounds.

BALPA Head of Membership and Career Services, Wendy Pursey, said: “Anyone wanting to become a pilot usually has to find around £100,000 to fund their training, which puts a flying career out of reach for too many people. Piloting should be an equal opportunities career; we hope the new pilot apprenticeship programme will make that a reality for more people.”