The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) wants the British Government and airlines to implement a pilot apprenticeship scheme to open up the career to a more diverse population.

BALPA has already helped establish the first ever apprenticeship standard for commercial airline pilots in the UK. But a year on from its creation, it says they are yet to see any airlines take up this opportunity.

BALPA said it is continuing to work with the Aviation Industry Skills Board to make this option more practicable.

At present, aspiring pilots have to fund their own training which can cost up to £130,000. This, it says, is a huge ask for those from less affluent backgrounds. 

"There has been a lot of talk from airlines about diversity," said Wendy Pursey, BALPA Head of Membership and Career Services.

“We believe that apprenticeships could help open up the career to those who currently can’t afford to access training. "

“BALPA has worked hard to produce the first ever apprenticeship standard for commercial airline pilots in the UK."

Pursey said airlines, the wider industry and Government should work on removing the obstacle preventing the scheme's adoption.

"If airlines really to want recruit people from all walks of life, then they need to remove the financial barrier. At the moment those aspiring to a career in the skies must have deep pockets if they are to fund their training."

BALPA is the professional association and trade union that represents the interests of all UK pilots. It represents over 10,000 pilots and has recognition in 23 different companies.