BA’s pilot cadet scheme opening for new applications

Scheme offers successful candidates free training and a job on graduation

The highly sought-after Speedbird Pilot Academy cadet programme will open again for applications on April 16. When it first started in 2023, the scheme saw 20,000 applicants compete for just 100 spots. Anticipating continued strong demand for travel, the airline is now opening applications for its second intake of ab initio pilots.

 The initiative aims to democratise the path to becoming a commercial airline pilot by removing the financial barriers that have traditionally deterred many from pursuing this career. The roughly £100,000 cost of training is fully funded by the airline, which will then employ the graduates as first officers.

 Commenting on the announcement Simon Cheadle, British Airways' Director of Flight Operations, highlighted the exceptional talent uncovered in the first year of the scheme: “We know from the overwhelming response and high standard of applications we had in the first year of Speedbird Pilot Academy, that there are a lot of talented people who just need a little bit of help to achieve their dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot – and we are pleased to give them that opportunity.”  

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Candidates for the programme will undergo a rigorous selection process, which will include individual and group interviews and aptitude skill tests. Upon graduation from the scheme, they will be employed by British Airways as first officers, most likely on the Airbus 320 fleet.

 Facing strong demand and a potential pilot shortage, several other airlines have also started offering funded or sponsored pilot-training schemes over the last few years, including Aer Lingus and United Airlines.

 The Speedbird Pilot Academy is part of a £7bn investment initiative that British Airways is undertaking across its business divisions.