ABOVE: The Speedbird Pilot Academy will offer up to 60 aspiring pilots fully funded training 

British Airways has announced the launch of a new cadet programme, the Speedbird Pilot Academy, which will provide up to 60 candidates the opportunity to benefit from a fully funded training scheme.

Described as a ‘first-in-a-generation initiative’, This multi-million pound programme aims to remove the considerable financial barrier to training – estimated to cost around £100,000 – which BA acknowledges ‘has made the profession prohibitive for many’. “Whether someone is just leaving school or embarking on a second career they never thought possible, we’re levelling the playing field by removing the initial cost barrier to make a flying career more accessible to a wider range of people,” explained Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO.

Applicants must be aged between 18 and 55, possess 6 GCSEs (including English, maths and science), to be a minimum height of 5ft 2in and be able to pass a UK CAA Class 1 Medical.

Successful candidates will be offered a fully-funded place at an approved flight training school and, on completion of the course, a position as a British Airways pilot. Applications will open in September 2023 with training planned to start in 2024.

BA currently employs around 4,000 pilots and describes the Speedbird Pilot Academy as part of the airline’s wider recruitment plan, which – along with other partnerships and programmes – will help the airline secure ‘the right levels of future flying talent for years to come’.