You may be familiar with the ATPL and the CPL, but because the MPL (Multi-Crew Pilot Licence) is relatively new, you may not know about its many advantages and why it’s a good option for many aspiring pilots. Let’s start with a little background.
Introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2006, the MPL is an alternative to traditional pilot training, specifically the ATPL (Airline Pilot Transport Licence). The MPL program is carried out in close cooperation with an airline and is specifically tailored to the airline requirements and needs by integrating the airline’s procedures from the beginning. Put simply, the MPL is an airline-dedicated professional pilot licence program with a specific airline and aircraft training syllabus. Once completed, it allows a pilot to exercise the privileges of a co-pilot in a commercial air transportation on multi-crew aircraft.
While MPL standards are similar to traditional licences with regards to requirements for skill, knowledge, age, medical fitness and experience, there are some important differences. One of the biggest differences of an MPL licence is that it takes less time than traditional licences to obtain. In approximately 18 months, you could become a Flight Officer of an airline. It concentrates on the core competencies of pilots of modern jet transport aircraft emphasizing multi-crew operation from the early stages of the training. Compared to current airline pilot training, the MPL shifts a substantial part of training to approved simulators instead of smaller aircraft, where it is possible to simulate certain events and not just talk about the theoretical aspects.
The MPL also prioritizes Threat and Error Management because the vast majority of incidents and accidents in civil aviation are caused by a lack of interpersonal skills. To that point, communication, leadership and teamwork, workload management, situational awareness and structured decision making are all emphasized in the program.
To obtain your MPL you must be at least 18 years of age and hold a valid English Language Proficiency as well as meet the Class 1 medical requirements. You will have to complete a training program on theoretical knowledge and flight instruction at an approved training organization and of course, pass the applicable flight tests. Additionally, in order to achieve your MPL you need to pass extensive multi-crew human factors training, including crew resource management and error management assessments.
The MPL course was created to train a complete novice to become a competent commercial first officer. It is not designed to produce a pilot that can fly any aircraft, but specifically to produce multi-crew pilots that can complete their tasks in the right-hand seat of a commercial airline. On the other hand, you will be restricted to working for this airline until you apply for a full ATP, once you have reached 1,500 flying hours.
Upon completion of your MPL training course, you will be able to operate as co-pilot in a multi-engine, multi-pilot, turbine-powered commercial aircraft, under VFR (visual flight rules) and IFR (instrument flight rules). Seen as an entry-level position, the MPL is often used as a steppingstone to higher pilot training as there is less room for progression in this role. However, as opposed to other pilot licence programs, with the MPL you will have a conditional offer of employment right from the start of training.
Flybe was the first UK carrier to adopt MPL in 2009 followed by easyJet in 2011. Today, more airlines than ever are turning to the MPL for cadets. With approximately 14,500 openings for airline and commercial pilots projected each year, the overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Going the MPL route gives you the opportunity to job search amongst multiple airlines. Keep in mind that because MPL courses have a set number of places for each intake with a guaranteed job offer it is a highly competitive environment. Earning your MPL and getting a flying position is a life-changing event. If you are considering a career aloft, there’s never been a better time to look into the MPL.
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