I want to become a commercial pilot, can you do that through the RAF?

  • $\begingroup$ Being a military pilot is very different than just flying. A military service is to protect a country, by trading your life in combat if necessary. If your goal is to fly jets, look for airlines that recruit "pilots" with no flying experience. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    May 10, 2017 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ Even though many of the airlines higher x RAF pilots? $\endgroup$ May 10, 2017 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Experience as a fighter pilot is sure makes a person a very good candidate, but it is by no means the only way. All I am saying is that serving a military has its own life style, and you have to be prepared to sacrifice a lot in personal life. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    May 10, 2017 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @kevin Most air force pilots are not fighter pilots. A C17 or A440 pilot, for example, will be a natural fit. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    May 10, 2017 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielMurphy Another way to look at it is that an RAF pilot will almost certainly make a good commercial pilot, so it stands to reason that many ex-RAF pilots go on to fly commercially. However, the reverse doesn't stand true - a good commercial pilot won't necessarily make a good RAF pilot. Joining the military on the strength of a civilian career in 5 - 10+ years is probably a bad move. You'd probably be shocked at how little (relatively speaking) flying your average RAF pilot does day to day compared to a commercial operator clocking up hours $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    May 10, 2017 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can. It means giving a commitment for a fair number of years in service of your country, where you will be trained as a pilot (assuming you get on to that - there are more jobs in the RAF than just pilot!). After your service, one thing you can do with your military flying experience is become a commercial pilot.

When I was young enough to consider it, there were 3 ways to become a commercial pilot

  • Learn in the airforce
  • Pay your own way (PPL, CPL, ATPL etc)
  • Get a scholarship from a big carrier like BA. There were usually about 4-6 given per year to the highest achievers.
  • $\begingroup$ When I spoke to someone at the RAF they told me I could not become a commercial pilot through them. What is the process from the time you leave the RAF? or can you do a aviation science degree while in your service? $\endgroup$ May 10, 2017 at 15:31
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, I believe that, like in the US, that the hours you earn in the service can be applied towards a type rating or license. You would still have to pass the knowledge and skills tests before being issued a license. Militaries do not issue private/commercial/ATP licenses, a military pilots license is not the same as a civilian one. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 10, 2017 at 15:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ All they mean is that the RAF will not provide you with a commercial pilots license since they have no need for it. But training for and flying multi-engine transports, for example, will give you at least as good a training as the civilian route - some would argue better. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    May 10, 2017 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ And what way did you choose? $\endgroup$
    – avtomaton
    May 10, 2017 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @avtomaton A career in financial technology. My eyesight was not good enough for the airforce, and my pockets were not deep enough to do it myself. Alas, a PPL is the best Ive got so far. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    May 10, 2017 at 18:44

If you were to serve in the RAF as a pilot (no matter the appointment e.g. rotary, fast jet, or multi engine) after your service you can become a commercial pilot with additional training for around 6 months which is very cheap. Also it will help you get a good quality job as a commercial pilot as you have officer training & loads of flight hours & (if chosen) part time instructor in the Grob Tutor/115e as well.


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