Initial Flight Training Course Takes Off!

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A new flight training course which fast-tracks students onto an Honours pilot degree has welcomed its first students in Dundee.

The Initial Flight Training course is a pre-entry programme for those looking to join Tayside Aviation’s BSc Honours Degree programme which welcomes two intakes annually, in April and October.

The 12 week course, which sees students achieve their Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL), is designed for those with very little or no previous flying experience and welcomed its first five students earlier this month.

One of the new recruits is Abbie Chalmers (19) from Glenrothes. A former pupil of Glenrothes High School, Abbie hopes to succeed in the 12 week course,  commence the degree in April and, ultimately, become a commercial pilot.

Abbie said, “Up until I started my IFT course  a few weeks ago, I had only had a 30 minute flying lesson back in 2015 with Tayside Aviation down at Fife Airport. My interest in flying started around the age of 12 when I started high school but, at that time, I never realised it was possible for females to become pilots so it was more of an interest where I'd go to Edinburgh Airport, sit next to the runway and watch planes for hours and hours! It was around the age of 14 that I realised female pilots did exist and that’s when I started looking into what, exactly, it takes to become a pilot. I soon realised, however, that there was a lot of money involved so I never really thought much of it again until I had my first flying lesson. It was through speaking to the instructor after the lesson that I found out about the different options for becoming a pilot through Tayside Aviation. I went straight home afterwards and started looking into the courses on offer and then attended an open day about a month after.”

She continued, “The Tayside Aviation course appealed to me because of the security that comes along with the training as well as it being much more affordable than other courses that I looked into. The atmosphere at the open days was also really appealing - everyone was so friendly and helpful and any student I spoke to had amazing things to say about the course and the people. It’s only been a couple of weeks but I already feel that I have learned so much and everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. I'm loving every minute of it!”

The course includes 45 hours of flying instruction, night rating, a two day maths and physics course, pre and post flight briefings, a PPL study pack and uniform.  The course also includes all ground school classes, which run to around 50 hours, free landings at Dundee and Fife Airports, one year’s free membership of Tayside Flying Club and insurance.

On completion of the IFT, students will gain a place on the degree programme which is run by Tayside Aviation in conjunction with Middlesex University and Aviation Skills Partnership. There are currently over 40 students working towards their degree.

Launched in January 2015, the BSc (Hons) Professional Aviation Pilot Practice programme, the first of its kind available in Scotland, greatly increases and accelerates students’ chances of gaining employment as airline pilots in what is a highly competitive industry. The degree aims to enhance students’ career progression within the industry and hopefully attract more females into the career who currently represent less than 10% of the UK’s commercial pilot cohort.

By embarking on the degree, students can also access funding to help with the often prohibitive costs of becoming a pilot.  This will reduce the cost of the training by one third and will include a Flying Instructor Rating. The three-year programme with Tayside Aviation includes structured hours building as well as the CPL, ME IR and MCC training.

The partnership also involves partner airline Loganair who operate SAAB 340s, SAAB 2000s, Dornier 328s and the Twin Otter. Tayside Aviation has continued to supply Loganair with experienced pilots on their pilot placement programme over the past five years as hands-on experience is essential for their activity.

Jim Watt, Managing Director, Tayside Aviation said, “Many people love the idea of becoming a pilot but think the costs will be prohibitive. With all the partners in the degree process, we have a common interest in our approach which was to reduce the cost of obtaining a licence and provide the best support to students in our care. I am delighted that we now have this foundation programme airborne which is a great way of ensuring that the students are 100% set on the degree before investing in it – as well as ensuring that they have the right work ethic, aptitude and ability.”

Students must be at least 17 years of age - full entry requirements for the course can be viewed at or by calling (01382) 644372.  Tayside Aviation also holds monthly open days to provide information and course overviews. To register your interest, visit