Date: 29 November 2017
The MPL is one of the newest routes of training to take if you're looking for a way to the right hand seat of a commercial airliner. Quite often a lot of people I fly with haven't heard of the MPL program or if they have heard of it, they aren't really sure what it involves. Some of the “old school” captains are even a bit suspicious of it, since it involves more training in the simulator than the aircraft, so perhaps some of the information below, from my own experience of following the MPL route with L3 Airline Academy, will help to dispel some of the confusion surrounding what a MPL is.
First off, MPL stands for Multicrew Pilots License. It means that, instead of the traditional route that aspiring pilots would follow, where they'd get a PPL (private pilot's licence) then a CPL (commercial pilots licence) and then add a multi engine and instrument rating onto these, with the MPL you can essential go from having never flown an aircraft before to flying a passenger airline with only one license.
However, that doesn't mean that it's just one exam at the end instead of the previously mentioned four! In fact, with the MPL you're under continual assessment, with every flight and simulator detail being assessed by specific criteria to make sure the trainee is meeting the required standard. There are also a series of Competency Assessments that must be passed in order to progress onto the next stage of training. Basically, you end up doing the equivalent of the PPL/CPL/ME/IR but without getting the paperwork license at each stage, you get it all wrapped together as part of the MPL.
Also, the MPL license is specific to a particular airline and a particular aircraft. For myself, I was part of the Flybe MPL course, so I had interviews with Flybe before I started training and knew that I'd be trained with Flybe operating procedures specifically tailored for flying the Dash 8 Q400 once I qualified. My course mates and I were all given a conditional offer of employment by the airline as long as we successfully completed the training course to the required standard. Having trained alongside people from the easyJet and Virgin Atlantic MPL courses, I knew that this was the same set-up as their courses. This conditional offer of employment provides a lot of extra security for anyone looking to get into a career in aviation, especially when there can be a lot of money at stake. It can be a big comfort to parents and families who might be either self-sponsoring or acting as guarantors for a bank loan to know there will be a job waiting at the end.
As I've mentioned above there's definitely several advantages to the MPL course as an alternative route to the Integrated ATPL or a modular route. In reality we only have roughly 150hrs of flight time less than those following the other training programs – time which is made up in the simulator.
I would definitely recommend the MPL training course to anyone looking to make a career in aviation as I think, aside from the additional security of having a job at the end of the course, it also ensures you are very well prepared for working for an airline. It teaches you how to operate an airliner from an early stage and as a crew rather than a single pilot, which are invaluable skills. The training also mimics the airline environment from an early stage, which is ultimately the environment you'll be in for the rest of your aviation career. Although, in theory the MPL can be completed from zero flying hours to obtaining the license at the end, in my experience most of the cadets on the course had either a PPL (like myself) or had some previous flying experience, even if it was only a few hours up to a solo flight.
I found the Flybe MPL course run with L3 Airline Academy to be a well-tailored training program that provides aspiring aviators with all the relevant skills required to be a good and competent first officer with a major airline. From a personal perspective it provided me with excellent training that meant I was fully prepared and confident to start my job with Flybe and be at the controls of the Dash 8 from day one. Yes, it's a relatively new course of pilot training on offer, but as more and more MPL qualified pilots reach the airlines, we can prove how well this training course works.