- Study Mode: Full time
- Location: High Wycombe
- Duration: Three Years
- Start Date: September 2022
Do you want to become a commercial helicopter pilot? We can help you achieve your dream. We are one of the few programmes that allows you to gain a PPL as well as a university degree – and at a lower cost than doing them separately.
You’ll work with one of our UK-leading helicopter training schools to complete your PPL, the first step towards your CPL (H) and a career in the exciting world of rotary wing aviation.
We understand that when it comes to deciding where you’d like to study, there are a lot of things to consider. Come along to our Open Day and discover why BNU could be the place for you. You can find out more about your course, meet the course team, and get all your questions answered.
For everything you need to know about applying, check out our Application Guide. You can find useful information for each stage of your application journey – from before you even apply to what to do if you receive an offer, and everything in between.
Why study this subject?
The aviation industry keeps the world moving and a career in this sector promises unique opportunities.
This programme is aimed at those who wish to develop the skills, knowledge and employability profile that will provide them with the opportunity to pursue a career in business, leisure or emergency services. With the aviation industry everchanging, this programme is continuously adapted to meet these ongoing changes so you can be sure you’re receiving up-to-date knowledge.
Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?
With BSc (Hons) in Air Transport with Helicopter Pilot Training, you’ll work with one of our UK-leading training partners towards your PPL or ATPL. Focused modules and study will develop your skills and prepare you for a successful career in rotary wing aviation.
We have a strong focus on employability, and our training partners and professional connections give you the chance to immerse yourself in the industry. Our close proximity to Heathrow and other major UK airports – along with their suppliers – means you’re perfectly placed for networking, seasonal jobs and work placements that are available.
At BNU, you will learn from skilled lecturers within the School of Aviation and Security who have a high level of working knowledge, based on industry experience. Their teaching will allow you to gain a deep insight into the latest trends and requirements of air transport.
As well as receiving top-class lectures and seminars, students are also supported by personal tutors, module leaders and course leaders. In addition, guest speakers often deliver sessions for students within the University to enrich their learning – previously we have welcomed speakers from TUI, British Airways, Ryanair and Gatwick Airport.
At BNU, we recognise roles in this field are hands-on – that’s why you’ll take part in simulated learning experiences throughout the course using our specialised facilities, including our FNPT II Flight Simulator. You’ll also be able to use our library to support your studies, whether you’re looking for the resources you need or just a quiet place to study.
As part of your studies, you’ll enjoy free membership of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the UK professional association dedicated to the aerospace and aviation industry. As a member, you will be able to participate in a number of exciting industry events, including conferences, guest talks, student competitions, and networking opportunities.
If you are interested in the military world, UK students will be eligible to apply for a place in our regional University Air Squadron (part of the Royal Air Force) offering unique access to military flying and adventurous training.
In addition to the above, students can also benefit from free Air League memberships that enable you to apply for flying, gliding and engineering scholarships reducing the amount of your ATPL costs.
As a BNU student, you will automatically become a member of Bucks Students’ Union giving you access to a wide range of services that we offer for free. You’ll also be able to join the Aviation Society where you’ll have the ability to attend a variety events and experiences. Some examples of what we’ve done in the past include tours of NATS, a Boeing Flight Simulator experience at CAE and a tour at easyJet.
Our top 5 tips before applying
Before you make an application, we recommend you consider the following:
- There are additional costs involved with this course, in addition to the University’s tuition fees. The University does not offer any loans as we are not a financial institution. Students often get funding from private bank loans as well as student finance to pay for the tuition fees. Seek professional financial help to understand what it means for you.
- Talk to, and visit, the flight schools you are considering for most up-to-date pricing. We have included approximate costs for guidance on our approved training organisation factsheet.
- Make sure you understand the differences between a UK CAA Licence and an EASA Licence; your chosen flight school will be able to offer some guidance on this. You can find the contact details for our approved training organisations on our factsheet.
- Understand the UK CAA/EASA Class 1 (Commercial Pilots) or Class 2 (Private Pilots) medical requirements, and check that you can successfully hold such licenses, before committing to the flight training.
- Come along to an open day, talk to our current students and staff, and get all your questions answered.
What facilities can I use?
We’ve invested in a range of state-of-the-art facilities across our campuses to support your learning. We’re one of the very few UK universities to have an FNPT II Flight Simulator and as a student pilot you’ll have exclusive access and will be able to gain vital experience, without leaving the ground.
Alongside this, our other specialised simulation facilities allow you to experience real-life airport scenarios, developing your abilities in airfield planning and operations, and crisis and emergency management.
On top of services that BNU provides, we are also members of or partner with a range of external organisations to bolster your industry knowledge:
- We have access to subscription software packages including CAPA, FlightGlobal and The Fresh Connection, which will greatly assist you in your learning and in the completion of several assessments.
- We are classed as an Educational Establishment with Airports Council International Europe through our membership, giving students free access to the latest aviation news and developments.
- We’re part of the London Heathrow Skills Partnership – this means what you study is influenced by the UK’s largest airport and you’ll be one of the first to hear about opportunities. It also helps us give you an up-to-date picture of what is going on in the industry throughout your studies.
What will I study?
Throughout the course, you’ll study key modules in instruments, radio navigation, meteorology and operational procedures. You’ll also cover broader areas of air transportation such as aviation finance and economics, airport operations and airline management.
You’ll develop skills in leadership, adaptability and self-reliance. You’ll also study operational and sustainable management, strategic concepts and theories. We look at trends in the industry to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date and regularly adapt our courses to reflect the most recent changes within the air transport industry.
Our practical training partner Heli Air offers modular training, including the ATPL (H)/IR ground school, turbine ratings, twin turbine ratings and the flight instructor rating.
How will I be taught and assessed?
BNU has over 20 years’ experience in running this course and you will be taught by professional pilots with many years’ worth of experience.
You will also benefit from the team’s connections and valuable networking opportunities. Industry-leading professionals often deliver talks and presentations, providing valuable insight into the profession.
Years 1 and 2
In years 1 and 2, a variety of assessment methods are used including:
- group work
- a case study based on fieldwork
- written assignments (generally reports)
- cumulative exercises
- preparation of a handbook
- a reflective journal
- time-constrained assignments (TCAs).
Year 3 assessment is geared to testing criticality; reflection; complex problem solving; and decision making. Methods include:
- business and research proposals
- case study analysis
September – January
In the first semester, you will begin your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) training. This will consist of a minimum of 45 hours flight training, alongside studying for the PPL ground exams.
Ground exam common subjects include:
- 010 Air Law - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 040 Human Performance - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 050 Meteorology - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 060 Navigation - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 090 Communications - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 020 Aircraft General Knowledge - Aeroplane or Helicopter
- 030 Flight Performance and Planning - Aeroplane or Helicopter
- 070 Operational Procedures - Aeroplane or Helicopter
- 082 Principles of Flight - Helicopter only
These exams are taken through the CAA e-exam system. You will need to purchase a set of AFE PPL theory books or similar to support your studies (we use AFE PPL for our theory).
You will need several additional personal items, which may include kneeboard, headset, facemask and some schools require uniform to be worn.
February – June
During this semester, you will be moving forward more quickly with your flight training and some students may begin their PPL flying. The PPL is just the beginning and, once you have completed this licence, we encourage you to consider further ratings.
June – September
During the summer you can accelerate your training by completing the hours required to undertake further ratings – you may wish to complete your Night Rating, Multi-Engine Rating and/or IR(R) during this time. Some of our students will complete hours abroad, in destinations such as California, Florida, France, Cyprus and Poland.
Year 2 – Home Students/Year 3 – International Students
September – March/June
You will begin this year with an ATPL theory course, which typically last between six and nine months. They can be taken full-time at a flight school, or by distance learning with on-site top-up. You will have a personal tutor who will monitor your progress and work with you to deal with any issues at your flight school.
Information on where you can sit the exams are provided on the CAA website.
There are 13 exams, which are:
- 010 Air Law
- 021 Aircraft General Knowledge – Airframe and Systems, Electrics, Power Plant and Emergency Equipment
- 022 Instrumentation
- 031 Mass & Balance
- 034 Performance (Helicopter)
- 033 Flight Planning and Monitoring
- 040 Human Performance and Limitations
- 050 Meteorology
- 061 General Navigation
- 062 Radio Navigation
- 070 Operational Procedures
- 082 Principles of Flight (Helicopter)
- 090 Communications
It is an intensive course, with a lot of material that will be new to you. It builds on the PPL theory and introduces many new topics. We recommend to all of our students that you ringfence this time as you will become completely absorbed with studying.
Some of our students do continue flying during this period and we recommend building your hours at weekends – it can be a fun way to relax after the stresses of the ATPL ground school week!
ATPL courses are usually split into 3 modules, with exams at the end of each module. Resits can be taken as needed.
We recommend planning for additional flying straight after you complete your ATPL theory course. You will be able to complete further hours, as well as multi-engine rating, IR or CPL (depending on where you are at with your training). We don’t expect you to complete all of these in one summer!
You can see the approved training organisations we work with here, however if you have another school you prefer, please talk to the Course Leader about this. Please note, schools may change from time to time.
Please note that you cannot commence your ATPL theory course until your PPL is complete.
Year 3 – Home Students/Year 2 – International Students
In this year, students will choose which flight school to complete their hours and/or additional ratings. You will have a personal tutor lecturer who will monitor your progress and work with you to deal with any issues at your flight school and give guidance on getting your licence.
All modules and flight training must be successfully passed before your degree may be issued.
BNU is a Placements Plus university. So, whatever degree you do, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of industry-relevant opportunities on offer, to help you get into your chosen field.
We’ll also prepare you for work beforehand, with special skills for work training, further boosting your CV, and building skills employers will value. In recognition of the value we place on these skills we have incorporated this experience into your study time.
Placements Plus is all about helping you get some valuable experience under your belt while you’re a student, to increase your choices later, and help you get the graduate-level job you want.
What are the course entry requirements?
A typical offer will require a UCAS tariff score of: 104 - 128
You also need at least two A-levels and GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4. Additionally, some knowledge of science subjects would be an advantage. Mature students with non-standard qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.
All students will require at a minimum a Class II Medical in order to undertake their PPL solo, those students wishing to undertake Commercial training will need to gain a Class I Medical prior to enrolling with their selected Approved Training Organisation (ATO). Further information on the requirements of Class I and II Medicals, including approved AME's, can be found on the CAA website.
For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.
This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.
Year 1 Modules
Developments of the Air Transport Sector
Professional Skills and Development
Air Transport - Security and Safety
Management, Leadership and Change
Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Practical Training (H)
Private Pilot Licence (PPLH) Theory
Structure of the Air Transport Industry
Airline Crisis and Continuity Management
Year 2 Modules
Aircraft General Knowledge
Aircraft Performance and Planning
Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) (optional)
Human Performance and Limitations
Principles of Flight: Aeroplanes
Year 3 Modules
Aviation Finance and Economics
Aviation in the Global Context
Business and Enterprise (optional)
Human Factors as a Fundamental Concept in Aviation Safety
Research Project (optional)
What are the tuition fees
UK students receiving student loan via Student Finance, Academic Year 2021-2022
- Year 1: £9,250
- Year 2: £9,250 (bursary of £7,250)
- Year 3: £9,250
UK students receiving student loan via Student Finance, Academic Year 2022-2023
- Year 1: £9,250
- Year 2: £9,250 (bursary of £7,250)
- Year 3: £9,250
International, Academic Year 2021-2022
- Year 1: £13,750
- Year 2: £13,750
- Year 3: £2,000
International, Academic Year 2022-2023
- Year 1: £14,250
- Year 2: £14,250
- Year 3: £2,000
Tuition fees breakdown
Additional costs for:-
Helicopter pilots - around £29,000+ to complete the degree
Aircraft pilots - around £23,000+ to complete the degree
To complete to Airline Pilot/ Commercial Helicopter Pilot (during/ after degree):-
Helicopter pilots - around an additional £26,000 to CPL(H) (so £55,000 total) - this is the basic rating to be able to earn money; helicopter type ratings are an additional cost.
Aircraft pilots - around an additional £50,000 required (so £73,000 total) to be "airline ready".
What are my career prospects?
Throughout your time with us we’ll support you on the route to your chosen career. We’ll help you to develop crucial skills, encouraging you to become enterprising and skilled leaders and support you in your search to find employment after graduation. Have a look at our Careers and Employability pages to find out more.
On successful completion of this programme, you’ll be the proud owner of a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence and a frozen ATPL (H) – this will enable you to find employment as a helicopter pilot. You could also choose to start your own business providing freight services or recreational flights, or become a flying instructor.
Your ATPL will remain frozen until you meet the relevant professional experience, at which point the ‘frozen’ prefix will be dropped.
As you’ll have also developed a wider understanding of the airline business, you can also choose to pursue a variety of different careers within the aviation industry.
If you’re interested in undertaking further study or specialising in a certain field, you can choose to study one of our renowned postgraduate programmes, such as: