How to Create a Covering Letter for a Pilot Job

How to structure it and what details to include

If you are looking to put together a professionals written Covering Letter in support of your application for a flight crew position for an airline, ensure you are familiar with what to include and how to structure it. This guide has been written by a current commercial pilot who has extensive experience in screening initial applications, such as CV & Cover Letters and running selection processes.

The importance of a specifically tailored Covering Letter targeting the airline you are applying for can’t be underestimated. Many people choose the easy option of producing a generic ‘one size fits all’ supporting letter which makes no effort to address the airline you are applying for.

Why would an airline consider inviting you for an interview if you can’t be bothered to spend the extra half hour needed to demonstrate you’ve really researched the airline ethos and type of operation. The excuse of ‘I don’t have the time’ is just not acceptable – you are applying to operate a multi million pound aircraft with potentially hundreds of people onboard therefore they expect the highest levels of professionalism to be demonstrated right from the initial application stage.

Make sure that each section is given a heading so the recruiter can quickly see, generally speaking, the context of the section they are reading. Some suggestions as to how to split the sections are included in the content section below.

Most people only make use of the vertical space in an efficient way. There are different ways in which you can ensure the documents horizontal space is utilised in an effective way through columns and reducing the margin sizes.

A generic Cover Letter is so easy to spot. Simply changing the company name and a couple of sentences is not good enough, roughly half the Cover Letter will be different depending on which airline you are applying for. Think of the differences between easyJet and Virgin Atlantic. Each airline has unique challenges, one across a short haul operation, one over long haul. Each airline has different values and is probably looking for slightly different attributes from it’s flight crew.

Whereas a CV showcases your skills, qualification and history, a Covering Letter should set out your motivation for joining a specific airline and how you are well suited for that company and type of operation. It should be limited to a single page (again a recruiter only has a finite amount of time to review each application) unless you have extenuating circumstances to make it longer.

Keep it a standard letter format including your address and date. Address is to a specific person within the company if possible, like the recruitment manager of chief pilot.

  • What aircraft type you are applying to operate.
  • What operating base you are seeking (or stating you’d be prepared to relocate to any of them).
  • Highlight that you meeting all the minimum requirements and emphasising any specific qualifications that might ensure you are looking upon favourably (for example holding an A320 type rating when applying to operate that aircraft).
  • Why you want to work for that company. Consider its mission statement, values and ethos. Include a quote from one of these, whether it be a slogan or specific statement. This demonstrates you have extensively researched the airline.
  • Include a couple of sentences which demonstrate that you have researched the history of the company such as including its formation date and how it has progressed since then.
  • Mention your future aspirations in the company. This might include one day being promoted to the role of Captain or joining the training department. You could also tie this in with acknowledge any orders the airline has on order, and the opportunities associated with this.
  • Highlight the type of operation and how this is well suited to your aspirations and attributes. For example, multiple aircraft type fleet with both long and short haul operations or maybe a lost cost carrier with a single aircraft type fleet but operating to many destinations. Both have their own advantages (see the section below).
  • Address the skills you possess (particularly non-technical skills), how you acquired these skills (through previous employment etc) and how they are well suited for the type of operation of the airline you are applying for.

When writing the Cover Letter, you might consider some of these points depending on the type of airline you are applying to.

  • Typically a single a type fleet which can open up a huge number of destinations for crew. This gives a large amount of variation which in turn allows you to build up a dynamic skills set. More destinations (particularly unfamiliar ones) can result in a more challenging and therefore rewarding work environment.
  • Low cost airlines are typically expanding and expanding fleet brings with it quick career progression opportunities. For example, you might be able to achieve the position of Captain within 3 or 4 years rather than the 10+ typically found within legacy carriers.
  • Low Cost Carriers often have fixed roster patterns and don’t night stop crew. For some this is advantageous.
  • Shorter sectors (particularly at regional airlines) can mean a fast paced operation (not as boring!)
  • They often have both a narrow and wide bodied fleet which allows for career progression onto long haul fleets with bigger aircraft.
  • Terms and conditions are typically more preferable than low cost airlines, particularly over the course of a career when you consider pension, loss of licence insurance, private health insurance etc.
  • They typically have seniority lists which provide good roster flexibility once you have been at the company for a while. The longer you are at the company, the more you can dictate your roster.
  • You often get to night stop at destinations so get to travel the world and visit places.
    Arguably a better lifestyle with more time off due to minimum rest requirements on long haul.

Want to use our Professional Cover Letter design service? Our team have experience in designing selection processes, screening applications and selecting candidates for airlines. For more information about how we can support your application, visit our Professional Cover Letter Tailoring page.