How to choose a Flight Training Provider
When it comes to choosing a flight training provider the options can appear endless. Below we have laid out some guidance for things you should be considering and doing to help you find the right provider for your needs.
You may also find our 'interactive guide to becoming a pilot' to be of use.
Choose your pathway
- Decide what your goal is. Is it to become a commercial airline pilot? or do you wish to just fly for leisure?
- How much time and money do you have? Use these as some of the factors to decide between integrated or modular. Refer to our integrated or modular advice section to aid your decision making regarding which route is best suited to you. Integrated is generally quicker but more expensive, whereas modular generally takes longer but is usually cheaper. Once you have decided which path, then you can begin to filter schools.
- Due to COVID-19, courses may be affected, so it is important to enquire about this with schools and know what steps are being taken.
Research and Shortlist
- Pilot Network has an extensive database of flight schools, courses offered, and a comprehensive set of reviews from past students.
- Use our bespoke reviews tool to research flight schools which look suitable for you and your chosen route, and make a shortlist. Make sure to visit each of their websites as well as their social media.
- Online reviews allow you to acquire first-hand accounts of the training experience for each course at each school. You can then use this information to make a well educated and well informed decision on your future. Find a link to our flight school section here...
- Do you wish to stay local or would you be open to move across the country? or possibly even abroad for some or all of your training? Being open to moving away increases the options available to you for training and could possibly work out to be cost effective. However, you may have commitments at home which would prevent you from doing this, so this is something you would have to address. Commuting may be an option, but it is advisable to not have long commutes before lessons as it can be very tiring.
- Find out which states licence you will attain at the end of your training as this may affect which airline you can apply to work for.
- Weather is one of the biggest influences in your flight training and if you wish to progress quickly and efficiently through for your training, then maybe moving to a training facility where the weather is usually good for flying is more appropriate for you. Usually more regular flying means you're more likely to progress through lessons better, thus avoiding over runs and thus extra costs.
- Airspace is a consideration. Training in controlled airspace will certainly sharpen up your flying skills and communications from the start and get you used to more complex procedures, maintain good airmanship and experience similar flying conditions to those experienced in airlines. However it is not a necessity to complete all of your training in controlled airspace.
- Enquire about public transport links if you do not drive.
- Make sure to research in-depth about the costs involved for what they have to offer. Modular schools may offer package prices for modules, where everything is included i.e aircraft hire, fuel, instructor fees, airfield movement fees, minimum hours required.
- Always leave a little extra just in case of unexpected over runs. Always ask the flight schools about this and ensure transparency to avoid any hidden costs, like going over the minimum hours, weather delays, cancelled flights, equipment etc.
- Check what is included in the prices, for example Accommodation, transport to and from, uniform, equipment. Some integrated schools do include accommodation in the total cost, and others may be able to assist you in finding accommodation, but at your own expense.
- Compare prices of different schools but don't take the costs at face value as the sole factor for deciding which flight school. Look at everything they have to offer.
- Training at a foreign school will inevitably involve currency fluctuations so it is important to take this into consideration.
Connect and Visit
- Make contact with the flight schools which you have shortlisted either by email or phone. Ask any questions that you have and write the information down so that you can compare and contrast later. (we have listed below a few questions we think are the most important to ask).
- Once you are happy with the information, then it is vital that you go and visit them in person, especially as you are about to make a financial investment with them. All flight schools will be able to arrange a visit/tour for you so make sure to enquire and book a place.
- Have a good look around the school. Especially take a look around the Operations area, Classrooms and Aircraft, after all this is where you will be spending most of your time!
Student : Instructor : Aircraft ratio
- Find out what the numbers of students to instructors to aircraft are as it’s useful to know, because no matter how cost effective and good a school is, if there are 30 students to one aircraft, you certainly won't be finishing in good time! Usually 5/6 students to 1 aircraft is a decent ratio, but this is not always common, but a number thereabouts is efficient. Equally, if there are too many students per instructor, this will obviously cause delays too.
- Make sure to ask about maintenance schedules of the aircraft, and that if they will have enough on the line to be able to keep up with the training schedule whilst one or more of their aircraft is in the hangar.
Talk to other students and read reviews
- Speaking to other students who are currently studying at the school will provide a good insight into what the organisation is like as most probably they will give impartial advice and be able to speak about their experiences. This is a good way to help acquire an overall picture of the school and its operations. Ask how their training is going, how long they have been there and what they like/dislike about it. You may just find out things which weren't mentioned on the website.
To read reviews from real past students click here.
- It will also be good to ask about social aspects and what there is to do during free time locally as this is very important during training so that you can rest and relax.
Airline affiliation and Job search help
- Once you've attained your commercial licence, you will probably want to progress onto the next step, which is landing that all important first airline job. Some schools have affiliations with airlines whereby they will be able to recommend students to airlines, or at least be able to provide you with career support in searching for your first job. Schools may also provide job application, CV and interview preparation so that you are best suited to submit your job applications to airlines.
- It will be useful to know how past students of that school have progressed, and what job roles they have gone on to acquire and with what companies.
Question to ask the Flight Schools
- How long is the training/modules expected to last?
- What state of licence will I receive? i.e EASA UKCAA, IAA etc
- How many students do you have at any one time?
- What sets you apart from other schools?
- What is your plan of action during the current Covid situation?
- What are the weather conditions like here usually?
- Do you fly in controlled/uncontrolled airspace?
- Does each student have an assigned instructor for flights or can we have any?
- What is the total cost, and should I expect any hidden costs?
- What is the payment schedule?
- Please Explain to me about over-runs and extra lesson costs?
- Do you provide student support?
- If I find some aspects of the course difficult, do you provide extra tuition/support?
- What is included in the course?
- Is car parking available onsite?
- Is accommodation provided? if not, do you have any contacts?
- What is your ATPL Theory pass rate?
- What is your CPL and IR pass rate?
- What is your aircraft maintenance schedule?
- How many aircraft are on line on average at any one time?
- Do you offer help with job search and preparation with applications?
- What is there to do in the area socially during downtime?