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How to choose the right aviation school?

Choosing an aviation school or an aeroclub where you’re going to do airplane or glider training is not easy. There are many companies on the market with seemingly similar offers. When choosing an aviation school or an aeroclub you should take various criteria into consideration. Most people tend to focus on the price, which is only one of many criteria. What’s important then and what should you pay attention to?

Flight Instructor – the foundation of a flight training

The first steps in aviation, the acquired skills, the quality of training, and the attitude towards flying – it all has an impact on your future aviation career. A major one, for that matter, as I believe. After training for PPL licence, which takes about 45 hours, you’ll perform most of the flights alone. You’ll gain experience basing on the directions provided by your flight instructor during training. By flying alone when building hours, you start noticing errors you make yourself and correct them on your own. However, you miss the errors your flight instructor used to omit. You’re even unaware of having made an error and, unfortunately, they become reinforced, taking more time to be corrected later on.

The next step is to undertake a training course for CPL(A), MEP, and IR. Again, you’ll spend several tens of hours on flights with your instructor. In that time, you’ll perfect your skills, though at that stage you’re expected to be well-prepared for beginning your CPL(A) training.

After having received the commercial pilot licence and all ratings you’ll become a full-fledged pilot with a specified level of training expected of you.

Therefore, it’s good to begin your training primarily from finding a capable flight instructor. Take some time to ask for one among your acquaintances or on online forums.  Only then should you decide on a given aviation school or an aeroclub.

Terms of payment

Take note of the terms of payment binding at the schools you’re interested in.

Personally, I’ve come across cases where:

  • The student pilot paid full amount for his training in advance. When he decided to change the aviation school, it turned out the paid amount could not be refunded.
  • After full amount for the training was settled, it turned out the airplane was unavailable for a considerable period of time.

Hence, making a payment in advance for the most immediate several hours of training is the best solution. This will prevent your money from being frozen in an event that you can’t finish the training for a longer time due to some reasons (e.g., airplane malfunction, no flight instructor available).

Price

Above all, you should take note of whether the price covers all extra costs, such as, landing fees, which can considerably affect the price of the training.

Compare offers of different schools in a form of a detailed overview (you’ll find a ready-to-use offer comparison work sheet here) to get a clear view on real costs.

From zero to ATPL training

On the Internet, you can find numerous training offers covering from PPL(A) to CPL(A) licence requirements including all ratings necessary for taking up work at airlines. The costs of these training courses vary from EUR 35,000 to 50,000. Is that a good price? It’s worth to calculate everything in detail before you decide on such an offer. It might turn out that the real price for such a training is considerably lower. You can find a cost comparison for training courses for the licence and ratings required for getting a job as an airline here.

What is more, when deciding on such an offer, you’d probably have to sign a full training contract and settle the required amount. By doing so, you undertake to stay with a given school in good times and in bad. Perhaps you’ll get a good instructor and there will be no downtime in the training. Yet, the availability of instructors or aircraft might as well leave much to be desired and it might take you forever to complete the training. In the case that you want to change the aviation school, it might turn out that you’re not entitled to any refunds under the contract you’ve signed. I know several of my friend pilots had to face such a scenario.

Other Concerns

When choosing an aviation school or an aeroclub, it’s worth to pay attention to the following issues as well:

  • Instructor availability – if the instructor works another job, e.g., as an airline pilot, you should consider the possibility that his availability might be limited.
  • Commuting
  • Optional accommodation at the airport/in the vicinity and prices
  • Availability of equipment – Is the airplane you’re about to train on operational? What’s the aircraft equipment? Is it possible to continue training on another airplane in the event of a malfunction?