What to look out for when choosing a Flight Trainer

So you are looking at your options on where to train?

Confused about all the different courses and trainers?

Not sure about what is important when making your choice?

Let's point out a few key questions you should ask your prospective Flight Training Organisation (FTO)

1. The Price Trap

Q. When looking at the price, what is included?

Beware of add-ons and hidden costs. Make sure you identify EXACTLY what you are getting in your training course. All flight trainers worldwide operate on a similar cost base, so treat with suspicion any training programme that is significantly cheaper than the market. For a training programme to be cheap, it will either be missing a number of critical components (like exam fees, medicals, equipment etc.) or will be compromising quality. It is not uncommon to see programme quotes that only include a limited number of flying hours, but exclude all the ancillary costs that must be met to complete the training.

Also, watch out for “discounts”. The terms and conditions attached to these discounts are often unachievable by 99% of students and are therefore irrelevant.

2. Training Programme Content

Q. What training syllabus are you being offered?

Not all training programmes are created equal. A large number of training programmes on offer are “bare bones” and cheap. However, the quality of your training will dictate what employment opportunities you have. Commonly, bare bones cheap training programmes will not give you the knowledge and skill base you require to make your CV attractive enough to a potential employer. The world is littered with unemployable pilots who chose to compromise on their training to save a few dollars. Remember, a cheap training programme that fails to deliver an employment outcome becomes a very expensive mistake.

3. Student Funds Protection Programmes

Q. What happens if your Flight Trainer fails financially & stops your training? Are your training fees protected against Flight Trainers failure?

Many students worldwide have lost their training fees because of the financial collapse of the Flight Trainer they have chosen. Unless you have chosen a Flight Training Organisation that has student fees protection mechanisms in place, your money is at risk every single day of your training. Imagine how devastated you would feel if this happened to you? Would this spell the end of your aviation dream?

4. International Recognition of Aviation Documents

Q. Is your training/license recognised by foreign regulators?

This is a very serious question. Reputation is everything in this industry and some flight training systems do not share the same level of recognition as others. When you are wanting to convert your license to another state to take up that employment opportunity, will your license and flight hours be fully recognised, or will they be treated with suspicion? Imagine how distraught you would feel if you are told that your license is not valid in a foreign state because of the cheap training you received from a substandard training system that carries little or no recognition in the international industry. Your best opportunity to gain employment in the worldwide aviation market is to have your license issued by a credible and internationally recognised quality training state.

5. Depth of Training Quality

Q. What’s the training quality like? How thorough is the training programme? Are you being trained in the business of aviation or just to pass a flight test?

Is your Flight Training provider taking shortcuts to make your training easy or cheap, eg. do they provide the answers to the exams/tests so you are easily able to pass?

Is that really the best for you? Or are you better served by actually learning the craft of aviation?

Remember, when you seek an employment opportunity with any airline or Air Transport Operator (ATO), they will test you for competency. How well prepared will you be for that competency check when shortcuts have been taken with your training? By only doing the bare minimum to pass a flight test or exam, your chances of passing competency checks will be greatly reduced, or your skill base will be compared to other applicants for that job you really want. Airlines and ATO’s will always choose the candidates who are better trained and prepared. Airlines want to minimise the investment they need to make into get their new pilots “across the line”, so will always choose the candidates with the superior training record. As aviation is a knowledge and skill based profession, the industry relies very heavily on the integrity of its pilot training system to keep the industry safe and professional.

6. Training Environment

Q. What climatic & geographical conditions do you get to train in?

Look closely at the climatic and geographical environment you will train in before you decide. By training in a place where the sun always shines, you are trained to be a “fair weather” pilot, with no appreciation for changing weather or geographical conditions. What will happen when you are flying in a different part of the world with mountains and changeable weather conditions? Will you be able to cope? Was there any parts of your training that included these aspects of aviation, like Mountain Flying/Terrain Awareness/Low Flying, skills that will equip you better for the challenges of flying professionally?

7. Outside Life During Study

Q. What is student life like outside the gates of the flight school? What other experiences can you have while you are training?

Studying aviation is an intense pursuit, especially if you want to do it properly. But every good student needs a break away from study to recharge the batteries and refocus the mind. What facilities and environmental opportunities are there for you to enjoy during your downtime? While you are training, do you get to experience anything different and interesting? What natural environmental resources are available close by for you to enjoy?

8. Employment Pathways After Training

Q. What employment opportunities and pathways does your Flight Trainer offer? Do you get the opportunity to “polish” your CV with some real world aviation industry employment experience or are you just set free into the market to find your own way?

Getting your first job in aviation is always the most difficult. What programmes does your Flight Trainer offer to get you your first break? Is there any way you can gain valuable experience at no/low cost? Can you potentially earn an income from this first opportunity? Does your flight trainer have established relationships with potential employers to help place you into work?