Dear potential future commercial pilots license holder,
As you have shown interest in training and gaining a world class and renowned license – the EASA CPL ME/IR, I would like to give you a guide of questions to ask to any potential training provider. I am positive that this will help you ensure you get the correct training and environment to aid you in the beginning of your career.
Firstly – this license is not cheap! You can gain a CPL in other countries for considerably less cost. For example, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. However, most likely they are not EASA which will seriously limit your initial potential for employment. Even if they provide EASA licenses, future employers prefer the training to have been conducted in Europe to guarantee quality.
To clarify EASA vs other license types. The difference is as simple as the ability of converting your license later in your career. To convert EASA to FAA takes 2 days – 1 written test and 1 flight test – the same for other non EASA authorities.
Converting your license from another authority to EASA will take on average 6-9 months, as you will need mandatory theory classes and 13 written exams plus obligatory flight training and flight test. This alone will cost circa 10-15,000 euro. So, start with EASA and you have greater flexibility in the future.
Now that I have hopefully clarified the key to license type, let me go through some questions you should ask and get responses to in writing to ensure you select the correct training partner;
Is the provider a TRTO?
ATO’s (Approved Training Organisation) come in many levels of capability. From only being capable to teach PPL to ability to train for Type Ratings. So, if the ATO is also a TRTO this demonstrates they have achieved the highest capability awarded by EASA and therefore superior level of training delivery.
Training philosophy, discipline, and standards.
Ensure you learn the discipline and attitude of an airline pilot. Not just taught how to fly. Once you are looking for a job, attitude and discipline will either win or lose a job opportunity for you. Ensure your chosen ATO understand this and mentor you accordingly.
Instructor background and experience.
Ascertain the experience of who will teach you. What is the experience of the ground school instructors and flight instructors? This will also help in point 2 above. If your instructors have no experience of an AOC (Air Operators Certificate or better known as an Airline) then how can you gain the required attitude. Ensure your instructors are either current or ex AOC or ex-military. Not a group of young inexperienced individuals chosen because they can be employed cheaply and easily.
In house or outsourced training provision.
An ATO that has all the resources to conduct your training in house without sending you to another location, will have superior training quality delivery and improved safety as they are not reliant on other individuals or companies. Regarding your license – the ATO will need the following minimum aircraft types – Simulator, Single Engine VFR (Day and Night) and IFR capable, Multi Engine and UPRT (Upset Prevention Recovery Training) Aircraft.
What are the classrooms like and what type of environment you encounter at the airport?
Ex-student employment rates.
What is the percentage of ex-students that now have flying jobs? This is a very good guide to demonstrate the standards of training being provided and the reputation of the ATO in the industry. Also, where and what airlines are these students working for.
Current and ex-student feedback.
Ensure you can discuss with current and ex-students to check what you are being told is true. Be sure you talk to several. If you can visit the ATO to see first-hand and speak directly to them – this is better.
Type of aircraft.
Modern training should be conducted on EFIS (Electronic Flight Information Systems) aircraft. Ensure the fleet is modern and well equipped for your training.
What is the type of simulator you will learn on? You will have at least 50 hours training in a simulator. Is it modern and up to date or an older system that will hinder your skills?
Advanced training capabilities.
Can the ATO teach you advanced course content in the event you wish to learn more and grow your experience? Examples are – Aerobatics, formation flying and airline preparation
Accommodation and local area assistance.
Most likely you will not be living at home – so does the ATO help you with housing, do they help you with interaction in a potentially foreign speaking country?
Standard of English language.
Aviation has a common language of English globally. So, ensure your ATO has a high standard of spoken and written English to gain experience and quality or training. Preferably look for the ATO that has at least 1 native English speaker in house, making sure that everyone’s English standard is correct.
You will need good weather in the early (first 60-90 hours) of your training. Ensure the climate you select helps with this.
What is and is not included in the package.
Check to understand what your course price includes and clarify how much more any extras will cost. For example – perhaps you need to travel to another location for theory exams or maybe you require extra training.
Average course completion and average student pass rate.
Do the students pass their theory exams on their first attempt, what percentage do they get on the theory exams, how often is extra training required. Again, this should also be asked to the students in person as per point.
Obviously, this needs to be asked. But not before you ask everything else. Remember the old saying – ‘buy cheap you will buy twice’. This is very true in aviation. Many ATOs offer headline low prices, but later you will realise that extras are needed, or they will insist you continue with more training hours etc. Be careful and select a quality offer from a reputable establishment. Also, don’t assume that very expensive equals very high quality. The key here is to ask questions, see what your budget allows and make your decision wisely.
I hope the above points/issues/matters can act as a guide that helps you choose the right training partner, so that you gain the coveted EASA license and realise your dreams.
With the current state of global aviation, the future is extremely positive. By the time you complete your training the industry is forecast to be back to 100% and growing again at an accelerated rate.
Yes, it’s a risk to invest this money. Ultimately, aviation always has its ups and downs. You could wait until next year to see what happens – you could go and complete a university degree. But the constant is, new quality trained pilots are always required to join the ranks of professional aviators.
Whether you choose to train with my team or pick another provider;
Enjoy your training, absorb everything you are given and build your professional attitude towards the flight deck.
Capt Turner C. MBA GCGI CFS