How to choose the right Flying School?

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Having a career in aviation is the dream of many people. Aviation is among the very few industries where demand almost always exceeds supply. In short, not enough qualified pilots for the number of jobs in the industry. The imperative word being ‘Qualified’. Becoming a pilot is considered as one of the most reputed jobs in the world with an attractive pay scale.

Once you have decided to make a career in the aviation industry, it is essential to understand the requirements of the industry. To get a detailed overview of the aviation industry, aviation training in India. In this article, we will broadly discuss how to choose the right flying school? What are the challenges aspirants face while making this decision? The aviation training industry is quite dynamic, and therefore, making an informed decision is essential. Here we will help you to identify the common mistakes a student makes while choosing a flying school and will help you to identify the right factors which may affect your choices. 

What is the cost of training?

This is the first question that comes to mind before investing in any career. Becoming a pilot is an expensive deal. The cost of training varies based on the type of pilot programs and the number of certifications you choose to go for. For a detailed overview of the top ten pilot training programs for Indian pilots. In some cases, very low costs could translate into a compromise on the quality of training, and extremely high costs simply a scenario of a bad deal. Therefore, before making a decision based on price alone, find out why there are such cost variations across flying schools? Only after a detailed comparison of the advantages and the disadvantages, arrive at a decision. The average cost of training in India varies from 35 – 45 lacs for Commercial Pilot License (CPL) alone.

Instructor qualifications & experience.

Getting trained by an accredited instructor is extremely important. While choosing a flying school, students often skip enquiring about the same. An experienced instructor teaches you well and, most importantly, tells you what not to do in a particular situation. Hercules Aviation Training School (HATS) is known for its faculty of (retd.) pilots of the Indian Air Force with over 25 years of experience. Therefore, knowing the instructor’s qualifications and experience makes a difference. 

How is the quality of the Ground school?

Before you can touch the skies, it is vital to know the basic rules. Students appearing for DGCA exams are often under the impression that clearing the flying exam is enough to obtain CPL. They ignore the fact that knowledge matters and this lack of knowledge can cause a lot of problems, especially during selection and hiring. We strongly recommend refraining from going for shortcuts like question banks, etc. Identifying the school’s ideology and methodology is equally important. Modern training aids and infrastructure forms the basis of effective ground training and efficient ground schools. HATS is among the finest ground schools that focus on imparting quality training and help you not only obtain CPL but also prepare you for a successful career in the aviation industry.

Research on the instructor to student ratio and batch size

The smaller the batch of students, the better is the knowledge imparted. For a more productive learning experience, it is advisable to opt for ground schools that teach students in small batches. The ideal batch size is considered to be of not more than twenty students. Similarly, in Flying training, the optimum instructor to student ratio varies from 1:6 to 1:8

What is the pass/fail rate?

As discussed earlier, focusing on ground training is as important as flying training. Just clearing the exams isn’t enough. Every year the aviation industry in India requires approximately 1000 fresh pilots. Around 700 (approx.) students receive their CPL each year from DGCA, but surprisingly only 400 get hired. It is strange but true that the airlines hire expat pilots (foreign nationals), sometimes even at higher salaries to fill the gap. The primary reason that students do not get selected in spite of enough jobs being available, is the inadequate knowledge base. 

Typically, in Indian Flying clubs everyone passes the flying exams. As you can see, the 100% pass rate indicates inadequate training, which is a typical problem  with Indian aviation training academies. Usually, everyone clears the flying training exam as it is conducted in-house by the Academy. But being a CPL holder and being qualified for jobs are two different things. Only quality ground training along with flying training can bridge this gap efficiently. 

What is the exact breakdown of cost?

First things first, there should be no hidden costs. Becoming a pilot involves a big investment from your end. Accredited schools always keep this break-up transparent right from the beginning, to provide a clear picture and help you make informed decisions. It is essential not to fall prey to schools offering bulk figures. You must always ask for the break-up and make decisions after that.

What is the average duration for completing the training?

Understanding the optimum time of completion is important. The duration plays a vital role in understanding the efficiency of training imparted by the flying schools. The optimum time period for completion of flying training is 8-12 months. In case an institute is promising you a lesser time frame, you can expect a lower learning value and lesser comprehension. This is common in some academies in the USA who advertise themselves to complete the 200+ hrs of required training in 4-5 months.

Similarly, too long a period is also not beneficial. Many flying schools in India often complete the training in 2-3 years and the entire process takes place at a very slow pace with multiple gaps in between the training period. This results in the repetition of lessons and less retention of skills and knowledge.

What all ratings and certifications will you get at the end of the training?

It is important to understand what all ratings and certifications you will get at the end of the training.  Go through the course outline carefully. An ideal course would include a multi-engine instrument rating (MEIR) and night rating. Make sure you get some hours of experience on the glass-cockpit too.

How is the safety record of the flight school?

While researching on Flying schools, it is crucial to make a few background checks in advance. Research on safety measures followed by the school, aircraft equipment, and frequency of maintenance. You must also check that no major accident/incident has occurred in recent times during training. In light of many fatal accidents in the recent past, the safety record of Indian flying training organizations have a big question mark.

What will be the Impact of Covid-19?

It is true that there isn’t going to be many fresh hires for at least a year as per market statistics; therefore, it is better to choose a course that culminates into a guaranteed job. Fresh hiring is still going on but at a reduced rate. For example, if there were 1200 jobs before, now there are 500 (representational). There is going to be a tough competition and the best would survive the slump. The industry will stabilize within a couple of years and hiring will pick up again. None of the airlines have canceled their orders so far. So, the industry has not completely crashed. If you are a dedicated pilot aspirant, your aim should be to get quality training and stand apart from the crowd by gaining more experience.