How to choose your academy?

EASA and ICAO licences constitute the approved pilot licence certificates. 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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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