privat training pilot flying small airplane

Flight school – How to finde the right one for you?

Are you looking for a suitable flight school for you? Then I would like to give you some tips on how to find a suitable flight school for you. Because the decision about a flight school you should consider well. You not only invest in your future, but also a lot of money.

So what are important factors that can influence your decision?

It is important for you that the flight school is an "Approved Training Organisation" (ATO). Because they have been checked and approved with regard to their personnel, aircraft, teaching materials, etc.

But this is only one important criterion. Below you will find a whole series of questions that you should answer individually for each flight school. Read them through and learn to understand what is important in your choice of flight school.

The questions are divided into three categories - the flight school itself, the costs and the training. At the end you will find comments about your evaluation.

What's your impression of flight school?

What training does the flight school offer? PPL, CPL, IR, MER, ATPL, MPL?

If a flight school doesn't offer everything, you'll have to change flight schools at some point. So look at the licenses which you really need and ask if the flying school can offer you everything. 

What impression does the flight school give due to the building?

Let them show you around at school. From the reception area to the workshop where the aircraft are serviced.

What financial support is available?

There are often financing models with banks or credit companies. In any case, compare the conditions with an offer from a bank you trust. Pay attention to the pitfalls when financing your training. 

Is there also the possibility for aerobatics?

This can broaden your flying horizon in your training.

How important is flight training for the flight school?

Is the flight school really interested in training you or are you just there to bring money back into the flight school fund?

How long has the flight school been around?

Is it a renowned flight school that has already trained many flight students to become pilots, or has the flight school only recently entered the market? Flight schools often advertise to airlines with high graduation and recruitment rates. So check the statements and promises of the flight school. 

What flying experience do the instructors have? How many flight instructors are there and what are their teaching qualifications?

This will tell you what experience the flight instructors have. Are there many new flight instructors who have just acquired their licence themselves and are now looking to collect lessons? Or are they experienced pilots, who have a lot of experience and many qualifications? 

Which aircraft type is used for the training and how many aircraft are there for the training?

It is the number of aircraft that is decisive. If there are too few, flight hours may be lost if maintenance actions are due. This can significantly prolong your training period and further burden your financial situation.

What do the classrooms look like?

Large classrooms speak for many students at the same time. For individual questions, it may be harder to answer each question in class.

What is the airport infrastructure like? Are there flight bans on weekends or at night? Is there a control tower or a flight dispatcher? Are there instrument approach procedures?

Flight bans limit your flight plans. Maybe the weather is great, but you are not allowed to fly on Sunday. A Control Tower is useful because you already practice radio communication during your PPL training.

What does security policy look like in flight school?

Security is always at the top of the list in aviation. The flight school should be able to give you this feeling in any case. Ask yourself how safety in flight operations can be increased through aircraft maintenance, training and standardisation of flight instructors. 

Costs - Does the flight school tell you all costs?

How much does a charter hour cost? Is the fuel already included (wet charter) or not (dry charter)?

It makes a big difference whether the fuel is already included or not. A small airplane consumes 15 - 20 litres per hour and aviation fuel costs more than the fuel for your car.

How much does the flight instructor cost per flight hour? Are there any differences?

The prices may vary depending on the qualification of the flight instructor.

How far are training airfields from the flight school?

Especially at the beginning it is about take-off and landing. You don't want to waste the time flying to a suitable airfield.

How much time does a flight instructor take for ground training, briefing and debriefing? Do you have to pay extra for this time?

The discussion of theoretical topics (ground training), the preliminary discussion of today's flight (briefing), as well as the debriefing are very important for your learning success. The more time your instructor takes, the better. 

What other taxes and fees do you have to pay?

Make sure you don't have any hidden fees waiting for you. 

How much do books and software cost for training?

You need teaching materials. Whether as software or in the form of books. These can also cause considerable costs.

What other costs, such as fees for examinations and landing fees, do you face?

There will certainly be other costs for you somewhere, which may not be listed to you at the beginning. So are these really all costs or are there hidden costs somewhere that you overlooked? 

The training - How reliable is the training at the flight school?

Are there phase-checks/progress checks?

These checks are check flights that document your progress. 

What is the instructor-student ratio at the flying school?

A flight instructor can train 4 - 5 full-time flight students or even 10 part-time flight students. The more flight instructors, the better. 

Are the flight instructors full-time or part-time flight instructors?

Part-time flight instructors may be able to cancel a flight lesson more often. This can cause you to lose an entire flight day. Your training will be extended accordingly.

Who plans the flights and how are the flights planned at the flight school?

On the one hand, your training plan should be efficient. On the other hand, you need enough rest to relax and prepare for your next flight. Equally important is flexibility to accommodate private events such as birthdays. 

What are the insurance conditions of the flight school? What is the liability and damage insurance? How high is the deductible and how high is it in the case of a total loss? What is your coverage as a student pilot?

Damage to the plane costs a lot of money. You want to be insured there. The flight school will explain to you how and what your own contribution will be.

Who is responsible for recording training progress?

Your entire training needs to be documented for your aviation authority. If something is missing in the documentation you may have to catch up on flying lessons. These are unnecessary costs and should be avoided. 

What happens if the weather is bad or technical problems cause flights to be cancelled? Who is responsible for rescheduling a flight hour and who reports technical problems?

It can always happen that flight hours are cancelled. But then you also want the flight hours to be rescheduled. This should be possible as soon as possible and not to prolong your training unnecessarily. 

The evaluation - Which flight school should you choose?

Make a list of your shortlisted flight schools and answer the questions for all flight schools.

Browse the website and get information material sent to you for training. With this information you can already answer many of the above questions.

Once you have done your homework, visit the two best flight schools and ask further questions to get a better feeling. Because even the many good or bad reviews on the Internet and social media can all be faked.

Therefore, check for yourself whether the information from the info material matches the information that is given to you on site. Talk to flight instructors and flight students. Ask them about their experiences and ask them as many questions as possible.

Does the person you are talking to avoid you or does he or she answer you clearly and straight away? Every company has weak points. It is only important that these are communicated to you openly. You won't find a flight school where you don't have anyone to complain about. It must result only in a harmonious picture and you must feel well there.

After you have decided on a flight school, make sure that there is a written agreement about the costs and the payment arrangements. You should be especially careful with prepayments, the complete training costs. If the flight school goes bankrupt, your money may be gone and you may not be able to complete the training.

Do you need more information about the choice of flying school? Then have a look here.

https://www.aopa.org/training-and-safety/learn-to-fly/choosing-a-flight-school

https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/pilot_schools/

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