Professional Pilot Training (includes ground studies)A forum for those on the steep path to that coveted professional licence. Whether studying for the written exams, training for the flight tests or building experience here's where you can hang out.
I don’t know whether this is too far off topic, but this scam rears its head every now and then, so maybe worth adding for the youngsters here who may not have come across it before.
It all starts with a credible advert for first officers – type rating not required. Applicants will be invited for interviews, usually in a nice hotel at a major airport. The interview is quite credible. There may even be more than one stage of selection. The employer will be credible too; it will be an attractive job. The only slight snag is that you have to pay for your own type rating. Shortly after the interview you’ll be offered the job. If you accept, a bill for the type rating costs will appear. When you have paid it, you’ll hear nothing more. Eventually, you may be tempted to contact the airline or BJ operator; however, when you do so you’ll find that they know nothing of the people or process you have just been through. No type rating, no job and no sign of the scammers.
How Long is an Hour?
Other traps your young players? How about what’s a chargeable flying hour? There is an ICAO definition along the lines of flight time is when the aircraft first moves under its own power until it comes to a final stop. This is often referred to as ‘chock-to-chock times’. Is that what you are being charged for? Is that what you are logging? Because there are several variations on that clear definition. Some of these are:
Notional chock to chock times. This is when the flight time is taken as first take-off to final landing plus a ‘standard’ allowance for taxying. Legally, you may log less than chock to chock but not more time. So in cases where there is often a long hold before departure, this system may be to your benefit as you will be charged for less time than the chock-to-chock time; and sitting for 30 minutes waiting for departure at Kidlington is not very good training! However, some schools may be over-generous in their standard chock-to-chock allowance meaning that you actually receive less training than you pay for.
Hobbs time. This is a favourite in the US, where Hobbs meters are used for just about everything. However, the Hobbs meter may start running when the battery master switch is turned on. If your CFI (for the non-FAA jurisdiction readers, that means Certified Flight Instructor, rather than Chief Flying Instructor) is paid by the hour it is in her or his interests that the flights are as long as possible. He or she is not paid for briefing or debriefing; but will be paid once the power is on and the Hobbs meter is ticking. That’s why your instructor will be quite happy to sit in the aircraft chatting away with you both before and after engine start. Is it a big issue? I once knew a flight school owner who did not know that this was going on. When it was pointed out to him, he did a comparison on his aircraft fleet between Hobbs time and Tacho time (which runs only when the engine is turning) and found a 20% discrepancy!
Pay for Training Using a Credit Card
I think this has already been covered, but in the UK and some other territories, paying by credit card protects you in the event of the supplier going bust. In the UK the relevant legislation is Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The credit card company is ‘jointly and severally’ liable to you with the supplier in the event of a claim by you. Even if you have paid only a deposit using the credit card, they are liable for the whole amount. N.b. there is a potential loophole for them if the course is not sold as a whole, but is sold as several elements, e.g. by flying hours, Groundschool separate from Flying, etc. If in doubt, pay for the whole lot using a credit card (not a debit card); and, if you can, use a cash-back card so you get some of the money back (1% on a course costing thousands will pay for your celebratory meal on graduation!)
Find out how your school logs and charges for flying hours before you sign up with them. If it is fair and legal, no worries…(but don’t pay up front or, if you do, use a credit card). Treat every job offer with a pinch of salt and be very careful about handing large amounts of money over on the promise of flight training, a job or whatever. And, above all, try and make sure that you log the same number of take-offs as full-stop landings.
With the difference between Hobbs and tacho, 15% is about right. The instructor often gets paid by the Hobbs hour and doesn't do many billable hours per day let's not forget that the majority of students expect the instuctor to give them a lot of unbillable time, eg hanging around after their lesson or turning up early wanting to chit chat, often depriving the instructor of a rostered break. If the student wants to pay on tacho we give them that option, the price will be 15% higher because the costs are worked out at 115 billable hours per 100 maintenance hours.
If this has been previously covered, I apologise for repetition but then again it is definitely worth mentioning again for the benefit of those who may not be aware.
When factoring in costs fro modular training courses, beware of the IR.
This 55 hour course (less allowances) was always calculated on chock-to-chock time but that was stopped last year when the authorities realised that, at some FTO's the amount of actual instrument flight time flown fell short of the mark. As a result, it was mandated that the only time that could be counted was instrument time during flight and not taxy time, i.e. time in actual conditions or under the hood from take-off to DH/MDH. No big deal as far as the simulator goes but it can mean a significant extra cost on actual MEP costs.
Make sure that the IR course costs are for '15' hours of instrument time and not for '15' hours of Brakes Off-Brakes On time, which could result in you, over the course of 10 training flights, adding 2 - 2.5 hours (if not more) of MEP time to the overall costs.
My school will only take 2000.00 blocks at a time. If you can devote the time, it can be done in 5 blocks. It usually takes about half that to finish instrument. Still, they will only let you in 2000 at a time, they have been around for years. Looks like I got lucky, so far no screwing around, just good instruction!
I went to US with almost no information I could really trust, started Instrument Rating in a small school. Lots of promises, nice website, no surcharges whatsoever...
After a few weeks they started putting all prices up and the "no fuel surcharge" ad disappeared from their website. Planes always grounded or that should be on the ground... That really made me angry so I sent a letter to FAA and some other government offices. In 2 days FAA was at the school and grounded EVERY SINGLE airplane. As they walked out the door the owner put the planes back to flight but FAA decided to babysit them, showing up every 2-3 days to check their maintenance.
I ended up finishing Instrument Rating but managed to finish the training (CPL and Multi) on a neighbor airport. The guy wasn't a flight school per say but he had many planes (C152, C172, Seneca) and was an honest person (hard task to find a honest flight school there).
In the end I got my licences for a fair/reasonable price, got to fly almost 500 hours on his planes and that was a great experience!
As someone advised before: DO NOT TRUST FLIGHT SCHOOLS! but you have to take some risk, that's for sure.
Best way to avoid the tricks is to have proper funding and go to a reputable school that could get you into the airline. Any other options are very risky and there are so many tricks the schools can use that you will always be taking a huge risk. For instance, once you take up the training with one school you can't easily switch to another school unless you get CAA approval (often additional training is needed at new FTO) and it will ruin your chances of already slim employment chance. If you have 200k, plan 100k on FATPL and the rest on type rating etc. Enjoy the lifestyle. See the world. If you dont have money, dont go into aviation.
These aren't tricks so much as things to look out for:
Airline contacts Get specifics. Find out what airlines a school currently has contacts with & what they do … is it simply a letter of recommendation? How many students from the school have been have been placed with those airlines recently, say, in the past 12 months. Did the school have an active role in that placement, or did the student do the legwork themselves? The school will happily give you loads of information about students getting airline jobs from years back when finding jobs was easier, but you need something that is measurable and comparable between schools. It's not unreasonable to ask.
Pass rates I doubt that you will ever get honest statistics from a flight school. The old adage “There are l1es d8mn l1es, and then there are statistics” applies here. The schools want your money, and statistics are a good way to “help” you compare schools. If the school declares, say, an 80% pass rate, does that mean you have an 80% chance of passing if you go there? No! At best the figure will only include those students that actually made it as far as the test. The information that's missing is the number of hours that students took to get that 80%, and how many students dropped out (or were pushed out). Make sure you are comparing like for like though as not all schools operate in the same way. For example, it would be difficult to compare and airline style school against those that don't train that way.
Simulators IR schools make good money from their simulators, and little from their aircraft. It is in the schools interest for you to spend as much time in their sim as possible, after all, they are in the business to make money. If you would rather spend more time in the aircraft, then ask to do that, but remember that a good instructor in a decent simulator is a very effective training combination.
What happens if you struggle on the course Please ask the question. Find out before the course! I know of a Southern England professional flight school that encourages CPL twin training, but had no plan for students who struggled on their course. There was no fallback to the SEP, instead they used to “encourage” struggling students to do some consolidation hours elsewhere, in another schools SEP aircraft. I don't recall any of those students returning, instead, I believe all but one went to other professional flight schools and did well. If you have a PPL already, you will have an idea of how quickly you pick up flying skills, and how likely you are to be in this situation. If it took you a while to get your PPL, then don't do your CPL on a twin, take it one step at a time, and get your CPL on a complex single before stepping up to the twin.
Forum manipulation It is in a schools interest to project a favourable image on the forums. I am aware of one Southern England school who actively manipulated their image. Rather than make posts themselves, they called former students on some pretext or other, and would steer the conversation round to a “problem” thread in the hope that the student would “help”. That same school boasted that they had a forum moderator in their pocket. So please treat forum discussions with suspicion. Especially where serious amounts of cash (your cash) are at stake. Don't get me wrong, there is a vast array of valuable information on the forums, but where there is a vested interest involved, you need to be careful. Talk to folk directly, on the phone or face/face if possible, not via a PM or a thread. You are much more likely to get a straight answer, and you know who you are dealing with.
Last edited by LostYetAgain; 3rd Oct 2014 at 22:27.
Reason: Added Forum section & updated Pass Rates - inspired by Pete