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 thought it was about time to come to these forums to ask for some advice
I'm 19 years of age and am about to embark on the huge task of achieving my fATPL. Back in January I applied for CTC Wings Cadet scheme and passed their selection; My due start date is in the next 6 months however me and my father have been having some thoughts.
To cut a long story short, I've been lucky enough to have my father raise about 70% of the £80,000 for CTC Wings Cadet, Leaving me with the task of finding the other 30%. In today's recession, and a phonecall to CTC to find out that their 'pool time' is 50+, it's making me think twice. The last thing I want to do is come out of training with debts of the 30% which I will have to loan, without a job.
Therefore I have been looking at other options. After thorough research over the last week looking at FTO's all over the globe, I've found that the likes of CTC, OAA, FTE can get away with charging £80,000+ for an Intergrated ATPL course, partly for the label of being a CTC/OAA/FTE Cadet.
I'd rather achieve a fATPL, for say £45,000 elsewhere and not have to worry about being in debt post training. Agree?
I've been looking at Training in Florida at the likes of Naples Air Center, Epic Aviation Academy or FlyEASA - I have picked these three as I'd complete an Intergrated FAA & JAA ATPL Course with around 260 hours. I understand, and fully acknowledge that I should attend a non CAA-certified Flight school in the states.
In summary, I'm just looking for a bit of experienced advice from people who have done there training in FTO's other than the big ones mentioned. I'm in no rush and want to ensure I receive quality training at a slightly smaller price tag.
There are plenty of great FTO's in the UK that won't charge you and arm, leg and a kidney!
Speaking from my own experience having researched, pondered and finally signed away my life on an Integrated Course starting at the beginning of September I can offer some of my thoughts.
I have been able to gain a place with FTA (Flying Time Aviation) in Shoreham for a total cost of £59,950 which will give me the full fATPL with Ground Exams and an MCC on top.They also offer a Modular Course for around £49,225 so two options are available off the shelf straight away.
The school is great, friendly, professional and very modern fleet of DA40 and DA42 aircraft to learn on. I know of pilots working for airlines that rate them as an honest and reliable school with a solid reputation. They also allow all students to pay for the Integrated Course month by month, so you won't risk the full sum upfront! This for me was a big bonus in that my money is somewhat protected by paying in instalments.......
Other schools which I looked at prior to choosing FTA include Stapleford in Essex, they offer a Modular route, not sure if they included MCC from memory in that but the price was a higher price than FTA when I got the information through from them. They were polite, attentive and honest also.
Also, Multi-Flight in Leeds were another good school and I have heard positive things about them. They offer a Modular Course, were open, honest and again very helpful in their advice.
Last one I think is up in Perth in Scotland, they offer a PATH course, which I think is a kind of mix of Modular/Integrated but I do not know much about them since my place with my chosen FTO was secured before I found out about them.
What I will say, and this is only advise that I was given by people in the job, and thankfully some knowledgeable PPRuNe folks was go to someone like GAPAN for an independent skills assessment, to make sure that you have the ability and aptitude to get through a course, then get yourself to the CAA in Gatwick and take the Class 1 Medical, there is no point signing up to a course if you can't pass the medical or if you have not the aptitude to pass.
I find it difficult to see the appeal of wanting to pay circa 80-90k to FTO's like CTC or OAA, I am sure they have a good product, many cadets over recent years have been placed with low cost airlines and other mainstream airlines, albeit on Flexi Contracts and alike, however as long as there is a queue of people willing to pay these prices, they will continue to operate and more importantly continue to charge these prices. Smaller schools that concentrate on providing solid training and support without all the "bells and whistles" will get my vote all day long....... OK they may not have the newest fancy premises, but then I am there to learn to fly, not admire the £5000 sofa they have in the games room!
For me personally, the appeal of a plastic name badge, uniform and group picture taken on the airfield is not the reason i am doing flight training. I am going for the learning experience, the skills and the challenge that it will give me to gain a commercial licence that will allow me (with luck) to work in the aviation industry.
I hope that the above helps, but I am sure that one of the Mods on the forum will be able to add to my post and provide some valuable insight for you also.
As someone who has in the past been involved in recruiting in GA I would recommend that unless you want to restrict yourself to the airlines now you do not do an integrated course, even if you can afford the premium. Integrated training is very poor preparation for anything other than spending years as FO of an airliner.
I'd rather achieve a fATPL, for say £45,000 elsewhere and not have to worry about being in debt post training. Agree?
Yes, absolutely. If that is really want you want? There are much cheaper ways of obtaining a licence than through one of the major integrated flight training providers, and certainly through the "wings" cadet scheme.
The "wings" programme is an integrated course of training that is intended to lead to a type rating on a jet airliner and a placement with a partner airline. From these placements it is hoped that a career opportunity as an airline first officer dovetails from the advanced training.
There are no guarantees of a seamless progression from the advanced part of the course into an airline placement, since those opportunities are very dependent on the state of the partner airlines business at that point in time. Over the last few years there have been "holding pools" of graduates waiting for placements, for periods of a year and more. More recently, at the beginning of this year, those pools had largely dried up, and cadets were being placed with partner airlines as soon as they finished their training.
Successful graduation from the "wings" course is one of the best "low experience" opportunities, leading to a cadet placement in the marketplace. There are a handful of other airline/school partnerships with a couple of the other major integrated training providers.
The financial burden of these courses is naturally a major consideration for anybody applying for this route. Based on a combination of selection criteria and the ability to finance the course of training, it is only going to be a realistic option for a limited number of people.
If you want a commercial pilots licence, there are many options and many price points. If you want an airline cadet opportunity there are very few options and a limited range of price points.
This is why I ask the question, "what is it that you want?" Because the answer to that will drive an honest response rather than a "rose coloured" one. If you are looking for an airline cadetship at 200 hours it is very unlikely to mesh with the the statement I quoted at the top of this post.
CTC have probably one of the best records at placing cadets with airlines and I can see your temptation to go with them. However, you have to ask yourself whether a holding pool, followed by eventual placement on a Flexicrew contract (most likely with EZY) with no job security and the chance of being based practically anywhere in Europe, does it really fulfil your life dreams? I'm not putting the words in your mouth, just asking the question. We've all been there and dreamt of being an airline pilot, shooting an ILS in thick fog and a howling crosswind or flying a VFR approach to a Greek Island on a sunny day to drop off a load of holidaymakers. Yes, CTC will probably give you the chance to do that, I'm not going to lie. But if you think that you're going to be able to do that with the flash car, the nice house, the expensive holidays, a great social life (remember you could be based anywhere away from friends/family...) then unfortunately that's not going to be the case. Remember CTC have a very good reason to place so many cadets with airlines - because it makes them money as well! They're not doing it because they're your best mate.
If you don't owe anyone money and haven't made any promises to be rich once you're a pilot, have some stashed away to tide yourself over for the first couple of years until things settle down and you land a permanent contract, don't mind potentially being apart from family/friends for a while, then go for it! You have to look at it reaslitically, some of my friends on Flexicrew contracts are genuinely concerned at how they'll make loan repayments during the winter months. And another friend who has recently taken the step up from EZY Cabin Manager to EZY First Officer has already admitted that he'll be earning practically the same salary under the new Flexicrew contract. If this doesn't bother you, and I know that for some people they are fortunate enough to be in a situation where my above points are of no concern to their personal circumtances, then consider taking the plunge.
If you decide against CTC by going modular, then I guess that you have a lesser chance of landing an airline job in the short term because CTC's cadet hold pool does give you an element of security if you wait long enough, albeit not guaranteed. However, you would have extra cash in hand by the end of your training (I think 'zero to hero' at somewhere like Stapleford costs in the order of £55K, give or take £5K), but then you are on your own. Some people might immediately land a Type Rating at Ryanair (rememeber that's another £30K but I believe that Ryanair pay is better than the Flexicrew contract), some people might end up instructing for a few years, some people might end up back in Tesco's paying once a year to keep their IR current. But the key thing is that your destiny is in your own hands so to speak, some people may prefer that idea some may not.
The key thing to remember after all of this is that we are in the worst recession of our lives, whether we like it or not. Times are tough, airline recruitment is probably about as bad as it's ever been, and so spending large sums of money is a big risk no matter how you choose to spend it.
Last edited by All-The-Nines; 23rd Aug 2012 at 08:24.
I'm by no means an expert in this field and some people may come on here and tell me I'm wrong. However, having been to several FTO open days, bottled out of taking an intergrated course several years back, worked behind the counter for an FTO, worked for a couple of UK based airlines and made a large number of friends who fly everthing from airliners to instructing on Cessna's, I feel that I have a fairly well rounded opinion.
Having weighed everything up several times, I decided to get my PPL and enjoy it for a few years whilst carving out a non-flying career for myself in the airlines. I've managed to fly all over the UK on my PPL, flying in to places that some airline pilots would dream of being able to do. I've done my ATPL exams, and with no debt I now have enough money to embark on my CPL/IR whenever I feel the time is right. As it stands I'm also going down the path towards airline management, and so I have pretty good options around me.
I started from nothing just the same as those guys going out and taking a huge loan for an intergrated course. I guess I've just gone about it in a slightly different way and now I have the luxury of being able to change my mind or postpone my plans with no financial hardhsip to myself or any of my family.
About two years ago, I started to follow the progress of a group of "wings" trainees as a "snapshot" of what happens from start to finish. That group followed the normal training progression path for this type of course. After 17 months of training, the majority of this group (21) completed their fATPL basic and intermediate training courses, obtaining their CPL/IR, MCC course certificates and Jet orientation courses. They then took up placements with a partner airline that paid for their type ratings and offered 6-7 month placements on an A320 aircraft. The "cadets" received about 12% of their training bonds back during this period by way of "subsistence" as well as their airline generated flight pay and allowances. Having now come to the end of their "placement" periods, those cadets (with around 500 hours on type,) are now being offered full time employment contracts on cadet salaries of around 45K, with an increase to non-cadet salaries of around 57k in about 8 months time when they complete 1000 hours on type.
As hard as I try, I cannot find anything to wring my hands in despair, about what amounts to a 3 year ab-initio apprenticeship (funded for the last 18 months,) leading to the job of full time Jet First Officer.
Those cadets (with continuing favourable winds) have been able to live and service their training loans. They can also reasonably (if they so choose) amortize the remaining balance of those loans realistically over the next 5 to 6 years. In addition there are (voluntary) schemes in place to make the repayment of the loans tax advantageous. On an outlay of circa £85,000, the income breakeven point (in these examples) would occur within around 24 months of airline placement.
The above example is a "snapshot," and each placement (partner) airline sets it's own terms and conditions. Clearly some are much better than others. Having said that, over the last few years had it not been for one large expanding airline (easyjet,) the number of placements on offer would have been through the floor. Terms & conditions offered as a part of these placements (whatever your view of them) reflected the true state of the general market, and the specific segment of that market as it applied to apprentice "cadets." As "holding pools" filled up, so these placements kept movement and flow in the advanced portion of these training programmes. This, together with expansion in one or two other partner cadet programmes, saw the "hold pool" all but evaporate by the beginning of 2012.
Taking a "snapshot" is all very well, but good or bad, it simply reflects the market situation at one point in time. In itself it cannot be a reliable indicator of the future. It is but one tool in a big box. My advice to anybody seriously looking for a fasttrack airline pilot apprenticeship programme, is to apply for this course or for a similar course with another FTO that can provide similar (or tied) opportunities. That advice is tempered by the obvious cost risk, inherent ability risk, lack of guarantees, and instability of the general employment market.
These programmes (with all of the associated risks and lack of guarantees,) are aimed at airline pilot fasttrack careers. In other words Cadet programmes. If this is not what an individual is looking for, or they simply want a licence, I wouldn't advise this type of course at all, as it would be largely pointless, and deprive somebody (who did want it) of that albeit expensive opportunity.
In your case, based on what you have stated, I wouldn't advise going down this route. However I would be very wary of convincing yourself that "picking up TR's quite cheap" is a sensible mindset. Many airlines with cadet (low hour) programes, are also TRTO's. A "cheap TR" that wasn't part of an employment programme is likely to raise "red flags" rather than be viewed as some type of enhancement or asset. A lot of people have discovered this to their cost.
I will sum this up with a hypothesis.
If I were offering the finance and the guarantees (which I am not,) and asked you which route you wanted to take, I would be amazed if your honest answer (assuming you were looking for an airline cadet programme) was anything other than CTC or a similar affiliated scheme. Therein lies the honest answer. It becomes a question of how much risk (financial and personal) that you are able and/or wish to assume.
These cadet programmes place you in a room that can become very crowded at times. Entry to the room is expensive. There are cheaper options that allow you to stand in the field outside. This field is even more crowded, stretches over the hills and far away. There are ways out of the field that usually involve "stepping stone" jobs as and when they can be found. There are a lot of people fighting to get on these stepping stones. Licences are a perishable commodity (however much they cost to obtain,) which can make the bargain less of a bargain as time and natural attrition progresses.
I promised myself I'd stop reading this site, let alone posting, but here goes...
Please, please, please- if you've already got some finance available, consider doing a PPL first. 18 months ago I was more than ready to have my parents sign the house over to get me into a well known integrated sausage factory. Being young and with some time to spare however I decided to get a part time job and earn myself a PPL, partly as a hobby and partly to 'improve my chances' of being selected for the privilege of being financially crippled by these fine institutions (Cabair and PTC were on my list, frighteningly ).
A couple of thousand pounds later and I've packed the flying in indefinitely, something that my starry-eyed wannabe self from two years ago would have thought impossible. Like many wannabes I was 100% certain I would make myself a pilot one day whatever it took, but a health scare and a discussion with the doctor about the symptoms of depression finally snapped me out of the bonkers cycle of working every available extra shift for every extra 0.1 hours in a Warrior.
I was young, naive and had no appreciation for the amount of money I was throwing at flying. Now I'm happier, healthier and more sociable than I ever was before; I've got two fantastic new ground-bound hobbies that I can enjoy for far more than my PPL's paltry two hours on a good month, and funnily enough I've still got money left over each month to save towards a comfortable life at university. I enjoyed my PPL training immensely, but now I think I've filled my boots and I don't need to take my flying any further. I got to fly ten solo hours, and as thrilling and memorable as they were, I think they were enough to satisfy my flying bug.
If I ever go back to wanting to be a professional pilot I've no doubt proved I suffer from a chronic lack of commitment to flying, and frankly I don't care anymore. I had a freak attack of common sense and realised that I had lost the will to continue running myself into the ground for the sake of an hour a fortnight in a 30 year old spam can. It no doubt knocked a couple of points off my A Level results as well. Your circumstances will be different, but you too could possibly have similar second thoughts about flying, and I'm glad I had them £5k down the road rather than £80k.
Moral of my meagre story, and the message I would love to give to every young wannabe, is to do a PPL (or an NPPL!) first whatever your ambitions. It might confirm your desire to fly, it might one day turn out to be as far as you want to take flying, as it did in my case. Either way it'll be a hell of a lot of fun if you've got the wallet for it. For me, £80,000 is an awful lot of money to pay for a vocational qualification in a jobs market that is widely acknowledged to be saturated with new recruit. Do a PPL and confirm it's what you want to do.
GAPAN aptitude tests as well- highly recommended and a fun day out to boot.
Bealzebub's post is by a long way the best post I've ever read on this hopeless forum. Especially the final paragraph.
My aviation friends and I always have a laugh together about this forum. We joke about how we can't resist reading it even though it's largely the same rubbish spouted from the same uninformed people, but every now and then you find a gem in the rough.
Bealzebub's post is that gem, and the shinest one I've found. Do not dismiss his words.
Last edited by M1ghtyDuck; 24th Aug 2012 at 12:23.
James in answer to your question about the FTA Accommodation, yes they have access to property which I think is a house share with other FTA Students, for this you are local to the airport and I think the cost was around £500 a month. Not certain if any other expense was on top of of this as I have family in Gatwick so am staying there and driving each day so did not look into it that much.
Bealzebub sums up many of my thoughts as well. I think if I was a lot younger and had the money at the time I would have done CTC for the same reasons. I don't know anything other than what I've heard a few examiners say about the quality of the training but I'm led to believe it's good. If it's jets you want to fly it makes little sense to do anything else in spite of the large outlay.
Now, that said modular offers something different and if you're careful about where you choose your training you will might have a more enjoyable time of it. I did modular and enjoyed pretty much all of my training at the same time learned a whole load of stuff I would not have picked up at a pilot factory. Do I believe that after a similar amount of experience that I would be a better pilot than an integrated graduate? No I don't think so, I do have more varied exposure to lots of different kinds of flying and perhaps a more relaxed attitude towards "the different ways of skinning the cat" but then again I did a fair bit more flying than just PPL/hours/CPL-MEIR before I started on the Turbo props and yes I'm still significantly better off than similar people who work in the same job as me who came out of an integrated school.
I do want to fly jets at some point though and I'm convinced that my road to them may in fact be blocked by both my age and how I gained my licence.
Okay, so that's it for me. As B said the integrated route will get you into jets faster (as the market stands at the moment) than modular. Integrated isn't as crippling in the long term as you might think but it is a lot of money. Modular is cheaper and CAN mean you outlay less, you will also get a fair bit more exposure to different ways of doing things and you may find it more comfortable longer term when you come to deal with different styles of Captains, it wont harm your chance to move into GA flying and smaller airlines.
Okay, on to schools. CTC for Integrated, what I've heard from recent past students of OAA that much of the training is really not great. Modular, you live in Exeter, at Exeter airport is one of the finest schools in the UK (Airways Flight Training) it's not shiny but the quality is excellent, you'll have a lot of fun and you'll meet quite a few interesting people who have been flying in the military, a very small number aren't much fun but the overwhelming majority are really great fun. I've sent at least 5 pals to them and they have all come out very happy indeed. Go there and save the cost of accomodation .
All things considered it's a risk judgement, how much you want to bet on which method will achieve the results.
But before you do ALL of that, do a PPL! You may find you don't enjoy it as much as you think I started there and have to say, I would rather be doing nothing else.
To embark on pilot training will always be risky, and that risk comes down to personal circumstances. Embarking on an integrated scheme in the current climate is high risk, but weíve been expecting the Eurozone to blow up for 12 months now and it hasnít, so no one knows what will happen.
The massive advantage you have is that youíre 19 with a class 1 and your funding sorted. You donít need to do anything quickly.
I agree that you should at least start on the PPL to fully road test that this is what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. An earlier poster has highlighted many that love the thought of flying but find the effort and reality somewhat different Ė itís like anything you do for a living, the shine soon comes off when youíre doing it in a commercial environment .
Whilst talk of going into GA work is all very well, the vast majority really want to be RHS in an A320/B737 and CTC is more likely to get you there than untagged OAA/FTE or a modular scheme. Therefore saving £40k but taking another ten years to get into the RHS is no saving at all.
Ultimately, it comes down to whether you can afford to be in a position whereby if at the end of the course, you donít get a job straight away, will your Dadís house be on the line (i.e. is he dependent upon you paying him back)? If not, you can take a more risky approach.
Why not work for a year or two to save up some of the funds (you then realise how much money it really is!), make progress on a PPL, and then get lined up to do the course in 2 years time Ė armed with that bit more life experience, cash, commitment to flying and hopefully a better economic environment. In the meantime, you could have a crack at some of the tagged schemes, including potentially BA FPP.