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.
Why is flying so damn expensive in the UK? In my case I've accepted the cost of the ATPL, set the money aside, not gone travelling around the world, and set my sights on airline employment in several years time.
While I sit at home working my way through folders of notes(anyone else find Gen Nav hard??) I look at the cost of flying in other parts of the world, especially Florida with which I am familiar.
I accept there will be differences. Cost of fuel in the US is substantially lower, the weather better which makes aircraft useage more predictable.
On to the parts I don't understand.
Florida - I buy a new 1:500,000 map for £5. When it expires I hand it in at a flying club, and am given a brand new one free. (No I don't mean I was using a club map and they swapped it).
UK - I pay nearly £20 for a map, and buy a new one next year for the same amount. ouch
Florida - I pick up a free, Florida Airport Directory, 200 pages, inculding maps and all relevant nav/comms info for Florida's airports. It is published by the Florida Dept of Transportation.
UK - I might Pooleys for £50, then don't replace it for 3 years because I can't afford to justify the expense.
Florida - I decide to go and land somewhere. Radical I know, but it doesn't cost anything. It's a public airport, paid for by the council / businesses that operate from it.
UK - Ouch, there goes another £7.00
Florida - I decide to do an ILS. I do an ILS.
UK - I get my credit card ready, check it's still bendy enough and my flexible friend reluctantly gives me the ok!
FloridaI want to be issued an FAA licence on the strength of my JAR one. Visit FAA in Orlando, I'm issued one for free on the spot. (Temp one immediatly, full one arrives by post a few months later) I don't know wether the CAA charge for one or not, but I've mentioned this as a demonstration of the user friendly FAA.
Back here in the UK, why is everything flying related so expensive. The cost of every part of licence issue by the CAA is prohibitive, and I can't understand why. I know they've got a monopoly, but so has the DVLA and Passport Office.
I've set aside £2000 to pay CAA fees on route to an ATPL.
I wanted a CRP-5. £71 + p&p for a bit of plastic. I accept that it's a very accurate and well made bit of plastic, but £71! I bought a 2nd had one instead. (Thankyou wx_man)
Buy a magazine off the shelf in WHSmith. Shudder while looking at the prices of 'genuine pilots watches' and other associated stuff inside it. It seems that by putting the word 'pilot' infront of anything seems to have a dramatic effect on what it costs.
Flying seems to be hit badly when it comes to pricing goods and services. Maybe it's because pilots are loaded (haha), or maybe it's because we've come to accept it as an expensive sport, and we are now all being taken advantage of.
I'm sure you've seen tv programmes and the papers commenting on 'Rip Off Britain'. We are an expensive country. Cars tend to be more expensive bue to us being Right Hand Drive. If cars were more expensive in France than Germany, the French would nip across the border and buy one, but we can't do that. Or maybe we can. Thanks to EU laws, Brits can cross the channel on coach tours with the sole purpose of buying a car at French prices. (EU forces French dealers to deliver UK spec cars on request, inc RHD)
Back to flying again. Flying schools don't make loads of money, they seem to struggle to make any at all. Hiring aircraft is expensive, but the owners aren't rakeing it in either. So where's they money going? Maybe the aircraft spend so much time sitting on the tarmac, the cost per hour rises, so less hours are flown, downward spiral of finances.
I don't have any answers, I've used the US example purely to compare figures.
Why is avgas taxed so expensive compared to Jet A1? When the new aviation diesel engines arrive (soon we hope), can we run round buring 10g per hour at 20p per litre, or has the chancellor got atrick up his sleve to hit us with. One tax for commercial jets, another for Mr Europa with shiny new diesel engine maybe?
Will local councils stop opposing every airfield, or even more radical, take on an airfield as a municipal one, for the benefit of the community?
Will the tide of high flying costs ever reverse and fall?
All good points, and you've answered your own question.
In the US (and many other countries), General Aviation is seen as a vital means of transport for local communities and businesses. They believe that thriving GA is the cornerstone upon which a thriving aviation industry as a whole rests.
Therefore they have an active policy of promoting GA, even to the extent of subsidising airports and the FAA. On top of this they have a sensible approach to regulation. This means that US GA and associated industries have an economy of scale that keeps prices down. Cheap land and good weather (in much of the US) are also factors.
Now let's look at the UK:
- The government does not contribute a penny to GA.
- GA activities including all training are taxed as a luxury.
- AVGAS attacts an extra tax.
- The industry is over-regulated, recently been made worse so by handing over control of the regulations to a bunch of unrepresentative Eurocrat lawyers in Hoofddorp with minimal thought to impact and cost/benefit.
- Local Government is generally anti-GA as it is in hoc to the NIMBY lobby.
- Land is expensive (can't help that one).
- The weather is unpredictable (can't help that either).
- Markets associated to GA are small.
Therefore UK GA struggles. The same goes for much of Europe. So the net effect is that much training is imported from overseas, further damamging GA. And the response to that from European governments is, not to address the root problems that make your own market uncompetitive, but to erect import barriers by making licences difficult to convert.
The one i would like to reiterate upon is the coming use of diesel engines in the propellor end of the market.
In theory this should make everything from PPL to ATPL training about a third of the current cost; not an unreasonable assumption i feel as the main cost associated with training in the UK, i.e. fuel, will now be at a TENTH of the cost it previously was with the swith from AVGAS to A1.
So why dont i think it will hapen??
I get the feeling that this new fuel will end up branded as some "special GA diesel" ( thank-you President Blair and the spin mongerers) and the tax will be as high as before, sticking the price up to the £1 a litre mark schools pay now.
Again, the only laughter will come from the government, who claim it must be taxed so to help the envioroment, after all.
Utter bollocks, but it's what will happen. Its another easy revenue raiser for the robbing swines.
I would love the thought of having a Cessna Golden Eagle parked in my hanger, and its shiny new diesel engines burning 10p a litre fuel. But i KNOW it aint going to happen.
Really do think i'll move somewhere quite soon where the honest, hardworking man isn't taxed to death at every turn just for trying to have some fun, or in the case of those going for CPL/IR ATPL, just for having some ambition in life.
Today I stumbled across another example. Was on the way to my flying club, stopped in to get some treasury tags at a nearby Office World. Noticed some very nice Pilot Briefcases for sale, price £21 (inc VAT). Thought that seems a good price and bought one.
Got to flying club, and took out the catalogue of a well known supplier of things to pilots. Same briefcase - £49 (inc VAT), well over twice the cost. Why the massive price difference?
Agree with most of the above but one point: comparing like with like (laminated maps with laminated maps) US VFR charts are only a little cheaper than UK ones, and for that you get a rather poor quality compared to what is in it's current edition an excellent, clear, useable product, the CAA chart. By the way if your paying £20 someone is ripping you off! They're about £13 in most places, compared with US charts at around £12 for laminated, £7 paper at the prevailing exchange rate when I was last there.
Not all clubs in the US are so accomodating with replacements, and some UK organisations do the same if you block book courses.
The rest - complain to your MP and local council. It's political, we are a minority but not a trendy one. Our career is seen as meaningless whenjust about every other vocation gets training support, and as DB says, our training is taxed
As for why some things in a certian very well known catalogue are so damn expensive, a lot of it will be their retail markup. A lot of shops, depending on what they sell, will operate around 2.5
This means if they pay £1 for something, you get to pay £2.50
This markup won't be the same for all sales areas. Walk into a designer surfware retailer, it's probably around 2.3 to 2.8, gift shops around 2.5, jewellers also pretty high.
Other area's, where it's especially competitive, may only be a 10% markup. Computers in big shop, little markup on the systems, but they don't half screw you elsewhere. For instance IDE cables. £15 in well known PC outlet, cost pence to make.
I suppose it's simple, don't like the price, don't buy it. Thats why I'm not a T******r customer.
And just one more 'nail in the coffin,' Feneris...
There used to be NVQ tax relief on flight training until this new 'socialist:o ' government took over in 1997. They then decided that flight training was a hobby & therefore no longer qualified for the said relief.
And...even if you train full time, you cannot call yourself a student. So, no student loans, no student rail card, no free eye care (not that you should need it). Ah!, ...but you might just get a CDL at rip off interest rates!
Don't bother with your MP on the VAT and NVQ issue. I tried over a period of years and nobody wants to know or understands what it's all about.
Minority bunch of wealthy dreamers is how we're seen I'm afraid.
So now you know why a lot of people go to the US, get certificated, instruct to get some hours, and then return to Europe and bang their heads through the wall trying to get their conversion done.
But the again there are those (more often than not the ones who have done all their training in Europe) who will tell you that our system is user friendly and easy to work with (talking about GA here).
The thing is that both sides of the Atlantic have their pros and cons, but personally I found the FAA to be a delight compared to my country`s CAA. And your mentioned points, Feneris, have everything to do with it.
The reason that flying is so expencive in the UK is in the main due to the flying that You dont do , with high utilisation I could offer a C152 or a PA38 for around the £50/hour mark but it has to fly a 500+ hours a year to make it pay.
I have control over my maintenance so costs and programing mantenance for maximum flighing hours are not a problem , but I cant do a thing about the UK weather !.
The other thing that I cant do a thing about is the "UK attitude" of "this deal cant be happening here !" having offered an aircraft to hours builders at £50/hour most of them dont seem interested and think that there must be something wrong with a deal that undercuts the price norm by 40%.
I may well go back to charging 10% below the norm for the UK as ironically this may give me more business credibility with the UK consumer , the aircraft will fly more and I will make another 30% per flying hour.
In short I think that a lot of you in the UK are to narrow minded first to see a good deal when it is on your doorstep and second to get away from the attitude that "it must be cheaper abroad".
I will apologise to the PPRuNe management if this post is rather close to advertising my business but I am not the only person offering good rates on aircraft on this side of the atlantic but I think that you should all know that it is the low take up rate from UK pilots that is the thing that will force me to put up my prices and nothing else.
Excellent thread, with some extremely valid points. These questions need answering so why doesn`t someone with more computing knowledge than me send it to their local MP and demand that it is raised in the House?
Location: Scotland usually, and often other parts of Europe
Just for the record it was the previous Conservative government that scrapped NVQ.
The NVQ system was being heartily abused by flying schools selling PPL courses. I often heard one particular instructor say something along the lines of "How will they ever know you aren't going to go any further than your PPL?"
Diving schools who were selling Sport Diver courses (which were required before continuing on to commercial diving courses) abused the system fairly comprehensively as well.
Flypuppy, that's just plain wrong, Blairite propoganda perhaps .
In fact, it was the conservative administration that introduced the NVQ scheme and thence NVQ tax relief. The scheme was cancelled in mid 1999 (how would a government removed from office in May 1997 do so?) by Tony Blair's government, with a comment in parliament by a man who drives a Jaguar and gets driven around in another: "Some people even use it to learn to fly"
It is true that NVQ tax relief was abused for PPL training, but that would be easy to remedy. Force people to wait until they are on a CPL course before claiming. In any event the most people could cheat by that method was around the £2000 mark.
The replacement scheme was the ILA. Note this was introduced in mid 2000, a political device to con people called fiscal lag: cancel a scheme, but announce a replacement at the same time as cancellation to avoid political fallout. Delay the replacement by a year, reducing commitment to the scheme but lazy journalists don't notice, so no-one cares except those affected.
In this case the total was also capped for £150 for the first year, and for individuals indefinitely. Companies could sponsor their workers tax-free through the account in later years (more fiscal lag) but the unemployed trying to better themselves (most of us) were forever blocked.
Of course it turns out that animal rights campaign groups and other organised criminals defrauded the scheme of at least £50 million by setting up fake training schemes. The most an individual has been found to have stolen was £170,000 (a little more than £2000 maximum from NVQ) though more may have been discoverd. Therefore this scheme has been cancelled with no replacement in sight. Thus we have a Tory government helping to fund retraining, and a Socialist government cancelling that out of envy. They make the self-fulfilling assumption that only well-off people fly: it is now the case, as this government put an ATPL out of reach of those without capital, whereas before some might persuade a bank manager to (just about) fund the lot.
The NVQ WAS abused by the industry and must be an understandable reason why the government stopped it for flight training. I have stated elsewhere the total disregard just about every training organisation had in participating in signing off the log books provided by the Aviation Training Association. When I completed my training in early 1999 there was reported to be only ONE log book signed off completed. If the industry wants the same perks as all other industry's then it has to abide by the outline of how the scheme works. This industry is only too quick to take moneyand exploit any loop holes....welcome to aviation....Its you poor guys who suffer.......
Something I was thinking about over the last few weeks.....
Perhaps to raise a thread towards getting a large group of people together in order to present a 'case' to the Executive along the lines of what we are talking about. Covering issues like the reintroduction of NVQ Tax relief with suitable controls...(backdating of PPL stage tax relief sounds a workable enough idea). And, em, basically all of what Send Clowns raised above.
Would the wannabee population at large be supportive of this, or are we all too cynical and beaten?
I could see a programme like 'Working lunch' doing a special on the pathetic support shown to us by our system in comparison to foreign systems....
Location: Scotland usually, and often other parts of Europe
From what I remember, the Inland Revenue were already in the process of trying to phase out NVQ for flying and diving courses in 1996. I remember one of my friends trying to get NVQ on a commercial diving course in early 1997 and failing. Didn't everyone who wanted to claim NVQ have to be registered with the Air Training Authority before the beginning of 1998? I vaugly remember something about that.
Unfortunately I cant take your viewpoint, politicaly speaking, as unbiased. As the ex-secretary of the Reform Club you obviously have a certain viewpoint that is somewhat right of center.
If flying clubs and schools hadn't taken the p!ss with NVQ tax relief and airlines had taken more of an interest in signing people off on the Level 4 NVQ maybe we would still have NVQ. I dont beleive a single NVQ4 qualification was issued. The industry only has itself to blame on that one. It wasn't just aviation that had NVQ removed as I have mentioned a few times now.
Training to become an airline pilot is still regarded as a glamour job. Until there is desparate shortage of qualified pilots and Joe Shellsuit cant go on holiday to Playas Des Americas will politicians take any notice. We have no representation in any union, anyone tried asking BALPA what their standing is on this subject? When I contacted Chris Drake in 2000 the basic answer was they dont give a monkeys.
The implementation of JAR has had more impact on the cost of training than the loss of NVQ.
There just isnt the political will to help out what is percieved to be a predominatly white middle class male group of people who want to become flyboys.
BTW, dont turn this into a political slanging match. I'm not interested in what you think of this or any other government. I'm not a Blairite, I resent the insinuation that I am.
As for A and C; where is this £50 pa-28 hire? Where were you advertising? I have been reading the aviation comics for a long while now and cant ever remember seeing that one advertised.
If your real deal, send me an e-mail. I know a few guys who'd bite the hand of you for that sort of hourly hire figure.
Well said about Tr****** as well; is it any wonder the owner can afford to run a jet warbird at those prices. Its cheaper to buy from websites abroad and have it shipped to Britain than buy from him in many cases!!
I defianately like the idea of some political lobbying as well. About time GA and its brethern started sticking up for ourselves instead as being seen as a bunch of wealthy layabouts..which i most definately am not!
Yours, without a pot to **** in as usual ( bloody annuals!!), MBFC.