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L3 blows the lid off the "Integrated v Modular" debate!

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L3 blows the lid off the "Integrated v Modular" debate!

Old 12th Aug 2020, 17:07
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L3 blows the lid off the "Integrated v Modular" debate!

After decades of listening to the often heated debate about which is the best route to the airline pilot seat, L3 Harris have just announced their Modular Pilot Training with the caption "Become a pilot at your own pace and only pay as you train" The long established modular schools must be jumping up and down with excitement!

Its sad to think it took a pandemic to have one of the biggest integrated schools to finally acknowledge modular is a great option and really protects the student giving more choice and control whilst still achieving the end goal. The prices they are quoting on the other hand are incredibly high which is to be expected. I feel pretty sure modular schools will jump on this straight away and advertise prices considerably less with the argument that the quality is just as good, so let the games begin!

I would caution all potential students to do their homework and not just consider the price offered, even if this is highly important in these uncertain times. Look closely at reputation, time in business, climate, environment, facilities, experience of the instructors, size of school (big is not always best, small can give you much better personal service) and do you best to understand the importance of receiving quality instruction and training to high standards with a tough examiner at the end, not a push over examiner, so you are well prepared and ready for the airline job when it comes around, which it will.

Apart from some excellent schools in UK and in some parts of Europe to chose from, USA still has some excellent choices. In Florida for example, there are 3 EASA approved schools, one which has been established for 20 years (EFT in Ft Pierce). The second, established over 10 years ago as a flying holiday company, have recently launched their brand new Academy in Sebastian Florida, (Pilots Paradise). Although not the best time to launch, it seems they are being very realistic on price to get things moving coming in at almost half the L3 prices - surely worth a serious look if you are on a budget. The third is FIT in Melbourne, they are a long established College and obtained their EASA approvals around 5 years ago. I think all these schools are worth a look as they each have great facilities and experienced instructors.

I look forward to seeing Alex Whittingham's contribution to this thread, he has been banging the modular drum as loud as he can for a long while, but my opinion now is the genie is out of the bottle and we cannot justify trying to put it back in.

Oh and just to be clear, I am not now, and would never knock the integrated schools (I trained at Oxford in the 80's), some of them are still very good, but for the life of me I could never understand why parents or self funded students would pay such vast sums for their training and be trapped with little choice when it all goes wrong. In one of my previous posts I did support strongly (and still do) the idea of a 'selected and sponsored by an airline course' at an integrated schools, but these are rare and somewhat a thing of the past.

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Old 12th Aug 2020, 17:28
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Clearly BGS have been the biggest in this field for years, but Leading Edge has a Modular Course starting next month, so L3 is late to the party, plus they've just shut down the Coventry ground school (mid Sept) so it's Gatwick or nothing for them.
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Old 12th Aug 2020, 22:39
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Sad to think how many hundreds of people were told by CTC how useless modular is and how integrated is the only way to get an airline job. Collectively millions of pounds spent needlessly by desperate and naive students believing the marketing hype that integrated is the only way. Now the tables have turned as L3 almost certainly havn't got any airlines to send students to are claiming that modular is the best gig in town. But I guess business is business.

Hopefully students will see through their BS.
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Old 12th Aug 2020, 23:09
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Hardly surprising is it?

There are no airline jobs! Specifically tailored integrated courses that the airline cadet programmes normally want are a dead duck at the moment. These schools need to stay in business without the end game airline customers. Either change format or go out of business.

There are going to be a lot of experienced pilots chasing any job going for the foreseeable future
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Old 12th Aug 2020, 23:29
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The first acknowledgements that modular was just as good as integrated started popping up a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, largely so as a selling point for some non-complulsory "airline preparation" courses that were "designed to bridge the gap between both routes". Right now, when most cadet programs are up in smoke and won't be back for some time, the "guaranteed job in the end" selling point of integrated is dead in the water. And, after dozens of conditional offers were pulled from integrated students within weeks, people will be quite wary of all "guaranteed job" promises in the near future.

From an airline standpoint, integrated courses were appealing mainly because of one thing - low training risk. Candidates got pre-assessed by the school before they were invited for an interview with the airline, theoretical exams came before any flying to weed out those who didn't have the motivation to get on the books and were there only for the fun part... That's all well and good - but are there no other ways of verifying someone's attitude, aptitude, skills and motivation? I think that there are plenty. And, if they find their way into airline assessments once cadetships are back, there will be no benefits whatsoever to an integrated course, as opposed to a modular one provided by an ATO whose standards of training have been verified appropriately.
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Old 12th Aug 2020, 23:55
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I agree and disagree. I believe that as and when the airline cadet programmes ramp up again they will still look for full time single programme training input. It is much easier for them, involves significantly less risk and attrition, and costs nothing. However I think itís an academic argument for the foreseeable future. Terms and conditions are going to track supply and demand, For the realistically foreseeable future there is likely to be a wholesale slaughter of the demand dynamic.

As recovery takes root at whatever point it eventually does, airlines are going to be able to pick up diamonds for the price of coal! Experienced airline pilots with proven track records are going to be fighting for every vacancy. Many of those airframes flying to the desert are never going to come back. Even with the layoffs already witnessed, the truth is that almost all of the worlds airlines are heavily oversubscribed with existing staff awaiting some direction for the near and medium term future.

The worlds money printing presses have been running fast for the last decade. Now they have switched to overdrive. There is going to be a price to pay for that all that fiduciary cash and history shows that is usually in the form of inflation and unemployment. I doubt joining the back of the queue of the pilot training world is going to result in happy outcomes for a significantly long time. I also think that the idea that modular training gives any more of an advantage than it ever did is also severely misplaced.
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 11:33
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Given the way L3 treated their Portuguese whitetail customers with the activation of the FORCE MAJEURE clause in the contracts by dumping them, it will hardly inspire confidence in the next batch of punters they hope to attract, this time for the modular route. How does the overall advertised price differ from the Integrated route?

You can understand the need for diversification given the tsunami which hit aviation and the subsequent cliff edge in recruitment from Integrated courses. Donít be surprised if this particular new venture simply dies on the vine, as memories will hardly fade that quickly and no smooooth talking snake oil salesmen will be able to rewrite history.
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 11:46
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Isn't it amazing how they change their tune the minute integrated demand drops through the floor?
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 12:06
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They always do this. 9/11....SARS....the 2008 crash.....The integrated schools see their profit in the flying courses rather than groundschool and so try and attract students in to modular groundschool to somehow tie them in to completing the flying with them. Its an act of desperation mostly because (1) the modular groundschools are much better at delivering distance learning courses than they are, the integrated instructors have to fundamentally change how they teach, and that's actually quite difficult, and (2) the concept is ultimately flawed, even if they do attract students to the ATPL theory courses the whole idea of modular is that, once complete, the customers can go off and do a modular CPL IR with a training provider that really knows how to deliver value for money. Some people will take the offer, though, they always do, and memories are short.
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 14:16
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With a drop in demand, will we see large reductions in the prices of training courses across the board?
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 14:59
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How large is large enough? I guess that the answer lies within the business model of the specific school and the willingness to change it for survival sake. They can't offer any course below break-even price as this is a quick way into the ground. If it turns out that the close-to-break-even crisis survival price is still a lot higher than the average across the board, the only solution is to reduce the cost base. How? By cutting expenditure for facilities, aircraft, staff, advertising, by renegotiating arrangements with suppliers and so on. A lot can be trimmed off the cost base of such a school - but, if it's actually done, it will become just another one of the many. A bit of a Catch 22, isn't it?
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 17:33
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Pitching the price is the tricky bit. Supply & Demand will determine just how the price reduction rate occurs. You choose a price eventually to maximise the income, but set a minimum price
at say COST+5% in semi arid conditions.

The mug punter must avoid offers where payments upfront attract a significant discount.

Take professional advice whether paying by Credit Card is a good option.

Last edited by parkfell; 13th Aug 2020 at 20:54.
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 17:51
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With a drop in demand, will we see large reductions in the prices of training courses across the board?
TBH I doubt it. The big integrated schools can't get their cost base down anyway near the modular schools, the modular schools have ridiculously thin margins already.
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 20:13
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I see Skyborne Airline Academy has done both Integrated and Modular from the start.
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Old 13th Aug 2020, 20:29
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. In Florida for example, there are 3 EASA approved schools, one which has been established for 20 years (EFT in Ft Pierce). The second, established over 10 years ago as a flying holiday company, have recently launched their brand new Academy in Sebastian Florida, (Pilots Paradise)
Ain't no bargepole long enough
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Old 16th Aug 2020, 02:51
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I agree with Alex Whittingham, the integrated schools cannot get their costs down anywhere near the modular schools. The challenge for students is to be able to cut through the fog of misinformation and unhelpful comments (such as the one from Booglebox) and chose a good modular school by really doing their homework. They shouldn't have to pay more than $50,000 (or equivalent) to go from zero to their frozen ATPL and there are enough good schools still in business that can deliver a quality product.

Whether located in mainland Europe (certain parts anyway!), the UK or the USA, to obtain a keep an EASA approval is not that easy and therefore the approval should mean something to prospective students.. That being said, I still urge everyone looking for a good school to do their research. Do more than Facebook and emails, maybe try and actually talk to a human and discuss your objectives? It might be useful to cut through the fancy website speak and get to the bottom of things? I think I mentioned in a previous post, the absolute best way of getting started is ONLY commit for the PPL at first, pay as you go (leave no more than around $1,000 in the flying account at any time) and vote with your feet if you feel they are not getting what you are looking for.

For 2 decades you can find this forum littered with posts from so called disgruntled students (mostly anonymous), and whilst many will be be justified and true, there should be no excuse from now on to make such a mistake and lose a lot of money. When we hear of stories of students loosing thousands and thousands from failed integrated and modular schools we must start to wonder why people were so naive. In conclusion, pay as you go, but most of all pay less than $50K and enjoy the ride to getting qualified.

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Old 16th Aug 2020, 08:38
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The customer needs to be aware that unlike airlines, the Regulator (EASA) is not concerned about the ATOs financial robustness when approved, or its current / future state, simply about compliance with the training regulations etc.

There is no bond to support the customer if it unfortunately ceases trading.
A small credit balance has been suggested by spitfirejock;
I wouldn’t disagree.

In these unprecedented times not all ATOs survive.

They will need to be creative, and put the customers needs first.
Lots of TLC and an excellent “after sales service” to keep the licence current before the ‘green shoots’ appear in the semi arid desert 🌵

Word of mouth from trusted friends always trumps sophisticated company marketing and smooth talking so called ‘training advisors’.

Last edited by parkfell; 16th Aug 2020 at 09:46.
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 15:08
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Lots of wise words and experiences shared in the thread. Future pilot dreamers - pay attention.
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