7 Questions to ask before selecting a flying academy for pilot training

What are your doubts in joining pilot training courses in India or abroad? You may be concerned about food accommodation, study materials etc. which are important in some sense. But from the point of view of an aviator, there are something more important than these. Usually, no assurance in these questions can put in you in good trouble, after finishing the course, while you try for a job. Just a valid CPL (commercial pilot license) has nothing much to do with the job hunting phase. Here are some questions you must ask your flying club officials before joining for flying. We also explain some of the fraud practices prevailing in India and abroad regarding flying and the pilot training course.

1. How many hours of PIC will I get?

What is PIC? PIC means Pilot In Command. A student controlling the aircraft entirely under his control is the PIC of the aircraft. Once you start your flying, most of the flying clubs will release your solo flying (PIC) at about 7-15 hours from the commencement of flying. That means after 7-15 hours of dual flying, you are free to go by yourself as PIC.

Your flying instructor, who accompanies you in flying, will also get flying hours as you get, entered in his own pilot log book. So, in most of the academies, they log flying as dual flying, even though you go for solo. For CPL, you just need 100 hours of PIC. In actual scene, out of the total 200 hours, you fly about 180-190 hours of solo, but get only 120-130 hours entered in your logbook as solo. The rest of the flying is shared with the instructor who illegally claims flying hours out of your own flying hours. What is the big thing to worry in this? If you go for Instructor rating, (to become a flying instructor), you need to have 200 hours of PIC. If you get only 120 hours as PIC in your logbook, you will have to fly another 80 hours to attain the hours, which will cost you another 8-10 lakhs Rupees. This is simply cheating. So, before joining, make sure that you will get at least 170+ hours of PIC and get your logbook entered in time and updated with accurate flying hours. 

2. Which aircraft will you get?

You should ask and make it clear that you will get the best aircraft at the cheapest price. Flying academies have a variety of aircrafts, from Cessna 152 to multi engine aircrafts. In their package, they may include all the aircrafts but hours in a cheating ratio. For example, I have seen advertisements of flying clubs claiming CPL with multi engine for just 20 lakhs. I cross examine such packages and found that the course was like this.

Cessna 152 = 150 hours

Cessna 172 = 30 hours

Simulator = 15 hours

Multi engine = 5 hours.

Out of these, even the multi engine refers to old piston engine aircrafts like PA 38 or DA 42 Diamond which is not of great value when commercial airline interviews are concerned. In such cases, inform the academy that you will fly on a pay per hour basis, paying 50,000 to 1,00,000 Rs and fly for it, refill the amount and fly for it and so on. It will be of lesser financial stress to you and you can get yourself guaranteed about the quality of flying.


3. Quitting the academy at your will

You will have a Flight training progress record (FTPR), with your college while you do the training. However, you can get it transferred to any academy of your will and wish, anytime you wish to change the academy. Some academies refuse to transfer it to new academy or make unreasonable delays in sending it. In such cases, you may loose your valuable flying time and may even get your papers elapsed. Make sure that they will transfer FTPR promptly at your wish in order to continue flying with some other academy of your choice.

4. Pay per hour minimum balance

Recently I have heard of some top notch academies doing some fraudulent activities regarding this. Some academies require a minimum balance of some 1,00,000 Rs or so, to continue flying. If the balance amount fall below this, they will pause flying till you give more money for flying. This goes on till the last few hours of remaining flying to make sure that the cadet will not leave the academy at his/her wish. But this should not be allowed in the pay per hour case. Ask them and make it clear that you can fly till the last rupee in your account is finished, before refilling. 

5. Insurance for accidents/incidents if any

Legally, all aircrafts and persons carried should be insured and students need not have to pay money for accidental damages. In most of the cases, incidents occur due to faults which are not pertained to the cadets. Old aircrafts, faulty maintenance, under-powered engines etc. are the reasons for most of the incidents that occur. But to save the reputation of the flying academy, they impose all fault in the head of cadet who have flown the aircraft. They will even offer good job at the end of the training for affected yet, physically unaffected cadets, who complete the course. Some academies may even try to bribe cadets to make their part clear. Stay away from such frauds. Once you agree with the words of your academy, you wont be considered an able pilot again. In the FTPR, there will be black marks on you. Even in the DGCA website, it will appear as your fault and airlines don’t prefer such pilots for jobs. So, think wisely and make your decisions accordingly, if some similar issue arise. Also ask your academy officials about the same before signing up.

6. Ask about the complete un-included expenses

Ask the officials about any expenses that can occur during your flying training and are not included in the package. Enquire knowledgeable people about such expenses in that place, to find whether it will cost you a fortune or not. Features like food, accommodation, travel etc. come under this category. Some academies offer these but of least quality concern. Make sure that you will be treated well when you are with them, by visiting their premises.

7. Guaranteed time-frame of the course

Commercial/private pilot training, being not an academic course, doesn’t come with a tight time frame. You should get your CPL issued within 5 years from the date of issue of SPL (Student pilot license). Moreover, your exams are valid for 5 years too. This make the institutions delay flying at their wish, wait for fuel prices to come down, wait for govt. budgets etc. causing delay in completing the training. However, you can ask for a stipulated time frame for completing the course if no mishap has happened.


Hope this article will be helpful. Feel free to shoot your questions and doubts so that we can answer it and others might be helped with.


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