Making a choice of flying school
Cubair we recommend that all our new students take a trial lesson first so
that they can be sure the instructor and the aircraft suit them and they
feel comfortable with us. We invite potential students to visit us at
Redhill to talk to our instructors and to look at the aircraft we offer
for training. There is also the opportunity to talk to other students at
the school to gain an unbiased opinion.
Some of the factors to consider when
making your choice of flying school:
- Look for a school with a good team of
instructors to ensure there is plenty of cover for holidays etc. Some
variety in instructional techniques is also healthy. What is their
experience and do they have time to talk to the students and answer
their queries? Are they dedicated career instructors or future airline
pilots filling in time and building their hours en-route to their first
- You are likely to achieve your pilots
licence in less time if training on one of the more modern training
aircraft such as the Diamond Katana or Grob 115. Even if the hourly rate
is more expensive than one of the "classic" training types
(which in many cases it won't be) there is likely to be an overall cost
saving if it takes less hours to complete the course. Modern training
aeroplanes have good ergonomics, external visibility is much better and
they are more environmentally friendly than the older types. Unless you
are physically too large or heavy to fit into a two seat training
aircraft there is no advantage to selecting a four seat touring aircraft
for your training.
- Ensure that the aircraft you intend to
train on is fit for the purpose. The syllabus for the PPL requires
training in radio navigation including SatNav and ATC transponders.
There are many training aircraft around that are not so equipped.
- A school with a mixture of modern,
vintage, training, touring and aerobatic aircraft types in its fleet
would be able to cater for all shapes and sizes of students and be able
to offer more advanced training in due course.
- An on-site / in house maintenance
capability is a big plus as any technical problems with aeroplanes can
be rectified without undue delay.
- Check prices for any "hidden
extras". The unwary student can be caught out by additional items
such as the weekend supplements and fuel supplements.
- Look at how the school handles
bookings. Are you shoe horned into a ninety minute "slot" or
do they have a fully flexible booking system with time allocations for
pre and post flight briefings. A web based booking system is an added
- Look at how the school charges for
flying time. Some schools will charge customers from the time they start
the engine to the time they shut down. At larger airfields you could be
taxying or holding for twenty minutes which the student is paying for as
flight time. This method also encourages rushing of pre-flight checks as
no one wants to pay for sitting on the ground! A much fairer way of
charging is by take-off to landing time plus perhaps a nominal amount
for taxying and ground checks.
- Check whether you will be charged extra
for ground briefings or are they included as part of the course of
- Ensure that school has a flight
examiner and ground examiner readily available when you want to take
- Look at the airfield operations. Larger
airfields where priority is given to the biz jet operators can mean
holding on the ground for or in the air extended periods due to jet
traffic which can mean unnecessary expense for the student.
- Make sure that the landing fees and
particularly the circuit fees are reasonable. There is a huge difference
between the cheapest and most expensive fields and this makes a big
difference to the overall cost.
- Consider your proximity to the
airfield. A long drive only to have your flight cancelled due to weather
or other issues can be very frustrating.
- Don't be put off by busy airspace.
Learning in an area with a mix of international airports, regional
airports and smaller airfields is good experience for the student pilot.
Full ATC at your base airfield can be a big advantage.
- Look for a healthy "club"
type environment with regular social events and fly outs where you can
engage with other students, pilots and instructors.
- A good café or restaurant
conveniently located close to the school for those inevitable days where
the weather is not good enough for the planned flight is a bonus.