Have you ever dreamt of flying a plane? If so, your dream of becoming a pilot can take the real flight now with aviation industry booming with more and more people affording to fly than before. The data indicate that by 2030, more than 6 billion passengers will be flying and that is approximately four times more than the present count. With such promising numbers, it’s the perfect time to become a pilot.
However, the decision to become one isn’t an easy drill. The process can be confusing and requires time, money and dedication. So, it is advisable to take up the aviation course and understand everything about the duration, flight school and other nitty-gritty details needed to become a professional.
There are different types of pilot courses, and the licenses are available as per the career choice. This guide will help you to discover what exactly you need to become a full-fledged pilot, with the information on training courses, eligibility, costs, build hours and more. Whether you want to be a commercial pilot or a private jet pilot, your flight starts here.
Now to start with, the first question would be would you be flying for your career or a hobby?
In case you want to make a professional career in flying, you require CPL (Commercial Pilot Certificate) recognized from FAA and to fly a commercial airline; you would be required to complete the training and additional hours to gain ATP (Airline Transport Pilot certification). Without this certificate, you cannot fly an aircraft and will be offered other jobs like banner towing, etc.
On the other hand, if you just want to fly for the love of flying, you have an option to opt for PPL (Private Pilot License). There is no compensation for this type of flying, but you get hired by private companies for charter services, you can earn from flying private jets as well. The Private Pilot License is recognized all over the world and allows you to travel with your friends to any location.
Eligibility for PPL Training
The very first step to research flight training schools. Compare the programs offered by different flight schools and pick the one that matches your requirement on fees, course and future career prospects. Once you find the school, the next step would be to apply based on the eligibility criteria. For PPL, students need to be:
– at least 17 years of age to fly gyroplanes, helicopters, and jets
– able to speak, read, write, and understand the English language
– holding the 3rd class medical certificate or above
– able to do basic math
The student will also need to pass in a practical exam that includes flight test and verbal exam.
Choosing the Right Private Pilot Training Program
There are many flight schools where one can undergo private training as per your need. Start by going through the training programs in your area. The private pilot training programs are available in many of the colleges, universities and most airports. Always select FAA certified programs as these courses guarantee good instructors and good quality facility. FAA approved flight school meets high standards for their staff, equipment, and curriculum. You need 35 hours for FAA approved course and 40 hours for non-approved flight school.
Start by making a list of important attributes that you want to learn. If you want to work full time, you can choose the course with a flexible schedule. Talk to experienced pilots, read the magazines and visit the program manager to understand more about a well fit course. The pilot training courses are expensive, but you need to make sure you receive high-end training. Revise your checklist and chose the course that meets all your personal standards
Obtaining a Student Pilot Certificate
Once you get the aviation medical certificate, you will need to obtain a student pilot certificate at the same time. There are two ways to get the pilot certificate:
- You can get your pilot and medical certificate together when you visit an aviation medical examination office as the document given by the examiner after completing the medical exam would be an all in one student certificate and medical certificate.
- Another way is to visit FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) and submit the application for the certificate.
How Does the Program Work?
While getting trained for PPL, there are different elements such as ground training, flight training, and examinations. You have to start by finding the right school and instructor. If your nearest airport offers FBO (Fixed-Base Operation), take that option and get a good flight instructor to teach you. The process includes:
Ground Training: The ground training lasts for 35 hours and covers different theoretical topics related to airplane system, meteorology, principles of aerodynamics, and federal aviation rules.
Flight Training: The flight training is around 35-45 hours and cover topics like pre-flight tasks, aircraft control, traffic rules, landing and take-offs, and emergency operations. Approximately 10 hours are spent in supervised solo flights and 5 hours in cross country flying with two stop landings at aerodromes.
Examinations: Finally, the student should be able to pass and complete the FAA Written Exam. The test has nine subjects including Aircraft system, Basic Aerodynamics, Rules, Flight Equipment, Airport operations and Procedures, Weather service, En-route flight, Communication, and Navigation Procedures and Aircraft Performance. Students are required to score 70% and above to pass the written exam before taking the final practical exam.
Depending on the intensity of your work, qualifying the exams can anywhere between 2 weeks to years. It is advisable to qualify the exam as early as possible to retain all the information and learning. Flying would be easy when you have extensive background knowledge.
Once you clear the written exam, you will need to learn the flying. You will start by learning the basic knowledge such as climbs, takeoff, turns, descents, and landing. The primary focus would be how to fly and land the aircraft and then you will also need to know about emergency procedures, communication channels on radios, etc. After the solo flight, you will have to work on a cross-country flight with little difficult maneuvers. After these two solo flights, you can fine tune your skills for the final practical flying exam.
Get Your Pilot License
After the successful completion of the FAA test, the examiner will help you complete the paperwork online. You will be handed your temporary private pilot license to use while you permanent official FAA certificate will arrive in the mail.
Though getting a Private license doesn’t offer a lot of career opportunities. While you can split the operating cost with other passengers, the license doesn’t allow you to charge other for the services. But after getting PPL, you are eligible to get training for FAA CPL (Commercial Pilot Certificate).
Private Pilots are well trained to fly a small airplane by themselves through country’s airspace. During the training, pilots learn to maneuver aircraft, emergency, navigation tips and all the possible learning they need to fly a plane. So, next time if you see planes leaving from LAX airport, you would realize the amount of time, money and intense training that goes behind learning to fly an airplane. Flying private jets gives you the opportunity to share a very personalized experience and better chances to fly to the destinations that commercial airplanes don’t fly to. Finally, you can turn your dreams into a reality!