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Learning to fly
The following describes what you can expect as you progress through your pilot training. Additional information can be found in the Flight Crew Licensing Information Sheets.
Other documents of interest are:
- Glossary of Terms explains some of the aviation jargon.
The time it takes to obtain a licence can depend on a number of factors such as whether you are undertaking full time training or on an ad-hoc basis, aircraft availability, weather and of course your financial situation. An average student will qualify for a private pilot licence after approximately 55-60 hours. If completing training on a part time basis, say 1 hour a week, this will take just over 12 months. Full time training will take about 2 months. For a commercial licence, the 150 hour course will take approximately 12 months full time. If you elect to undertake training on an ad-hoc basis, the minimum number of hours you must have will increase to 200hrs and this will take you between 2-3 years to acquire.
CASA does not require any person undertaking an Australian pilot's licence to hold formal educational qualifications. The education level required to pass the Private Pilot's licence exams is well within the scope of the average person.
However, if you are undertaking the Commercial or higher Flight Crew Licence you may find it difficult to pass the examinations unless you have a strong background knowledge of Physics, Mathematics and English. The absence of this background could be overcome by undertaking theory training at a reputable theory training centre or theory provider. In addition, it should be noted that airlines generally require passes at High School Certificate level in Physics and Mathematics, although this may vary between companies. It is a good idea to contact employers in the area of aviation where you may wish to follow a career and check what their requirements are. Some may even suggest you investigate the various diplomas or degrees in aviation on offer from a number of universities.
The most important outcome from selecting a training organisation is that you, the prospective pilot, attain a licence with all the skills and theoretical knowledge required to fly both safely and confidently. Cost is a significant factor in flying training, however, the quality of training is the first priority. It is recommended that you contact several flying training organisations to evaluate the quality of the training they provide, and then obtain estimates of all charges for which you should budget.
Most of the organisations can be found in your local telephone directory under the headings of `Flying Schools' or 'Aero Clubs’. Some schools offer full-time courses with live-in facilities and are able to arrange finance to help meet the costs of instruction. Others specialise in providing training for those who can only find the time and money to fly occasionally.
Your choice of school should be based on what you hope to achieve. If your aim is to fly for pleasure, then a school that concentrates on the private pilot licence level may be able to cater for your needs more so than a larger school that focuses on training for professional licences and ratings. Schools that cater mainly for the private pilot often use basic and economical aircraft for training which will help to reduce your costs. However, if your aim is a career in aviation, then training beyond the private level is required, and you may prefer to complete all training right through to commercial level and beyond with the one organisation.
Whatever your aim, before you choose a school, talk to as many instructors, students (past and present) and other pilots as you can. The more people you talk to the better the chance of making the decision that is right for you. That said, if things don't work out, you can always transfer to another school.