First of all, thank you all so much for reading my articles about my experiences in aviation. It is a great hobby to write about these topics and I hope you will enjoy and learn something from my stories. So let’s move on to the subject before you decide to leave the page. 😉 How do you choose good flight school and where did I do my flight training? A lot of people ask me these questions lately so why not answer them in a new article!
I went to CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Amsterdam (NLS) and I will tell you why.
When I decided to become an airline pilot I knew nothing about flight schools. I really had no clue at all… The only thing I did know though was that I wanted to become a pilot, a successful airline pilot with a decent opportunity to obtain that very important first job! I started going through pilot forums to gain information about Dutch flight schools. Then I made a collection of the schools I wanted to visit and I paid them a personal visit during information days. It didn’t take long to notice the difference between the schools (price, location and so on..). The biggest difference between the flight schools were the attitude and the atmosphere! There are some schools where the attitude is simply not ok (in my opinion) and these schools are well known to have this problem. Too arrogant and proud which is definitely not my cup of tea. I decided I wanted to go to a good school where people stayed down to earth, no matter what they were wearing.
Aviation forums & Contacts
In the meantime I contacted people from those schools and other people via aviation related forums. I found out which flight schools were actually delivering graduates to airlines and which schools did not. In the end they will all tell you the greatest stories about their history and success in aviation.. I guess you do well not to rely on those stories. The more I found out about these schools, the smaller my list became. In the end I got in contact with someone who worked at the airline where I currently work. He choose the earlier mentioned school and this, together with all the information I gathered earlier, led to my decision.
What I want you to know…
During the recession and during my flight training I realized how important it was to go to a school which is a part of a greater company. In the past few years I have seen a lot of flight schools go bankrupt. Being a student on that school? I wish you good luck! Prior to starting I did not look at this but in the end it saved my **s.
My school was attached to CAE, a great simulator company which has a lot of connections with airlines and all sorts of other aviation related companies. In a time where jobs were hard to find, CAE still sent me emails with airlines which were hiring. Maybe you think this is normal, but in general flight schools will not take care of you after your graduation. On a regular basis, my school sent me invitations from easyJet, Norwegian, Volotea, BMI, etc. When your school is not attached to another company and your school goes bankrupt, you will have nothing anymore. No final report, no references and no files. Exactly the stuff you need in order to apply for your first airline job. You might think that the chance of a flight school going bankrupt is not that great but trust me, it happens more often than you think. Even CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Amsterdam closed their doors! I was lucky that my school was a part of CAE, otherwise I would not have had a job right now. However, please understand that bigger schools are not automatically better than the smaller ones. This brings me to the next item.
Watch out for factories!
After you made your choice, you will have to undergo a selection process. This selection process will filter the candidates. A selection program usually consists of math tests, physics tests, flying skill tests, personal tests, intelligence tests and a lot more. Not to be rude but… In general, quite some people fail these selection tests. This will result in not being accepted by that specific school. Almost everyone who fails a test like that and is really willing to become an airline pilot continues to search for another school. Some flight schools are well known for being factories, which means that they will accept almost anyone as long as you pay them tuition fee. Any help or care after the training? Forget it. Be aware of this because in this situation it is easy to go to a school like that and to forget the consequences. Airlines know that some schools hire anyone and therefore they will not hire you since you are from that school. And of course, when you never get the job, you will be stuck with: The real deal…
Cheap or Expensive?
Nowadays there are a lot of companies, like CTC for example, which have a good connection with several airlines. If you use their company you pay a huge amount of money to get a job. In Europe the worst place you can start a pilot training regarding the costs is the Netherlands. I have never heard of any other country where it is so expensive to become a pilot. Poland & Lithuania known to have some of the lowest tuition fees for pilot schools.
Like everything in life: failure to prepare is prepare to fail! Make sure you do a good research on your flight school before you decide.