The Integrated Course
This route enables you to complete the course full-time, from zero experience of flying to gaining your fATPL. The course provider will start you off with the single-engine piston flying, possibly abroad, before hours building, ATPL theory exams, the CPL MEIR flying course and finally the MCC course. These courses are explained on the previous Become a Pilot page.
Choosing a training provider depends on a few factors:
Cost: What can you afford? The integrated courses are expensive and a big commitment. The Modular route is considerably cheaper compared to the Integrated route and you get the same licence at the end of the process, but it takes more skill to arrange all of the different courses in a seamless way. UKFlying can assist with this!
Aircraft used for the course: The more modern glass cockpit GPS aircraft are easier to fly and more realistic in comparison to airline cockpits. The best aircraft are twins, like the DA-42 Twinstar. It doesn’t matter too much for the PPL or the hours building, this is more about learning to fly rather than using technology. However, you do want a good aircraft for the MEP CPL MEIR elements of your training.
Location: A lot of schools will complete the PPL and hours building abroad, where the weather is better all year round and the cost of aviation is lower. This might not suit your personal circumstances. Some airports also have better approach aids, which will help with the IR phase of your training. Having to fly a long way to another airport to practice an instrument approach wastes a lot of time.
Quality of theory instructors and flying instructors: This will be very hard for you to judge before starting, but we base our recommendations on student feedback, so are able to recommend those providers who are using good instructors. The better companies pay their instructors more, therefore getting a better level and quality of instructor.
Reputation and links to airlines: This might help with job hunting at the end of the course but shouldn’t be the highest priority, even if the school tells you differently.
Duration: Average is around 18 months from starting to finishing, but aircraft serviceability issues or weather can often make the course last around 2 years. You need to visit the school and ask current students how long the course is taking.
CV and Interview Prep – Having spent the money on gaining a licence, you now need to get a job. I would strongly recommend you contact Flightdeckwingman. They have links to the airlines and will be able to prepare you for interview with one of their courses. Worth the money.
Airline Simulator Prep - You can also practice the airline simulator profiles, usually conducted in B747, B737 or A320 sims. Practicing the profile first and being taught how the companies expect you to fly the aircraft as multi-crew can be very beneficial. We currently recommend Flight Simulators Midlands for B747, B737 and A320 airline sim profiles. We have had great feedback from military pilots who have used FSM and they offer very competitive prices. View their details here: Flight Simulators Midlands.
We recommend you view the Pilot-Network website which has hundreds of reviews from most of the European flight schools. This will give you real student feedback on each of the training establishments and will help you to make an informed decision.