by Telstar Logistics
“Accelerated flight training” is a very popular way for many to accomplish the FAA required pilot training and gain the skills and knowledge required to pass any pilot certificate or rating that exists. However, the title of “accelerated” pilot training is misleading in some ways that can lead to an unhappy student pilot and a loss of time and money! As an FAA certified flight instructor of more than 13 years with most of that time dedicated to the “accelerated” method of teaching I have learned what works and what does not work. I hope this article can help those seeking a pilot certificate or rating achieve their goals in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.
Accelerated Flight Training Myth:
Just because a flight school offers an “accelerated” flight training course does NOT mean you will finish in less time. Fact: The FAA requires minimum pilot training, flight experience, and ground theory training before a person is eligible to attempt the required final testing for a pilot certificate or rating. For example, The FAA requires 40 hours of total flight and training experience before attempting the final test. However, the national average for time to earn a private pilot certificate is closer to 70 hours! Why?!? Here are a few reasons.
· Too much time between training flights and ground school. Skills and knowledge degrade with time. I recommend flight training at least three days per week to avoid “disuse” loss of learning in between lessons.
· Bad weather can stop training all together for days or even weeks affecting your training goals in the same way listed above.
· Poorly planned or executed course. This could be from a school that only wants your money or an inexperienced flight instructor that is only there to build time and get into an airline.
· No or little study before training begins. This is mainly for accelerated courses because the more you can learn before hand will let you concentrate on learning to fly. I do not recommend nor do I begin any accelerated flying course until any required written tests and medical exams are completed first. I also have my students pre-study the pilot training syllabus sequence of events and read through all study materials first before the first day of training. Using a computer based flight simulator is also a great way to prepare before pilot training begins just by flying around and having fun. I also recommend a series of simple self administered lessons using computer based simulation before training. Preparation is the biggest time and money saver by far!
· There are many more reasons but these are the biggest by far.
Benefits of a good Accelerated Pilot Training course
· Accelerated flight training can let you reach your goals in less time! The average training time an “accelerated” student is closer to 50 hours. 20 hours of training at $ 200/hr will buy a lot of hamburgers! The average for my students is closer to 40 hours only because the FAA won’t let my students take the final test earlier! This is mainly due to flight schools that jump on the “accelerated” band wagon for some easy cash drawing in students, giving them to instructors that may be good but improperly trained to handle an efficient Accelerated Flight Training course, the student doesn’t finish in the time allowed/paid for, and extending time and money to complete training. This drives the average time up to the 50s. There are very few reasons why a properly screened and prepared student cannot finish by the FAA mandatory 40 hour mark with a well designed and well executed accelerated flight training course.
· Learning and retention of skills and knowledge can be greatly enhanced with Accelerated Flying Lessons. Many with a bad experience (students and instructors) argue otherwise however I have first hand experience of teaching many students both “traditional” (2-3 days/week) and “accelerated” (focused and efficient) and I can attest that there is much less flight and ground review necessary just before final test time for the accelerated students in every case. Retention for the long term depends solely on the pilot to keep learning and keeping skills sharp regardless of what kind of flight training they used to achieve their goals.
· Accelerated flight training forces the student to focus solely on the task at hand. It is critical to leave the worries of every day life and work behind while training or learning will degrade quickly. As long as you can schedule a time away from the world while you train the learning and retention skyrockets contributing to a safer pilot.
What to look for in Accelerated Flight Training:
· An experienced instructor experienced with accelerated flight training. Also, make sure the school does not intend to switch instructors on you except when absolutely necessary! Finding experienced instructors is not easy these days let alone experienced in accelerated flight instruction.
· A time of the year or physical location with good weather that will not interrupt your training!
· A school that offers a pre-training course and materials AND makes it mandatory to complete any required written tests and medical checkouts BEFORE lessons begin!
· Make sure the flight school has more than one aircraft of the same make and model that you will be training in so that routine or unexpected maintenance does not extend your schedule. The school only needs two aircraft to minimize this potential slow down.
· Make sure the flight school has some kind of flight simulation capability in case there are no fly days. Simulators do not have to be state of the art full cockpit sims. Simple desktop computer simulators all work great when used properly with an experienced instructor. Communications, procedures, and aeronautical decision making are just a few things that can be learned and re-enforced using simulation.
To sum things up, properly executed Accelerated Flight Training should really be named “focused and efficient” flight training saving time and money, increasing learning and retention, and giving the student the best chance possible of passing any pilot certificate or rating final exam.