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Modular Pilot Training:
9 Big Mistakes You'll Want To Avoid


Modular Pilot Training: 9 Big Mistakes You'll Want To Avoid

One of the best things that ever happened to he was to be rejected from an integrated pilot training (MPL course) because I did not show enough captaincy during the group exercise. The integrated course would have cost £120k (a huge loan for pilot training) plus and taken more than 18 months to complete. As a result of getting rejected, I researched modular pilot training as an alternative. I completed my modular part-time pilot training around my full-time job in 12 months. Did I have issues finding employments via the modular route/ modular pilot jobs? Appreciate it was before COVID 19, but I did manage to secure three job offers within four weeks of completing my training. 2x B737 & 1 x A230 role.  

Whilst modular pilot training is an excellent alternative to integrated pilot training, it does have its issues. If you read on, I will share some of the big mistakes to avoid when considering modular pilot training.

Mistake #1: Not having a plan/ doing enough research for modular pilot training

With modular pilot training, you do not have a 'head of training' at a large integrated school to oversee your progress. You have to take ownership of your pilot training yourself. Part of that ownership is making sure you have a plan of how you will go about your modular pilot training steps. The great benefit of modular pilot training is that you can complete pilot training at a time and pace to suit your budget.

Whatever your pace and budget looks like, outline a rough plan of progress in terms of time and budget. Check out my modular pilot training blog at for an example of my modular pilot planner. The plan will help you understand your spending requirements, and from there, you can adjust the plan to suit. I.e. if you do not have enough money, delay certain phases of pilot training. If you have the cash and time, you can be more aggressive in pushing towards your next milestones.

Mistake #2: Assuming EASA class 1 medical will be fine

Most people do not realise, but many EASA class 1 medical are not issued on the same day as the appointment. My CAA class 1 medical took roughly four months to be issued from my first appointment. The aeromedical examiners are very thorough and do a fantastic job. That may sometimes require additional tests or further information from your doctor to assess your fitness to fly. Here are some things you can do to make the process smoother

  • When booking your EASA Class 1 medical, advise the aeromedical centre of any existing or previous issues you have had
  • Get your eyes tested beforehand
  • If you suffer from wax build-up in your ears, visit your doctor or nurse to get your ears cleaned beforehand
  • Avoid heavy drinking in the days before your appointment
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine before your appointment

Mistake #3: poor flying school selection

During modular pilot training, poor flying school selection hurt my progress at certain stages during my pilot training. During my PPL, for example, it took five months for me to complete my qualifying cross country. At various stages during the winter, the airfield was closed because it was waterlogged or frozen. When I came to my Multi-Engine Instrument Rating, I suffered due to poor weather. Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing your flying school and airfield:

  • find out what past students have said and their experience
  • the higher the airfield elevation wise (higher elevation = worse weather generally)
  • in the winter some grass strips can be closed due to the wet/ freezing weather (in the UK)
  • what is instructor availability?
  • What is aircraft availability?

Mistake #4: Completing your pilot training slowly

Modular pilot training is all about completing your pilot training at a time and pace to suit you. That said, when you start a given stage, you do not want to take too long completing that particular phase. For example, extended periods between your lessons during your PPL license can mean you will spend more by repeating lessons because you have forgotten or the skills have faded.

Mistake #5: Underestimating ATPL exams

The intensity of the ATPL theory and the amount of hard work needed often catches many people out. Total commitment is required to be able to get through the exams. It took me working consistently 15 hours per week around my job, eight months to complete my ATPL exams. Forget having a social life during ATPL exams. 

The people that struggle have not done enough work. Jobs for low hour pilots have always been extremely competitive. As a result of COVID19, pilot jobs will be even harder to come by so you want to strive for the first time passes in ATPL exams. 

Mistake #6: Ineffective hour building before Commercial Pilot Licence & Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (CPL MEIR)

One of the significant gaps I found during modular pilot hour building was that there was very little guidance on what to do during your hour building. Hour building is when you should push to practice and develop some of the skills needed during CPL and growing your capacity for your multi-engine instrument rating. 

Part of hour building is to enjoy yourself, but do not lose focus of why you are hour building and let your basic PPL skills fade e.g becoming overly reliant on GPS. If interested, check out my free hour building web app at

Mistake #7: Going for cost vs training value at CPL MEIR

Your professional pilot training (CPL, MEIR & MCC) is crucial in shaping your employment chances (once COVID 19 passes!). Highest cost does not always mean highest qualify of training and lowest cost does not always mean the poorest quality of training.

What is most important is to get a high standard of training. I'll give you an example, I did my CPL at Westair in Blackpool in the UK. It was arguably the CPL UK price. I think you would have struggled to find cheaper! I was the only student on the CPL course at the time, and that meant, I got a lot of attention and priority during training. The standard of instruction was excellent, and I achieved a first-time pass from a Senior CAA examiner. I then went on to get a job within 4 weeks of finishing. 

The importance of good quality training is what you should be focussed on (rather than price).

Mistake #8: Weak MCC

There are many discussions in the various pilot training forums about which MCC course you should do. Is MCC/JOC enough or should you do APS MCC? My take: the MCC forms the bridge between single-pilot operations into the multi-crew environment and specifically directly affects your pilot assessment chances. 

Whilst you may not specifically need a 40hour MCC course to pass an airline assessment, having an APS MCC will make the type rating curve less steep and shorten the time it takes to get to line check with your given airline. The critical point to mention is training risk. Anything you can do to demonstrate to potential recruiters that you will not be a training risk will make you much more attractive to potential employers. 

Going back to which MCC course you should, by doing APS MCC, you start to gain certain advantages which compound:

1) You have 40hours in the sim on APS MCC compared to MCC JOC. The confidence this will give you during the airline assessment will help you.

2) If you have done the APS MCC on the same aircraft type that you will be assessed on and later complete the type rating, you gain an advantage there in terms of knowledge and systems understanding

3) If you complete line training in 25% fewer sectors than your none APS peers, who is most favourable to the airlines?

Mistake #9: Underestimating how expensive it is to get a pilot job

Even after completing your CPL/MEIR/ MCC I estimate, that you will need to spend an additional £10k (excluding any type rating costs) to get into employment. Each airline assessment (when things open up) will cost around £1,000. Once you include your assessment fees, sim prep and accommodation, you do not have much change lest. Most airlines will also not pay you until you complete your type rating so you will need to keep yourself going for around 3-4months from first employment before you see your first pay packet.

There will also be licence conversion fees, uniform and ID costs etc. which need to be taken into consideration. Having a job when looking for a flying position will greatly increase your chances of success and frankly - pilot job hunting is very expensive!

If you wish to learn more about modular pilot training - check out my blog

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