This is a question I see so many times, and the answers have many factors to it, including cost, quality of training and if it works for your circumstances
We will review all the good and bad points of learning in Poland, and then you can make your own decision.
Firstly, the reason Poland is probably on your list is because of how cheap it is, and the first thing people think is… well cheap must be rubbish.
That isn’t always the case, so let’s cover why Poland is so cheap, to begin with before anything else
1 – Vat is not charge, so 20% is saved right there
2 – The legal fees behind being a flight school in Poland are greatly less, to begin with, so the savings can be passed on to you
3 – Cost of living in Poland, in general, is 5X less than the UK/Europe, a good hotel for a night in Poland is 25 Euros, a meal for 2, drinks, can be under £8-10, Poland is a cheap place, to begin with. But that doesn’t mean its poor for training
4 – They earn less in Poland in general, so running expenses for the flight school is greatly reduced too. Instructors don’t earn a much as they would in the UK, the saving all comes back to you.
So don’t let “its cheap so it must be rubbish” make your decision for you.
So that’s the costs aspects of it.
The aircraft in Poland is just as good as the aircraft In the UK, if not sometimes better, the maintenance over there is just as strict as the maintenance in the UK, schools like to buy new up to date aircraft because it's more cost beneficial to them anyway, when planes are not flying they are not earning the school any money so it's in their best interests to have a good fleet.
Now the training aspect, what is the quality of training like.
Let's look at the IR for example, you either fly an ILS to test standard, or you don’t, you either bust altitude or you don’t, IR is a very stiff thing, there is no middle ground with it, and generally the instructors who teach you IR are from airlines, they are people who are experienced. IR requires a lot of hours flying IR in order to be eligible to teach it.
How ever there is one barrier in Poland, and that is language…. Things can be a little tricky here, you cant ask questions that you would normally ask your UK guy because they might not understand, but ask a question about IR training and they will be able to give you a clear cut answer.
The things where Poland can lack is a discipline in your checklists and standard operating procedures, and probably more something you will pick up in an MCC course anyway, but is variable from school to school and this is something that can lack a little, but this can be fixed by your self no doubt if you know what is missing.
Whilst it's not fair to say the standard of training in Poland is the same as the UK, it's more of a case of “it's different”, you will learn things there that are not taught in the UK and vice versa, but at the end of it you are able to fly I.R, there are plenty if not thousands of pilots in Poland flying commercially who have learnt in Poland and are fine.
The one thing to bear in mind is an IR diminishes quickly, so if you spend £30K in the UK on an IR and £10K in Poland, the outcome will generally be that in 6 months you are at the same level as each other anyway and need some “top-up” training.
There is a big ego that sits with schools in the UK, they frequently make their pilots dress up in pilot attire to give the school a good image and makes them look more professional, but the end matter is that you are still taught by a person who is capable of flying IR.
Whilst things in Poland are a little more relaxed, the test Is a little bit more laid back, it does make you feel much more comfortable when you are flying depending on your personality, some prefer this, some don’t.
The UK test expects a SID/STAR, flying in Class A airspace, some approaches,holds, stalls, steep turns etc and can be 3 Hours long.
the Poland one is more, take off, do a hold, do some approaches, and then some stalls and return back to the airfield and is done with in 1.5-2 Hours
Now the test is easier for sure, but you are taught to fly SIDS and STARS and fly Class A Airspace in the lessons in Poland, and you do this a lot, so it's not like it's not taught, it's just not as well covered in the tests so you can relax a little, Personally, I think they could make the test a bit wider covered to really put more pressure on the pilots to ensure it's not as easy for them.
Now the CPL seems to be much more distanced from the UK CPL,
Airspace In the UK is much busier, and there is much more to contend with
In Poland, it's sometimes difficult to understand what is going on around you as pilots use Polish between them despite it being against regulations, it still happens.
You are sometimes being taught things differently to how you learnt them in the UK, such as stalls, steep turns etc, the discipline in general in Poland as we said earlier, is much more relaxed and this is where things are different. The CPL is all about discipline, and we feel Poland lacks this a little in the CPL side of things really.
IN the UK there is a high expectation of checklists being done correctly, the use of map crawling in the UK is not recommended, the use of electronic navigation of tools in the UK is forbidden (such as Garmin screens in the aircraft) when you head to Poland they allow you to map crawl, and probably allow you to have your navigation Garmin on too, now whilst you might think “Well they make it so easy for you in Poland to get a CPL” and that is true…. But which is right? The CPL is about being a commercial pilot, and a commercial pilot would generally have all these tools available to them anyway, whilst the UK seems to operate a slightly “older school” approach, the honest view is that the CPL is far easier to attain in Poland, but which is the better solution Is down to you. The polish may say, what is the point of not map crawling, getting lost and then busting airspace, whilst the UK will say, you should be flying the aircraft first, then navigating.
Things like Hassell checks are not as strict in Poland as they are in the UK for some reason, there are many different variables like this you will come across.
The important thing is though if you know you are meant to do them, you are at least aware of it so if you pick up a strong PPL in the UK you can at least bring the skills from that to Poland.
overall, we feel the CPL is the one that has the bigger difference VS the UK, we would be on a level to say that a CPL in the UK is much stricter and stronger and will show that little bit more when you get to an airline in our view. – Now if you pick up a good MCC this will eradicate all this as the MCC teaches you some high-level stuff and checklists, when you do the MCC you will soon think… oh god…. What have I been doing all this time? -we will talk about more about the importance of an MCC later and how it can fix a slightly poorer CPL.
You have probably already completed your hour building by the time you decide to go to Poland if you do, but just one tip. Hour building in Poland is incredibly boring!! So try not to do it there, you are encapsulated with around 8 hours of flat, greenery and quiet skies and it’s the most boring hour building you may ever do- take it from someone who had to complete only 8 hours Hour building in Poland, and was glad that after 8 hours he had to do no more.
So try to do this in the UK where you have busy airspace, and lots going on it’s the best place to learn for sure.
The multi engine side of things in Poland we would say isn’t far off from the standard of the UK, checklists for emergencies are expected to be memorised, and if anything the Polish put you in some seriously tighter and scary situations, often failing your engines for real several times which is fantastic, whilst in the UK its not uncommon for them to only do it once due to the wear it can cause on the engine.
We would say the MEP side of it is quite short, and we cannot fault it wether you do it in the UK or Poland. You won’t find much difference here.
But it is important to try do your MEP together with your IR for a few reasons
1 – If you do your MEP in the uk, and then 6 months later go do your IR, then you are going to have to have an hour to familirazie your self with the twin they have over there at a cost of £4-500.
2 – If you do these separate, then your MEP will lapse at a different time to your IR, meaning retraining can be out of sync and expensive. Your ME IR is only valid providing your MEP is valid.
3 – You will likely never fly or hour build in an MEP aircraft anyway, so there is no advantage doing this early, it will work out much more expensive, so what ever you do ensure the MEP is done with the IR.
The Polish schools will give you some serious time and lots of flying in one day, they do like to get the students in and out as quickly as possible, sometimes flying 5-6 hours a day depending on where you go.
Now the CPL IR ME has around 40 hours simulator time, and 25 hours flying time.
Doing 5-6 hours in a simulator in a day isn’t mind blowing and impossible simply because the polish work hard, its not uncommon for them to work from 8am to 10pm at night, sometimes going till midnight, so whilst thinking ohhh I cant do 6 hours in a day, when its split across a session at 9-12am, and then another at 7-11pm – it becomes very possible and this is great for people who work full time who want to get back to the UK as fast as possible.
Whilst UK schools tend to operate more of a 9-5 approach typically.
If you speak to schools in the UK, they will probably tell you an IR needs 2-3 Months, as they do 2-3 sessions a week for 5 hours a week, in Poland you can get 25 hours sim time and 20 hours flying time in a week no problem, it can be a little tiring but the fact you fly so frequently, so often makes it so easy and quick to learn things and keep hold of your skills for your test.
Also – for anyone doing Modular in the UK you will tend to find a lot of the schools in the UK struggle to get hold of IR instructors because they also work on the airlines, this may vary depending on where you go but something you need to ask what ever you do regarding availability of IR instructors.
Also – weekends, for some reason the vast majority of schools in the UK don’t teach IR or CPL on a weekend, (Not all) but if you are someone who is trying to fit this in around a job you will quickly see your options vanish when you say, I can only fly weekends really.
Wether as Poland is very much a 24x7 operation, instrcutors often come and do 2 weeks flat solid training, then go back home 2-3 weeks or back to their job. The polish schools do have some very slick operations but again, it may vary from school to school.
Now we said earlier, Polish schools want you In and out as fast possible…. Don’t think you cant turn around to them and say, look this is too much can we slow it down, they are more than happy to slow it down to your taste. I have known people wanting to do their IR at a slower pace, the schools are generally very caring about how you feel about the training.
So if you are working to a tight time scale, then Poland would get a +1 from us.
Things are different between the UK and POLAND no doubt, but depending on your circumstances depends on which situation fits you best.
The UK is expensive, and sometimes the quality of training is substandard, its not expensive for the sake of it… schools have high costs and unfortunately this is passed on to the students, but there are schools out there that charge silly money for no real over all training improvements aswell,
Overall…the big problem for Poland is that because the tests are not as strict in Poland it can really allow some poorer pilots to pass.
But this is where the importance of a good MCC comes in aswell as good discipline.
The UK schools will train you to be a 100% pilot, in Poland you are more like a 95% trained pilot , now if you go out of your way and ensure you do research things correctly, do your home work, ensure you know checklists inside out , you understand everything your self , you put your self in some emergency situations in the simulator, you try not to map crawl on the CPL test you can really push your self you can push your self that little bit further.
Things like practicing the IR on a flight simulator at home so you know it inside out before you go to Poland, adding in strong winds, failures,etc…. using the Hour building in the UK to practice PFLs, glide approaches, checklist discipline, emergencies, navigation and diversions then you have the opportunity to push your self further In Poland.
Overall, Poland can be a little too forgiving on training pilots and that is the main problem. It allows people to pass that wouldn’t of passed in the UK , but the buck stops with you the pilot….. if you turn up to Poland expecting everything to be spoon-fed to you, you will still leave with a pass. But you won’t be a stand out amazing pilot come an airline interview.
Put the work in, and take it serious… do your home work before you go and increase your skill sets, the hour building gives you so many chances to practice hold entries(Which makes up for 30% of an IR anyway) and you can leave Poland having spent half as much as in the UK but having a good standard of training behind you aswell.
Poland will only work for you, if you arrive having mastered as much as you can before you go to give you a head start, you will leave with a pass regardless of whether you do your home work before you go or not…. But it will show down the line when it comes to the MCC and the interview.
Many pilots pass in Poland and get airline jobs, but I can assure you these pilots are the types of people who really researched everything, really questioned any mistake they made in Poland and tried to understand it as best they can, the type of students who put in the work at night reading, watching videos whilst they was out there , reading and revising books.
The UK will simply not let you pass till you are at a certain standard, period.
Wether as Poland will require that extra input from your self to leave with the same standard of training as you would have had in the U.K.