At some point you will be ready to start selecting your flight school after your ATPL's have passed, but where do you start?
Firstly, reviews https://pilot-network.com/schools - This is a brilliant site for locating reviews on schools
Flight schools are not cheap, its no secret but don't be fooled into thinking more expensive means better flight school quality, at the end of the day the school is as good as the instructor who teaches you, and the reality is schools can struggle to find instructors for teaching IR aswell, so it's not like they have 1000s of applications and they big the best of the best sometimes(Not always) they have to settle for what they can get their hands on because IR instructors generally need to be flying for a career to maintain the hours needed to teach IR, and that means there aren't many instructors out there who are willing to teach aswell as work. So don't fall for this prestige flight school looking great on your CV will do you wonders for the airline interviews(And we will cover why this won't make a difference later on)
If you work full time you are going to come across the hurdle of realising not many schools have an interest in teaching you on weekends, it's not like PPL days where you could go on a Saturday to do an hour, the majority of flight schools in the UK are very much a Mon-Fri operation (not all, but most)
Try not to go to a school simply because they teach weekends, you need to consider everything else in this article first.
If you find a school that does teach weekends and you are happy with it, an IR /CPL could take you over 9 months to achieve and it could be more costly, flying once a week you are going to forget a lot of things,
The average time frame for a CPL/IR/ME is 8 weeks full time, but some schools can get you done in 3 weeks believe it or not.
Unless you are going straight Into an MCC and then straight to an airline assessment, going to that prestigious 5 stars rated and overpriced school is going to do nothing for you. Why? because if you wait for 6-9 months after doing your IR to go the assessment because the market isn't there, there is a good chance you have already lost a lot of your incredible IR flying skills, and that £20K more you spent at that incredible flight school is now worthless as you have forgotten most of what you learnt and it will show in your airline assessment. So done rule out cheaper flying schools assuming they are no good. The money you save could go towards 4-5 hour sim day the week before your airline assessment to boost back up those skills
Availability - Ask how many slots you could likely have a week for your flight training
Instructors - Are the instructors committed to the school? some are on roosters for airlines too so you may find you get to the flight school to find your lesson has been canned because the instructor got called out to his job.
Accommodation - Are you going full time? do they have onsite accommodation available for you? if not factor how expensive this may get into your training.
Payment - Never pay for the full training upfront, a small deposit is reasonable, but flight schools should never ask for full payment or even half before you start your training. Flight schools DO GO BUST! it happens so don't be a victim of it. it's your savings at the end of the day.
Fleet - Check out the fleet, keep tabs on flight radar and see how often they are flying, how old are the aircraft - what equipment do they have on board.
Recommendations - Speak to people who have been because nothing speaks more volume than the recommendation of someone else.
This is a brilliant website for reviews on flight schools https://pilot-network.com/flight-school-reviews
But one important thing, a student may highly recommend a flight school based on the instructor they had, someone who has a different instructor may have a completely different experience, so when you speak to people take the names down of the people who taught them.
The biggest pet peeve of schools is when they treat students like pupils and forget who the customer actually is, you are going to be spending £20K at a school, whilst you want to try to stay humble to the experienced instructors, don't allow them to treat you like a pupil at school as if they are doing you a favour by teaching you, we've heard many stories of students not getting bookings, or being messed around. You need to stay firm and strong and remember to stay firm with the school. if you are not happy, speak and if things don't change, move on. You should learn something every lesson, every day, every time you turn up. You are paying essentially £5 per minute in the air
You want to be doing your CPL/IR/ME with a plan after, its easy to forget that IR lapses every 1 year, and 2-3 hours in a TWIN can cost you £1,200-£2,000 to renew
IR skills are best the day after your test - after that, they slowly diminish. so have a plan ready after.
After all, if you have passed your ATPLs you have 3 years to finish your CPL/IR and things can change quickly
You may find the option to do your CPL at one school and your IR elsewhere.
If this works for you then there is no reason that this isn't an option. after all the experience of different airfields and different aircraft may do you good.
Does it look bad on your CV? Ultimately, No. the end result is….Do you have good flying skills? Many pilots have split training across multiple schools and are flying for airlines today, Follow the path of https://kcthepilot.com/ as he split his training and landed an airline job.
You should have a brilliant time learning the IR/CPL. it's expensive so make sure you have a brilliant time doing it.