How to choose the best flight school! – My Tips & Tricks

First of all, thank you all so much for reading my articles about my experiences in aviation. It is a great hobby to write about these topics and I hope you will enjoy and learn something from my stories. So let’s move on to the subject before you decide to leave the page. 😉  How do you choose good flight school and where did I do my flight training? A lot of people ask me these questions lately so why not answer them in a new article!

My experiences
I went to CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Amsterdam (NLS) and I will tell you why.
When I decided to become an airline pilot I knew nothing about flight schools. I really had no clue at all… The only thing I did know though was that I wanted to become a pilot, a successful airline pilot withcae-oxford-aviation-academy a decent opportunity to obtain that very important first job! I started going through pilot forums to gain information about Dutch flight schools. Then I made a collection of the schools I wanted to visit and I paid them a personal visit during information days. It didn’t take long to notice the difference between the schools (price, location and so on..). The biggest difference between the flight schools were the attitude and the atmosphere! There are some schools where the attitude is simply not ok (in my opinion) and these schools are well known to have this problem. Too arrogant and proud which is definitely not my cup of tea. I decided I wanted to go to a good school where people stayed down to earth, no matter what they were wearing.

Aviation forums & Contacts
In the meantime I contacted people from those schools and other people via aviation related forums. I found out which flight schools were actually delivering graduates to airlines and which schools did not. In the end they will all tell you the greatest stories about their history and success in aviation.. I guess you do well not to rely on those stories. The more I found out about these schools, the smaller my list became. In the end I got in contact with someone who worked at the airline where I currently work. He choose the earlier mentioned school and this, together with all the information I gathered earlier, led to my decision.

What I want you to know…
During the recession and during my flight training I realized how important it was to go to a school which is a part of a greater company. In the past few years I have seen a lot of flight schools go bankrupt. Being a student on that school? I wish you good luck! Prior to starting I did not look at this but in the end it saved my **s.bankrupt
My school was attached to CAE, a great simulator company which has a lot of connections with airlines and all sorts of other aviation related companies. In a time where jobs were hard to find, CAE still sent me emails with airlines which were hiring. Maybe you think this is normal, but in general flight schools will not take care of you after your graduation. On a regular basis, my school sent me invitations from easyJet, Norwegian, Volotea, BMI, etc. When your school is not attached to another company and your school goes bankrupt, you will have nothing anymore. No final report, no references and no files. Exactly the stuff you need in order to apply for your first airline job. You might think that the chance of a flight school going bankrupt is not that great but trust me, it happens more often than you think. Even CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Amsterdam closed their doors! I was lucky that my school was a part of CAE, otherwise I would not have had a job right now. However, please understand that bigger schools are not automatically better than the smaller ones. This brings me to the next item.

Watch out for factories!
After you made your choice, you will have to undergo a selection process. This selection process will filter the candidates. A selection program usually consists of math tests, physics tests, flying skill tests, personal tests, intelligence tests and a lot more. 126955-200Not to be rude but… In general, quite some people fail these selection tests. This will result in not being accepted by that specific school. Almost everyone who fails a test like that and is really willing to become an airline pilot continues to search for another school. Some flight schools are well known for being factories, which means that they will accept almost anyone as long as you pay them tuition fee. Any help or care after the training? Forget it.  Be aware of this because in this situation it is easy to go to a school like that and to forget the consequences. Airlines know that some schools hire anyone and therefore they will not hire you since you are from that school. And of course, when you never get the job, you will be stuck with:  The real deal…

Cheap or Expensive?
Nowadays there are a lot of companies, like CTC for example, which have a good connection with several airlines. If you use their company you pay a huge amount of money to get a job. In Europe the worst place you can start a pilot training regarding the costs is the Netherlands. I have never heard of any other country where it is so expensive to become a pilot. Poland & Lithuania known to have some of the lowest tuition fees for pilot schools.

Like everything in life: failure to prepare is prepare to fail! Make sure you do a good research on your flight school before you decide.

 

29 thoughts on “How to choose the best flight school! – My Tips & Tricks

  1. Hello,

    I am from Uganda and had my eyes set on Flybyschool in León, Spain. In fact Iwas planning on paying the admission fee & doing the aptitude tests next week. Do you think its a good choice and how is the pilot job market for non EU nationals at the EU airlines or I should look for one in Africa?

  2. Without saying hello at first, I’d like to request you to go through my questions and please reply me. I hope you will.
    Hello, from Nepal. My name is Samrat Gurung and I’m 20 years old. I got you(your channel) on the youtube and have gone through all of your videos and you’re the most inspiring person for the aviation field(also for other fields too). You’ve mentioned everything on your videos regarding academic qualifications, choosing a flight school, medicals, financing the training costs etc. I always want to become a pilot since the time when I first knew about the airplanes and I always like to see them flying in the sky. But I’ve a problem that I think I can’t become a pilot. Because, I didn’t study mathematics and any science subjects like physics, chemistry during my high school because I was very poor in them. Subjects I studied were English, Accounting, Computer, Business studies, Marketing etc. I’m from Nepal and in Nepal, noone can become a pilot without any science subjects so if anyone is willing to become a pilot should have to go abroad, get the training and licences and them come back to Nepal change their foreign licence and only they can fly in Nepali skies. So can you please give me some suggestions what should I do now? I know to become a pilot, I need physics and mathematics but regardless of those subjects during my high school can I still become a pilot if I get accepted to flight school. I’ve zero knowledge about science and mathematics so I’m afraid if it becomes a wall for my dream. What should I do? How hard is physics and mathematics? I’ve heard that it needs only basic knowledge of these subjects but also I’ve heard that it need more than basic knowledge about these subjects. I’m really in trouble, I don’t know what to do. Whether I can fly/soar over the Nepali sky or not that doesn’t matter to me, the thing that matters me the most, that fears me the most is that whether I can get chance to become a pilot or not. Hoping to get your reply.
    Stay fit and healthy, and fly high Dutchpilotgirl(Michelle).

  3. Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for all your advises. I think you are doing a great job in here.

    I will start to tell you that I am 33 y o and I have a master in Economics (if this can help), tough my wishes have been most of times in thinking on how to become a pilot (since I was a child I have been dreaming during the night that I was falling down in a dark black space (no stars at all) without never ever touching or seeing the ground or a end, as in a black hole (maybe)). The reason for not focusing totally on my dream were the huge amount of costs required and because I never had either my parents nor a family I gave up many times and I worked hard to survive. Now I do not care anymore of my self-financial troubles and I will do everything in my power to make it come true, even to giving my ass if necessary (just kidding (maybe)).
    I thought you might be willing to share some idea on what I can do with. I can not even ask for a bank loan as they will ask me for anything to guarantee it but apart my ass, my kidney (now I am not kidding, I am thinking to do ) give one of them up) or a lung. If I will have to die one day, please let my choose my own end.

    Please advice me, I cannot believe my kidney is the only way to get the necessary cash to pay a flight school.

    Kindly,
    Gianfranco

  4. Hi Michelle,

    24 yr. old here and I’m interested in applying for a flying school.
    I passed by your articles while I was researching for information. I think this is really helpful and the way your write makes it really believable.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how old were you when you started like ab-initio?

    Regards,
    Daniel

  5. Hi can you tell me about european flight academy of lufthansa. Is it good to choose or not? I am confused. I have seen their websites completely so just need your suggestion.

    1. Hi Sakshi, I think it is always a good option to go to a flight school which is connected to a major airline. Lufthanse certainly is one of the biggest out there. I noticed they offer ATPL and MPL courses which is great. Give them a shot, visit them and get in touch 😉 All the best, Michelle

  6. Thank you Michelle – please allow me to share something from own experience. I still have not found a flight school that i have a yeah-feeling about, but a few pointers for fellow searchers: website may be nice – but visit. Reality sets in quickly. Most cheap schools are so cheap because it doesn’t include a type rating (just bare ATPL) or for a plane that big airlines don’t have. Careful with deals with schools / airlines that have huge bonds. Like upwards of 10.000 euro if you want to leave early (because they s**k). Another nice one: schedule is not kept because of 2 planes for 50 students. So now a simple PPL takes 8 months instead of 2-3. Costs of living triple because of that. And expensive does not always mean quality (!). I never imagined it to be so hard. But fly I will and fly I shall. It is just a matter of being determined.

  7. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it would make sense to choose a flight school that is part of a greater company. As you point out, flight schools always have a chance of closing down. By choosing one that is part of a larger company you have a greater chance of the school sticking around and you getting a job.

  8. HI Michelle, would you recommend CAE,Canada for flight training?
    Does the institution have PPL,CPL,ATPL, night rating, instrumental rating??
    Do you think CAE in Canada is a good choice? It’d be helpful if you share your thoughts about CAE….

    Thank you, much love! 🙂

  9. Mamm its Adil from Qatar. Can you plz tell me what is the diffrence between PPL (EASA) and PPL (FAA) and which one is to do first and which one has the value more thanks..

  10. Hello sister! Thank you so much for your article. It is helping the people like me who is zero per cent known about these stuffs. I’m just 16 years old and my dream is to be a international pilot since from my childhood. Currently I’m like on your situation. I have on idea what should I do. I’m from Nepal but I’m considering to read abroad county ( hope this is beneficial to me and my career ) You had some struggles while going into this career and I feel glad to know you are helping people to be aware of those struggle that you had already faced ( I respect that ) Now I’m studying at Nepal at grade ten. After few days my final exam is going to held and I have no idea now what step should I take. It will be grateful if you will help me out.

  11. Hello Michelle,
    I watched many of your YouTube videos and it makes my dream awake… thank you very much for that. 💝 Right now I’m 20 years old and I’m from sri lanka. But I’m studying in a university in russia and I’m going to study nuclear engineering. But i love to be a commercial pilot more than this. So I want to be a pilot after my degree.. I will be 25 years old when I finish my degree. Is it okay to do the pilot course in that age? But I have a problem in my hands.. my hands getting sweaty. is that problem affect for the medical? Are there any good aviation schools in asia and approximately how much will cost for the training? These are the main questions that i have.. but i have more lot of questions.. 😂 thank you very much.

  12. Hey Michelle ,
    I`m 18 years old , living in Sweden and I want to become a pilot because I have always likes planes sinne I was a kid. After a lot of search on the net I found out about that the courses you need are math and physics I made up my mind to atleast try to become a pilot. Your videos are so inspiring by the way and I really liked the one with captain joe (Boeing vs airbus). Im more of a Boeing fan. Anyway, next year I will finish high school with (hopefully good) grades on physics , math and much more science courses. Then I Want to become a pilot and start applying for flight school. I’ve searched for different flight schools and there are two in Sweden and I think one of them is good. It’s called Scandinavian aviation academy (Bfsaa). The recruitment is to have grades on physics, math and beside that medical class 1 , suitability test and more. My questions are:

    I’m wearing glasses so is it possible for me to complete the medical test?
    I’m not the smartest when it comes to math and physics . But i know more than the basics, could I still make it as a pilot?
    Do you know anything special about the scandinavian aviation academy? Or any other flight schools in Sweden or scandinavia?
    After finishing flight training at flight school, how long does it take to get a job in an airline? And does airlines have different recruitment?
    Do you know now anyone tried to apply for flight school but failed and what did they do after?

    Best regerads , Ahmed

  13. Hello nice to meet u
    I was inspired by u to be pilot
    Can i ask u something?
    I heard Singapore airline established pilot school and accidently i got to know Singapore airline pay money to become pilots and instead after become pilot he or she must serve for Singapore airline for 7years is that true? I searched information about Singapore Pilots school but i can’t found anything plz help😅😅

  14. Dear Dutch Girl
    I Am From India .I was 17 year old
    I want To become A piolet I saw Your Videos In YouTube It’s Really inspired me.
    I want choose the training school which is better Abroad or In India Please Help Me
    I Want Some One Help That’s train Me RIGHT Way. .plz

    1. Hi Malay, The best way to start is to look for local opportunities. Speak to people in the industry, browse the internet for more information, go to open days at the schools in your area, travel there if you must. Set goals and find ways to achieve them. You are still so young and you have plenty of time to work it all out. On this website you can find plenty of articles that might guide you further. And last but not least, try to figure out if you want to live abroad or in India, this will have a major impact on your decision I guess. Good luck and all the best! Michelle

  15. Dear Dutch Pilot Girl,
    I’m trying to help my daugther to find the best and most probably way to become an airline pilot. We are form Argentina. She is 19 years old. and she will become an electronic technician at the end of this year. Then she is planning star to studeing in order to achieve her dream to become an airline pilot. For the momment she has no other flight experience apart from fly with me (i´m just a private pilot with just 200 hs experience). I saw your YouTube video about how you become an airliner pilot and heard you went to schools in europe and usa, and you became in pilot succesfuly so I think your exprience will be very helpfull for us. As I think our country do not have flight schools that at the end of the course can contact you with any airline, also academic level I think are not to good. So I’m trying to investigate the posibilities to send her to studu to another country as you did, but I do not have any ideas about the cost for flight hour, neither how many hours are required to have the chance to obtain a job, and so one. Can you help informing us how much could be the cost, the places you sugest to lern, etc. Bets regards.

    1. Dear Dutch Pilot Girl:
      I forgot to make you another question in order to help my dougther to start her career as a pilot. It is regarding difficuties you may haver encountered douring your career just because to be a girl?. It is well knowed worldwide that females tend to receive less payment and have more difficuties to get a job, etc etc. Can you share your experience on this subject please, and how you solved it? Best regards

      1. Hi Artemio, Great to hear you want to help your daughter! Unfortunately I am not familiar with any schools in Argentina so I can’t give you solid advice. Perhaps there is a good school in Argentina that does have good connections to local airlines. Have you investigated all local possibilities? What are the requirements to work for an airline in Argentina? What kind of license? Completing the training in Europe might not be the best option because she will end up with an EASA license which is valid in Europe but not in the US for example.

        I had no problems during my career as a girl and in Europe pilots don’t get less or more money based on gender.

        All the best! Michelle

  16. Hi Michelle,

    Reading your articles are very inspiring and helpful. I am 30 years old and thinking to change my career to follow my dream and become a pilot. choosing the right school is always the most difficult part as i can see. I have end up finding many schools in Spain (looking at aerolink or Barcelona flight school now), they dont do the Compass test, just normal math, English and Physics test, and if you fail they give you extra courses, which make sense i believe as i did math and physics 12 years ago and i dont mind being refreshed with intensive course.

    But, very few schools i found other than CTC, FTE and CAE that do compass test, the rest they give you the licenses and they will leave it for the Airlines to decide, the difference between these schools are 120k eruo or 60 euro. so is it really worth it to pay double? and is all colleges that will make sure that you have EASA licenses even if they are not as good as CTC or CAE are not good enough? i wont be able to graduate until i do tests i believe.

    Anyway, your advise would be much appreciated

    Thanks

    1. Hi Abdulrahman! I am glad you think the articles are helpful 🙂

      The reason for the price difference is probably because the school in Barcelona and Aerolink offer modular courses, is that correct? Airlines have a huge preference for Ab Initio’s with a completed Integrated (F) ATPL. Unfortunately, Integrated courses are always more expensive.

      I am aware of the fact that there are schools that train people while they are actually not the right persons for the cockpit. This is a problem because later on they can’t get through the tough airline selections. Finding a first job quickly becomes near impossible, leading to a lot of problems. In the worst case, personal bankruptcy.

      You can always apply at a school that is doing more advanced testing. Even if you get through their selection phase you don’t need to continue with them. That way you have a better understanding of what is expected of you and you can make an educated decision.

      Good luck and have a nice weekend!

  17. hola michelle, encuentro estupendo magnifico, su orientaacion, yo puedo leer ingles, hablo español, y sueco, me hice piloto , en aeronaves de un motor, y quiero saber como reunir 100 horas de noche para para postular a una trabajo, en hawai. tu ya eres piloto comercial y bastante joven , creo que tienes bastante experiencia. gracias thank, eller tack……………..

    1. Hi Frank Emilio,

      If I understand you correctly you are asking how to get 100 night flight hours so you can apply for a position in Hawaii? Most pilots in Europe graduate with a limited amount of night time (because It’s not a requirement to have 100 “night” flight hours to get a CPL). Hence, the only way to gain those hours is by working for an operator that requires you to fly during the evening/night. I hope that answers your question. All the best!

  18. Hello Michelle, how are you? I am Vincenzo I have 25 years old and I started to follow you a few weeks ago. I found out your contenute very useful and I would like to thank to you for what you are doing! My dream is to become a pilot exactly like you, but since when I was 10 years old. I found on internet a cadet program with the BAA and I am applying to. My question is, where do you advise me to prepare for the compass test? do you advise me to go there? How much does the living cost in general for become a pilot and studing? Thanks so much best regards Vincent

    1. Hi Vincenzo,

      I am good thanks, how are you? I am actually planning an article about the compass test. in the meantime you might find this article to be helpful. It’s about the Adapt test, a more advanced test. It contains information that can be useful in your situation!

      I always advice people that wan’t to get their pilot license to do so in a sponsored program. If the program is sponsored or comes with a job at the end of the course (job security) I would always go for that. Following a pilot course at a normal school usually doesn’t include a job at an airline and you need to pay the tuition yourself. It does allow you to apply with any airline after finishing the course though.

      Living costs really depend on where your training takes place. In “The Real Deal: the price to become an airline pilot!” I mention all the costs you need to deal with 😉

      Good luck!

Leave a comment, I appreciate it and will reply as soon as possible:)