pilot training

How to choose your pilot training?

by Captain Blaz Berdnik, TRE

Captain Blaz Berdnik, TRE is an Airline Captain, Airbus Instructor and EASA Pilot Examiner. He has over 12.000 hours in Commercial Air transportation with most of them as Airbus Airline Instructor of ab-initio and low time pilots. His flight experience spans over a range of aircraft from King Air to Airbus commercial airliners. He has significant operational experience in Europe, Africa and Asia. Captain Berdnik holds or has held Airline Management positions as Director of Flight Operations, Training Director, Head of training of EASA Approved Training Organizations, Director of Flight Operation Standards and Airline Certified Auditor.  

1. Course duration

Look at the location weather! Aviation schools in cold and unstable, rainy and poor weather climates will usually have very long training completion times. Sometimes twice longer than advertised.

You will end up with high additional expenses for accommodation and high living costs. Sometimes they will make you relocate to other locations in the south hence increasing your travel, training cost and completion time.

Increasing your cost for delays can be up to hundreds of EUR for PPL training and up to ten thousand EUR or more for a Professional pilot course.

We at SAA have one of the shortest completion times the industry worldwide and so reducing your training time and cost.

2. Aircraft

Plastic and light VLA and other ultralight type aircraft that are used or converted into trainers usually have very poor maintenance reliability. Many schools use them because they are very cheap to buy and even cheaper to operate.

But the student will pay the price for this. There is a lot of maintenance and down time. These aircraft were originally made for private flying (utilization of let say 100 hours per year) use and NOT for flight training environment (700-1000 hours per year). They have a fragile structure, poor reliability, different flying characteristics and are not made for a harsh training environment.

While you are waiting for the aircraft to be available for your training, your completion times will increase, and this will again cost you several thousand of EUR during the whole course duration. Some schools have a fleet of 10-20 aircraft with only one or two in flying condition.

We at SAA have reliable, modern glass cockpit equipped and always operational Piper and Cessna Aircraft. You are paying a lot of money for your training and you deserve a reliable and safe General Aviation Aircraft to train on.

3. Instructors

It is very important to have experienced Ground, Technical and Flight Instructors conducting your training.

Many schools offer low price because they save on instructors. They provide you with rookie new Flight Instructors or just low time under-paid instructors. Again, because they are cheap.

We at SAA have a high standard of experienced professional Instructors that will provide with: Knowledge and experience. Remember, you can’t buy experience. You came to our school to get the best education possible.

All SAA ground, technical ATPL and Sim instructors are Airline Pilots. SAA staff also includes professors with Ph.D. All this so that you can get a good, solid theoretical base for your career.

All our Flight instructors have thousands of hours instructing. Here at SAA our students deserve the best instructor we can get them and not some rookie that finished training in the class 3 months before you.

4. School management

It is absolutely crucial that Flight School management and ownership consists of airline pilots.

This industry is changing very fast. Only active airline pilots assist in job placement to land that airline job after completion.

We have in-depth connections and knowledge of the Industry. SAA is fully owned and managed by active Airline pilots, giving our students the best options after graduation.

Flight schools that are not run by airline pilots have little or no industry connections and will mostly only promise what SAA can deliver.

5. Correct license authority

Choosing EASA license training will open your world. EASA is the most respected authority in the industry and is recognized worldwide.

With EASA license you can apply for jobs in Europe, Africa to Asia and everything in between.

Don’t settle for less just because some training school outside of Europe is offering you a very low price.

License conversions to EASA are expensive and the courses can take months, sometimes years. Choose a good EASA school from the start. It will increase your chances and fast track your career. Choose SAA.

6. Additional training

The estimate course price that you received from a Flight school is based on minimum required hours to complete. Since flying is a skill most people will not finish with minimum training hours. They will need extra training that the school will charge on top of the advertised price.

So, if you fail a skill test (exam) you will need extra training before you take another exam. If the cost of Flight hour is (for example) 150 EUR, the failed exam will cost you another 300 EUR in additional training plus another exam fee. So, in total maybe 500 EUR or more.

At SAA we have a policy that we do not charge if some additional training is required. SAA will stand by our standards and will not charge extra for those few hours or that first fail. Our advertised price is the actual price.

Ask the training provider about their policy regarding additional training cost. It can be up to thousands of EUR. And it usually is, especially in schools with very low advertised price. Don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book.

7. Training airport

Choose a Flight school that has an air traffic controlled and a comfortable runway length (at least 800m) asphalt runway.

If you want to be a professional or private pilot, you will want to be exposed to a safe and controlled environment with Air Traffic Control while you are on training.

It’s very easy to transition to a grass and non-controlled airport after you have your license. It is very difficult to do the opposite. The training airport with a lot of airline traffic will cost you money. Airliners have priority and you will end up waiting and holding in order to practice that landing or touch and go.

This delay will accumulate and will end up costing you a lot of money. You will be holding in the air or on the ground for that airliner to take off or land. Remember you start paying from the moment you start the engine to the time you switch it off.

If you have a lot of waiting time you are NOT flying and learning anything. But you are still paying every minute of that lesson.

We at SAA operate out of an airport that has Air traffic control, Nav aids, night time availability but is not being used by any scheduled commercial traffic. You will only need 3-5 minutes to get airborne and start your lessons. This will again reduce the cost and give you better training quality.

MCC on A320 FFS

Dear present and future SAA trainees,

SAA has the pleasure to announce that we are increasing SAA’s already very high training standards to provide you with the best possible training quality and jet preparation for your transition to big jets and airline environment.

From 01.01.2020 on SAA Professional ATP training, MCC Phase will be conducted on Airbus A320 Full Flight Simulator. This means that the 20 block hours for the MCC phase (Multi Crew Cooperation course) within SAA Professional ATP Integrated program will not be performed on a King Air 200 Flight Simulator but the actual Airbus A320 Full motion, Level D, Full Flight Simulator.

With this we will achieve the following: SAA trainees will get the best possible preparation for their Airbus A320 Type rating course as well as for their transition to jet line training. With this SAA graduates will also receive an advantage over other graduates of other schools when applying for jobs or when being called for airline interviews. With this approach, SAA graduates will cover Jet transition training and MCC to be best prepared for their future airline career.

The course tuition will remain at the same level and will not increase at all. SAA is committed to providing you with the highest possible training standards, time and cost-efficient flight training with no hidden costs. All the best in 2020!

Captain Blaz Berdnik, TRE

Head of Training
SAA Aeronautical Acadamy

Development of instrument flying competencies

Why Become an Airline Pilot?

No jobs comes even close to the interesting and fun environment that Airline pilots have the opportunity to work in. It is the best office in the world with a constant wonderful view.

No two duty days will be the same. You will fly and work with many interesting and fun people from all walks of life. You will become a part of a big international aviation family.

Whether you fly domestic, international, long haul or short haul flight you will experience travel, landscapes and cultures during all your career. It is a profession that opens your world and your mind.

Your career will progress from Cadet to First Officer and then to Captain and to Instructor or Management position. Its a rewarding and lucrative career with numerous possibilities trough out your professional life.