Although there are various types of aircraft, many of the principles of piloting them have common techniques, especially those aircraft which are heavier than air types.
A Canadian aeroplane flight instructor (left) and her student, next to a Cessna 172 with which they have just completed a lesson.
All training courses consist of some combination of theoretical learning conducted on the ground, and practical exercises conducted in the air. Initial training is often conducted in specialized training aircraft, which are designed for benign handling characteristics and lower costs compared to the aircraft which the pilot concerned is ultimately aiming to fly. Flight training devices, of which full flight simulators are a major subset, are also used to train pilots in some circumstances, at much lower cost and risk than actual flying. The minimum amount of flight training required for private pilots is generally set at 40 hours, however most students require 50-80 hours of training. For glider training the time and expense may be considerably less.
The cost of flight training can vary, at local part 61 flight schools it will be approximately $7,000 USD for a Private Pilot License. A Commercial Pilot License will usually cost $40,000-$60,000 USD and take 1-2 years. Another option is to attend one of the larger 141 schools. These more structured training programs are qualified by the FAA to issue pilots' licenses with reduced hours of training. A full time student can expect to complete a training program for Commercial Pilot License in 4-6 months. Some universities also offer 4 year Aviation degree programs that include flight training. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University, University of North Dakota, Kent State University, and Ohio State University and are some of the largest. The final option is the military route, but unmanned aerial vehicles and forced retention policies have decreased the flow to the civilian sector.
In basic training, the following fundamentals of safe flying are covered for almost all aircraft (with a few exceptions for the smallest ultralights missing some features):
For powered aircraft:
The FAA Knowledge Test is administered at designated testing centers and consists of a computer-generated 60 question multiple choice exam. Practical Tests are conducted by an FAA or FAA-designated examiner. Upon satisfactory completion of the practical test, a private pilot certificate is immediately issued.
A type conversion (Now more commonly known throughout Australia, the United States and Europe as an Endorsement) is the process undertaken by a pilot to update their license to allow them to fly a different type of aircraft.
Level D simulator used for Type Conversions
The process typically involves Cockpit and aircraft familiarization to allow the pilot to become comfortable with the type. A series of Circuits and possibly training area flying to become accustomed with the aircraft is flown. Once completed a final conversion Checkride is taken and a solo flight in the aircraft.
Usually a ground based written assessment including questions on MTOW, Maximum Airspeed, Fuel Capacity, stall speeds, engine operation, safety and emergency procedures is completed to ensure proficiency in the theoretical side of the aircraft.
Published - July 2009
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