How much does it all cost?

May 26, 2014

I’ve had many questions regarding what is likely the biggest limiting factor in learning to fly, cost. Reflecting on the cost of training, I realised cost is probably the main reason I created this blog in the first place and something that to date, I have neglected to touch on. Many flying schools, academies and aero clubs will advertise total costs based on CASA’s minimum hours. It can be difficult to base estimates on this though as most students will require many more hours to complete milestones and licenses than the minimums published by CASA.

When choosing an institution at which to complete your flying training, cost is not as important as quality however, unless mummy and daddy are very rich, it’s something that can heavily persuade your decision, and so it should. Cost doesn’t always mean quality and quality doesn’t always have to cost a premium. The best way to compare cost is to look at hourly hire fees, landing fees and the cost of briefings. This can become difficult as different schools have different aircraft and facilities. Though don’t get caught up in the glitz and glamour of brand new aircraft and snazzy uniforms. There’s nothing wrong with learning to fly in an older aircraft with modern navigation systems. I’ll now have a go at giving some pointers on what I consider to be the main considerations necessary.

  1. Aircraft – Whilst aircraft type can be important when applying for a job in aviation, at the initial stages of training, this isn’t really a concern that you can address with any accuracy. One pointer initially would be to compare aircraft size as opposed to type. For instance, a Cessna 172 can be directly compared to a Piper PA-28 though not to a Cessna 150 or a Jabiru.
  2. Briefings / Ground School – It’s important to ascertain if a school offers full ground school or just pre-flight briefings. Ground school is very valuable and can cost quite a lot, briefings however, should be free, though many institutions charge a premium for these also. If they do charge for briefings, make sure you add it to the cost of each flight as most flights require a briefing of some description.
  3. Controlled vs Non Controlled Airports – There is definitely an argument for both though for someone considering the Commercial path, it’s probably a good idea to go controlled to get very familiar with controlled airport movements early on. There is a large cost difference however with landing fees and taxi time. Whilst you need to factor this in the overall cost, I don’t think you should include it when comparing schools as it’s not really a fair comparison. I’m happy to spend a little more in this area but it’s definitely horses for courses.

Whilst I know everyone’s path is different, to provide you with as much insight as I can, I have created a list of all of my lessons / flights and the associated costs. This is a total cost including plane hire (wet), instructor (where appropriate), landing fees and briefings / theory. You can find the list by clicking on this link http://www.studentpilotjourney.com.au/lessontotals

If you have any questions, as always, I’m more than happy to help out. Simply leave a comment below.

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