The two most frequent of the Frequently Asked Questions we get asked are:
a) How much does it cost to learn how to fly? and,
b) How long does it take?
For flight schools, these questions are difficult to answer with certainty as there are many factors that will determine the training time and cost for any given individual. Some guidelines are provided below.
The Cost To Become A Pilot
The minimum hours required for an Ultralight Permit is 10 hours, of which 2 hours must be solo hours. This can be a more efficient way to learn how to fly, and for the recreational pilots, an Ultralight Permit will be sufficient for their flying needs. The estimate to obtain an Ultralight Permit at Skyview Ultralights flight school is here.
The minimum hours required to obtain a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) is 45 hours. Naturally, the cost to obtain a PPL will be more than that of an Ultralight Permit, all else equal. For pilots pursing a career, obtaining the Ultralight Permit first will provide credits for Private Pilot Licence and help reduce the time and cost down the road. For the recreational pilot, one can pursue other licences and permits as needed since it is generally cheaper to obtain an ultralight permit.
Flight schools will often quote prices based on the minimum time required by the regulations, however completing in the minimum time is not realistic for most people. Talk to the school you are planning to take lessons with to get a realistic idea of the hours that will be required at the specific school.
Transport Canada regulations lists the minimum hours requirement for various licences and permits. Use these requirements to figure out a rough cost as follows:
1. Take the dual training hours requirement for the permit and multiply by dual training rate at the school
2. Take the solo training hours requirement and multiply by the solo rate
3. Estimate ground briefing hours multiply by the instructor rate
4. Add budget for supplies
5. Add budget for ground school, written tests, and flight tests
Keep in mind going with the lowest priced flight school may not necessarily be the best choice for you. There will be other factors to consider, the most important being working with an instructor whom you are comfortable with.
How long does it take to get a Pilot Licence/Permit?
If you are flying on a part-time basis, expect the duration of training to last a few months. On average, if you can do 6 lessons per month and you need 30 lessons to complete an Ultralight Permit, it will take approximately 5 months to complete. In Canada, starting late February/Early March is ideal as it can shorten the duration since weather tends to improve and days start getting longer. You will have less weather related cancellations in the Spring/Summer/Fall versus the Winter.
Here are some of the key factors that determine how long it takes to learn to fly:
Frequency of Lessons: The more often you fly, the more you will retain from one lesson to the next and reduce the need to repeat lessons
Nature of the Airport: It will be easier to learn at a quiet airport versus a busy airport
Distance to the Practice Area: The closer the practice area, the less time you will spend flying to and from the practice area
Study Time & Preparation: Studying between lessons and coming prepared for each of your flight lesson will help reduce the hours required for your flight training
Enjoy the process of learning. Pursuing the privilege of being able to fly a plane will be worth it, whether it is for recreational or career purposes!