Scenes from the Sky

What can I say, the last seven weeks of flying have been fantastic, and with another nine weeks to go out here in New Zealand there is plenty more to come! As we are now in the Navigation phase, I thought I’d piece some footage together to give you all a better view of just what our flights involve as well as some of the incredible the sights we see.

I hope you enjoy it!

P.S. On another note, the EasyJet MPL scheme will soon be open for applications, and all the information on the 2014 course can be found at

As always, I am very happy to answer your questions so feel free to use the ‘Contact Me’ feature of the website to get in touch. To those applying, good luck and maybe I’ll see you soon here at CTC!

Returning to the skies

It’s been two years since I last flew an aircraft solo, and it’s been almost a year since I’ve flown one with an instructor so, needless to say, it has been absolutely amazing to get back in the sky after all this time. Nothing quite beats the feeling of waking up on a sunny morning for a flying lesson, and I’m feeling very privileged and thankful to be out here doing just that. As it has been a while since I flew regularly I was well aware that I could be quite rusty, but thankfully after a few lessons it all started to feel very familiar and it has been great to learn new skills and improve on things that I covered during my flying back in the UK. Now, this post is quite picture heavy so you may have to scroll for a while (I promise that it’s worth it)!!

Awesome views whilst flying at 6500ft over the coast near Raglan
Me on finals for Runway 18L!

As is always the way, the course out in New Zealand is passing by very quickly. After completing our Air Law and NZ Differences exams, the flight training started with four simulator sessions looking at the basics of flight, the G1000 system, as well as a brief introduction to IMC flight to allow us to appreciate the differences even at this early stage of training. After that, we began lessons on basic control, steep turns, stall, stall recovery and circuits and circuit emergencies in the Cessna 172. The lessons are all 1.3 hours in length, and cadets usually report to the training centre around two hours before the off blocks time to allow time for flight preparation, which includes: Continue reading “Returning to the skies”

New Zealand: The adventure begins!

Kia Ora!

Greetings from New Zealand! I’m writing this from my new home at Clearways, with one of CTC’s Cessna 172’s flying overhead. It’s a pretty hot day today, so the air conditioning is working hard (a stark contrast to the UK by the looks of things). So, how have the past couple of weeks panned out? Well, just a couple of weeks after getting our Module 2 results CP110 and EZMP01 flew out to New Zealand for the start of the four month core flying phase (eight months for the Wings cadets). I’ve never traveled further than Europe, so it seemed pretty surreal to be arriving for a flight to the other side of the globe. My journey began at 4pm when I left home to for London Heathrow, where we were scheduled for a 10pm departure. It was quite busy going through customs at Heathrow, but thankfully everything ran like clockwork and after an hour or so catching up with each other in departures we boarded our Emirates A380 and the flight departed on time. We landed in Dubai early the next morning where we had a couple of hours before boarding our next flight; a fourteen hour leg with Qantas to Melbourne, so we took the opportunity to freshen up and stretch our legs before boarding. Funnily enough, some members of our CP were lucky enough to get upgraded to premium economy which was a nice surprise for them! I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, however economy was still pretty comfortable and the flight passed by quite quickly. We landed in Melbourne at around 8am and, seeing as we had a nine hour layover, we decided to make the most of our time and take a trip into the city centre. It was a fantastic few hours where we really got a feel for this laid back city and had a chance to see some of the sights (in 36 degree heat, I may add)!

Approaching Melbourne (Qantas A380,VH-OQB)
Melbourne city centre. 36°C!!

After getting back to the airport and clearing customs yet again, it’s fair to say that jet lag was starting to catch up with us all so on the final flight, a Qantas 737 to Auckland, most of us caught up on some much needed rest and before we knew it we had finally arrived in New Zealand. As soon as we left the terminal we were greeted by CTC staff who took us to a number of mini buses which would take us to our final destination at Hamilton. We were surprised to find our bus equipped with pillows and blankets, and seeing as it was very late at night it gave us a much needed head start at beating the jet lag. The transfer took less than two hours due to it being so early in the morning so it wasn’t long before we arrived at Clearways, CTCs main accommodation block just down the road from the training centre at Hamilton Airport. It consists of six ‘blocks’ each with a number of rooms as well as a large common room, washing facilities, restaurant style kitchens plus heaps of outside space (including a large BBQ, of course).

Boarding the final flight!

The rooms themselves are big, with wall-size sliding windows and air conditioning. I live in Block Five, where two rooms share a small kitchenette, a bathroom and shower room and on our side of the block we look out onto the clearways volleyball and basketball courts. In addition to these, around the Clearways site there is also a cardio gym and a weights gym, and the whole site is set in acres of land that backs onto the river which we are free to explore. There is also an on-site Operations office to allow any issues to be quickly rectified (i.e. lost room cards).

So, after an attempt of a nights sleep, for our first day we decided to take a trip into Hamilton to get a feel for the local area. CTC have made things very easy, giving us six hire cars to use for the next three weeks until we buy our own vehicles. Cadets usually buy vehicles from past cadets or from the local auctions and private sales. It is very cheap to drive over here because you insure the car itself and not the drivers (e.g. a twin turbo Subaru Legacy costs just $400 a year fully comp)!!! Hamilton is a land-locked city, but although it may not be as busy as the coastal towns and cities there is a lot to offer and the city is set in some fantastic countryside. We had some time to have a look around the centre, buy some essentials from the shops and have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city. It was a great day out, topped off with a couple of drinks in the evening at the local bars, many of which had very good live bands playing. The following day was even better, with a few of us taking three cars over to Raglan beach for a day of sea and surf. It was wall to wall sunshine and it was great to get a feel for the wider area and have a drive on the incredible roads to the coast.

My room
My room (looking rather empty in this photo)
My new back garden….

So, with our first weekend over it was time for work to begin. We had a meeting with the head of Base Operations at 8am Monday morning, followed by an 8.30 start at the training centre. Our first day was pretty relaxed and included an introduction to the training centre and the staff who work there. We had a tour of the facilities, including the DA42 simulator on which we do our first four flights, as well as a look at a couple of aircraft out on the apron. The training centre itself is made up of simulator and lecture rooms surrounding a large open plan flight planning area where cadets plan for the flights they will be undertaking that day. There is even a large airline-style TV monitor which lists our rosters and shows when all the cadets and the respective aircraft are flying and at what time they are due to finish. There is also a large outside area which looks over the apron, a newly completed extension with more lecture rooms and a large in house maintenance facility which take care of the growing CTC fleet of Cessna and Diamond aircraft. Out on the apron we had a look at one of the G1000 Cessna 172s, which is the aircraft we will be starting on. As we are an MPL course, we don’t fly aircraft with conventional instrumentation and instead go straight onto the full glass cockpit as soon as possible to get us accustomed to using similar displays in the airline environment.

The following week consisted of ‘Induction Ground School’, which is made up of a number of sections:

1) Introduction and tour of facilities
2) Mass briefs
3) Differences
4) Air Law

The mass briefs cover a number of subjects, including general flying techniques (lookout, fuel management), a look into how we will plan for our flights, and general operations at Hamilton International Airport. Before you begin the flying with CTC out here, you are also required to sit two exams. The first, Differences, does as it says by covering the ‘differences’ between the UK and New Zealand syllabus, and filling us in on any areas that we have not covered in the UK but which are required out here. We are also required to sit the New Zealand Air Law exam, so we had a couple of days worth of lectures followed by a weekend of revision before sitting the exam. For those reading this in Ground School, don’t worry, it is PPL air law and is not as vast as the ATPL Air Law back in the UK!

So, how about the flying? Well, today I had my first simulator lesson and it was fantastic to be at the controls of an aircraft again, even if it was a simulator. I had to arrive at the training centre at 6:30am for a brief before a one hour flight which was pretty relaxed and covered basic yet crucial areas such as straight and level flight, turns, steep turns, stall recovery and spin recovery. However, things move fast and on todays flight we were already looking at basic control in IMC, as well as taxiing, approach and landing. For those who may be wondering why we’re not yet flying for real, on the MPL course our first four flights are in the DA42 simulator to get us used to the basics of flight as well as the G1000 system before starting on the Cessna 172.

CTC Cessna 172S (Garmin G1000 equipped)
Home Sweet Home! Clearways!

Tomorrow is my first RDO (rostered day off), and the weather looks fantastic so no doubt we will be out seeing more of this fantastic country. Over the last few days, we have also been to Raglan beach (again), went to watch a Rugby match in Hamilton and ‘sailed’ down the river on inflatable boats -great fun in some spectacular weather!

That’s about all from me for now. We will be flying in the Cessna 172 next week, so I’ll be sure to upload some more pictures to the ‘Training Photos’ section of the website (which has recently been updated) as well as more regular updates. Away from our training program, we also had an informal chat with the new Managing Director of CTC (New Zealand), and there are a number of exciting developments on the way within the company itself, including a new brand identity which can already be seen on Facebook and Twitter. There is also a new prospectus showing the training routes available with CTC which is well worth checking out if you are looking into training with CTC Aviation (link below). << New CTC Wings 2014 Prospectus

If you have any questions about the course, CTC or just pilot training in general, please feel free to contact me at any time by clicking on ‘contact me’ icon on this page. Speak soon everyone, and thank you for reading!

The new CTC logo!

14 ATPL Passes – New Zealand here we come!!

Hello…. I’m back!

Apologies for being quite quiet for a couple of months, but once again Ground School demanded my full attention and I haven’t really had a chance to update you on what has been happening. After finishing our last week of Ground School lessons in early December, we had a few days before sitting our final seven mock exams just before Christmas. In module two, I found General Navigation and Performance the most challenging as they contain a lot of practical questions and include some pretty complex theory when compared with Module 1. Performance (A.K.A Principles of Flight V2) involved use of the CAP graphs and tables, which provide a graphical means of working out things such as landing distances, take off distances, accelerate stop distances (the list goes on)! There are two more CAP manuals for Mass and Balance and Flight Planning, with the latter also requiring the use of our Jeppesen manuals, which include SID/STARS (standard instrument departures and arrival routes) and low and high area maps and charts (which you can see in the pictures below).

A weekend of Flight Planning
Jeppesen SID

Our final exams started on January 6th, which meant that we had the Christmas/New Year period to contend with. Christmas can prove to be a big distraction, but with New Zealand so close we all knuckled down and focussed on the task in hand. I was home for just three days over Christmas, and spent my time seeing family and friends (and the odd test on ATPLonline, of course) before returning to Southampton for ten days of solid revision before the start of exams. The revision period came and went very quickly, with even New Years Eve spent at our desks working through exam questions. ATPL Ground School really does demand a lot of work, and so we rarely spent time out or away from our desks. Pretty soon, it was time for the real thing, and the exam timetable was split in a very similar fashion to our Module 1 exams. On the Monday, we had Performance and Mass & Balance followed by Flight Planning and Operational Procedures on Tuesday, General Navigation and Radio Navigation on Wednesday, and Human Performance on the Thursday to finish on. For me, the exams were a mixed bag; a couple were just as I had expected, but a few (in particular on the first day) were pretty challenging, with a number of new question styles and some tough theory areas covered. Thankfully, the week passed as quickly as it had arrived and we were then treated to something you rarely experience in Ground School: free time!

Goodbye Ground School!
Goodbye Ground School!

After a well earned night out in Southampton on the Thursday and a relaxing weekend off, we had our second Airline Preparation Day on the Monday. The day was delivered by a former British Airways pilot, and followed on from APD1 (which you complete prior to starting Ground School) by teaching us more of the ‘soft skills’ and CRM methods required in the airline industry. We also had a talk with two cadets who had recently returned from New Zealand, which gave us a fantastic insight into what awaits us when we begin the flying phase in just a few weeks time. The following day was to be our last day at Nursling (until August that is), where we had the first of our modules delivered by EasyJet themselves. The session lasted for about four hours, and gave us an introduction to the airline, a brief look at some of the operating procedures used in day to day operations, as well as the answers to any questions we had about the course or simply the job itself. It was a really enjoyable couple of days, that got our heads out of exam mode and into airline pilot mode! After that, those of us who hadn’t yet moved out had the evening to finish packing up our things and prepare for the move back home.

Goodbye Elmside!
Goodbye Elmside!

I have now been back at home for two weeks, relaxing after the intensity of the exam period by catching up with friends and family. It has, however, been pretty tense waiting for results, but today I was thrilled to find out that I have passed all of my module two exams meaning I finish ground school with fourteen first time ATPL exam passes! I’m absolutely ecstatic!! We now have just under two weeks before we jet off to New Zealand, so it’s time to get out the suitcase and begin packing.

Once again, I sit here in amazement at just how quickly the past six months have passed. I’ll make no secret of the fact that Ground School is challenging; the workload is huge, and the pace of the course is pretty relentless. It’s six months of hard work, stress and long nights, but you find that the your course mates make the whole thing a lot easier to cope with, and the rare nights and days out are really good fun!

Thank you all for the continued interest in my blog, which has now received over 11,000 views (and counting)! Thankfully, I will now have a lot more to post about, with the flying phase starting when we touch down in New Zealand. As I’ve mentioned before, we will be flying the Cessna 172 (G1000 equipped) for our VFR flight training, as well as some flight time in the FNPT II simulator, before returning to the UK where we will spend a couple of weeks at Bournemouth flying the DA42. We then transfer onto the 737 simulator for asymmetric flight and some more upset recovery, before heading onto the A320 simulators. All being well, we will be transferred over to EasyJet next January! Exciting times!

That’s about all from me, my next update will be in a couple of weeks time. Speak soon,


CTC Cessna 172

Ground School – Module 2 Begins!

Hello again!

I can’t quite believe it has been two months since my last update. The course is going so quickly, and all of CP110/EZMPL01 have been extremely busy. We have passed some huge milestones in the past few weeks, as at the time of my last update we were still a few weeks away from sitting our Module 1 mock exams. Two months on however, and we have completed our final EASA exams, received our results and are at the end of our fourth week of Module 2 ground school.

Many days spent here...
Many days spent here…

So, where do I start?!

The exam period began late September with three days worth of mock exams, beginning a mere four days after finishing lessons for Air Law. For those who do not know, module 1 at CTC consists of the following subjects:

  • Aircraft General Knowledge (Engines, Electrics and Systems)
  • Principles of Flight
  • Instrumentation
  • Meteorology
  • Air Law
  • VFR Communications
  • IFR Communications

As I’ve mentioned previously, the subjects are varied and cover a huge amount of theory. Personally, I found Principles of Flight and Meteorology to be the hardest of the seven due to the sheer volume of new concepts we had to get our heads around.

The few days we had before mock exams were intense to say the least, with everyone putting in long days of revision. The mocks were spread over three days and passed by extremely quickly, and thankfully I did better than I expected with all of my results exceeding my expectations. There was still a lot of work to be done though, and we then had a week and a half to revise before the final EASA exams. At first, this seemed like a long time, and the very reason why our mocks were scheduled so soon after the end of lessons was to give us the greatest amount of time before finals, but the 7am alarm on exam day was soon upon us.

The Office

EASA treated us to a 9am start with our Principles of Flight exam followed closely by Aircraft General Knowledge, with us getting home by mid-afternoon where the revision for the next day began instantly. We had Instruments the following morning, Meteorology on the Wednesday afternoon, finished off with Air Law, VFR and IFR communications on the Thursday. That week was full of very late nights of revision, and by the end of the last exam we were all shattered. Fortunately, we then had four days free to chill out and get away from our desks, so the majority of the CP opted to return home and visit family for the first time since leaving in late July. I decided to return home on the Thursday evening, and after a four hour drive I was home with my feet up with a well deserved drink in hand. It was so nice to be home, but there was also excitement of the prospect of returning to CTC to begin the final phase of ground school.

After a relaxing weekend seeing family and friends, we were back into the thick of it by Tuesday morning with the first of nine days of General Navigation lessons. Module two is known for being a lot more hands on and methodical than Module 1, which consists of a lot of memorisation of facts and figures. We are now four weeks in and have already completed General Navigation, Mass and Balance and Performance, and with these new subjects came some new equipment for us to get used to…

The Jeppesen Airway Manual

The new equipment consists of the Jeppesen Manual and the CAA CAP manuals (used for  Flight Planning, Performance and Mass and Balance). We are also now using our Pooleys CRP-5 Flight Computers for the module two subjects, which consist of:

  • General Navigation
  • Mass and Balance
  • Performance
  • Flight Planning
  • Human Performance
  • Radio Navigation
  • Operational Procedures

So far, I have found General Navigation to be the most challenging subject as there are a lot of different concepts and methods to grasp whilst also getting used to using basic mathematics (trigonometry and angles) plus a number of new formulas. The subject includes work on charts, plotting, flight logs, time and distance, the solar system and a lot of CRP-5 work including conversions and navigation tasks. Mass and Balance is a bit more simplistic and includes a lot of basic Mechanics, however the exam is very short so accuracy is key. Performance (lovingly known as Principles of Flight 2…) has proved to be another complex subject, with a lot of graph work as well as some more advanced ‘Principles of Flight’ style questions to do with the various stages of flight.

2013-10-23 11.51.16
The CRP-5 Flight Computer

After two weeks of module 2 ground school, we received our results from the CAA via email. After an extremely tense wait, I was thrilled to find out that I’d passed all seven exams first time and averaged much higher than my personal target! The results across CP110/EZMPL01 were fantastic, but with only five weeks until the end of ground school the work is yet again building up and it’ll soon be time to do it all over again. Our next round of mock exams begin in mid December, with our EASA finals scheduled for the beginning of January. All being well, we should then be off to New Zealand at the end of January to begin the core flying phase of our course. Whilst in New Zealand, we will be flying CTC’s Cessna 172 fleet for around five months before returning to the UK to complete the final six months at CTC in the A320 full motion simulator prior to moving onto the aircraft itself at EasyJet. We will also have modules taught by EasyJet training pilots, as well as a two day trip to the Luton base in October next year – it is so exciting to think of what lies ahead when we have finished ground school!

Just before I sign off, I’d just like to say a couple of other things…

  • Firstly, CP110/EZMPL01 are taking part in Movember and although there is more chance of me growing a second head than a decent mo, many of my course mates are more talented in the facial hair department, so there should be some fantastic mo’s on display! It’s all for a great cause, and you can check out our Mo Space at the following link:
  • Finally, I’d just like to say a huge thanks to my family and friends for their continued support. The interest in the blog has also been overwhelming, with nearly 9000 views already! It’s great to see so many people interested, I just hope that my ramblings prove useful in some way. Thank you. As ever, you can contact me using the mail icon on the left sidebar of this page

Speak to you soon!

CTC Uniform

Time flies…

It’s pretty unbelievable how fast the past few weeks have gone. Next week will be the sixth week of groundschool for CP110/EZMPL01 and, with only Air Law and VFR/IFR communications left to cover, the work is piling up fast!  We are no longer the newest CP either, with CP111 (including EZMPL02, the second intake of easyJet MPL cadets) already at the end of week two.

The simulator hall
The simulator hall

So, groundschool….

Over the past few years, I have been told about the work involved with ATPL groundschool, but it still hasn’t prepared me for the amount of work we have to get through! We have already finished Aircraft General Knowledge, Instrumentation, Principles of Flight and Meteorology which may not look like much, but there is a LOT of theory contained within those four subjects. We have four or five days worth of lessons per week, with scheduled CBT (Computer Based Training) days which allow us to review what we have been taught, read through our CBT, complete progress tests and go through questions on the online question bank. We are the first CP using a new system called PadPilot, whereby our 14 ATPL theory books are all in the format of interactive iBooks on the iPad. It’s huge leap forward from the traditional pile of printed books, and allows us to take our work with us anywhere.

Out of the four subjects we have covered so far, I would say that Aircraft General Knowledge has been the one I have found the most interesting. The subject is broad, and is split up into Systems, Engines and Electrics which each cover a huge amount including hydraulic systems, fire protection, pneumatics, AC and DC electrics, gas turbines, propellers, piston engines……..I could go on! It’s nice to finally know more about how aircraft work, and just what is involved in keeping them in the air! For me, Principles of Flight has been the most challenging subject so far simply due to the number of graphs and formulas it involves. It really is hard work, and a lot of effort is required to stay on top of it all. Despite the sheer amount of theory, a lot of the subjects are really quite interesting and I’m not finding it too hard to sit down at my desk and study (unlike A-Level maths)….

Principles of Flight Revision

The simulators at the Nursling training centre are a great resource for those of us in the Groundschool phase, so the instructors book us in for flights in the fixed base 737 to help reinforce the theory. A few weeks ago, myself and three of my housemates had a four hour simulator session and it was a fantastic experience which not only helped to boost our motivation, but reinforced some of the theory we have been covering. I found that it helped me get to grips with the concept of stability, and allowed us to have a closer look at some of the advanced Instrumentation used on the flight deck. We each did a number of general handling exercises and did manual approaches and landings at Gatwick. We also set up and executed a CATIII fully automated landing, and had a closer look at some of the complex systems on board the 737. We were at the training centre until around 9pm, and it was a great feeling to come home after having flown a 737 into Gatwick….

The Boeing 737-700 flight deck!

Away from the 9 to 5, we have managed to fit in a few days out to help us relax and take our minds off of the theory. We have been Go-karting, had a couple of BBQs, the odd poker game and most recently, a day at the Bournemouth Airshow. I’ve never visited the airshow before, so I couldn’t get over the size of it and how many people were in attendance! The weather was perfect, and we saw a number of displays including the Red Arrows, the Blades and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; another great motivation boost!

The Red Arrows at Bournemouth
The crowds on the beach…

So, that’s pretty much all I have to say! We have our mock exams two weeks on Monday and final exams just two weeks after that, which is a scary thought at the moment! It may be a few weeks until my next update but in the meantime, if you have any questions then you can contact me by clicking on the email icon on the left side of the screen.

Back to work I go….. speak soon!


CTC easyJet Cadet Pilot Programme – Week One

The past few weeks have passed by faster than I could have ever imagined. From finishing my last shift at my retail job just a few weeks ago, I’m now living in a new house and am officially enrolled on course EZMPL01 (part of CP110) at CTC Aviation. To be here training at last feels amazing, and pretty unbelievable!

After a relaxed week  frantic couple of days of packing early last week, I loaded up my car and set off to Southampton for our ‘Meet and Greet’ day. It felt great to be back at the Nursling centre and pretty unbelievable to think that I was there to pick up my house keys rather than attending an open day! The day was well organised, and after picking up our keys in the morning we had a few hours to settle into our houses before returning for the Meet and Greet. The day allows cadets and parents to speak with the staff and find out more about what we are about to take on, and is also where we first meet face to face, try on our uniforms and collect our equipment. An EasyJet training captain was also in attendance to present each of us with our first set of epaulettes and spoke to those of us on EZMPL01 about the course outline and our future careers at easyJet. As the course name suggests, this is CTCs very first easyJet MPL course and it’s very exciting to be a part of. Throughout the duration of our course, we have a liaison easyJet pilot (who is himself an ex-CTC cadet) on hand for any questions we have, as well as regular contact and updates from EasyJet via email. It’s pretty cool to be receiving easyJet staff emails already – it allows us to keep up to date on the latest company news, and really makes us feel like part of the airline even at this early stage!

After some refreshments and a tour of the facilities, we had our pictures taken for easyJet and we slowly made our way back to the house to finish unpacking and have a good look around the local area. An early night beckoned, however, as we were up early the following morning for APD1. This was the first of our Airline Preperation Days which target the development of key skills needed by commercial pilots, and it was extremely well delivered by a couple of hugely experienced commercial pilots who lecture at CTC. The day also aims to address any concerns about what we are taking on and put us in the right frame of mind for the start of Groundschool.

A lot of time will be spent here…

Friday night and Saturday morning involved a meet up with the other members of CP110 in Southampton which was great fun, but what we were all really looking forward to was the official course start on Monday. It was pretty amazing to put on my uniform for the first time!

Now, when people tell you there is a lot to learn, they aren’t lying – we started off on Aircraft General Knowledge and have already started Instruments! So far, I’m finding the workload manageable and the theory is proving really interesting (but ask me again when we arrive on Air Law)! Generally, after finishing our day at the training centre, we drive back and have a half hour break before working for around three hours going over the days theory and doing some practice questions. I’m living with five other easyJet MPL cadets, and we are all getting on really well. It’s great to be in a house with like minded guys, and we are finding that talking through the days theory is a great way to get to grips and fully understand the subjects. On Thursday we were scheduled to have our first CBT day, but we were called into the training centre as the easyJet Head of Training and Chief Pilot were visiting. We had a room set aside for us to work through our theory and later in the afternoon we had a fantastic talk with them both about the airline and our training. It was fantastic to hear more about the airline, and all of our questions were answered honestly and with a bit of Scottish humour! There is a ‘buzz’ and excitement from both CTC and easyJet about both the MPL and Wings courses, and it’s great that we get the opportunity to speak to such senior employees from the airline – another advantage of training where the airlines train!

So, that is my first week in a nutshell! Next week we will be concluding Instruments before returning to AGK the week after. My next post won’t be too far off, as I’m sure I’ll have something to talk about…

Speak soon!

My airline pilot training begins!

Hello everyone!

For once, I have some news of my own to share with you. Last month, I had the chance to sit an assessment for the easyJet cadet pilot programme with CTC in Southampton. The first of these assessments involved a day spent at Dibden Manor, the headquarters of the CTC Aviation Group. Although daunting at first, it was a very enjoyable day that went very quickly! The day included aptitude and maths tests, group exercises and individual interviews (plus an amazing lunch)! I was unaware of just how nice the CTC headquarters at Dibden are; the buildings and grounds are very impressive, and the staff instantly make you feel at home.

To my surprise, I was then put forward to an easyJet assessment at Luton which was scheduled for a few weeks later and, I’m extremely pleased to say that…..


So, this means that I will be beginning my pilot training with CTC this Summer! It’s incredible to think that in a few weeks I will be moving down to Southampton to begin the ATPL theory stage of the training programme with my coursemates on CP110

Dibden Manor, CTC Aviation Ltd Headquarters

For those of you who don’t already know, the ‘MPL’ is a new type of license which will train me specifically to fly easyJet’s Airbus A320. Instead of the traditional CPL/IR in a multi-engine propeller aircraft, I will be doing a vast amount of training in the A320 simulators using easyJet operating procedures, preparing me specifically for the multi-crew jet environment. Before this there is, of course, a phase where we will train on single engine piston aircraft. With CTC, this is done out in New Zealand on the Cessna 172! If you’d like to know more about the MPL, there is a link at the bottom of this post to a CTC interview with the ‘Father of the MPL’, Dieter Harms.

easyJet A319-100

easyJet A319

So, the next few weeks will involve a lot of preparation and paperwork! Perhaps it will start to sink in soon as well, as I still can’t quite believe it. I will be sure to keep you all updated! << An interview with Dieter Harms, ‘Father of the MPL’

About Me

Welcome to The Student Pilot Blog!

I’m a cadet pilot on the easyJet MPL scheme with CTC Aviation Ltd, and I’ll be sharing with you my journey through pilot training, from ATPL theory through to flight training and beyond!

If you have any questions, queries or comments please do not hesitate to contact me – I know how confusing it can be when looking into pilot training, so I’m very happy to help you out as best as I can!

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Georgie Sweeney – “I just wanted to fly big metal tubes through the sky” (Guest Blog)

My name is Georgie and I’m a 19 year old cadet pilot at CTC wings. As I write this I am at the stage between finishing my Module 1 ATPL theory exams and starting the second set. I started my training in February and should hopefully be finished around summer 2014.

I haven’t had much flying experience at all; in fact, I’ve only had an hour! For my 18th birthday, my parents bought me a trial lesson at Shoreham Airport in a Diamond DA40, which I thoroughly loved. I was able to take control of this machine and finally get a feel of what it is like to soar through the air high above the ground. This merely confirmed to me that I needed to get into the skies as soon as possible!

Georgie on his trial flight at Shoreham

Even before this lesson I had never considered any other career. It has always been a pilot – and always an airline one; military flying has never particularly appealed to me. Give me an A320 over a Eurofighter and day of the week! Remember when you wrote little stories in infant school, and your family patronisingly asked what you’re going to be? Instead of replying “I want to be a rockstar”, or “I’d love to be superman”, I just wanted to fly big metal tubes through the sky. As I grew up I researched various ways to make this dream a reality, although I never imagined that I would be able to make it a reality. I researched plenty of flying schools, the RAF and any other way possible, although decided that the way for me was an integrated course with a flight training organisation. After finishing my GCSEs and A Levels I finally applied to CTC Wings, and to my surprise I was asked along to assessment, where I was offered a place on the course. I was over the moon – I had finally opened to door to my dream career!

One of CTC’s full motion simulators

As I mentioned, I began training at the end of February, where until now I have been studying seven of the fourteen ATPL theory subjects, and I begin the final seven in a few days’ time. This phase of ground school is by no means easy, and it has made me realise just how much I want this. Once I have finished these exams in a few months’ time, I make my way out to New Zealand for nine months to gain my CPL, flying both DA20s or Cessna 172s, before moving on to DA42s. After this I fly back to the UK to complete my instrument rating at Bournemouth in more DA42s, followed by my Airline Qualification Course. Writing it down makes it all sound so easy! After this, I end up in the big wide world of commercial aviation, finally getting to fly my Airbus, Boeing, or maybe even Embraer at 36,000ft and Mach .78.

I still have to pinch myself that this is actually happening, and I honestly don’t think it has still sunken in! If you have the flying bug, and dream of spreading your wings – do it, because if you don’t? Well, you’re bound to regret it!


Looks fun!
You can follow Georgie’s progress over at his own blog – . Good luck with the rest of your training Georgie!

Air League – Youth in Aviation Day 2013

This weekend, myself and my friends stayed over at Bicester Airfield with the Air League for the annual ‘Youth in Aviation Day’. This year it was better than ever, with gliding and powered flight experiences available as well as numerous displays including Lauren Richardson in her Pitts S1-S (G-BKDR) and an incredible dusk display from GliderFX.

So, first things first, if you don’t already know about the Air League, where have you been?! It is a brilliant organisation which offers flying scholarships, aviation related trips and much more! I’ve been a member for a couple of years now and it really is worth it. Bicester airfield, where the event is held each year, is an ex-RAF airfield which is now home to the Windrushers Gliding Club and a lot of un-touched WW2 hangars and buildings which are great to explore!

So, how did our weekend begin? Myself and a couple of good friends were planning on flying in from Shobdon, so bright and early the drive to the airfield began. However, after a well deserved brew and a few checks of the forecast  it soon became apparent that we would be making the journey by car.


We loaded our flight bags and camping equipment into the boot of the Corsa and spent a couple of hours on the road before arriving at Bicester. After a quick drive through the dizzying heights of Bicester town centre, we arrived at the airfield and met up with two good friends who had also driven down earlier in the morning.

With a selection of aircraft on display, as well as a number of stands and seminars on offer, there was plenty on offer for us to do. We were soon treated to a display from Will Hilton in his SA 1100 Silence Twister ‘G-ZWIP’, and were also ‘invited’ to a seminar from CAE Oxford Aviation Academy (very useful if you’d like to speak face to face with staff/students in a more informal setting). As mentioned earlier, gliding, aerobatic gliding and powered flight experiences were available and CTC, RAF Careers, RAeS, RAeC, Aerobility, Brooklands Museum, GAPAN, plus many more organisations were also in attendance.


After spending a few hours talking to various pilots, taking a good look around the stands, watching the displays and popping into Bicester to buy a bottle opener (in preparation for the evening, of course), we were treated to a BBQ and some model aircraft flights. A live band were also playing throughout the evening, which was topped off with a truly stunning pyrotechnic display from GliderFX. To view this, my friends and I retreated to the top of Bicesters abandoned control tower with some plastic chairs where we then stayed for a number of hours, talking aviation and enjoying a few drinks. There simply is no better way to spend a Saturday evening (on the ground, that is)!


The rest of the night/early morning was a surreal experience and so much fun! It involved rope swings, a childs scooter, fanta, wine, a very vocal (and rather messy) french chap, dominos pizza and a couple of hilarious and bizarre incidents. As a prudent pilot, I won’t go into much more detail and let the pictures speak for themselves….

905354_10201160640477172_445176088_oA very poor picture of the stunning GliderFX display!


How aerobatic pilots train!?!

Needless to say, it was an incredible weekend which reminded me why I fell in love with aviation in the first place. It’s not all about the airlines and, although that is of course where I aim to get to, there is a lot more flying that I want to experience in the meantime, in particular gliding and more aerobatics.

A huge thanks to my friends for making this weekend unforgettable, as well as all of those involved at The Air League who organised it all – it was an excellent weekend enjoyed by all who attended.

Over and out!

Nick Lee – “When I grow up I want to be a Pilot” (Guest Blog)

Share your Story!

In the very first Guest Blog, Nick writes about his love of flying and tells us how he started. If you would like to write a Guest Blog, you can contact me by commenting on the site or by tweeting me at @CJBstudentpilot 

All photos in this post belong to Nick Lee.

‘When I grow up I want to be a pilot”!

…A sentence that I didn’t say when I was a child. Flying and becoming a pilot surprisingly wasn’t something I dreamt of doing from a young age, like most people. So, how did it all start out?

I had always been fascinated about aircraft as a young child, but I never really wanted to fly them. I liked the idea of how aircraft could defy gravity and how they could soar high above the earth effortlessly, while taking passengers around the world. I think my main aim was to design aircraft and and become an aircraft engineer.
At school I never worked to the best of my ability, because as teenagers you have so many distractions around you, therefore it is easy to get distracted by the simplest of things such as computer games and social networking sites. Having passed all my GCSEs, it was the next decision to make in life. So September 2010 came around, I went onto studying Aviation at College for two years, having decided I wanted to do something within Aviation. A good month had past and I was really enjoying the course! All the lecturers had previously worked in the aviation industry, therefore they had a lot of raw knowledge of the whole industry It wasn’t until a friend in my class mentioned the words PPL and Flying in class, would I have known anything about learning to fly or becoming a pilot. Later that night after class, I went home and searched about learning to fly and where to start, as the thought of learning to fly really intrigued me. Every night I looked up more and more information about flying and it just dawned on me that I really wanted to become a pilot!
January 2011 came around. My parents kindly enough bought me a trial flight at a my local aerodrome and I was instantly hooked after the one hour flight in the Piper PA28 Warrior III. Exactly a month after my trial flight I startedmy Private Pilots License in the PA28 Warrior III at 16 Years Old. Training was thoroughly enjoyable and I completed my first solo on 12th July 2011. From August 2011-August 2012, I kept on having lessons every now and then. This obviously wasn’t the best for currency and training, but college and other work was really slowing me down. From August 2012, I said to myself that you have to complete your PPL before March 2013. Therefore I studied hard in order to complete the rest of my PPL exams and I finished off with a 94% average between all the 7 exams, which was very surprising! I had also started having lessons again on a weekly basis, which also benefited me a lot. I was also very lucky to have got so many lessons in during the winter period, but it was all down to my instructor pushing me in order to reach my goal. Before you knew it, I was ready for my PPL Skills Test. My skills test was on the 8th December 2012 and yes I was nervous! I won’t talk about the Skills Test too much, but all I will say is that I was tested on everything I learnt during my training. Therefore if you make any mistakes during your test, don’t feel like its an immediate fail, just listen to what the examiner has to say and take everything on-board. At the end of the day, they’re not there to fail you, but to ensure you can operate the aircraft safely and efficiently. At 1415 we landed, just as the horrible weather was approaching and I really didn’t having a clue if I passed or failed! About 5 minutes later, while taxxing back to the apron, the examiner said ‘Ill put you out of your misery…….you PASSED!’ I really wasn’t expecting to hear that! From not knowing I wanted to be a pilot until two years ago, to becoming a pilot. I just felt overwhelmed! This was really the start of the next step in life! (Word of Advice- Just treat the examiner like your instructor/friend and have fun! Good Luck to anyone that’s working towards their skills test!)
Nick taxiing at Perranporth
A month on (January 2013), my EASA PPL License had come through the door and my word was I happy! I had also bought a share in an aircraft in order to start hour building towards my commercial pilots license. As I write this, I am still hour building and enjoying it very much so! It’s truly amazing how I can travel around the UK and Europe in order to visit different airfields and cities and build up my flying experience. Fortunately I have been able to fly a lot recently therefore have had the chance to visit a lot of airfields in the UK. I am also nearing the 100 hour mark! I am due to start my ATPLs in September 2013, this will be 6 months of hard work but it’ll mean I am one step closer towards my dream!
Once again Thank You to ‘thestudentpilotblog’ for letting me write about my experience up till now! And I hope anyone wanting to become a pilot can follow their dream! You can follow my Youtube Channel at or Facebook Page at for the latest updates and flying videos during my hour building and training!
Happy Flying from Nickilaa
Nick at the controls of a PA28 earlier this year

Flyer Exhibitions: Vital for aspiring Airline Pilots

I’m writing this post after yet another brilliant day spent at the Flyer Exhibition at London Heathrow. For those who do not know, Flyer Exhibitions are bi-annual events that take place at Terminal 5 (Others take place abroad in places such as Brussels and Milan) and are essential for anyone thinking about embarking on a career as a pilot. I first visited Flyer at the age of 14, and I cannot express how helpful the events have been for me.

Essentially, the event gathers together FTO’s (Flight Training Organisations), Airlines, Universities and various aviation groups, allowing you to find information on everything from training with a particular FTO or University, to bursaries and scholarships that are available, right up to information on recruitment and industry outlooks. It was here that I first had a face to face discussion with staff and cadets from CTC, Oxford Aviation Academy, BCFT, ProPilot, and many more FTO’s, and the format adopted by most allows you to speak face to face with Instructors, Students and Managers – all of which gives you an honest and well informed insight into the various training courses on offer.

Seminars from airlines, cadets, as-well as various aviation organisations are dotted throughout the day and serve as a great way to learn about such things as recruitment. This year for example, Ian Baston, Director of Flight Operations at Flybe, delivered a detailed presentation on the airline and how they recruit, as well as giving an outlook on the airlines’ future growth and on the Industry as a whole. Other seminars included a cadet talking about his experience training for West Atlantic under a scheme run in conjunction with ProPilot, a Coventry based ATPL ground-school provider. British Airways also gave a seminar on their Future Pilot Programme, and there was also an earlier seminar discussing Higher Apprenticeships.

In short, if you are trying to decide where to undergo your training and haven’t already visited a Flyer event, I can hand on heart say that you must attend one before deciding where to train. It’s from Flyer where you can get a true feel for the various organisations and the courses they offer, and most importantly, it’s a place to get all of your questions answered. From here, it is easy to arrange visits and to attend open days offered by many FTO’s (a vital step to allow you to get a feel for the facilities and the course/s on offer). I should emphasize that all methods of training are represented at Flyer; be it Integrated, Modular, Degree courses, Hour building courses or Groundschool training. It really is a great opportunity to contrast and compare the different ways that training can be done, all in one place.

Even now, when I am very close to starting my commercial training, Flyer provided an informative, reliable and enjoyable day out that allowed me to get the latest updates on training and recruitment straight from the horses mouth: the guys providing the training and the airlines recruiting.

Information on future Flyer Exhibitions can be found on the official website at .

Speak soon!

Integrated vs. Modular – Which route to take

*A quick disclaimer* – As I am currently just one year into my airline pilot training, there are many people who will be much more knowledgeable on this than me. However, I have spent years researching into my own training, and I know how confusing it can be to make a decision. With that in mind, this post has been written to help those who have recently started their research become aware of the differences between the two main routes of training. To avoid confusion, I will not be looking into tagged airline schemes. There are many available, and the vast majority follow the Integrated model. At the bottom of this article, I have included links to some articles/web-pages which I highly recommend you take a look at. Enjoy!

Integrated vs. Modular

It’s a subject that has been debated for years, and a decision that all aspiring pilots face when looking at how to train, but what are the facts concerning Modular and Integrated training? There are some who prefer Integrated and others who prefer Modular, but for someone trying to choose a route it can get very confusing very quickly. There are pages upon pages of heated debate on this subject, where the ‘advice’ is often quite bias. Of course people have their preferred route, and rightly so (at the end of the day we all have to make the decision), but too often people write-off one of the routes simply because it’s the one that they didn’t take. Anyway, the point of this post is not for me to argue that one is the better than the other, but rather to discuss the positives and negatives of the two main routes and give some examples of where you could train.

One thing that I have discovered over years of reading into the various methods of training is that there will always be those who fight strongly for one method whilst completely writing off the other. So before we begin, I will not be stating which one I believe is the best, as I believe they both have good and bad qualities. At the end of the day, it all depends on your personal situation, and what you want out of your training. Obviously people with have their preferred methods, but both routes can offer fantastic opportunities for training and employment.
That intro took a while for me to write, so let’s get going. We’ll start with Modular.

Modular Flight Training – A summary

Modular training (which was known as ‘the self improver’ route) basically involves the trainee getting one license at a time. This route will take them from a PPL (Private Pilots License), through hour building and then onto ATPL theory (which could be done whilst hour building, for example, to save time). Upon successful completion of the 14 exams, you can then begin the CPL, IR and MEP. 150 PPL flying hours are required before starting the CPL. The CPL, IR (instrument rating) and MEP (Multi-engine Piston rating) can be completed in any order. Other modules can then be added on top of this to prepare the student for multi-crew Jet aircraft flying. The MCC (Multi Crew Co-operation course) and JOC (Jet Orientation Course) are both offered by numerous flight schools. The first aims to build up your experience in a multi-crew environment, and the latter provides you with Jet Simulator time, during which students will fly in IFR conditions in a multi-pilot role. Emphasis is placed on developing CRM (Crew Resource Management) skills, which is a vital part of the job. You will end up with an fATPL (frozen Airline Transport Pilots License), which allows you to apply for the airlines.

You get used to them after a while…

Modular students are not tied to any particular company, and have the freedom to complete the training at their own speed, perhaps whilst earning. This route is ideal for those who want to stay in work whilst they train and, as you probably know by now, it often works out to be much cheaper than the Integrated route (but more on that later).

Now, let’s have a look at Integrated training….

Integrated Flight Training – A summary

Integrated flight training is, in a nutshell, Modular flight training all balled up into one full-time course (You don’t get a PPL, mind). Instead you will do single engine flight training (over 100 hours) followed by some Multi Engine time and then the CPL skills test. You will finish this section with an MEP rating and CPL license.

You will train, full-time, at one FTO (Flight Training Operator). Many FTO’s provide Integrated Courses, and most require the applicant to sit an assessment which is a pre-requisite to beginning training. These assessments will test Hand-Eye co-ordination, maths and physics skills, and will include interviews and/or group assessments as well as simulator tests.

If you pass an FTO’s assessment, you will be offered a place on their course. No previous flying time is required but a trial flight or two is, in my view, vital (to see if you actually enjoy it)! In reality, you’ll find that most will have flown previously.


Make sure you enjoy flying first!

When onto a course, the Integrated route generally starts with ATPL groundschool, where all 14 exams are studied for and sat over a 6 to 8 month period. Following this, trainees will then begin flight training, which is usually done abroad. For example, AFT have a centre in Jordan, CTC have a centre in New Zealand, and OAA have a centre in Phoenix, Arizona. Some Modular providers will also send you abroad for some of your flight training because (1), it’s usually cheaper and (2) there is MUCH BETTER WEATHER.

Following the CPL Skills test, Integrated students will then start the IR course where suddenly, the weather in Blightly is favorable for your training! This will be completed in multi-engine aircraft, and culminates in the IR rating being issued. From there, students go straight on to complete the MCC/JOC.

Many Integrated courses have added extras that can include CV workshops, extra modules (Often covering other areas of aviation, to give students a more broad knowledge of the industry) and foundation degrees. For example, OAA include ‘First Officer Fundamentals’ with their APPFO Integrated course, as well as a Foundation Degree. However, this is not to say that Modular providers don’t give you some extra goodies! ProPilot, a Coventry based ATPL groundschool provider, offer ‘Pilot Development Days’ which aim to provide students with a broader knowledge of the subjects they are studying (often provided by experts in the relevent field).

At the end of both Modular and Integrated training, students will have all of the licenses that make up what us EU bunch call the fATPL (frozen Airline Transport Pilots License). From here, you will be in a position to apply to the airlines, where the fATPL will become ‘unfrozen’ when 1500hours have been flown. Once un-frozen, you are technically able to advance to captaincy. Other avenues can be taken upon gaining an fATPL of course, such as Flight Instruction or Bush Flying.

Possible Course Structures

(CPL/MEP/IR can be completed in any order)              

Modular = PPL > Hour Building > ATPL Theory > (CPL > MEP > IR) > MCC/JOC = fATPL

Integrated (example) = ATPL Theory > Single Engine flying > MEP + CPL > IR > MCC/JOC = fATPL

Some of the differences

This is what causes the majority of debate – what are the differences between the two routes? It’s important to highlight that BOTH will end up with the same licenses (grouped together, and called the fATPL) being awarded, it’s just the way you get there is different.

1) The Price.

 By now, you will know that Integrated courses cost more than their Modular counterparts. Of course, Modular courses vary in price depending on who you train with, where you train, and what extras you may add to your training. It can cost as little as c. £30,000 right up to £70,000. Integrated courses again range in price, but are generally around £80,000. Whichever way you go,  it’s expensive!

2) Added extras

– Integrated courses will tend to have more ‘added extras’ than Modular courses. More than anything else, this is because Integrated courses are full time at one FTO, and extras can be easily integrated into the course. You can always add extras to a modular course of training, such as a degree. This will, of course, involve extra cost and extend the training timeframe.

3) Employment Prospects

– A BIG source of debate. Modular students do get hired by airlines, but it is important that their training is completed at as few FTO’s as is possible. This ensures that the student has some sort of continuity to their training, and airlines like this.

– At a lot of FTO’s, Integrated students will have access to a range of graduate services. The cadet still needs to be pro-active in searching for employment of course, but the FTO will have airline links, and you will likely be placed in a ‘holding pool’ of some kind. As and when required, airlines (who have an agreement with the FTO) will take a number of cadet pilots from the holding pool. The airline recruiters will know the graduate team at the FTO, who will provide them with the number of cadets they require.

– Now, a lot of airlines do seem to take preference to Integrated students, but that does not mean that they will not recruit from the modular route as well. Ryanair, for example, took over 130 pilots from OAA’s Integrated pool in 2012, but I know of a number of modular pilots who also gained employment with the airline in this time. The Integrated students may have had a shorter wait, but it is an example of an airline that looks at both methods. Other airlines that hire low-hour pilots from both routes include Thomson and Flybe.

Here I would like to quote a brilliant article from ProPilot, that explains the employment prospects of both routes:

“…airlines do have a preference for graduates from integrated training courses. There are many reasons for this, not least because the airline is not paying for your training and so does not have to consider the cost involved.”

“Beyond that, many airlines take the view that a full-time course offers a better guarantee of readiness for the big step from a training aircraft to an airliner.”

“The modular route is a perfectly acceptable alternative, provided that you take great care with the selection of your training providers. Airlines might prefer integrated graduates but they also recruit from the modular stream, particularly when there is a shortage of pilots”

This is a brilliant article which is well worth a read. You can find a link (along with others) at the bottom of this post.

So, to sum up, Modular students may not have access to graduate services, but this does not mean that they won’t get hired. It may take them longer, but they may also get hired quicker than an Integrated cadet. At the end of the day, luck is a huge factor

4) Timeframe 

– Integrated is a full-time course, taking you from zero hours to fATPL in around 18 months.The modular route can vary in length, and it is possible to get it done very close to an Integrated timeframe (sometimes called Integrated Modular. Confusing, huh?). However, the reason that many take the modular route is because of it’s flexibility, so the training can be spread out over a few years.

Airbus A380-861 aircraft picture

       We haven’t had a picture for a while…

Positives and Negatives


+ More focused, full-time training

+ All training is done at one FTO, meaning a complete training record is available to airlines

+ Lots of “added extras” included in the course (i.e. foundation degree, CV workshops, modules covering other areas of the industry).

+ Some FTO’s will pay you back if your training ceases (CTC have their bond protection scheme, OAA have SkillsPlus Guarantee).

+ Graduate services and Cadet holding pools. Airlines will approach their partnered FTO’s and take on a number of Integrated cadets as and when required.

+ A lot of airlines take more Integrated than Modular pilots. Some airlines have exclusive agreements with FTO’s, meaning they will only take low-hour pilots from an Integrated source. This does not mean that modular pilots won’t get hired!

– More expensive

– You can’t ‘pay as you go’, license to license. However, you will pay in installments as you train which gives financial security. NEVER, EVER, EVER PAY UP FRONT FOR ANY FLIGHT TRAINING! EVER!

– In tough economic climates, the holding pool will stay fuller for longer.


+ Can work out to be much cheaper

+ You can fit training around other commitments (work, family etc…)

+ Training can be completed to a more ‘Integrated’ timescale (Integrated Modular)

+ You aren’t tied to any particular company

+ ‘Pay as you go’ payment is an option. This gives you more control over funds.

– Training can be less focused

– Takes longer (not necessarily a bad thing, it depends on your situation)

– The vast majority of modular FTO’s don’t have contracts/agreements with airlines, where they will take cadets from a holding pool. However, some modular FTO’s will have links with airlines such as Flybe or Ryanair, who have taken their students in the past.

Where you could train


The main European Integrated providers are FTE Jerez, CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, and CTC Wings. Other FTO’s who offer integrated include Atlantic Flight Training and Pan-Am Academy. Below I have pasted the links where you can contrast and compare the integrated courses offered by each of these academies (there are other Integrated courses available, this is just a selection of the European offering). For the purpose of this post, I have only linked self-sponsored courses. There are sponsored or part sponsored courses available as well, such as the Flybe MPL.

CAE Oxford Aviation Academy (APP First Officer)


CTC Wings Cadet (Part Sponsored)

FTE Jerez (Airline First Officer Program)

PanAm Academy

Atlantic Flight Training


There are a large number of European FTO’s who provide modular training. Some specialize in Flight Training, some in theory training, and some do both! Below are the links to their websites, as well as a couple of UK and US Flight Schools where you could complete your hour building. There are 100’s of places in the US where this can be done, so I have included a couple of examples. CAE Oxford Aviation Academy provide an Integrated Modular course, called Waypoint, which is linked below.

[Flight Training] Aeros

[Flight Training] Multiflight

[Flight Training] Ravenair

[Flight Training] BCFT

[Flight Training and ATPL Theory] CAE Oxford Aviation Academy

[ATPL Theory] ProPilot

[ATPL Theory] Bristol Ground School

[Hour Building] Air America

[Hour Building] flyeasa

[Hour Building] Wycombe Air Centre


So, that’s it. I hope that this post has outlined some of the positives and negatives of both routes, and given you some ideas of where you can train and at what price.

I hope you’ve found this post useful and, if you have, please share it with others who you feel may benefit from it! As a closing statement, I’d just like to give some basic advice that you should keep in mind…

– I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again, NEVER, EVER, EVER PAY UP FRONT FOR ANY FLIGHT TRAINING! EVER! Search ‘Cabair’ to find out why. 

– Do not get sucked in by fancy brochures. You need to visit the FTO’s you are considering, and see what they are all about. Attend open days, contact staff and students and find out everything that you need to know. All the FTO’s I have dealt with are always happy to answer any questions that I have.

– Take a trip to the Flyer Exhibition, where all of the FTO’s mentioned exhibit.

– Take on-board the experiences of others, but also do your own research. You will get very good and very bad stories about each FTO. People are more likely to express negative experiences than positive ones. It’s a big decision to make however, so don’t rush into anything.

– Only train at approved Flight Training Organisations.

– Ask yourself, why is the cheapest training so cheap? Do not be guided by price alone.

Handy Links

ProPilot ‘Integrated vs Modular’ article

CAA Commerical Pilot Training Advice

OAA ‘First Steps’ to pilot training in Europe

GAPAN ‘So you want to be a Pilot’ Guide

Pilot Career News – A brilliant website that provides you with the latest training news.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me! Thank you for reading.

The Final Countdown…

As is the norm with the course, things have been very busy since I last spoke to you after our trip to Luton in October. EZMP01 have now completed the Intermediate phase of training, another huge milestone which means that there is now just one more phase left to complete. More about that in a minute, but first, here is what we got up to during the Intermediate phase…

Some presents from CTC at the start of the Intermediate phase
Day one of A320 tech – Instrument data sources

The phase started off with an eighteen day period of ground school during which we completed the Airbus A320 technical module, which proved to be the most intensive period of theory training since our ATPL ground school. All of the CBT and the aircraft manuals were provided for us on iPads, which certainly cut down on the paperwork because, as I’m sure you can imagine, the A320 is full of complex systems and equipment which we had to know very well for the exams. To do this, in addition to the CBT we had two hours each day to put the theory into practice in CTCs Virtual Flight Decks (VFD), which are fully interactive simulators of the flight deck. The topics covered in the exam ranged from the basic, such as windows/doors, interior furnishing and lighting to the more complex topics of navigation, automation and flight controls. As well as the iPad program, the main source of information was the easyJet/Airbus FCOM (Flight Crew Operating Manual) which, at just over 4000 pages long, certainly contains all that we are required to know about the aircraft!

It took just over two weeks to get through the material, and after a couple of revision days it was time to sit the exam which consisted of two parts, A and B. Part A was made up of the vast amount of technical knowledge, QRH procedures and the various aircraft limitations which we had been learning, whilst part B focused on performance and EU OPS. After completing the second exam we had a classroom session looking at the Panasonic Toughpad, a tablet which EasyJet use to calculate the aircraft performance and display the LIDO airfield charts. It was great to put some of the theory into action on the device we will be using at the airline, and it also prepared us for the start of the intermediate and advanced phases where the ‘Toughbook’ (an older varient of the toughpad) is used to calculate the performance for each simulator detail. Prior to each detail, we are given a completed loadsheet (exactly the same as those used for real), which details the number of passengers and cargo on board and where it is located. We then enter this into the toughbook in order to get various aircraft information including zero fuel weight, % centre of gravity, takeoff weight and takeoff speeds. This information is then checked and entered into the aircrafts FMGC (flight management guidance computer) where it is used by the aircraft to make a huge number of calculations.

The 'Toughpad' which we will use on the line at EasyJet
The ‘Toughpad’ which we will use on the line at EasyJet

In addition to the ground school, we received some excellent news as we finally found out our bases. I’m very happy and excited to be heading to Gatwick in the new year to begin my career at EasyJet!

Ground school made for an intense few weeks, and after a couple of days off the first of our thirteen intermediate simulator sessions began. Despite the intermediate phase being much shorter than basic, the lessons are much more advanced and focus greatly on the handling of complex failures and more advanced procedures in a multi-crew environment. One of the biggest differences is that all of the simulator details from the start of the Intermediate phase are with full motion turned on, which is great fun! The first few lessons focused on getting our landing and takeoff techniques ‘perfected’, including crosswind techniques and different approach types such as circling, precision and non-precision (all of which we had seen previously in the basic phase). We also had another upset recovery session which again enabled us fly the aircraft to it’s absolute limits and get comfortable flying it when things may not be going to plan! As I mentioned in a previous article, the inclusion of upset recovery training followed the crash of Air France 447 in 2009, and it has formed a vital part of our training throughout New Zealand, Bournemouth and back here in the simulators at Nursling. Also introduced in this phase was the use of more complex features of the FMGS (flight management and guidance system), the use of LIDO airport charts, and more advanced operating conditions such as windshear, cold weather, storms and low visibility operations. A number of new situations, such as TCAS RA’s ( Traffic Avoidance System, Resolution Advisory – the act of avoiding another aircraft on a collision course with yours!!!) and even what to do if you suspect a bomb on board were introduced, which not only involved a good amount of hand flying but a huge step up in our management and decision making skills.

Working out the performance for a sim detail using the Toughbook

Each phase on the MPL culminates with a competency assurance flight, and the intermediate phase was no different. This time around, the competency flight involved a TCAS RA on departure, an electrical fault in the climb and, just as we thought things couldn’t get any worse, a ‘bomb on board’ threat, giving us a matter of minutes decide where we were going to divert to and how we were going to manage the situation. It was a challenging and, despite the seriousness of the topic, fun flight which really required us to prioritize and manage the situation for a successful outcome.

Due to our staggered start dates at EasyJet, from here on in EZMP01 are split into two groups for the advanced phase. I am in the first half and started earlier this week, and with three simulator sessions done it is becoming apparent just how close the end of the course is! My LST (license skills test) is just four weeks away and the lesson content has definitely stepped up once again compared with the intermediate phase. Again, the majority of the lessons involve a various number of failures and emergency situations which have already included a full electrical failure at V1 (a ‘GO’ situation, meaning you must take the problem into the air) and other varying electrical failures. We have twelve simulator details to complete before Christmas after which we return in groups of two for our final four simulator details. Two of these are the final preparation lessons for our LST (license skills test), which takes place over the following two simulator details and includes a lot of single engine flying, as well as precision and non precision approaches, raw data flying, ECAM procedures (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring, a feature which displays vital actions and system information in emergency situations) and much more. It is after this two day flight test that, thinking positively, we will finally be qualified pilots and the course at CTC will come to an end after an incredible eighteen months. Following this, we have a couple of weeks before starting our training at easyJet which involves a couple of weeks of ground training, two days of flights on the jumpseat and the all important base and line training. It’s all suddenly becoming very real, and we are all extremely excited.

The events hall filling up

Away from training itself there has also been a lot going on. Recently a number of us took a trip to Gatwick to check out the local area and look at places where we could live next year. It was a busy day, but in true cadet fashion we took a bit of time to head to the runway threshold to get a look at our new toys coming in to land. With the sun setting, it made for a breathtaking view. Yesterday was also CTCs last 2014 open day, so myself and a coursemate decided to help out for the day. It was great to speak to so many aspiring pilots and their families, and I hope that those who came managed to get a good feel for the facilities and have any questions answered. I really enjoy helping out at these events, and it’s something I hope to continue doing in the future. For those who missed it, CTC will be running open days once monthly starting in January, so there are plenty of chances to head down and check out the training centre. You can find out the latest dates over at the website (details will be added soon).

As usual, if anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me using the ‘contact me’ menu option. With this vital training phase approaching, there won’t be many updates on the website over the next few weeks so have a great Christmas, and I will speak to you all again in January!

Our aviation themed tree. Merry Christmas!

EasyJet Luton visit

During our three week break between the basic and intermediate phases, EZMP01 had an exciting opportunity to spend two days at the EasyJet headquarters at London Luton airport to help increase our commercial awareness and teach us more about the airline. The visit had been scheduled to happen this month since we began the course last year, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! We drove down on Monday morning and after battling with the hideous traffic on the M1, we arrived at the ‘EasyJet Academy’ for a 9am start. The academy is based on site at Luton just around the corner from the airline headquarters (known as ‘Hangar 89’) and is used for various meetings, interviews, and the training of new recruits and current employees. It features a number of classrooms (named ‘Gate 1’ on-wards), as well as training equipment including a full mock-up fuselage used for smoke training and a door and emergency escape slide training rig. After meeting up with our liaison pilots who we have known since day one of the course, we had a quick presentation on EasyJet before collecting our air-side passes to gain access to the ramp area.

The waiting area at Hangar 89, featuring EasyJets new Recaro seats
Two of the aircraft on the ramp

After catching the bus to the terminal, we began our tour of hangar 89 with a look at the Luton Crew Room. This is where crew (both pilots and cabin crew) meet and prepare for their flights, so we were taken through how to access the EasyJet system and retrieve a flight plan which we then ran through in detail (for a flight from Luton to Amsterdam). The flight plan was much more substantial than I expected and was made up of information on the route, fuel and timing, NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen), weather and accurate winds, as well as a map of the route. Pilots will print off the flight plans for all of their flights that day and return them at the end of the day when the flights are complete. We also spoke to some pilots who were discussing their flight to Amsterdam, and had a talk with the base captain about what we can expect during our first year at the airline.  The crew room also contained the crew lounge, where we were told that the dreaded airport standby takes place! After a decent lunch at Hanger 89, arguably the most exciting part of the day began… the aircraft visit! Upon clearing security, we were swiftly transported to G-EZUN, an A319 that had just returned from Amsterdam and that was due to be out of use for the remainder of the day. However, it’s not always plain sailing in the airline world, and following a bird strike on another aircraft, UN was quickly enlisted to pick up the service to Lisbon. Despite this, we still had time to have a good look around the aircraft before the crew arrived to prepare for the flight. We each had a sit down and tour of the flight-deck, and due to us completing our basic phase in the A320 simulator it all seemed very familiar indeed! We had a good look around the rest of the aircraft, before being shown the pre-flight walkaround (a visual check of the aircraft) by the first officer who himself finished CTC last year. It is great to see so many CTC cadets now working at the airline!

G-EZUN flight deck
G-EZUN rear galley
The standard engine pod picture!

After finishing off our tour of the A319, it was soon time for us to return to Hangar 89 for a tour of the OCC (Operations Control Centre), which is essentially the hub of the entire operation. It is here that schedules are formed, crew rosters are made, flight plans are created and, crucially, where the entire network is monitored and controlled from. There are support staff at a number of ‘pods’ covering each base on the network, and they are at the end of the phone to sort out any issues that may arise throughout the day. A number of tools are used to monitor aircraft en-route and on the ground and if, for example, an aircraft diverts, the team in the OCC will be planning what needs to happen next even before the aircraft has landed (i.e. organising coaches to transport passengers to their original destination). Although everyone was hard at work, the team made time to show us a number of key elements that make up the OCC. We were shown how flight plans are made, how aircraft are positioned and flights scheduled to account for delays, and how aircraft technicalities are dealt with. Interestingly, we were able to see how the birdstrike earlier in the day had affected the flying schedule and the actions that OCC had put in place to mitigate any delays. It was so interesting to see the OCC, as it was our first insight into what really makes the company tick. I for one had no idea just how much goes on behind the scenes to get the passengers to where they need to be! We finished the day by returning to the academy and checking into our hotel, before meeting for a meal at a local restaurant. We were joined by our liaison pilots, and it was great to talk about the company and the career over dinner. The second day started at 9am and included two main presentations; the first looking at the financial side of the airline, and the second focusing on the route structure and ticket pricing. We looked in depth at the financial make-up of the company and exactly where the airline makes (and spends) it’s money, as well as looking at how tickets are priced, how new routes are chosen and how the airline ensures routes are profit-making whilst still delivering fantastic value to customers. The presentations were hugely beneficial and I learnt a lot about how the airline operates and how decisions are made within the business. These talks are usually only given when you receive recurrent training, so to receive such interesting and relevant information on the business side of the operation before we have even started is a huge advantage which definitely helps our commercial awareness. During the day, we were also presented with our new epaulettes featuring our first ‘bar’, signifying the end of the basic phase of the MPL course. As you can see below, these epaulettes have been updated with the new brand identity of CTC!

OCC – the hub of the entire airline!
One of the fleet getting serviced below in the hangar

As I’m sure you can see from my ramblings above, the visit was hugely enjoyable and if it is even possible, I am now more excited than ever to start working for the airline in January! Everyone we met seemed so passionate about the airline, and there is a real sense of community and teamwork. For example, it was great to hear that Carolyn McCall herself (who we saw both at the hangar and the academy) helps the crew clean the aircraft during the short turnarounds when she is onboard. The trip has not just taught me more about the airline itself but also the industry as a whole, in particular on the business and financial side of things. I’d like to say a big thanks to our liaison pilots Simon and Mark, as well as all the staff at EasyJet and CTC who made the trip happen! Funnily enough, the next time we will visit Luton will be for our airline induction in mid-January, so we really are onto the final straight now. From next week, we will be at the beginning of our Intermediate phase which starts with our A320 technical ground school (which means it’s time to hit the books again!). Following this, there are just 28 more simulator sessions before our license skills test.

The end is well and truly in sight. Thank you for reading, speak to you again in a few weeks!

Out with the old, in with the new. Another step closer!