Continuing on from Part 1 of our “How to Become a Pilot” Guide, let’s go over what the actual training to become a pilot is like and the type of aircraft you will be flying in training.
The training process to become a pilot can be split into two major portions: Ground School and Flight Training.
Simply put, Ground School is classroom-based training often done as a group, with other students, that teaches the knowledge and theory necessary to become a pilot.
Ground School is led by Transport Canada approved Ground School Instructors and teaches a variety of subjects, including:
(i) Canadian Aviation Regulations,
(ii) Aerodynamics and Theory of Flight,
(iv) Airframes, Engines and Systems,
(v) Flight Instruments,
(vi) Radio and Electronic Theory,
(viii) Flight Operations,
(ix) Licensing Requirements, and
(x) Human Factors, including pilot decision-making
Transport Canada also requires a minimum of 40 hours of Ground School for Private Pilot License Applicants and an additional 80 hours of Ground School for Commercial Pilot License Applicants. However, most flight schools will exceed these minimum hours of training to better prepare students for their written exams.
Prior to applying for their license, students must write the Transport Canada Written Exams: the PPAER for the Private Pilot’s License and the CPAER for the Commercial Pilot’s License.
In order to receive their license, students must achieve an exam grade of 60% or higher in each subject area.
The Flight Training portion of getting your pilot’s license is where the fun really begins. Students will receive one-on-one training in an actual aircraft with Transport Canada licensed Flight Instructors. All flights will begin with Pre-Flight Checks, which involve:
- A safety walk-around of the aircraft
- Checking the weather to ensure safe operations
- Flight Planning
- Calculating for Weight and Balance
- Calculating Take-Off and Landing distances
- Checking the documentation of the aircraft
- Filling out a Daily Flight Record at the school
It sounds like a lot to do, but safety is always the most important concern in Aviation! It’s important that these checks are done to ensure the flying lessons go smoothly. The instructor will be able to guide you through each of these steps until you are comfortable completing them on your own. The first few times these checks are done, you will struggle and take a long time. However, by the time you are ready for your first solo, you will have these checks down pat!
Once these checks are done, your instructor will give you a Pre-Flight Briefing. This briefing will go over the goals of the flight, such as the flight exercises the instructor wants to practice, and what standard the instructor wants you to achieve by the end of the flight. The briefing will also outline the delegation of duties in flight, such as radio work, navigation and flying. Finally, the briefing will address safety and pilot decision making issues applicable to the planned flight.
With the Pre-Flight Checks and Pre-Flight Briefing complete, we are finally ready to take to the skies! All training aircraft will be equipped with dual controls so both the instructor and student will be able to fully control the aircraft from their seats. In the first few flights, the instructor will take care of most of the flight responsibilities, including engine run-up, radio work, airport procedures, and navigation to and from the practice area. This allows students to get a feel for the aircraft without being overloaded by all the complexities of flying all at once. The instructor will demonstrate the flight exercise that was briefed on the ground, giving the student a chance to practice, and will provide some feedback as required. Before the lesson ends, the instructor will give a demonstration of the flight exercise planned for the next lesson, giving the student an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for the next flight.
After the flight, the instructor will give a Post-Flight Debriefing. This serves to review the lesson with the student to ensure proper understanding, provide feedback on the student’s performance and address any questions that the student may have from the flight. The Daily Flight Record, the Aircraft Journey Logbook, the student’s Pilot Logbook and Pilot Training Record (PTR) will be filled out to record the hours flown.
Let’s talk about each of the logbooks and the purpose they serve:
- Aircraft Journey Logbook – This records the Flight Time (Engine-On to Engine-Off) as well as the Air Time (Wheels Up to Wheels Down) of the aircraft each flight. This is important for keeping track of who flew the aircraft and how many hours were flown for maintenance, billing and reporting purposes.
- Pilot Logbook – Each pilot (and student pilot) will carry a personal Logbook to keep track of their flying hours along with other details, such as: type of aircraft flown, destinations flown to, and whether they flew as a student or pilot-in-command. This will be very important when applying for pilot jobs that demand number of flight hours or specific types of experience.
- Pilot Training Record – Often referred to as the PTR, this is a record of the student’s training progress, exercises completed, and flight experience. The instructor will also leave notes and feedback after each lesson in the PTR for the student to review. The PTR will be submitted to Transport Canada at the end of the student’s flight training along with the license application.
The PTR will also specify all the exercises that each student must complete before they can apply for their Pilot License.
When reviewing a student’s application for a license, Transport Canada will check the PTR to ensure that they have the required number of hours of flight experience. They will also make sure that the student has received Familiarization, Preparatory Ground Instruction, Dual Instruction and Solo Practice in all 30 flight exercises listed in the PTR.
When you do your flight training with Solomon College, the two aircrafts you will primarily be flying will be the Cessna 172 Skyhawk and the Piper PA-44 Seminole.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Built by the Cessna Aircraft Company since 1956, the Cessna 172 (C172) has been the most successful aircraft in history (Wikipedia). Its forgiving flight characteristics, rugged reliability, easy availability of parts and sheer popularity has made it a staple of flight schools throughout the world. It is not uncommon to see planes from the 1970s still being operated by flight schools or in the hands of private owners even today. Most pilots have logged plenty of experience with the four-seat C172 or its two-seat variant, the C152.
Since 1956, Cessna has continued to evolve the C172 to improve its performance, safety and avionics. The latest version of the C172 is the S model. These variants are equipped with a more powerful Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine, which improves the aircraft’s performance and maximum take-off weight. Furthermore, our fleet of C172S are equipped with a sophisticated “Glass Cockpit” style Garmin G1000 integrated flight instrument system, a vast improvement over the older style “steam gauges” of older C172 aircrafts.
With many airlines and flight operators switching over to advanced “glass cockpit” avionics, training with G1000 equipped C172S will help students transition to a modern operator with greater ease.
Piper PA-44 Seminole
Built by Piper Aircraft the PA-44 Seminole was designed as a light twin-engined trainer which serves as an effective gateway to complex multi-engine aircrafts. The two Lycoming O-360-E1A6D engines are similar to the ones found in our C172S aircraft, and the Seminole’s light weight and low Minimum Controllable Airspeed (Vmc) makes it an ideal training platform for practicing engine-out emergency scenarios.
Our Seminole is also equipped with an updated Garmin G500 Avionics panel with full IFR capabilities. Students who have trained on our G1000-equipped C172s will find themselves immediately at home with the avionics setup.
This concludes Part 2 of our “How to Become a Pilot” guide. In the next part, we will discuss some of the career options that a new Commercial Pilot can explore and answer some commonly asked questions about flight training. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 if you missed it!
If you are ready to make your passion for Aviation a reality, apply to our Aviation Diploma Program and make your dreams come true today!