The Modular route
Tailored training for every step of your career in aviation.
Phase 1: Initial
The first step to becoming a professional pilot is to gain a Private Pilot’s licence (PPL). You will learn the basic concepts of how to operate an aircraft, navigate through the skies and communicate with air traffic control. These are skills which you will use throughout your career. There are two PPL courses available but for a career in aviation the only choice is the PPL(A). The course consists of a minimum of 45 hours and also includes 9 theoretical exams. There are no major pre-entry requirements although you will need a class 2 medical before you fly on your own.
Phase 2: Experience
Once you have gained your PPL it is time to put your skills to use. This is where you can expand on what you have learnt and build your flying ability and confidence. You will need 150 hours flying time before you can start your commercial flight training.
It is a good idea to use this time to try and improve on the skills that you have learnt during your PPL. There are numerous courses that can be added to your PPL to expand your knowledge such as the night rating or Restricted Instrument Rating (IR(R)). You should also try to move out of your comfort zone, such as flying to airports you have never flown to before. It’s a good idea to try to fly with some fellow pilots. This is a good way to meet people with a common interest plus you will find that you both learn a lot from watching and helping each other in the cockpit.
Whilst you are hour building you will also need to study for your ATPL theoretical examinations and at some point obtain a Class One medical.
Many aspiring commercial pilots often aim to do their hour building the cheapest possible way, and end up simply fly around the local area. The problem with this is you aren't gaining what you need. Experience.
Our structured hour building course consists of 70 hours of solo flights with objectives to fulfil along with 20 hours of instruction to keep you on track and building valuable skills ready for your commercial training courses.
During your hour building you will need to also complete you night rating to allow you to fly in the dark.
Your hour building is an excellent chance to gain additional ratings that will give you a head start with your commercial training.
The IR(R) course will give you the confidence to fly when the weather is perhaps less than ideal. It is also a perfect course to complete during your commercial hour building to prepare you for your instrument rating and refine your general handling and flying accuracy.
The other major benefit of the IR(R) is that it allows you to reduce the length of the CPL course by 10 hours, giving quite a substantial saving.
THEORY EXAMS & MEDICAL
Whilst you are building your hours and experience up you should be studying for your ATPL theoretical examinations. There are 13 examinations which need to all be passed before you start your commercial flight training. Studying for these exams takes between 12 and 24 months to complete by distance learning or 7 months on a residential course.
Westair currently does not offer the ATPL Theoretical Knowledge course but we are happy to recommend a number of schools to you.
You will also need to gain a Class One medical before completing you CPL. It's normally better to do this sooner rather than later.
Phase 3: Commercial
Once you have completed your hour building requirements and ATPL examinations you can begin the Commercial Flight Training.
The CPL is the main element. There are a number of different options for how to do the Commercial Training and in what order. At Westair we encourage people to do their CPL first as it is flown in a very similar way to the PPL; under visual flight rules but to a higher standard.
We also encourage people to a Multi-Engine Piston rating first followed by the CPL on a twin engine aircraft. This has a number of benefits. This enables you to combine the test for the MEP and CPL together. This not only saves money but also reduces the stress. It means that by the time you do your ME CPL test you will have twice the experience flying twin engine aircraft than you would have done when taking the MEP test.
The other benefit is that it allows you to get to grips with the systems, handling and performance of a twin engine aircraft early on. Completing the Instrument Rating on a twin engine aircraft with minimal experience is extremely challenging and we believe in giving our candidates all the help they can get.
GLASS COCKPIT CONVERSION
A substantial amount of the Commercial Flight Training is done in our Diamond aircraft. These are modern aircraft with complex avionics systems including a 2 axis autopilot and Garmin G1000.
These are fantastic, modern aircraft that can really assist a pilot however they need to understand the systems well. Westair offers a short introductory course to get familiar with the systems of the aircraft before beginning the commercial flight training.
This course is entirely optional, particularly if you already have experience on glass cockpit aircraft however it is strongly recommended.
MULTI ENGINE PISTON RATING
The multi engine rating is a short course that teaches you how to operate an aircraft with more than one engine. These aircraft are larger and faster so therefore more difficult to fly. A large focus of the course is engine failure scenarios.
Westair suggests doing the MEP course prior to the CPL so that it can contribute to the hour building phase. It also means that you can complete the CPL in an MEP and combine the CPL and MEP skill tests.
COMMERCIAL PILOT LICENCE CPL(A)
The Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is the first official flight training course on the road to becoming a professional pilot. The primary aim of the course is ensure that you can fly an aircraft to professional and commercial standards. You will also be flying a faster aircraft with more complex systems.
The course is primarily undertaken in visual conditions. It is for this reason that we suggest completing this course prior to the Instrument Rating. Many pilots that opt to do the instrument rating first find the learning curve incredibly steep and struggle to revert back to visual flying when doing the CPL course.
Phase 4: Instrument
The final phase in our opinion is learning to fly an aircraft by sole reference to the instruments. By this point it is very likely that you will have done a small amount of instrument flying or even completed the IR(R) this course is significantly more in depth.
The Instrument Rating (IR) is the largest aspect of your commercial flight training. You will learn how to operate an aircraft almost exclusively by reference to the instruments. It’s the longest and certainly the most challenging course.
Technically it can be completed during the Experience phase. On paper this may look cheaper however the learning curve is incredibly steep. This can cause candidates to struggle with the test meaning further training may be required which makes it more expensive in the long run. It is for this reason that we suggest candidates complete the IR after completing the CPL.
Furthermore, if you have already got experience flying on instruments then you can reduce the hours required by completing a Competency Based Instrument Rating.
APS MCC/ MCC & JOC
The final element of your flight training is the Multi-crew cooperation course. This course focuses less on the flying skill and more on working with another crew member. This is often combined with a Jet Orientation Course (JOC) which looks at the systems and handling of a large commercial passenger airliner. The newer APS (Airline Pilot Standards) MCC is more expensive but more in depth.
This course is technically optional to gain a commercial job on a single pilot operation such as a flight instructor or certain charter operations. It is however needed to fly a multi pilot aircraft. Westair currently does not offer the MCC course.