Top Flying Schools abroad for pilot training courses

Want to know the best Commercial Pilot License (CPL) institutes abroad? This article helps you discover details of the top flying academies in the world. Find particulars of the courses offered, eligibility criteria and admission procedure, and contact information of the academies.

'What did you want to be when you grow up?' I remember being asked that question a zillion times, as may have you. Our childhood dreams transport us into fantasy worlds where we turn into doctors and teachers and astronauts and football players. It is not always possible to live those dreams; most of us lose sight of what we want(ed) to be and become whatever life offers us.

What if it were possible to turn those childhood dreams into a reality? What if you could carve your future? It is possible with the aviation industry – your desire of becoming a pilot can become a reality. I'll help you explore the most viable options for training for a commercial pilot license, in a flight school overseas.

In my recent article I covered the course details of commercial pilot training in Canada. It provides an insight into the basics of flight training programmes abroad. This piece covers more detailed and in-depth information for those wanting to earn a commercial pilot license, in addition to suggesting the best pilot training institutes across the world.

Do you have it in you to be a pilot

Flying may look easy, but it is physically and mentally exhausting. Pilots go through a lot of stress and work under challenging conditions, which often harm their physical wellbeing. That is precisely why a special discipline of medicine exists. Did you know that the Institute of Aerospace Medicine conducts a PG programme in Aerospace Medicine?

What does it cost to become a pilot

Without getting into actual figures, I'd say that it does cost big money. The cost depends primarily on the flight training centres and the countries they are in. Other factors, such as the cost of the visa fee, living expenses and of course the training fee etc., decide the final cost. However, you will be able to recover the money spent on the training, within the first couple of years of your job. Commercial pilots earn very attractive salaries, going into a few lakhs per month.

What is the qualification criterion

Flying institutes across the globe require aspirants to have studied maths and physics at the senior school level (class 12) and possess a fairly good knowledge of the English language.

On completion of basic flying training, candidates can apply for a Private Pilot License (PPL) that qualifies them to fly solo, single-engine planes. Following which they are eligible for the Commercial Pilot License (CPL) or the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), for bigger aircraft.

Do you meet the medical requirement

The medical requirement for pilots is quite stringent, and you'll be able to begin the training, only if you are physically fit. Students seeking a PPL will need a class 3 medical test, while those applying for CPL/ATPL will require a class 1 medical tests. The test consists of a series of evaluations, including eyesight and hearing, a coordination test and a complete medical checkup.

The eye test includes the Farnsworth Lantern Test (FALANT test) or the Pseudoisochromatic Plates Colour Test (PIP colour vision test). The test involves the identification of different letters and shapes. Excellent eyesight (20/20 vision) is an absolute necessity for pilots, other than that; they must display good hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.

Skillsets required

Pilots need to handle emergencies with deftness and extreme calm. Quick thinking and decision making skills are what makes good pilots. Besides, you'll need to improve your communication skills, leadership qualities and teamwork skills.

As a pilot, you'll be responsible for everyone on board, the passengers and the crew, and the flying machine. Flight instructors often remind aspiring pilots of Wilbur Wright's famous quote, 'It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill'. That is the kind of astuteness required from a pilot.

Why choose an international aviation school

The first reason is exposure. Getting your flying lessons abroad allows you to assimilate more than the flying lessons. No doubt, flying lessons in flight schools abroad are expensive, but they are a better choice for logging flying hours quickly. What takes a year in an overseas flying institute can sometimes stretch to 2 years in India.

I've compiled a list of the top flying schools abroad that you can consider for a pilot training programme. Here is the list, in no particular order –

PAN AM International Flight Academy

The PAN AM International Flight Academy is part of the PAN AM American World Airways. The academy's first flight school became operational in 1980, in Miami, Florida.

Today, it is recognised as a leading flight training academy, with centres in the United Kingdom, Tokyo, Thailand, Las Vegas, Kissimmee, and Miami. It boasts of being in the business of airline training, for more number of years than any other similar institution.

The academy offers the following courses for aspiring pilots:
  • Professional Pilot Programme
  • Private Pilot Course
  • Certified Flight Instructor

The academy has state-of-the-art training centres, with the latest gadgets and special flight planning and conference rooms. The Kissimmee centre, for instance, has two paved runways, of 5,000 and 6,000 feet. Students get to practice in high-tech single and multi-engine simulators. Accommodation is available for international students.

Indian students will require a student visa for the flight training course in the US. This article on how to apply for student visa for USA will guide you on the procedures. You may also be required to attend an interview, so here's another article that offers tips on preparing for the visa interview.

For more information on the academy check their website: PAN AM International Flight Academy.

FlightSafety Academy

The FlightSafety Academy boasts of training pilots and other aviation professionals from 167 nations and independent territories, each year. Currently, the academy has training centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada, and China. It is among the most respected training academies in the world.

Training sessions are carried out in aviation-centred settings, with the best flight simulators and visual systems. FlightSafety Academy owns over 70 single-engine and multi-engine airplanes, which are used solely for training purpose.

Their website has a special page for international students, covering course details, fee structure and visa guidance.

CAE Oxford Aviation Academy

The CAE has more than 50 training institutions spread across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Africa/Middle East. The academy has earned the distinction of being the largest civil aviation training network in the world. Over 12 lakh pilots are trained in its aviation training centres each year. And, nearly 1500 new pilots earn their wings, under the guidance of a strong team, comprising of more than 2,000 skillful professional instructors. The flight academy has fully-equipped flight training centres, with over 250 full-flight simulators, 200 plus aircraft for a perfect training experience.

CAE offers training for the following license type:
  • ATPL
  • CPL
  • MPL

It also runs a special scholarship programme called the CAE Women in Flight Scholarship Program. Check the official website for details pertaining to the Pilot Training Programmes offered by CAE.

Singapore Flying College

The Singapore Flying College is a well-established flying school, in operation since 1988. The college boasts of a fleet of Garmin EFIS-equipped C172GA aeroplanes and a few standard Cessna 172 Rs. The college uses the Cessna 172s, exclusively for ab-initio training purpose.

The flying school also has sophisticated training devices for simulated instrument flying purpose. Students at the flying college get to practice on the EFIS-equipped flight simulator and in the twin-engine Frasca G 242 and single-engine Frasca G 142. The school offers the Commercial Pilot License with Multi-engine Instrument Rating and Frozen Airline Transport Pilot License programme.

All ground training classes are carried out in Singapore, at the SIA training centre, and the flight training takes place exclusively in Western Australia's Jandakot region. Students can pay the fees in five instalments, during the course of the training.

Candidates can get more information on the flying school's website.

Important update

Interested candidates are advised to check the official website of each flying academy, before enrolling into a programme. For most flying academies the course intake begins in February, each year. Minimum educational qualification is 10+2, with maths and science. Candidates must be proficient in English.

The fee structure is different for each course and has to be paid directly to the institution. Applications must be submitted online, on the flying schools' official websites. You may also contact the schools for any queries that you may have.

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