Student Pilot Mickey Wu travelled from Taiwan to Melbourne to learn how to fly. He returned home to Taipei having completed a CPL, MECIR, Multi-Engine Class Rating, and 5 ATPL exams. In his third journal instalment, Mickey talks about finding the right attitude for straight and level flying, and teaching his mum how to fly using a simulator!
Written on January 15th, 2021
Let’s bring the storyline back to the current day. Well, current at the time of writing. January 2021 in Taipei, Taiwan.
I bought a used set of Logitech controls and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. I wanted to stay sharp. The practice was alright, but without expecting to do so, I actually ended up teaching my Mum how to fly. I found that teaching someone how to fly is not an easy task. The reaction of the aircraft after each input has become second nature to me, but it’s not like that for those who are just starting to learn.
Me: “Mum, this is not straight and level flying. Are you going up or down?”
Me: “Good. So do you push the control or do you pull to fix it?”
Me: “Okay, let’s see what will happen.”
Mum (five seconds later): “Hey Mickey, the houses are getting bigger and bigger really quick!!!”
Me: “Tell me about it.”
Warning on the screen two seconds later: “You just damaged your landing gear.”
Just the landing gear?! Wow, that is forgiving!
My instructor once said that sometimes you have to let go and let the learner see the consequence of his or her action or inaction. Obviously, they didn’t let me learn this in a real aircraft, and so my landing gear (and the houses) were safe!
But it’s interesting to see that the way my Mum and I learn things is so similar. Like mother like son. But I have faith in her. My goal is to take her to her first solo on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. I give it two months. Challenge accepted!
The Right Attitude
Written on January 17th, 2021
The “attitude” of an aircraft is an abstract idea to me. It can look like it is straightforward on the aircraft’s artificial horizon, but in terms of the real visible horizon, it’s quite intangible. But it’s obviously very important when learning how to fly, especially for straight and level flying.
LTF Instructor Shannon taught me to judge the attitude with the position of the visible horizon in relation to the dashboard. For instance, on a cruise climb in a Sling 2 we position the horizon on the dashboard. To climb at Vy (the abbreviation for the best rate of climb), the horizon goes through the top of the PFD (Primary Flight Display). And to climb at Vx (the abbreviation for the best angle of climb), the horizon cuts through the middle of the PFD.
It may sound weird, but it works quite well. And for straight and level flying, we put four fingers on the dashboard and the visible horizon stays at the top finger. For a cruise descend, we put five fingers instead. Last but not least, for an approach, we use a “half-land-half-sky” attitude. Of course, we have to adjust the power setting accordingly.
It’s hard to judge the attitude at the beginning when you’re learning how to fly, for straight and level flying and for climbing and ascending. I even had doubts about the whole idea, considering that my visual perspective is different from that of Shannon’s. In addition to that, my four-finger attitude is not the same as that of LTF Instructor Alexey (Alexey is very tall and has huge hands).
But the key is to have a mental snapshot when your instructor says, “OK, this is the straight and level flying attitude.” Memorise what this attitude looks like from your perspective, and set it that way next time you need it. Trust me. It works!
We would like to thank Mickey for contributing these journals on learning how to fly in Melbourne. Stay tuned for the next journal entry!
Student Pilot Mickey Wu travelled from Taiwan to learn to fly with a Melbourne flight school. He has now returned home after completing his CPL, MECIR, Multi-Engine Class Rating, as well as 5 ATPL exams. Mickey is sharing his flight training experiences with us in a series of journals.
Hidden Tiger, Crouching Dragon
Written on January 1st, 2021
Learn To Fly, my Melbourne flight school, is a place full of so much talent. The Flight Instructors are the ones who set up the framework and foundation. And sometimes it is my classmates that inspire me and help to build my own character.
My classmate Terry is an exceptional pilot. He flew the Sling 2 and converted to a Diamond DA40 later on. He is very devoted, and creates his own system to take in and digest the knowledge from the textbooks. Terry also takes flash cards with him everywhere he goes, so he can review VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions) requirements or air laws whenever he wants.
His notes on airspeeds and the use of the CR-3 (Jeppesen CR-3 Flight Computer) are so concise and accurate. I wish I had taken a screenshot of it. I admire the way he answers his Flight Instructor’s questions. He can quote the rules in the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) with the right reference, not missing a single word. And when he says it, he beams with confidence.
Brandon is another hero. He has flown the Cessna 172 all the way from the beginning. I would say Brandon is a born pilot. There were more than six months that he wasn’t able to fly, when pilots were unable to attend their Melbourne flight school due to the coronavirus lockdown. But once he came back, he flew as if he had never been away.
Preparing for a flight is not an easy task. Measuring distance and track, checking the weather, drafting a fuel plan, submitting the flight plan… you name it. What makes Brandon incredible is that he has three jobs to support himself flying. And he makes it all work. Every time when I felt lazy, I thought of Brandon. And that helped me to pull myself together and do what had to be done.
Terry is the best advocate for practice makes perfect, and Brandon’s story always motivates me to keep going at the right pace. I never tell them, but to me, they are the tiger and dragon.
You Have To Leave Something Behind To Move Forward
Written on January 4th, 2021
At certain points of life, you may feel that the burden on your shoulders is so heavy that you cannot breathe. The pressure from your workload keeps you awake at night and makes you reluctant to get up in the morning. But then it is time to hop in a Sling 2 and go for a spin. Well, not really a spin.
The Sling 2, designed and built by Sling Aircraft, is a one-of-a-kind aeroplane. It’s like a sports car in the sky, light and agile. The real-time response to the control inputs builds confidence in the pilot. It’s like an iPhone 5, sharp and smart. The intuitive touch screen interface integrates all the information you need. The exchange of information between the aircraft and the pilot is so instant, it’s as if the pilot were the brain and the aircraft were the extension of his or her body. At 55 knots, slightly faster than what you usually do on the M1 highway, you can defy gravity and take to the sky.
With a Melbourne flight school, you don’t even have to fly far to enjoy the experience of flying. A trip from Moorabbin Airport to Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula to see the shimmering water of Port Phillip Bay is just as good as an orbit around Melbourne’s CBD to feel the vibe of the city from above.
The point is, once airborne, you feel that the worries that have been occupying your mind are left in oblivion far behind. The pressure that was suffocating you becomes so trivial, far below. And that is the magic of flying, because you can savour the purity of the blue sky, and all your troubles are left on the ground.
It’s Just Like Making A Cup Of Coffee
Written on January 6, 2021
“Once airborne, you feel that the worries that have been occupying your mind are left in oblivion far behind.”
That was what I wanted to say about flying. And, well, that is partly true. The fact is, there were moments when I found myself so task-saturated that I actually didn’t have time to worry or even think about anything else.
Shannon helped me to overcome this ‘tunnel vision’ mindset. One day when we were flying back towards Moorabbin Airport, he asked me:
“Mickey, who is your favourite athlete?”
I replied “Lewis Hamilton” without even thinking.
I was so immersed in the pre-landing checks that my brain didn’t actually have time to think about anything else. Shannon took over control, and said:
“I think that you can see the mindset that you need to have when flying in some professional athletes. They are very calm when they play, but you can tell they are still thinking. You can tell from looking at their eyes. They play with their brain. Good pilots are no different.”
He then explained that if we visualize and actually think through the situations we might experience before the flight has even started, then we can focus on more things during the flight.
That problem had been haunting me for a long time. It was not until a couple of months later that I fully realised this philosophy. I was coming inbound from Brighton, and I was thinking about how stunning the beach was. I was also on top of everything else I needed to think about in the plane. It was at this point that I actually started to reap the fun of flying.
Learning how to fly is like making a nice cup of coffee. It takes some skill and some pressure to make the crème, and it takes some time to get the grind and drip right. But it is worth the wait, and when done properly, it tastes delicious!
We would like to thank Mickey for contributing these journals on learning how to fly in Melbourne. Stay tuned for the next journal entry!
Taiwanese student pilot Mickey Wu has just returned home after an amazing experience training with us at Learn To Fly. Mickey’s achievements are inspirational to other pilots. His time in Melbourne was affected by a COVID19 lockdown that meant he couldn’t fly for 3 months, however he still managed to complete his Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), Multi-Engine Class Rating, Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR), and 5 Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) theory exams. Mickey has been kind enough to share his experiences in a student pilot journal series. In part 1, he talks about starting flight training in Melbourne.
Tap the Brakes, Positive Rate, Gears Up
Written on December 30, 2020
Light shower of rain, 11°C. In other words, a typical winter day in Taipei, Taiwan. Now I am sitting in front of the window, staring off towards the south in the distance, as if Moorabbin Airport were right there behind the overcast clouds. I can see Carrum, and I can see runway 35L. There is the windsock by the northern run-up bay, and I see the Diamond DA40s parked on the apron. It was an amazing year of flight training in Melbourne – I think I miss the sky there already.
There were frustrating moments for sure, like having trouble with radio calls or actually getting lost during lost procedures. Sometimes I even sat in my car for hours, thinking I would never make it. But my Flight Instructors always said, “don’t worry – we’ll get you there”, and that is all you need to hear when you have days like this.
Bob Tait (one of the most respected authorities for aviation theory) says long-term memories are subject to errors. Sorry Bob, but I beg to differ. I’ll say, these memories are vividly engraved in my mind, and just like a good wine, they taste even sweeter afterwards.
This is my adventure starting flight training in Melbourne with Learn To Fly at Moorabbin Airport. It is the adventure of an ordinary guy with an extraordinary dream. So, fasten your seatbelt. Tap the brakes. Positive rate. Gears up.
On my first day of flight training in Melbourne, I met my first Flight Instructor, Shannon. Shannon is a composed and knowledgeable pilot. On the first day of flight school, he showed me how to read the weather forecast. I loved the way he put together bits and pieces of weather information. It started with mean the sea-level pressure map on the Bureau of Meteorology website, so we had a big picture of what was going on with the weather. Following that, he explained how the weather on GAFs (Graphical Area Forecasts) corresponded to what was on the pressure charts. Then he referred to the TAFs (Terminal Area Forecasts) of the aerodromes on our planned route for a more close-up look. Just after that brief, I already felt that I could give a more persuasive forecast than most of the weather reporters do on TV.
Shannon may seem calm and composed on the outside, but he actually also has a warm and playful heart with a great sense of humour. The first aircraft I flew was the Sling 2 and as I recall, when Shannon demonstrated the pre-flight check, this was what he said:
“Now to measure the fuel quantity, we use what I call a high-tech measuring device.”
With a complete poker face, he took out a wooden stick with a measuring scale drawn on it. The corner of his lips lifted – in other words, he knew that his joke totally got me. There were times when I just did not get his punch lines. I could sense his disappointment in the awkward silence. However, it never stopped him from bringing some fun to the flight!
I feel lucky that Shannon was my first ever Flight Instructor, because that gave my flying career a really good start.
We would like to thank Mickey for contributing these journals on learning how to fly in Melbourne. Stay tuned for the next journal entry!
We recently published a blog from airline Second Officer Vincent Mok, who talked about how important completing an Instrument Rating (IFR) flight training course was to his career. An Instrument Rating really does open up a whole new world of flying for you. It allows to you to plan and fly in a far greater range of light and weather conditions. No longer restricted to daylight and clear skies, it can also drastically reduce the time it takes you to build flight hours.
What is Instrument Flight Training?
Under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, the weather and light must be better than the visual meteorological conditions (VMC), as specified by CASA. You must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.
Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Flight Training teaches you to
fly using the aircraft’s instruments rather than relying on visual cues. You will
become an expert at communicating with Air Traffic Control (ATC). All of your aircraft’s
procedures will become second nature to you. You will read your instruments as
though you were actually looking at the information they provide physically.
Learning in the simulator is a very effective method of training. Simulator hours are far less expensive that flying an actual aircraft. You can save money by perfecting procedures on the ground, which means there’s less chance of having to repeat them in the air. Simulators obviously also provide a highly safe environment to learn unfamiliar procedures.
What Are the Benefits of Completing Instrument Flight Training?
Having to fly VFR means that you are limited with the number of hours you can fly, often based on things that are out of your control. When you are trying to build flight hours, it can be frustrating when changes in the weather cancel your flights. It can also be frustrating when other flights are delayed and you run out of daylight hours to go flying.
Completing an Instrument Rating training course will allow
you to fly in the dark, and in most weather conditions. This means that you
will be able to fly when others can’t, and you will build your flight hours far
Pilots with IFR training are far more desirable to employers
in most pilot roles. In fact for many pilot roles, including airlines, having
an Instrument Rating is required.
Aside from the skillset and career benefits mentioned above, instrument flight training means that you can fly in some stunning conditions. You can enjoy the amazing sensation of soaring both through thick cloud, and above it. You can watch colourful sunsets from the sky, and cruise above sparkling city lights.
Meet Instrument Rating Training Graduate Mickey Wu
Following his amazing achievements, and before he jumped on a plane back to Taiwan, we had a chat to Mickey about his IFR training and his thoughts on the MECIR course.
What are the main differences in flying during instrument flight training?
Instrument flight training is simpler, but not easier, if that makes sense. This is because it is all process and procedure based. Your planning is simpler. ATC provides you with more information. Learning all of the procedures is hard, and it feels like you are going right back to square 1 at the start. Once you are familiar with them however, everything just feels simpler. You feel like a real airline pilot.
What new skills have you learnt during IFR training?
I have developed a much larger understanding of ATC terminology. My communication skills and the my relationship with ATC has really improved. Instrument Rating training gives you hands-on experience with a lot of things that you learn in theory. Some of these things you might not use a lot in VFR flight. It’s a great feeling when you realise it’s not “just theory” anymore and you put your knowledge into practice.
How have you used the simulators to help with your training?
On the simulators you can train different types of approaches, and some are much harder than others. When you are training in a sim and you make a mistake or you want to do it again, you can just restart. It’s far more costly to do this in an actual aircraft. With my LTF instructor, we trained on the Alsim AL42 simulator as well as the G430 X-Plane simulator.
What are the benefits of completing an Instrument Rating?
Completing an Instrument Rating will allow me to build more hours quickly by flying in more conditions. It is required by the airlines, which is my ultimate goal. It will also make me more employable in other pilots roles, including becoming a Flight Instructor which I will find very rewarding.
Why would you recommend choosing Learn To Fly to complete an Instrument Rating course?
I have had the best year of my life in Australia at Learn To Fly. I really enjoyed the people and the atmosphere. The instructors are very supportive and come from a wide range of experience and backgrounds. At LTF you can choose from a range of reliable aircraft. You can choose to fly in a glass cockpit aircraft like the DA42, or an analogue cockpit like the Piper Seminole.
We would like to congratulate Mickey on his inspirational flying achievements during difficult times. We’d also like to thank him for taking the time to share his thoughts and knowledge on IFR training. We will catch up with Mickey again for a blog on what it is like as a Taiwanese student training in Australia, and how training here can help you become an airline pilot in Taiwan.
Want to make learning to fly more affordable? Split your flight training costs with interest-free instalment payments at Learn To Fly!
Flight training can be an expensive process, especially if you are looking to obtain a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and make flying your career. At Learn To Fly, we are committed to making flight training more affordable and accessible to more people. This is why we have introduced SplitIt, which allows you to split your flight training costs over multiple interest-free payments.
What Is Splitit?
SplitIt is a buy now, pay later solution that lets customers split their payments into manageable parts using a Visa or Mastercard, without paying interest.
Unlike another buy now pay later providers, SplitIt uses your existing Visa or Mastercard credit card levels to cover payments. This means you don’t need to be pre-approved for a line of credit in order to split your flight training costs.
How Do I Use SplitIt?
SplitIt allows you to split your flight training costs for courses that cost between $1,000AUD and $20,000AUD. The following instalment options are available based on the cost of the course:
No. of Instalments
$1,000 – $4,000
$4,001 – $6,000
Up to 3 Instalments
$6,001 – $10,000
Up to 5 Instalments
$10,001 – $16,000
Up to 8 Instalments
$16,001 – $20,000
Up to 10 Instalments
If you are making your purchase online via our online store, you can simply select SplitIt as the payment option and you will be prompted to enter the relevant details.
If your course is not available on the website, or you are confirming your enrolment directly through a Learn To Fly staff member, then we are able to set up SplitIt manually for you.
Since SplitIt does not use a pre-approved credit process, you will need to have the entire purchase amount available on your nominated credit cards at the time of purchase. You can choose to nominate more than one different credit card as well if you do not have the total amount available on the one card.
You will pay the first instalment, and then each instalment will be deducted on designated monthly dates.
There is no need to “sign up” to SplitIt. At the point of sale, you will be given login details to the SplitIt portal using your email address, and you can track your instalments through there.
Example – Using SplitIt To Split Your RPL Flight Training Costs
You can choose SplitIt as the payment method, and split the total cost into 8 equal instalments.
You will need to have $14,250 available on your credit card (or have that total available on multiple cards)
Your first payment will be only $1,872 ($14,250 divided by 8 and rounded up)
You will then pay $1,872 per month on the designated date until the total payment has been made
I think you will agree that being able to split your flight training costs into $1,872 per month is much more manageable than paying $14,250 upfront!
How Much Does SplitIt Cost To Use?
Using SplitIt to split your flight training costs is absolutely free. There are no sign-up fees, and payments are 100% interest-free. SplitIt charges a merchant fee for each instalment, but Learn To Fly will cover that cost.
Whilst SplitIt only requires that you have the entire purchase amount available on your chosen credit card at the time of purchase, you do need to ensure that you have the instalment amount available from then on. If you do not, then the instalment may overdraw your account and result in fees from your bank.
So you want to be a pilot? That’s awesome! You won’t regret embarking on this rewarding and exciting career. Before you even get to sit in the cockpit and take the controls, there are lots of considerations, particularly around choosing the right flying school. Let’s take a look at things to know before you start flight training.
We’re sure you are aware that
becoming a pilot is full of challenges and requires hard work. If it
were easy, everyone would do it! Pilot training will test your limits of
knowledge, persistence and patience – in a good way.
There are dozens of reasons to do your pilot training in Australia. Australian pilot qualifications are internationally recognised and highly regarded because our education and training standards are some of the highest in the world. We also boast:
– Being a world leader in aviation safety – Consistently good weather – Visa options that allow students to also work up to 20 hours a week – A safe, and politically and socially stable environment to live and learn in
Make sure you love flying!
Enrolling in a flight training course is a commitment, both financially and time-wise. Before you start flight training, it’s a great idea to try it out first. A Trial Introductory Flight (TIF) is an excellent way to get the feel of being in the cockpit of a small aircraft, and trying your hand at taking the controls for some basic manoeuvres under the guidance of an instructor.
We also have beginner courses like the Learn To Fly Starter Set available. These will get you flying and give you enough experience in the air to be able to decide whether it’s for you. All of the training and flight time in these courses can also actually count towards a licence if you decide to commit to a more extensive training.
What are your pilot goals?
Knowing what you want to achieve from your flight training is an important consideration. Do you want to fly for fun, or do you want to think about flying for a career?
The answer to this question will impact the direction you take with your training. Make sure you choose a flying school with a range of courses to cater for your aviation goals. Make sure you talk to the flying school before you start flight training so that they can help you to choose the right path.
What aircraft should I fly?
The cost of pilot training courses is in part reflective of the type of aircraft in their fleet. You can select the training that fits your budget according to not only your pilot aims but the kind of aircraft you want to learn in.
A quality flying school will have different types of aircraft in their fleet to not only suit different budgets, but also to allow for varied flying experiences. Some pilots prefer to train in aircraft with all of the modern technology equipped (like glass cockpit, auto-pilot etc), whilst others gain more out of flying an aircraft where the majority of functions are performed completely manually.
A good flying school will allow their pilots to experience different aircraft, and to “progress” to other aircraft during training. They’ll also have flight simulation options available for extended learning whilst on the ground.
Another very important factor to consider before you start your flight training is the availability of aircraft. Make sure you choose a flying school with a big enough fleet to cater for their students during busy periods, and when aircraft require scheduled maintenance.
Learn To Fly offers a range of aircraft covering both single and multi-engine flight training. Our fleet includes the Sling 2, Cessna 172, Diamond DA40, Piper Seminole, Diamond DA42, Super Decathlon and RA-Aus Foxbat. Check it out here.
What other facilities do I need?
Remember, you won’t be spending ALL of your time in the air! Every training course has a theory component to it. A good flying school will have modern facilities that provide a good learning and study environment on the ground as well as in the sky.
Flight simulators now form an important part of training. They are actually a great way to hone your skills in realistic flight environments whilst never having to leave the ground. Utilising simulators well can save you money. This allows you to maximise your time in the actual aircraft and reducing the chance of you having to repeat lessons.
Flight Instructors with endorsements and ratings such as Multi-Engine or Instrument Flight Rating are a great asset to your training too, so it’s important to look at the instructors’ range of flight experiences and not just the flying hours.
Besides qualifications, you want an instructor who is enthusiastic, adaptable and professional. You’ll be spending a lot of time together, so you need to get along and connect with their teaching style. Your instructor should be able to give honest, constructive feedback at all times to help you become an better pilot.
FLIGHT TRAINING BOOKING TIP: Book extra sessions in as a back-up in case of cancellations due to weather, or aircraft and instructor availability. Be as flexible as possible and take every opportunity to fly.
What is ICAO English proficiency?
The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) establishes certain principles and arrangements to facilitate safe and collaborative international civil aviation, including English proficiency standards. English is the chosen international language of civil aviation. Essential to your pilot training from the point of enrolment onwards, you must be able to communicate in clear English.
ICAO English proficiency testing is recognised in 192 countries which is great for international students wanting to transfer their licence to their home country. Aviation English standards are considerably higher in Australia, so you will be confident in your abilities.
Location, location, location is so important in many life choices, and your flight school is no different. Is the flight school location easy to get to by public transport or do you need a car? How far from the city is it? Can they arrange accommodation if you are from interstate or overseas? These are all important questions to think about before you start your flight training!
Your flight school might be at an aerodrome, but is it near a major airport?
Different locations mean different aerodrome classifications. This can affect where and how often you can fly. For example, a Class G aerodrome has no air traffic control (ATC), meaning less practice on those vital radio calls allowing you to develop your aviation communication skills.
A flight school near a major airport may seem logical, but that also means operating in more restricted airspace, and therefore potentially having to go to other airports to practice your circuits.
LTF’s main training base is at Melbourne’s Moorabbin Airport, which is a Class D controlled airspace and one of the largest flight training airports in Australia. It has an advanced runway setup and a high volume of aircraft movements – which makes it perfect for learning aspects of flight training that smaller airports simply can’t offer. It’s also very well located with plenty of public transport options nearby.
When is the best time to fly?
The best time to fly in Australia is generally from Spring through Summer and Autumn, as that period offers more daylight hours and less chance of inclement weather. The state of Victoria also has “Daylight Saving” time from October through to April which allows you to fly until much later (up to 9pm in Summer).
It is beneficial to your flight training to experience a variety of flyable weather conditions – and the changeable climate at LTF’s Melbourne base is perfect for that.
Up until a few years ago, getting a pilot job was more difficult for overseas students. The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) shows us that there are now far more General Aviation pilot jobs being listed. Many of these are open to international pilots who can legally work in Australia.
There is much speculation and misinformation about the airline industry’s future and pilot training in general. Now is a great time to become a pilot with opportunities broadening as commercial airlines relax their application criteria and demand for pilot instructors and charter pilots increases.
There are many opportunities for pilot hopefuls in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia looking to pursue a flying career.
Plan with an Experienced Training Facility
If you’re in the early stages of searching for pilot training in Hong Kong, consult with an industry specialist. A Hong Kong flight school like ours will provide you with accurate and current information to help you choose the pilot pathway that suits your career aims, study capacity and budget.
Like any major study undertaking, do thorough research to ensure you are receiving a quality education with experienced instructors and value for money at a leading Hong Kong flight school.
Student and Tourist Visas
Overseas students looking for a Hong Kong flight school can obtain a student visa to complete their practical flight training with Learn To Fly in Melbourne, Australia. We are pleased to have many international students at our school. We also have many graduates who have gone on to have successful pilot careers.
Pilot hopefuls looking at this option need to ensure they meet the criteria for Australian visa entry. They also need to satisfy the relevant course entry requirements. These can include:
– English proficiency – Medical check – Age – Aviation security check
For the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), which takes at least 12 months full time, students will most likely require a student visa. We can assist students in contacting registered migration agents to help with the application process. Visit the Australian Home Affairs website for further information on specific visa requirements.
The Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa
The Australian TSS Visa recognises skills that are in demand and grants visas to applicants for sponsored work in Australia. The demand for pilots, charter pilots and flight instructors in major cities has left many regional and rural flying schools with a shortage.
Some of these areas include larger regional cities. If you are willing to work there, you may well find that a flying school can sponsor you for full-time employment on a TSS visa. This will give you more experience and allowing you to build your flight hours.
Working Holiday Visa
Citizens of many countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia are eligible for an Australian Working Holiday Visa. Working Holiday Visa holders need to change employers every 6 months. However, as a potential option, for example, you can easily become a flight instructor in that amount of time. Grade 2 Flight Instructors can work without supervision and are therefore in greater demand.
There are many great opportunities for student pilots from Hong Kong to complete their theory training locally. They can then complete their flight training in Australia. We boast many international graduates who have gone on to have fantastic pilot careers. We also have a range of online training options available.
When talking to student pilot hopefuls from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia etc about becoming an airline pilot, many still think there is a huge risk paying to study their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), because they think that they will never get a flying job.
This may have been difficult a few years ago, however, the aviation industry has completely changed recently. If you want to become an airline pilot – or a pilot in general – there has never been a better time than right now to get into the aviation industry. In this blog, we discuss the pathways available to overseas students with a deep desire in becoming an airline pilot.
What do you do after getting your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)?
To improve their chances of becoming an airline pilot after completing their CPL, most students choose to work as a Charter Pilot or a Flight Instructor. This allows them to gain more flying experience before applying to an airline.
For an overseas student, this may have been difficult a few years ago. However, looking at the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) website now, there are far more General Aviation (GA) pilot jobs listed, many of which are open to overseas pilots who are able to work legally in Australia.
Even as a fresh graduate, Junior Flight Instructors are now offered a full time job, whereas in the past they were commonly only offered a no-guarantees role with an hourly rate.
Flying schools in regional or remote areas are now struggling to find Instructors to work for them because it’s so much easier to get a job in major cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Pilots that would have previously needed to take whatever job they could find, regardless of location, are no longer willing to work and stay in the middle of nowhere.
Airlines are hiring!
Cathay Pacific, for example, are offering Direct Entry Second Officer roles that only require a CPL and 500 flying hours. Singapore Airlines and Scoot are offering both Direct Entry Second Officer and Direct Entry Junior First Officer with no minimum flying hours requirement.
This is a strong message from the airlines to everyone who might be thinking about becoming an airline pilot, saying “go and get your licences and we will offer you a chance at a career”.
The recommended pathways for overseas students
Below are are the recommended pathways for overseas students who are investigating becoming an airline pilot. Planning is extremely crucial though – for example, if you are planning to get an Aviation Degree, you may want to consider the following path:
Choose a university and enrol in the Bachelor of Aviation course with your Diploma certificate. You can most likely claim up to 12 months’ credit, meaning that you may only need to study for 18 months to finish off the Bachelor program
While you are studying at university, your student visa will allow you to work up to 20 hours a week, which means you can work as a part-time Junior Flight Instructor and study at the same time
After 2 years when you graduate with your Bachelor Degree, you will become a Grade 2 Senior Flight Instructor with roughly 800 flying hours already
At this stage, you will already fulfil many of the airlines’ entry requirements and will be able to apply for an airline pilot job, or you can continue to work as a flying instructor until your visa expires
This is a much better pathway to becoming an airline pilot, than just enrolling in a Bachelor of Aviation course at the start. It also gives you a much more flexible career pathway.
If you are not planning to study at university there are still many ways to work legally in Australia, and you may want to consider the following path:
Study the Diploma of Aviation (CPL) and get your Commercial Pilot Licence with a flying school in Australia
Study to obtain your Flight Instructor Rating (FIR) straight away after completing the Diploma program
Apply for either Working Holiday Visa / Work Holiday Visa (depending on which country you are coming from) OR a Temporary Skills Shortage Visa.
Work as a full-time Flight Instructor
After accumulating 200 instructional flying hours, you can become a Grade 2 Flight Instructor and continue to work as a flying instructor until your visa expires
At this stage, you will already fulfil many of the entry requirements for becoming an airline pilot.
Working Holiday Visa:
Citizens of many countries are eligible for this visa including Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia etc. Work and Holiday Visa and Working Holiday Visa holders need to change employer every 6 months, but after 6 months’ working as a Flight Instructor for one employer you will most likely become a Grade 2 Flight Instructor. This means that there will be many jobs available to you at other flying schools since Grade 2 Flight Instructors can work without supervision and are therefore in high demand.
Temporary Skills Shortage Visa (TSS):
The TSS visa is a sponsored work visa that recognises skills that are in high demand in Australia. As mentioned previously, the recent demand for Flight Instructors in major cities has left many regional and rural flying schools with a shortage and unable to recruit enough pilots. Some of these areas even include larger regional cities, and if you are willing to work there, you may well find that a flying school is able to sponsor you for full time employment on a TSS visa.
Becoming an airline pilot is easier when you consult with a specialist
Whichever path you choose, planning is the most important aspect – and you can only plan properly when you have accurate information. Stop listening to people who may not know about the current situation for flight training in Australia, or who may not know about the Australian Aviation industry in general.
I know nothing grabs your attention like the words ‘exams’ and ‘theory.’ Here I will give you the scoop on what to expect, and provide some tips on how to pass pilot theory exams.
No matter which course you have enrolled in, you need to study – so let’s get pumped for pilot training exam preparation!
Aviation is a complex and sophisticated profession. Airlines are not looking for cowboys and hotshots, but well-rounded, intelligent statesmen and women. The purpose of this post is to remind you of the importance of approaching the exam runway carefully.
I’m in the fortunate position of having completed all seven of my CPL subjects (woo-hoo!). I have already passed my RPL and PPL exams. I’m not here to brag, but instead, offer my experiences to help you.
First of all, congratulations on embarking on a dazzling journey in aviation. But before you hit the cockpit, you need to hit the books! Study is the best way to get your career off the ground. The RPL theory and subsequent RPL(A) theory exam covers:
Basic Aeronautical Knowledge Basic Aerodynamics Flight Instruments Human Factors Navigation and Flight Planning Meteorology Air Law
You may find some subjects harder than others, which is why thorough study is important. The exam is multiple choice, and can be completed online. You are allocated 2 hours, and the pass mark is 70%.
To tackle my RPL exam, I set aside two hours of homework each night after class. It allowed me to iron out weak spots and plug up any knowledge gaps. If you have any questions (and you should), or are finding certain areas tricky, always contact your instructor. They are there to help you pass! I would also recommend completing some practice/mock exams beforehand so you get an idea of the exam format.
The exam will only cover things included in the theory syllabus. That said, sometimes a question can have more than one right answer. You should choose the answer that sounds MOST CORRECT. That might sound funny, but it’s not just a matter of recalling information from memory. It’s important that you display your understanding of concepts.
Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Theory Exam
The PPL exam will cover a wide range of navigation-based topics, as well as knowledge learned during RPL. So it pays to brush up on RPL knowledge as well. The PPL exam has 55-60 questions, varying between multiple-choice and single answer. The pass mark is 70% and you are allowed 3.5 hours.
Some questions offer up to 3 marks and require calculations. It’s vital to answer as many of the extra point questions correctly as possible, as they can ultimately make or break your campaign. These questions mostly relate to take-off and landing distances, weight and balance, density, height and pressure calculations.
It’s advantageous to memorise the formulas for these problems as an over-reliance on the flight computer could throw off your answer due to rounding errors. Flight mathematics must be precise. Slight variants will result in an incorrect answer. There’s no room for guesstimates!
You are allowed to take charts and materials into the examination, so you need to be organised. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the region(s) depicted in the charts as they’re based in Sydney. Most navigation questions require you to draw on the chart.
My best advice here is to take it slow. You have a sufficient amount of time to complete the exam. Slow and steady does win the race. Keep it neat. You don’t want your charts to look like a doctors prescription pad! There’s a saying in the military that applies to exams:
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
I found that taking the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) into the exam didn’t help me. I referenced the Visual Flight Rules Guide (VFRG), and that covered all my bases. This is the only exam which allows you to carry the VFRG – which is concise and easy to follow.
Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) Theory Exams
Since there are seven separate exams for the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), I will give a bit of overview advice. The last thing I want to do is overwhelm you. All exams except Aerodynamics, Aircraft General Knowledge (AGK) and Human Factors, require reference materials and tools to complete the questions.
For all exams, a sound knowledge of the basic concepts is paramount as you could get quizzed on anything. The difficulty for each exam can fluctuate wildly, depending on whom you talk to. I found Aerodynamics and Aircraft General Knowledge easy, while others struggled with these.
It’s worth taking other students’ reports on an exam with a grain of salt. Everyone will have their strengths and weaknesses within each subject. The best bet is to be prepared for anything! You can always set yourself a practice exam (what better way to spend a Saturday night!). For my preparation, I tackled each exercise in the Bob Tait books twice, ensuring I scored above 90% in my practice exams before considering myself ready for the real thing.
Preparing for exams is stressful and tiring. If you’re flying AND studying for your CPL exams, it’s worth reducing your flying time. It sounds like a drag, but this is one case where too much multi-tasking can be your downfall. Use the extra energy to find which study times and locations suit you best. Some work better at home, in the morning – while others may be able to concentrate at school during the afternoon.
For subjects like Navigation and Performance, there are various calculations and chart reading exercises. You will benefit from completing the practice exercises and familiarising yourself with the formulas and formations. Again, it’s important to remember that rounding errors can jeopardise your entire exam.
To conclude, all exam success relies on sound study. Practice, be prepared and remember to take your time. Slow is smooth. There are no shortcuts to aviation knowledge, and being ready for all-weather is a good rule for life and an even better theory for flying. Good luck!
Thank you to student pilot Howard Lau for contributing these tips on how to pass your pilot theory exams.
We are proud to announce that we have ordered the Diamond DA42 aircraft, making us the first Diamond DA42 flight school in Victoria, Australia. The DA42 is an elite twin-engine aircraft equipped with a Garmin G1000 avionics system, produced Diamond factory in Ontario, Canada.
The DA42 will be the first new major multi-engine aircraft type introduced into LTF’s fleet since we started flying the Piper Seminole. This acquisition provides us with the ability to replace our older, less efficient aircraft and deliver better quality training. We believe students should have as many options as possible when it comes to flight training.
Training at a Diamond DA42 flight school in Victoria has many benefits for students. Here are our top five reasons why you should train in a DA42!
1. Amazing Specs & Performance
The twin-engine Diamond DA42 truly is a next-generation aircraft – it combines all the newest innovations to create a capable, robust aircraft that turns heads. The DA42 boasts carbon fibre construction, FADEC controls, glass cockpit with Garmin G100, and a 1000 nautical mile range.
There are very few planes that perform well enough to fly comfortably across the Atlantic at a lower altitude as well as through varied terrain. The Diamond DA42 does that in its sleep.
You will get to enjoy every moment flying, thanks to the panoramic wrap-around canopy and generous rear windows.
2. Advanced Avionics
The Garmin G1000 avionics system is complimented by several avionic options. These can suit almost any need and are usually only available on much more expensive aircraft. The advanced avionics and day and night weather capability offered by the aircraft means that a full variety of flying experiences await.
At Learn to Fly, safety is our priority. It’s only fitting that Diamond aircraft has one of the strongest safety records of any light aircraft in the general aviation industry today. Furthermore, aspiring airline pilots and private pilots alike can enjoy the impressive cross-country performance and safety of the DA42 twin-piston without the additional costs often associated with having a second engine — fuel, maintenance, etc.
4. Environmental Innovation
The DA42 is powered by with eco-friendly, fuel-saving and powerful engines. These engines have far less fuel burn than conventional engines. This dramatically reduces the flying costs for students.
5. Obtain Your Multi Engine Class Rating or MECIR
Thanks to the Diamond DA42, those hoping to become airline pilots can gain considerable experience with similar flight approaches, procedures, and conditions similar to those encountered by light jets and turboprops.
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