Although many people focus on comparing the differences between Recreational Aviation (RA) and General Aviation (GA) training, in reality, there is not much of a difference at all. Let me explain what I mean, as I fly through common misconceptions about both flight schools.
As a current flying instructor, I completed my Recreational Pilot Licence through a local RA flight school. I found that whilst GA schools claim they are professional, based on the aircraft they use, this is becoming increasingly less and less relevant.
Over the past 10 years, RA schools and their aircraft have come a long way. You will find that most RA schools have:
- New aircraft with advanced technology
- Glass cockpits
- Faster cruising speeds, which are greater than GA aircrafts
- Reliable engines
- A better fuel consumption rate, which I dare say would outcompete traditional GA aircrafts
With so many advances, flying RA aircraft can be equally as rewarding and adventurous as GA aircraft.
Evaluating costs and outcomes
One thing is for sure, GA courses will burn a hole in your wallet faster than RA courses. As a general rule of thumb, GA aircraft can be around $100 more expensive per hour than RA aircraft. If you’re aiming to achieve all the required hours for your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) through GA aircraft, this price difference could end up costing $15,000 more.
As another example, the diagram below demonstrates the price differences between a GA and RA course at Learn to Fly Melbourne. This particular infographic also illustrates multiple pathways to attaining a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), the step before CPL.
Quality instructors and education
Personally, I’m unconvinced that the course content and quality of instructing is drastically different between the two types of schools. Instructors at RA schools may hold both GA and RA qualifications. At the end of the day, pilot candidates study from the same textbook to undertake the same CASA written tests and CASA check rides. And of course, everybody gets the same CASA licence.
My two cents
I know many successful pilots who have taken the RA path. As an example, the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) of a well-known GA school in the Melbourne regional area initially trained under an RA school before continuing his training path under GA.
Whether you choose to fly with GA or RA aircraft, you will still be able to obtain your CASA licence following either paths. It is up to you to decide what is budgeted for flight school and the type of aircraft you want to fly.
To read about more aviation misconceptions, check out our blog on the difference between the Recreational Pilot Licence and Private Pilot Licence.