A Flight Instructor is responsible for teaching students how to fly an aircraft and works as part of a team at a flight school. They teach at both the ground school and in the aircraft covering topics such as aerodynamics, aircraft systems and navigation, as well as air law, radio operation and operating procedures. A career as a Flight Instructor offers multiple opportunities, has a good income and will always be in demand.
What is the Role of a Flight Instructor?
The main duties of a Flight Instructor are:
- Training students in the classroom and in the simulator
- Conducting training flights
- Developing curriculum for the ground school
- Determining a student’s proficiency
- Maintaining a high pass rate
- Report on student progress
- Develop new training materials
- To check that the student’s schedule is effective
- To maintain the standards of the aviation authorities and the flight school
- Ensuring training records are kept within policy
- Securing aircraft after use
- Following the policies and procedures in the operations manual
- Attend departmental meetings
A Flight Instructor will be required to:
- Work under pressure
- Have an analytical mind
- Have an attention to detail
- Communicate efficiently
- Be accurate with information
- Be a team worker
- Be logical and methodical
- Be able to instruct efficiently
Basic Requirements for Pilot’s License
To become a Pilot, you need to have at least 5 GCSEs at grade C, including Maths, English and Science as well as 2 A Levels – Maths and Physics are preferred to understand the technical information and how the aircraft works. A Bachelors Degree in Aviation is not required but useful. You will be required to take a medical and pass the European class 1 certificate (or country equivalent) and hold at least ICAO level 4 in English. A Private Pilot’s License (PPL) prior to training is desired.
Training for pilots is very intensive and very expensive and should only be taken if you are truly dedicated. One option is to take an ‘integrated’ full time residential course which takes around 18 months and costs 90,000 GBP. This covers all the theory and practical training and takes you from zero flying hours to a ‘frozen’ (needing on the job hours to ‘thaw’) ATPL (Air Transport Pilots License). Modular training is popular as it is cheaper and the student pilot can learn in chunks and by distance learning and take as much time as needed – it costs around 45,000 GBP. It includes the PPL and ATPL as well as CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence), IR (Instrument Rating Course) and MCC (Multi Crew Course). Another option is to take a university degree course in aviation which includes the ATPL and you complete practical training whilst studying at degree level.
Basic Requirements for Flight Instructors
To become a Flight Instructor you will need:
- A good high school education plus 2 years at college
- Bachelor’s degree preferably in aviation or aeronautics
- Clean driving license
- Excellent vision and hearing and be able to pass a 2 class medical
- ICAO level 4 English is the minimum language requirement
- A Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL) with 250 flight hours
- Or Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL) with 1500 flight hours
- Flight Instructor Certification
- To hold a type rating on the aircraft that they are teaching on
- For helicopters, the pilot must have a minimum of 5 hours Pilot in Command (PIC) logged for that make and model
How to Apply
Flight Instructor positions can be found at flight schools all over the world or you may wish to take an alternative route through the military or airlines. Positions may be advertised locally as well as on specialist aviation websites, pilot forums and aviation magazines. Airlines will advertise positions via their own careers website.
As a Pilot you are required to be tested regularly. You will be tested on emergency procedures in a simulator and also on aircraft technical knowledge and safety procedures, every 6 months. You will also perform one ‘check ride’ a year (a normal day). Medicals must also take place once or twice a year depending on age/background.
Hours, Salary and Benefits
Hours will be dependent on the student schedule and are not set in stone, but can be flexible. You will work on the ground and in the air during the day and in the evening to meet the student’s requirements.
Salary is made up of basic and bonuses or overtime.
Other benefits may include life and medical insurance, annual leave allowance, pension and bonus/increment. If working directly for an airline, you may be entitled to reduced travel rates. Training credits are often an added advantage and allow more chances to develop your career.
As a Flight Instructor you have numerous opportunities whether you work in commercial or general aviation, including the traditional pilot route. As a Pilot, you start out as a First Officer and then move through the ranks of Senior First Officer and Captain. An experienced Captain and Flight Instructor you can also become a Chief Pilot or move into airline management. Other options include becoming a Flight Operations Inspector or an Aircraft Accident Investigator. Outside of the airlines, you can also work as a Corporate Pilot or for the police service, air ambulance or within aerial firefighting or search and rescue.
However, there is an increasing demand for Flight Instructors worldwide as the aviation industry continues to expand and a Pilot still remains to be a very popular career choice. There is also a shortage of Pilots worldwide and Flight Instructors will always be needed to train new ones.
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