First Rate Training Standards
Sometimes customers associate low prices with bad quality. This is not always the case. Here are some examples:
Discount airlines: Before discounters were around we were used to paying five times more for an airline ticket.
Although discount service levels are lower, the price/quality ratio is absolutely stunning.
Web shops: Before web shops like PDAshop came about, we all went to main street and paid 30% more.
Conclusion? A new business model can definitely lead to customer savings without planes dropping from the sky.
– We use an approved “Full Motion Six-Axis” B737 Simulator for our Jet Orientation (JOC) & Multi Crew Coordination (MCC) courses and an FNPTII simulator from Alsim for our instrument rating & and night qualification training. In addition we are the only school offering a Microsoft Flight Simulator (FSX) unit featuring 3 screens, Matrix triplehead2go and a TrackIR unit that creates a stunning virtual reality experience.
– Twin training is done with the DA-42 Twinstar aircraft, which has a full Garmin 1000 glass cockpit. This airplane burns only 40 liters of cheap JETA1 fuel.
-We are, as fare as we know, the only company offering training on a state-of-the-art Mooney M20E, which is considered the fastest in the single-engine piston class. This beauty is fully equipped with long range tanks, speed brakes, autopilot, and an HSI.
– Our team is highly experienced. Many instructors have more than 10.000 hours of flight experience in both the Air Force and the airline industry.
– Your instructor will not be a recent graduate who just earned his/her license last year.
– Most of our staff members are not airline pilots on active duty, which means you will have the same instructor for every flight instead of a different one for every lesson. Getting used to a different instructor for each lesson is hard on students. It leads to confusion and will prolong your learning curve (hence cost) considerably.
– Our approach is student centered, non-authoritarian and “unhurried”. We provide a pleasant learning climate.
-We train directly at low density IFR airports with night VFR capability, giving your every flight a wealth of exposure to professional radio communications and real-life procedures. Most IFR airports in the Netherlands are either saturated or a one-hour flight away. So you save a lot of money. Furthermore, night VFR is not allowed in the Netherlands, forcing you to fly abroad first while the meter is running.
– All aircraft come with a full landing subscription, including IFR approaches and night VFR operations, instead of the common “pay-per-landing” deal in the Netherlands. This saves you a lot of money.
-All our training is JAR-FCL compliant. The EU has devised a very strict set of rules for flight training in 2001, which are enforced by their agencies: JAR-FCL /EASA. As we speak, every 15 minutes of training or briefing has to be logged and accounted for in a standardized way, everywhere from Iceland to Turkey. So our training is heavily audited and inspected. It is standardized and thus the same as everywhere else. (See more below, under the header “School Reputation”)
The Lowest Prices
We outsource a considerable part of our fleet operations to neighboring countries. These locations are cheaper and only about a two-hour drive from the Netherlands. We propose facilities in Texas (US) for students who are looking for the most affordable option, and who are not bound to the Netherlands by family or employment.
We try to not charge our students much more than the net flight-cost. However, you are trained by Dutch and English speaking EFA staff in order to guarantee quality and consistency. We charge the normal Dutch rates for our flight services, enabling us to make a profit. The result is a high-quality but very affordable training package!
The Low Countries are among the wealthiest countries in the world. With the introduction of the Euro, Dutch companies have increased their profit margins at the expense of the consumer. Right now prices quoted in Euro are basically the same as they were before in Guilders. But as we all know, the Euro is 2.204 times more expensive. This does have an impact on you since it increases overhead costs. These macro-economic facts in combination with the facts stated below make the Netherlands one of the most expensive countries for flight training in the world. Most Dutch flight schools charge around 110.000 Euros for an Air Traffic Pilot Licence (ATPL), and between 15.000 and 20.000 Euros for a Private Pilot License (PPL).
Attitude towards General Aviation
Not many voters are pilots and the General Aviation market is not very well organized in the Netherlands. The general public considers aviation to be a highly polluting hobby for the elite that disrupts commercial aviation. In reality, planes have the lowest emissions and fuel burn per km of all modes of transport. (Imagine 300 passengers driving their car to Karachi instead of taking a plane.)
Fact: The carbon footprint of general aviation is rather insignificant in comparison to all land transport, industry, and energy production facilities. However, as stated below, this negative attitude towards GA affects your training adversely in many ways.
As stated above, general aviation and airplanes are considered toys for rich people rather than important industrial sector. As a result this market is literally taxed and restricted to death. Holland can afford to do this because it has no significant aviation industry left: KLM was and is unable to compete with the discounters and managed to escape bankruptcy because it was absorbed by Air France. Fokker tried the same with DASA but failed and went bankrupt. The aviation and the car industry are treated the same way. The taxation on cars (BPM+VAT) doubles the ex works price of a car. Fuel prices and road tax are among the highest in the world. Pay per mile will be introduced soon. Imagine this in Germany, the UK, or France, where you can find large and vibrant automotive and aviation industries.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) clearly states that non-controlled VFR fields do not need a Tower Controller. All movements are at pilot’s discretion, which is ideal for training. This is not so in the Netherlands. Even non-controlled fields are fully staffed and you pay the bill: 15 to 50 Euros per landing on a small field is the norm, but paying 50 to 250 Euros per landing in places like Eindhoven or Rotterdam is not exceptional. Imagine the cost when you are in circuit training, landing every 5 minutes… Other European nations still have 1 annual landing fee subscription for home-based aircraft while many small aerodromes are free! Many countries do not charge anything if the wheels do not touch the tarmac during an (IFR) approach whilst in Holland approach fees apply when a plane enters the airspace of a particular airport. These fees need to be paid and may require you to land in order to do so…
VAT has to be paid for flight training costs while it is waived for the public school system. This adds 19 to 20% to your bill…
In many other countries flight training is seen as commercial aviation that qualifies for lower tax rates. This means fuel prices for AVGAS or 100LL are 2,25 Euros in the Netherlands instead of 1,05 Euros per liter in some other European nations. You will burn twenty to eighty liters per hour, depending on the aircraft type and training received. ATPL students need 200 hours…
Flight Training Margins
Viewing the above, you understand that most Dutch flight schools outsource all or a part of their training to lower cost countries, thus saving large amounts of money. However, these reductions are not passed on to the students who may become debtors for life. For more information regarding this, have a look at our Finance page. So prices for an ATPL still hover closely around the 100.000 Euro mark. Note: This amount is excluding the cost of living for two years, insurances, accumulated interest, and a Typerating which can easily double your initially quoted training investment.
– The Netherlands are small. The Schiphol area already covers half the country. Then there are other airports, military aerodromes, and the no-fly zones (military, nature reserves etc.). Every airport or modification to procedures needs a MER report. (Milieu Effect Rapportage) Night VFR is not allowed. Altogether, flight restrictions are so severe that it is practically impossible to carry out flight training.
– General aviation was abandoned to the “polder” in Lelystad. Then the government cancelled all IFR approaches in Lelystad due to environmental and noise restrictions. This means that all IFR flights need to be flown in Groningen or Rotterdam – at times when these airports are not too busy and do not need to restrict flight movements due to their quota. You understand the real cost to the environment and to your wallet. One also has to consider the lack of opportunity to train in a non-controlled VFR field as opposed to a “real” international IFR environment in terms of radio communications and “real-life” procedures.
– Flying visually during nighttime (NIGHT VFR) is a compulsory part of one’s pilot training. It is however, illegal in the Netherlands and needs to be practiced abroad.
– ICAO states that nighttime starts 30 minutes after sunset and ends 30 minutes before sunrise. Not in the Netherlands. Do not even try to do any circuit training after 18.00 o’clock while all movements must be stopped at 20.00 o’clock – even with the sun setting at 22.30 o’clock in the summer.
Yes, we all know that only the UK beats us on this one… It makes flight training schedules unpredictable and longer. In combination with all other restrictions mentioned, it causes investments to be written off over 60% of a year instead of the entire year. Note that nothing in aviation is as expensive as airplanes not flying but sitting in the hangar. Companies like Ryanair are able to offer their discounts mainly because of a very high score on aircraft turnaround times.
The Hiring Game Has Changed
Despite all promises, no commercial flight training organization can guarantee that you will have a job after graduating from flight school. Only KLS (KLM Luchtvaart School) and the Dutch Air Force (KLU or Koninklijke Luchtmacht) can ensure you employment after your training. So always try to get accepted there first!
However, before you get your hopes up, be aware that the financial crisis and the discount airline competition are forcing KLM to reorganize and to shed costs (meaning planes and pilots). The Netherlands has not been at war lately, so government cutbacks have, and will continue to have, a severe negative impact on military recruitment. We estimate that both organizations need to reduce their flight crews rather than hire new pilots in the coming years. Imagine what this means for the selection process… Anyway, if you manage to get in you certainly have what it takes and you will no longer worry. If not, you may want to read on.
Other aviation nations (Germany, France, UK) and emerging markets (Asia, Turkey) have a thriving aviation industry with Germany being number two in the world, and the UK and France number three and four respectively. THE AMOUNT OF WORK AND THE SHEER SIZE OF THEIR AVIATION INDUSTRIES IS INFINITE IN COMPARISON TO HOLLAND. Most discounters are from these countries and they are the only ones hiring at the moment. So creating your network abroad is definitely a big plus.
-In the old days before the liberalization of the market, the so-called “flag carriers” like British Airways, KLM, and Air France were the only option to fly for both pilots and travelers. If you did not come from the right school you were in trouble, meaning that if you did not graduate from KLS, Sabena Flight Academy, or NLS you simply could not get in. Everyone knew that, so those schools could charge high tuition fees. Today, the situation is completely reversed: KLM was sold to Air-France, Sabena went bankrupt, and the discounters are determining the market and are enjoying a rapid growth. These have airlines jobs to offer. They hire on a strictly merit-based policy: ONLY your performance during the SIM check and the assessment counts.
– Before 2001, flight training was an open profession in Holland and abroad. Basically, everyone had a lot more freedom and could work as an individual instructor. Students did not even have to attend a school but completed hours with private instructors and took state exams.
Naturally the methods, training standards, and quality differences were huge. The EU did not think it was a very good idea that training for one of the most responsible professions was virtually unregulated compared to the legal and medical professions. Flight training is therefore strictly regulated at this point. All flight training organizations and operators must adhere to a very strict set of rules called JAR-FCL/EASA. Every 15 minutes of training or briefing has to be logged and accounted for in a standardized way, everywhere from Iceland to Turkey.
KLS (KLM Luchtvaart School) and the Dutch Air Force (KLU or Koninklijke Luchtmacht) either pay for your education or give you a job guarantee.
They need to reduce their risk and their selection process is therefore very tough. The commercial flying schools are in a different position: They carry two hats: They need to select the right candidates but they also need your business. You understand what this means for the selection process. But there is a catch: Most airlines assess their applicants in roughly the same way as KLM/KLU.
Now the following problem arises: More than half the applicants are able to obtain their licenses and ratings, given time and motivation, but do not succeed with their airline assessments. So the streets are lined with ATPLs who never get hired. The importance of an independent assessment cannot be overstated. As the saying goes: “It is better to be safe than sorry “.
Is it all bad? No of course not! But “think before you act” is especially true when it comes to flying (training). To help you find your way we have some well-meant advice:
– Get an independent and thorough aptitude assessment.
– Train abroad in order to benefit from much lower prices and to be close to larger job markets.
– Weigh the financial risk against the job prospects and your flight aptitude.
– Pay as you go without commitment, forcing the school to serve you well. If they do not you can always go elsewhere.
– A second mortgage is often a lot cheaper than a student loan.
– Keep your debt as low as you possibly can. Work while studying if you have to.
– Think carefully whether you want spent a large part of your life away from family and friends.
– Accept that you will need to build experience and hours, perhaps as an instructor, before you will even be considered.
– Know that the aviation market is very cyclical. High peaks followed by deep lows. You should treat flight training as an investment portfolio and invest anti-cyclical: If you start training when the market is up you will be ready the moment it falls apart. Start in a low and be ready (graduated, 1500 hours total time plus 500 Multi-Engine) when the market is picking up.
Plan ahead for this and network. Remember: “It is not what you know but whom you know.”
– Take the modular training route instead of an integrated course. Modular training is a lot cheaper and getting ratings and licenses step by step leaves you in control in case you do not like the school after all.
– You can save a lot of money by self-study (e.g. ATPL theory through distance learning). Of course you need to be the right type for this: Self- motivated with an appropriate educational background.
– Get advice from insiders.
The above is just a limited selection of all issues that play a role. We also know that at this stage every answer generates more questions.
If you are note sure what to do and need independent, personal advice contact us. Do not worry. We will not start charging you the moment we shake your hand.
This post is also available in: Dutch