Modular Flight Training frequently asked questions

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In this post:

Private Pilot Licence (PPL)

What route/training did you follow once you finished your Private Pilot Licence (PPL)?

I went via the modular route. After my PPL, I then started hour building. At the same time, I progressed my ATPL theory via distance learning. I did my ATPL theory with CATS Aviation.

After completing the EASA ATPL exams and hour building, I then moved onto my Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR) and my Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). I did my CPL at Westair in Blackpool, before completing my APS MCC with VA Airline Training.

Check out how to become a pilot blog post for more details.

What are the basic supplies that PPL students need to buy – e.g headset etc?

For your Private Pilot Licence course, you will need to buy the following equipment:
– Aviation headset
– EASA PPL theory books for 9 exams
– Flight case
– CAA 1:500,000 or 1:250,000 chart
– Pooleys flight guide (if flying in the UK)
– Flight navigation set
– Flight navigation computer
– Kneeboard
– Stopwatch
– Logbook
– Hi-vis jacket/ vest
– Approved checklist
– Scientific calculator (optional)
For more details have a look at my Complete Guide to PPL Flight Equipment.

ATPL Theory

What was you ATPL theory study routine?

I had to study and work at the same time. Typically I would start my day around 5am or slightly before. I would study for a few hours before work. I would then go to work. At lunchtime, I would use that period do another 30mins or so of study.

It was convenient to have my study material on my iPad, so I could take advantage of certain dead periods in the day, e.g. lunch breaks or travelling on the train. In the evening, I would try and do another half an hour or so, but the priority was to get a good night’s rest to effectively study the following day.

I would hour build at the weekend. If you are struggling with study, check out my how to study effectively class on Skillshare. Skillshare are currently running an offer for 2 months free on all their classes

Which ATPL exams did you take and in what order?

I did my ATPL exams in 8months via distance learning.

For the ATPL subject module split-

ATPL Theory Module 1 (Aug – Oct)

  • Air Law
  • Operation Procedures
  • Human Performance and Limitations
  • Meteorology
  • VFR Communications
  • IFR Communications

ATPL Theory Module 2 (Nov – Feb)

  • Principles of Flight
  • General Navigation
  • Mass and Balance
  • Performance
  • Flight Planning and Monitoring

ATPL Theory Module 3 (Mar – Apr)

  • Airframes/ Systems/ Power Plant/ Electrics
  • Radio Navigation
  • Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation

Check out my blog post on how to pass your ATPL exams.

Did I have a particular method for studying ATPL exams?

The honest answer is if you are doing distance learning just get into a routine and be consistent. I would get up at 4:30-5 am each morning and try and do 2.5-3hours of study before work. My target was 3 hours each day.

Take good breaks too. I didn’t do any reversion at the weekends (I just did hour building). I averaged 15 hours a week, and it took me 8 months to get through my APTL exams. So figure out what would work best for you.

I find myself reading all the material, but sometimes I just can’t get my head around a certain topic or I might forget it by the time I go and do the ATPL question banks.

Don’t worry about the first pass ATPL module reading not sticking. I went through met and after ‘finishing’ the material I had no idea what I had just been studying for 6 weeks. It’s normal to feel that way.

As you start getting questions wrong in the ATPL question bank, that’s when the real learning starts as you go back and revisit the material. Just keep at it.

Multi Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR)

Does the night rating, multi engine instrument rating (MEIR), commercial pilot licence (CPL) also have a separate theory course on top of ATPL theory?

Night rating does not have any additional theory. For your Multi Engine Instrument Rating, your ATPL theory covers you. There is theory for the multi engine piston rating, but that is run specifically by the flight school via their approved training.

Completing the ATPL theory covers you for your CPL course too. If you have not completed the ATPL theory, then you would need to do CPL specific theory if the limit of your ambition was for CPL only.

Compentency Based Instrument Rating (CBIR) vs Multi Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR): what is the difference?

Competency Based Instrument Rating (CB-IR) and the Multi Engine Instrument Rating (ME-IR) all lead to the same outcome which is a valid multi engine instrument rating. The CB-IR is an alternate route where one can use the credit of previous IFR time and experience to gain credits towards achieving a full multi engine instrument rating.

EASA Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

Are the ATPL exams different from Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) exams?

If you only do CPL exams, you are restricted to CPL licence privileges and would have to sit additional ATPL exams if you wanted a full ATPL. If your ambition was only to get a CPL as is sometimes the case, it is unnecessary to do the 14 ATPL exams.

Can you get your CPL by taking ATPL exams or do you have to do 2 sets of exams?

Yes, you can get your CPL by taking the ATPL exams. You would not have to do both sets of exams.

Multi-Crew Course (MCC)

What do I think about APS MCC?

Without APS MCC, I would not have had any chance of getting a job in the airlines. APS was like a Fastrack ticket to a pilot job interview and type rating. Especially as I did my training from various smaller unknown schools like Westair for CPL (which was excellent).

I thought APS really levelled the field for those who couldn’t afford 120k for an integrated MPL program but have access to good job opportunities at the end of pilot training. This is what I love about modular pilot training – there are so many different routes and avenues to complete your flight training!

Part of the difficulty of pilot training is how requirements change with time in flight training. When I was doing my training the previous L3 AQC MCC (before they starting teaching APS MCC) was curry flavour of the month. With that, you were almost guaranteed an assessment for an airline flying A320s.

That soon dried up as A320 recruitment slowed down with their partner airline. Then came The APS MCC which basically made it a 90% pass rate for airline assessment for those who had completed the course.

The APS MCC course is terrific so please check it out.

General flight training

My dream job is to become a pilot, but funding is a real problem. I did want to go through the integrated route, but after speaking to some pilots, they advised me to go through the modular route. Even this route is costly, is there any advice for funding? How can I fit in the different licenses while working full time?

Unfortunately, there is absolutely zero funding right now, in the UK and Europe unless you go to the military. The best bet is to break your pilot training down. Start off with a trial flight to see if you actually like flying, get your medical and progress a PPL.

I did my PPL just over the weekends – took around 9 months so this wasn’t too bad and that allowed me to keep my job during the week. Have a look at the post I did about how to become a pilot with no money.

How much does a pilot earn?

It varies. Check out my how much do pilots earn video on YouTube

How many hours did you have when you were accepted into your first airline?

I had 236hours total time as a cadet

Can you summarise a cost estimation for all the different courses?

  1. Medical – £1k
  2. PPL – £10k
  3. Hour Building: £15k
  4. ATPL Theory (distance learning): £6k
  5. Multi Engine Instrument Rating: £25k
  6. Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL): £8K
  7. APS MCC: £10k

The costs above have been rounded up to include items such as transport and accommodation.

Can I still get a pilot job in my 30’s?

Absolutely, I got my first pilot job when I was 33. The important thing is to try to get yourself as prepared as possible to be able to demonstrate the ICAO 8 pilot competencies during airline assessment. I mention these to give you the basis of how the airline world works in terms of how flight crews are assessed.

The 8 ICAO Pilot Competencies are:

  1. Communication
  2. Aircraft Flight Path Management – Manual Control
  3. Aircraft Flight Path Management – Automation
  4. Leadership and teamwork
  5. Problem solving and decision making
  6. Application of procedures
  7. Workload management
  8. Situational Awareness

You can develop and work on many of these competencies outside of the flight deck. I will do a separate blog post on what I learnt during my airline assessments.

Where did you do your training and did you go modular or integrated?

I was modular. Check out my How to become a pilot blog post for a breakdown of the path I took and which schools. To find out more about the author, have a look at the welcome blog post!

Related Video

Check out my YouTube modular pilot training Q&A that covered all the below:

  • Avenues for flight training at a lower coast
  • How to achieve your 14 ATPL exams via distance learning
  • What was my ATPL study technique
  • Which MCC and why. What was the flying like? Was the aeroplane/ aircraft type important
  • How to pass a competency-based pilot interview
  • What is the typical day in the life of a pilot? Is it fun/ stressful/ tiring?
  • How did I do my hour building whilst working
  • How often where my CPL/ MEIR lessons and did doing them whilst working full time cause any problems retaining the skills between lessons?
  • What to expect during my type rating course
  • As a modular trained pilot did you do all your training with one training organisation/ training with different schools? Do airlines look at you differently if you’ve trained with more than one provider
  • Do you ever hand fly visual approaches in a 737? Is it still following instrument rules? Some airports only have one ILS at one end EG Blackpool
  • So how would you operate RWY10? any other tricky one? – Benefits of the simulator at home?
  • How much does it cost to go in the sim for the MEIR? do you save a lot of money by doing as much of the course in the sim?
  • How to become a pilot modular
  • Any idea of the representation of black and ethnic minority women who fly for your company?

I’m currently studying for my ATPL Exams. Do you think in the next couple of years, pilot demand is going to rise again?

The truth is nobody knows what demand could be like in the coming years, so try to focus on getting yourself into a position that you are in a good situation either way.

Since I had my first flight stating my PPL in 2008, deep in the financial crisis (zero chance of getting an aviation job), we’ve had oil price going nuts, SARS, recessions, and so many airlines going bankrupt.
What I learnt is you have to be patient and have a good backup plan. For me, it was working for 12years in engineering before opportunities, and favourable employment terms returned to aviation such that I was willing to make the jump.
I am sure it won’t take you 12 years to complete your pilot training, but as long as you are prepared if recruitment starts (having all your licences and paperwork) and if there is no recruitment (having a good back up plan), you will be successful either way.

Thinking about being a pilot? Check out my best selling Pilot Training Guide on Amazon for all the best information to save you money and time during pilot training.

Listen to the Pilot Training Guide FREE with Audible here

See it on Amazon

Pilot Interview

On the live Q&A with FlightDeckWingman, you recommend a book titled ‘Why You? 101 Interview Questions’ to practice for the airline pilot interview. The book consists of nearly 300 pages. I’m wondering which questions you studied before your airline assessment?

I went through the book from start to finish. It gives excellent coaching on interview technique but also the psychology to help you put a compelling CV together and answer those annoying competency-based questions.

I love this book because it is not just applicable to aviation but to any job, you are applying for. It’s a great book. Take your time with it and go through the exercises that they give. After that book, I never had any issues with the ‘HR’ side of interviews.

See it on Amazon


Do you have any tips on what I should look out for when I’m looking for training providers? I want to get my ppl as quickly as possible but also want to go through a school that will be well received on my CV.

Good question – did you see this post on questions to ask your flight school? https://kcthepilot.com/questions-to-ask-flight-school/

I get the impression that once you are in with a flight school, you are stuck. Can I drop/ change flight schools and instructors for other schools?

Yes, you can change schools but only after the end of a given stage. For example, you do your PPL at one school and then switch to another for your night rating. I wouldn’t recommend switching in the middle of a given course as you’ll most likely have to start again and probably have to pay twice. But if you are only an hour into your given course and it’s really not working, then fair enough…

I’m finishing college soon, so I’m hopefully going to begin my modular route. Should I try and limit the number of training providers or go to different ones to keep the cost down. I’ve spoken to some pilots who said it doesn’t matter; however, the pilot schools I talk to say that it does matter, and airlines look for people who don’t go to 3 or more training providers

My experience:

  1. PPL – Ravenair
  2. Hour building, IMC & night rating – ANT Blackpool  
  3. ATPL Theory – CATS
  4. CPL – Westair
  5. MEIR – PTT
  6. MCC – VA

3 job offers 4 weeks after finishing

The key is MCC. You need to do an excellent MCC and get first time passes at all the other stages. Hand on heart, APS MCC made all the difference to me when making the jump to airline employment.

Do you have any flight training questions? Please leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you!

B737-800 Sim

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