Posts Tagged ‘international flight training’

International Students Flock to U.S. Flight Schools

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Thanks to the well developed infrastructure and largely unregulated airspace over 5,000 Lufthansa pilots have learned to fly in the United States.

The U.S. is blessed with a well-developed aviation infrastructure of more than 1,700 airports and largely unregulated airspace. This fact goes largely unnoticed by a majority of Americans, but to foreign nationals from places like Bahrain, where there is only one airport and airspace is highly restricted, the U.S. is like a dream come true.

U.S. Flight schools like Oxford Aviation Academy in Phoenix cater to student pilots like Mahmood Ali Al Sheikh from Bahrain, who has dreamed of being a pilot since he was 14 and soloed this past October. With more than 1,700 airports and more flight instructors than some countries have pilots, the U.S. is very attractive to foreign students.

Some of the schools, like the Oxford Aviation Academy, are operated by foreign corporations; while others are U.S. schools taking advantage of the huge market of international students. While many of the foreign operators have schools in many European countries as well, the expense of training in Europe drives many students to U.S. schools. In fact, the high cost of training in Europe even has some European airlines like Lufthansa sending pilots to the U.S. for training. Regardless of reason, whether cost or a lack of infrastructure, the U.S. is often the most attractive option for foreign pilots.

While the U.S. aviation sector has come on some difficult times, other countries, particularly in East Asia (such as China, which recently announced the opening of airspace to general aviation) and the Middle East, are seeing a booming commercial air travel sector. These countries are struggling to meet a very real need for qualified pilots, while flight schools in the U.S. are being forced to shut down. This is made all the more difficult by the lack of infrastructure and highly restricted airspace in some nations.

Like most foreign students, Sheikh will likely have no trouble finding a job and stands a good chance of being hired by Gulf Air immediately after completing his ATP rating. Some foreign students, like those at Lufthansa’s flight school in Phoenix are already employed by the airline before they begin flight training. This Lufthansa’s way of engendering their corporate culture and enhancing the safety records of their pilots. Their training center, which started 40 years ago in California before relocating to Arizona, offers students dormitories, a cafeteria, and a fleet of Beechcraft Bonanzas. With an annual budget of nearly $35 million, the school has trained more than 5,000 Lufthansa pilots.

Many of the U.S. flight schools that have welcomed foreign students with open arms, such as Florida Institute of Technology, which is training currently Irish and Turkish pilots, see it as a way to bridge the gap until domestic enrollment increases. According to an official at a flight school in Vero Beach, Florida, a decade ago most of the students at the school were from the U.S., but now most of the students are foreign nationals.

Learn more in our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training schools near you.

Source: At U.S. Flight Schools, a Shift in Students (Free NYT registration required)
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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China Embraces GA, Opens Airspace

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

China's State Council and Central Military Commision have announced the nation's low-alititude airspace, below 13,000 feet, will open over the next 5 years for civilian use.

China’s State Council and the Central Military Commission announced this week that the country’s low-altitude airspace, below 13,123 feet, will be opened for civilian use over the next five years. Under current regulations, aircraft are required to obtain clearance from the military, which are difficult to obtain via a process that is notoriously delayed. Under the new regulations, aircraft flying below 3,280 feet are free to take off and land without this approval; aircraft flying up to 13,123 feet must file a flight plan but are also not required to have the clearance. The announcement also included a circular that details China’s plans to develop their civilian aviation system.

The announcement has spawned a gold rush of sorts among potential general aviation operators. The Huaxi Village, which already owns two helicopters, intends to purchase up to twenty more aircraft for flight training and tourism. The village has been waiting for the airspace to open in hopes of boosting tourism income, such as the sightseeing flights they hope to begin next month, to their village.

China currently has about 1,000 general aviation aircraft registered, but they project a tenfold increase within the next two years. The airspace opening has aircraft manufacturers salivating over the estimated $150 billion market potential created in China. Manufacturers of piston aircraft and helicopters are hoping to grab some of the developing market, but with airspace over 13,000 feet still severely restricted, it is unlikely that jets will see much of an increase in sales.

The announcement highlights the Chinese Government’s commitment to driving growth in the aviation industry. While this is certainly good news for giants like Boeing and Airbus now, the rapidly developing Chinese aircraft manufacturing sector will likely see the most long-term benefit. For example, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China announced at the Zhuhai Airshow they have sales agreements with Chinese airlines for 100 aircraft. The company’s C919 airliner, a 150-seat aircraft, is scheduled to make its first flight in 2014. Eurocopter is predicting similar developments in the helicopter market as early as 2020.

This is certainly good news for ailing aircraft manufacturers who can look forward to the boost that will likely come as Chinese take to the sky. While companies who already have a presence in China, like Cessna and Boeing, will have an easier time of capturing some of the Chinese market, the projected demand is more than enough for everyone to get involved.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training near you.

Sources: China Opens Airspace For GA and Large GA aircraft sales to China should follow airspace opening
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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ACCSC Honors Upper Limit Aviation as School of Distinction

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Upper Limit Aviation is now an ACCSC School of Distinction.

The Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges, which accredits education programs at private colleges and career schools, recently awarded Upper Limit Aviation status as a School of Distinction for its helicopter flight training program. The ACCSC award is presented “to recognize ACCSC-accredited institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to the expectations and rigors of accreditation as well as a commitment to delivering quality educational programs” says Michael McComis, Executive Director of ACCSC. The award was presented to Upper Limit Aviation in the fall at the 2010 Professional Development Conference Awards Ceremony.

Upper Limit Aviation, based at Salt Lake International Airport in Utah, operates a helicopter flight school. They offer both Part 141 and Part 61 helicopter flight training programs for ratings from Private to Instrument Flight Instructor. They have also partnered with Salt Lake Community College to offer students the option of enrolling in an Associate of Science Degree or Commercial Certificate of Completion in the Professional Pilot program. Additionally, they offer VA approved courses allowing up to 100% GI Bill benefit coverage for eligible students. According to Lois Reid, co-founder and school director, “It is our mission to create a solid program that is unlike anything in the flight training community.”

Upper Limit Aviation currently offers 13 Federal Aviation Regulation Part 141 approved flight training courses, which allows them to train international students and reduce the number of flight hours required for U.S. students. Additionally, Upper Limit operates a Part 135 on demand Air Carrier to perform various contracts including utility work, aerial surveys, and fire suppression.

For more information on Upper Limit Aviation please see our featured school page.

For more information on helicopter training and choosing the right school, check out our Helicopter Training Resource Center or find helicopter training near you.

Sources: Upper Limit Aviation Receives ACCSC ‘School of Distinction’ Award
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at
Sources: Upper Limit Aviation Receives ACCSC ‘School of Distinction’ Award

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Two University Flight Training Programs Set to Expand

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Two university aviation programs are set to expand in the next five years.

Two university aviation programs have announced that they are set to expand over the next five years.

Florida Institute of Technology recently announced a $14 million dollar contract with Turkish Airlines.

Under the contract, similar to an existing partnership between FIT and an Irish airline, FIT will provide primary flight instruction through the commercial pilot certificate level. The program, already underway since June, will train more than 100 Turkish pilots per year for the next five years.

In a similarly happy story, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has announced that they intend to open a third campus in either Houston, TX or Rockford, IL. The final announcement is expected sometime in March. With more than $125 million dollars in projects planned in the next five years, it’s no surprise that the school is eyeing expansion. Rockford is located in an area of significant growth in the aerospace industry with more than 130 companies located within an hour of the town. Houston, on the other hand, has NASA which is one of the largest employers of aerospace professionals.

Embry-Riddle, a very well known aviation school, currently has locations in Prescott, AZ and Daytona, FL. Embry-Riddle’s Daytona location is still relatively new as approximately half of the campus facilities are no older than 12 years. The campus is home to several facilities featuring some of the latest in flight training technology including flight simulators, hyperbaric chambers.

While these announcements are certainly good news for these schools and their students, they bear a certain similarity that other flight training providers would do well to notice. As indicated in both announcements, the schools are seeking out partnerships in the industry at large. In partnering with companies like airlines and aircraft manufacturers, these schools are paving the way for graduates to find jobs as well as providing alternate sources of funding which reduce the cost of their flight training programs.

Sources: Florida Tech lands $14M deal to train airline pilots and Embry-Riddle boss: Houston is Rockford’s competition
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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EASA to Force Holders of FAA Certificates to Convert

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Pending EASA regulations could have significant negative effects on US flight schools and aircraft manufacturers.

Pilots in Europe will likely have to go through costly and lengthy processes to convert their FAA-issued pilot certificates and aircraft registrations. According to new regulations put forth by EASA, the European equivalent of the FAA, all pilots that live in Europe must obtain EASA licenses in order to fly in Europe.

Prior to now, many European pilots have come to the US and obtained FAA certificates. The only major limitation until now has been that these pilots were required to fly N-registered aircraft. Unfortunately, under the new regulations, this practice would be illegal.

The biggest motivator for pilots in Europe to obtain FAA certificates was cost. Many JAA or EASA licenses cost significantly more than the equivalent FAA certificate. According to estimates, there are more than 10,000 pilots in Europe with FAA Instrument Ratings. These pilots, who likely saved thousands by coming to the US and obtaining the rating, will be required to convert to the EASA rating. Unfortunately, there is the potential that these pilots would have to undertake all seven examinations and additional medical examinations in order to qualify for the conversion thereby erasing any cost-savings.

According to the IAOPA, the most concerning issue is that the regulations appear to have very little to do with safety. They said that there have been no indications of safety issues with the current system.

While this may not directly affect pilots outside Europe, it will likely have a very detrimental effect on US flight schools. These regulations effectively destroy a significant market segment for many schools that primarily serve international students. These students will no longer realize a cost savings by coming to the US, so they will no longer come. In a time when many schools in the US are trying to cope with the struggling economy, it is likely some schools will be forced to close.

Additionally, since the regulations will also affect the operation N-registered aircraft in Europe, many US aircraft manufacturers could see a drop in demand. Most notably, certain modified aircraft, which are legal in the US under STCs, would not qualify under the new regulations rendering them virtually useless. This could lead US companies like Cessna and Cirrus to see a drop in European demand as pilots shift to European manufacturers like Diamond or DAHER-SOCATA. Given the current depressed state of the aircraft market, this can only lead to further cut-backs at production facilities in the US.

Learn more! Discover our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training schools in our directory – over 1,500 listed.
Source: EASA to move against the N-register
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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Boeing Projects Annual Need for 23,000 New Pilots

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Boeing is projecting a need for almost a million new aviation jobs in the next 20 years.

Boeing is projecting that the commercial aviation industry will require more than a million new pilots and maintenance personnel over the next 20 years. In a recent press release, the aircraft manufacturer cited growing demand for new and replacement aircraft as the leading indicator of the need for new crew.

According to the crew assessment forecast, based on Boeing’s Current Market Outlook, training methods must be adapted and created to aid future generations in flying and maintaining the 30,000 new aircraft projected to be delivered through 2029.

The report indicates strong growth in the Asia-Pacific region, which is projected to require almost 400,000 new pilots and mechanics. China is the major player in the region, requiring nearly 200,000 personnel. This is compared to North America and Europe which combined will require at least 400,000 pilots and mechanics.

The challenge is in providing adequate training to safely train new pilots and mechanics worldwide to operate and maintain new, technologically-advanced aircraft. The training must be accessible worldwide and incorporate methodologies to cope with new learning styles. For these reasons, Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers worldwide, is also one of the leading providers of training products for the commercial aviation industry. Boeing’s training initiatives are some of the most innovative and are accepted worldwide.


Search for flight schools or aircraft maintenance training training near you.


This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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Texas-based flight academy takes in Chinese students

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
By Matthew Everett

US Flight Academy, a US Aviation subsidiary based in Denton, Texas, will take over the training of 60 Chinese student pilots. The students faced an uncertain future after the closure of Wright Flyers Aviation in Hondo, TX, but thanks to a new agreement, US Flight Academy will take over the assets of Wright Flyers Aviation.

The academy currently operates similar programs at other facilities and is looking to get the students flying again within the week. Under the deal, US Flight Academy will also utilize the Hondo facilities to continue the training program which will minimize effects of the transition on the students.

For more information see:—Fight-Training/709/1754/F/1.php

Source: US Aviation to take over flight training program from Wright Flyers Aviation

View a complete list of Texas flight schools

Matthew Everett is a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him at or find his blog at

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Silverhawk Aviation Academy Gets M-1 Visa Approval, Adds Location

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
By Kyle Garrett – Aviation Schools Online

Silverhawk Aviation Academy announced today that it is now approved to offer helicopter pilot training to students using M-1 Visas and has opened a new training facility in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Silverhawk Aviation Academy

Silverhawk Aviation Academy

According to the company’s website, the Part 141 school operates eight helicopters and has been in the helicopter school business since 1998. The school typically has about 50 enrolled students at any given time.

According to Catherine Weber, Silverhawk’s owner, the school recently gained M-1 visa approval and is now actively pursuing international helicopter pilot candidates for training. M1 visas allow international students to attend training at schools in the U.S. that are not associated with a college or university for up to one year. However, immediately after graduating, M-1 visa students are required to return to their home country. In addition, unlike some other student visas, M-1 students are not allowed to work in the U.S. during training, or after attending training.

To learn more, please visit Silverhawk Aviation Academy‘s site, or request more info from Silverhawk.

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Phoenix East Aviation Earns F-1 Visa Approval for Pilot Training

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

By Patricia Cobleigh

Daytona Beach, Florida, USA –- Phoenix East Aviation (PEA) announces approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for F-1 Visa form authorization for international pilot training students.

F-1 student visas now available through Phoenix East Aviation

F-1 student visas now available through Phoenix East Aviation

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows a foreign student to enter the United States as a full-time student at a U.S. government approved academic institution. This visa also requires the student to be enrolled in a program that culminates in a professional certificate or college degree; because Phoenix East Aviation is a nationally accredited pilot training academy with established qualifications and high standards of education, authorization was given by the U.S. government to accept eligible international students under this F-1 program.  There are only three professional pilot training academies in the U.S. that are allowed by the federal government to participate in the F-1 student visa program.

In this program, the student pilot enters a comprehensive professional pilot training program. This “ab initio” student begins with zero flying experience and progresses through the program, achieving the Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument and Multi-engine Ratings – and then continues training for the Certified Flight Instructor, Certified Flight Instructor Instrument, and Multi-engine Instructor ratings.

Upon successful completion of this full training program, a PEA graduate may interview for a position as a PEA flight instructor and upon acceptance become a paid employee of Phoenix East Aviation, gaining practical flight experience as he/she continues building flight hours and acquiring the skills required to achieve the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, which is the highest aviation certification given by the FAA. The F-1 Visa, under its Optional Practical Training, allows such employment during this advanced training and time-building phase.

To learn more about F-1 Visas and flight training programs, contact Phoenix East Aviation

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How Do I Get a Student Visa To Take Flight Training in the U.S.?

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
By Brenda Keene, former flight school executive and aviation industry freelancer

Are you a foreign national looking for flight training in the United States? In that case, you’ll need to apply for and obtain a student visa. There are two types of student visas depending on the type of flight training school you attend, M1 and F1. Read on for all the details.

If you plan to attend a flight school that is not connected with a college or university, you will need to apply for an M-1 (I-20) student visa. Your flight school will issue you the I-20 (a fee is usually required). You will need to apply to the American Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Students are not able to work on the M-1 student visa. Please click here for more information on obtaining an M-1 visa.

If you plan to attend flight training at a college or university you will need to apply for an F-1 (I-20) student visa. Different universities have different admission policies. Your university will inform you what they need from you in order to determine that you are academically eligible. The big difference between M1 and F1 visas: students on F-1 visas are allowed to work in the U.S. during the term of the visa. Once the university has determined that your application is complete and you are academically eligible, they will issue an I-20 form to enable you to apply for your student visa.

Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Please click here for more information. For a list of flight schools that specialize in training foreign students, check out

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