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Flight Training - Three Ways to Save MoneyUse these tips to trim your flight training bill
By Matthew Everett
Flight training is a significant and potentially costly undertaking. There are many variables to consider in order to have the best possible experience. Unfortunately, cost seems to be one of the most prominent things people see when looking at flight training. Luckily, there are three things you can do to maximize the value of your training and minimize the associated costs: fly more often, manage rental and instructor costs, and train for your goals.
Fly More Often
Cost Management and Flight Training Schools When most people consider something that costs money, the idea of doing it more frequently runs counter to their idea of cost savings. With flight training, and most other exercises in learning, this isn't the case. Why should you fly more often to save costs? The more often you fly, the less time you spend rehashing old topics to regain proficiency. For example consider two students at the same school; one flies multiple times a week while the other only flies once a month. The first student will find that the bill from the school is more in the short term, since they are flying more hours per week. However, they will retain a proficiency from flight to flight that will enable them to take their check-ride with fewer flight hours. The second student will spend more time redoing tasks in order to regain lost proficiency. While the second pilot appears to be spending less money on the surface, they actually end up spending more because it takes them more flight hours to reach their check-ride.
Manage Rental & Instructor Costs
Something most people zero in on when looking at flight training is the per-hour aircraft and instructor costs. These two expenses make up the bulk of training costs, so it makes sense to look at them in a little more detail. Instructor costs are typically designed to pay the instructor's wages, insurance, and other overhead. Typically instructor costs aren't variable; you pay the same rate for any CFI. Aircraft cost on the other hand is extremely variable, and this is where you can most manage the costs of flight training. Generally speaking, most schools offer several aircraft options ranging from very basic trainers to complex, multi-engine aircraft. The important thing to realize is, all aircraft fly, some just cost more. For example, consider a flight school with a Cessna 150 and a glass-panel Diamond Twin Star; renting the Cessna 150, while perhaps not as glamorous, could net a pretty significant savings over the more advanced Diamond Twin Star.
Train For Your Goals
On the other hand, someone training for an airline career may be better served springing for the more advanced avionics. One of the most important considerations that you can make regarding costs is looking at your goals. For example, the trainee looking for an airline career would likely be best served by obtaining multi-engine privileges and flight time for which the Cessna 150 is a bad match. Meanwhile, the leisure flyer can gladly buzz around in that little Cessna 150 all day. So ask yourself a few questions and make sure you know what you are looking to achieve. Then see how you can optimise your training decisions so that you spend your time and money productively.
In order to manage your flight training costs, remember to look at your goals, hourly costs, and maximizing your flying time. These three things will greatly affect your training costs, and if properly balanced, will allow you to reach your goal with very little trouble. Most importantly, remember that you should be trying to get the most value for the money you spend, not spend the least amount of money.
Matthew Everett is a private pilot and aviation blogger. You can find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.