How to Select a Flying School

From Transport Canada

There are many flight training schools in Canada. To choose one that suits your needs, follow these steps.

1. Identify your aviation goals

Identify your aviation goals by answering these questions:

  • Do you want to pilot an aircraft for fun or as a career?
  • In what province/region do you plan to attend flight training?
  • What type of aircraft do you want to practise on?
  • Do you prefer to train full-time or part-time?

2. Use Transport Canada's Flight Training Units Search to find schools that will help you to achieve your goals 

The key question is whether you need training to become a recreational pilot or to prepare for a career as a commercial pilot. While everyone who flies in Canada must obtain a pilot licence or permit, the training related to "recreational" aircraft (ultra-lights, balloons, gliders) varies from training related to aeroplanes or helicopters. 

The Flight Training Units Search allows you to find schools that offer the precise type of training that you want. The search page includes drop-down menus that allow you to specify the region/province, the "authority" (which relates to the type of training), and the "category" (type of aircraft used in training).

3. Review each school's promotional information 

After you have obtained a list of search results (applying your criteria) from the Flight Training Units Search, view each school's promotional information by visiting their website or reading their pamphlets. Find answers to the following questions:

  • What are the flying credentials of the operators?
  • How long has the school been in business?
  • Is housing and/or financial aid available?
  • How many students have graduated from the school and what is the current number of students?
  • What kinds of aircraft are used for training?
  • What kind of ground facilities (such as classrooms and flight simulators) are available?
  • What kind of services are available at the school's airport (for example, is there a control tower)?
  • What are the course fees and other costs?

4. Visit the schools on your short list 

After you have used the data resulting from the review of promotional information to create a short list of flight training schools, visit those schools.

During your visit, find out all you can about the school's aircraft, personnel, facilities, and policies.

  • Meet a flight instructor and ask about
    • his/her rating: the most experienced hold a "Class I Flight Instructor Rating" while the least experienced hold a "Class IV Flight Instructor Rating" (to look into training for flight instructors, see the Pilot Examiner Program)
    • the student/instructor ratio
    • how flight training is scheduled
    • how and by whom student flight training records are kept
  • Meet a school administrator and ask about
    • whether ground school (classroom instruction) is available continuously or intermittently
    • how fees/costs are calculated, billed, and collected
      • whether the school "guarantees" that their training will result in a permit/licence
      • whether loans and financing are available
    • whether the school's insurance covers both personal protection and personal liability
  • Get a tour of the school's campus and check out their aircraft and facilities:
    • training aircraft (ask about the possibility of a familiarization flight)
    • aircraft hangars, maintenance facilities, and airport runways
    • classrooms and computer-based training facilities
    • student accommodations (if any)
    • flight simulators and flight training devices (see the next step)

5. Use Transport Canada's Approved Aircraft Simulators and Flight Training Devices Search to check out the school's machinery 

Transport Canada assesses such devices and approves those that meet its criteria. To find out whether a school's machines are approved, use the Approved Aircraft Simulators and Flight Training Devices Search.

  • By clicking on the top drop-down menu ("List"), you can choose to search for either "Approved Full Flight Simulators" or "Approved Flight Training Devices".
  • The other drop-down menus — "Operator", "Type", and "Location" — allow you to fine-tune your criteria to specify the actual machines in use at a school.

6. Choose a flight training school 

After collecting and analyzing all the relevant data, choose a flight training school that allows you to achieve your aviation goals.

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