How much will it cost to become a pilot?
This is a crucial question for lots of people who consider becoming a pilot. The average cost of getting the intial pilot licence—the Private Pilot Licence—is between $6,000 and $10,000. To become a fully qualified Commercial Pilot (fully qualified in terms of being able to fly an airline-equivalent aircraft, requiring the Multi-engine and Instrument Ratings), the costs of training will increase to about $35,000 and there will be additional time-building costs. As a rule, ground training is hardwork but inexpensive, while air training is easy and fun but expensive.
The problem in predicting the costs of pilot training is that people vary with respect to physical skill and knowledge capablities—we are all different. Also, training costs vary with the frequency of training—if you flight train frequently, say five training flights per week, your costs of training will be far less than if you complete one training flight per week—students who train less frequency typically require extra review of exercises learned in previous flights.
While frequency of training is important, be sure you carefully plan out a training budget and then stick to it. Be sure you plan your financing so as to avoid running out of money during your training—it isn't that the training will have to be repeated when it is resumed as only a review will be likely required, but there is an element of currency in learning to fly as pilot skills are built up over time—interrupted training will disrupt this learning process. If your flight training is interrupted for one reason or another, it is better if the break occurs after your first solo flight.
Know that flight training takes two forms: dual and solo. The first part of training—leading up to the first solo flight—is all dual flight training, which is when you fly with a Flight Instructor. The Flight Instructor shows you a maneuver in the aircraft, and the you practice the same maneuver with the Instructor sitting next next to you, monitoring your control inputs and intervenening if required. As you can appreciate, practically all pilot skills are learned in this pre-solo period of training, which is all dual instruction. After the first solo flight, about every second flight is solo flight training where you fly the aircraft by yourself, practicing the flight exercises you have been taught.
Dual Instruction is expensive as you are paying the Instructor his or her fee, as well as the costs of the operating the aircraft (fuel, maintenance, insurance, etc.) —each minute of flying will cost about $2.75 per minute. Solo flying is somewhat less expensive, but it is still up there—about $2.00 per minute. In both cases, students only pay for the time when the aircraft engine is running, but you can see it is expensive. I think the best advise to reduce the costs is to be well prepared before you start the aircraft engine—every flight will entail preparatory study (see the Ready Room for a list of preparatory subjects), reading up in the training manuals on the next planned exercises, and be sure you spend sufficient time doing this (which doesn't cost a thing!).
Students who plan to be professional pilots should refer to our Professional Program web page. Know that you can claim the education benefits for the purpose of taxation, but you cannot claim the costs of your Private Pilot Training until to begin your Commercial Pilot Training.
Private financing is generally available from most commercial banks.