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Step 4: Flight Training Costs and Fees

Learning to fly is an investment. Flight training costs will vary nationwide and also from flight school to flight school. Whenever you inquire about flight training, each flight school will quote you an estimated flight training cost. The final costs will vary from student to student according to individual progress and needs. There are several key factors associated with the costs of flight training such as: the type of school (i.e. college vs. FBO), location (i.e. IL vs. FL), reputation (i.e. national vs. local), training aircraft, aircraft rental fee, instructor fee, etc. Other fees associated with flight training costs are books and supplies, ground school, knowledge test, FAA medical exam, and the checkride. Some schools may include these fees in their estimated costs and others may not.

The important issue when discussing flight training costs is to review the “breakdown” of the training program and to clearly identify what is and what is not included in the final cost. Some flight schools base their costs on the FAA minimum flight-time requirements and others base their costs on the “National Average” figure. The national average is generally higher than the FAA’s minimum required flight hours due to average students needing more training to achieve the necessary competency level to pass their checkride. Understanding each school’s flight training cost structure will allow you to compare schools – “apples to apples.”

To help you understand the flight training costs, ask the flight school the following questions:

What certificate(s) and/or rating(s) are included in this cost?
How many dual and solo flight hours are included?
Is ground school included with the cost? How many flight hours?
Is your cost structure based on the FAA’s minimum requirements or the national average?
How much is the written exam?
How much is the checkride?
How much will I spend on books and supplies for this certificate and/or rating?
Are the books and supplies included?
Are there any hidden fees? What are the costs?
Are there any incidental fees such as usage of headsets, specific supplies, etc.? What are the costs?
What are your scheduling, no-show, cancellation, and refund policies and procedures?
How long will it take me to complete this flight training program?

After asking these questions and other questions you may think about, you should have a better understanding of the flight school’s training costs. Provided below is a sample flight training cost breakdown for a Private Pilot Certificate.


Sample Breakdown:

Private Pilot Certificate – Estimated Costs
Based on 40 hours of flight time (FAA Minimum Requirement)
20 Hours – Dual: $2,360
• Aircraft: $75/hr*
• Instructor: $43/hr.*
• Total: $118/hr.
20 Hours – Solo : $1,500
• Aircraft: $75/hr  
Book and Supplies: $200
Written Exam: $70
Medical Exam: $100
(Examiner Fee)
Total: $4,505

Please Note:
Beware of flight schools that want you to sign a binding contract, which typically states – “If you decide to stop training, you are still required to pay them for the remaining balance of obtaining the certificate or rating.
Any time you exceed the training hours outlined in the school’s cost structure, you will be charged for the overage amount. Some flight schools will guarantee that you will earn your pilot certificate or rating for a fixed price no matter how long it takes you. In this case, you should carefully read the fine print, because many of these guarantees expire after a certain number of flight hours. If you have not achieved your certificate or rating in this time frame, the school will continue to train you, but you will have to pay for the additional training that exceeds their guarantee.

Tips for Reducing Flight Training Costs – Cost Saving Strategies

There are three major ways to reduce your final costs:
Fly as frequently as possible. - “Practice makes Perfect”
The cost of earning your certificate or rating is directly related to how frequent you fly. As with learning any new skill, ground and flight training should be obtained as regularly and frequently as possible rather than once or twice a month. Training frequently assures maximum retention of newly acquired skills. If you train frequently, you will be less likely to repeat lessons, and possibly spend less time and money earning your certificate or rating.

Note: A student who flies three times per week will earn his or her certificate or rating faster than someone training only once or twice a month. In summary, the length and cost of your flight training can be reduced by frequent training lessons.
Review your lesson plans.
Your flight instructor should provide you with a training syllabus outlining the lesson plans for that particular pilot certificate or rating. Always review your lesson plans before each lesson, so you know what to expect during your ground and flight lessons, and how to perform any new maneuvers. After reviewing each lesson plan and studying any supplemental materials, you should make a list of questions that you may have regarding the subject and discuss them with your flight instructor.
Train with a friend.
If you have a friend whose training for the same certificate or rating, schedule your lessons back-to-back. This will allow both of you to fly as an observer on each other's flights. Riding as an observer will allow you to reinforce your own knowledge and learn from the other's experiences.

Click here for the next page>>
- How to Pay for Flight Training
- Flight Currency

Credit: Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004-2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved. All photos copyrighted by their respective owners.




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Learn to Fly: Become a Pilot is your one-stop source to information on flight training, flying lessons, flight schools, and helicopter schools. Learn about the entire flight training process to help you earn your pilot certificates or ratings such as student pilot certificate, commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, and others.

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