Flight Training Academy Information

Table of Contents:


Springbank Airport is located 10 kilometers west of the city of Calgary, slightly north of the Trans-Canada Highway #1. It is directly in the heart of the Municipal District of Rocky View No. 44 and occupies approximately 420 hectares (1040 acres) of land. The airport is surrounded by mostly flat, agricultural land that slopes gently northward towards the Bow River. Springbank is conveniently located near the suburban area of Calgary and many small towns like Bragg Creek and Cochrane. There are emergency Fire/EMS services located at the airport and can be contacted by dialing 911. The Canadian federal government still maintains ownership of the Springbank Airport; however, all operations are contracted by lease to the Calgary Airport Authority.


Once upon a time (not to make you old timers feel old or anything, but…), the site of the Springbank Airport was the location of the MacLaurin farm. This changed in February 1969 when construction on the airport began. The construction took approximately 2 years to complete, with the official Grand opening being held in July 1971. At the time, Transport Canada was looking for a solution to the growing congestion problem at the nearby Calgary International Airport. While constructing a parallel runway at CYYC would have solved this problem, TC decided to build a smaller relief airport similar to St. Andrews close to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Calgary/Springbank was then designed with the small aircraft (≤12,500 lb.) market in mind. In October 1997, the Calgary Airport Authority officially assumed control of the facility from the federal government, under a 60-year lease agreement that is still in effect.

Springbank Airport

Springbank is a great place to fly! We have some of the best scenery in the world right here in our own backyard. It only takes about a 10-minute flight west to be in the Rockies, exposed to some of the most beautiful views, and be able to experience the art of Mountain Flying. Being so close to the Rockies, allows us to waste little ferry time and to get you into the mountains to get started on some of the best mountain training the world can offer.

The airport itself is located in a rural area surrounded by farms, ranches, and many smaller communities. Since our pilot training has taught us to be environmentally sensitive, remember what type of areas you are flying over.

There are some things to keep in mind when flying at CYBW:

  • Altitude: we are located at 3940 feet ASL. For many pilots, this is a challenge in itself. High-density altitude conditions will challenge you to become very efficient at pushing the aircraft to its maximum performance.
  • The Prairies and the Foothills: These areas provide a great environment to build up your navigational skills as well as improve your “confined area” techniques, getting you ready for Forestry, and the Oil & Gas Industry.
  • The Rockies: A natural advanced training site, where you can experience some of the most severe flying conditions you will find in your career. Valleys, peaks, glaciers, lakes, rivers, canyons, and forests, all together in a very different experience.
  • The Wind: The area surrounding Springbank is home to our famous westerly winds. Known as the “chinooks,” these winds can be very strong and make flying very challenging. In addition, northerly winds during winter can bring the wind chill factor down to -50c!
  • The Weather: Winter in Springbank can be extreme, from -35c to + 35c. Snow, sun, and thunderstorms are common in the prairies and can be very strong, and you will learn how to deal with all of these conditions. Your weather knowledge as a pilot will reach a higher level.
  • Air Traffic: Springbank Airport is the ninth busiest airport in Canada, with nearly 200,000 aircraft movements per year! As a result, you will learn how to manage a very intense volume of radio communication. In the beginning, this may be overwhelming, but with practice and experience, you will become very proficient and effective. IFR training is also available on runway 34 and is equipped for ILS and GPS approaches.

The proximity of the Calgary International Airport and the Calgary control zone, allows you to learn how to deal with busy international airline terminals, as well as all the procedures and radio communication necessary. Radar vectors, assigned altitudes, and reporting point will become familiar to you.


Commercial Pilot License Helicopter

The CPLH course is based on a 6-month time frame (up to one year for foreign students). Please contact us for start dates as classes begin year-round. The L R HELICOPTERS commercial course focuses on getting new pilots ready for work. You will be fresh out of your course and able to show off what you’ve learned!

Private Pilot License Helicopter 

The PPHL courses are based on a 3 to 5-month time frame. It can be customized to allow for part-time training to work around personal schedules.

Advanced Training

Instructor Ratings, Type Ratings, Mountain Training, Night Ratings, and VFR OTT Ratings can all be scheduled year-round, and customized to fit personal needs.

L R HELICOPTERS and ALTITUDE HELICOPTERS in San Diego California are working toward the creation of a mountain flying advanced training centre focused on the formation of the future mountain rescue pilots.


Our ground school program is based on the Transport Canada Study and Reference Guide for Private and Commercial Pilot License – Helicopter (TP 2476 E)

(Copies of the manuals will be provided to you by the school) but you can download it online from the Transport Canada website.

The lesson will include:
(See course description for detailed information)

  • Air Law and Procedures
  • Airframes, Engines, and Systems
  • Theory of Flight
  • Meteorology
  • Instruments
  • Navigation General
  • Navigation Radio Aids
  • Flight Operations
  • Human Factors

In addition to practice exams, videos, and reviews.

  • 135 Hours (80 minimum requirements by CARs) for the CPHL course approximately 7 weeks.
  • 75 Hours (40 minimum requirements by CARs) for the CPHL(A) course approximately 4 weeks.
  • 80 Hours (40 minimum requirements by CARs) for the PPHL course approximately 4 weeks.

Classes are scheduled for Monday to Friday mornings or afternoons (based on the weather to allow for daily flight training)
(*) a detailed schedule will be published before the beginning of the course
(**)Ground Training on an individual basis is available.


L R HELICOPTERS INC. Flight Training Academy’s goal is to prepare our students to perform above the industry standard.

These days, operators are looking for low-time pilots who can safely perform basic flight missions without having to spend a large amount of time and money on further training. The average training in the industry is generally done on small two-seat “training” helicopters, with little operational training available due to their small size and inability to carry much payload. However, our commercial course is based exclusively on the RH44 Raven II. This larger helicopter gives you the student the best opportunity to maximize your training time and perform tasks relevant to industry work like long lining, bucketing, tours, traffic watch, and news gathering.

You will fly the full 100 hours of the course in the RH44. In the end, you will have a total of 100 hours, with at least 35 hours solo and most likely 40 hours Pilot In Command. On completion of your course, you will feel competent behind the controls and will have had the chance to use any of your spare hours to enhance your commercial flying techniques by introducing some general OPS training. L R HELICOPTERS is committed to providing the RH44 Raven II at an affordable price meeting the student’s necessity for successful and affordable training.

Other helicopter types are available on request (EC20, H125, BH12).

All basic flight training will be based on the Transport Canada Flight Training Manual (copies of the manuals will be provided to you by the school) but you can download it online from the TC website at your convenience.


Transport Canada sets very high standards for helicopter instructors. These standards cover the full range of instructors from Class I, which are the most experienced and highest rated, to the primary Class IV.

However, education alone does not make good instructors! Here at L R HELICOPTERS, our instructors come from different backgrounds including Forestry, Geological Exploration, Oil and Gas, Mountain Operations, Firefighting, Heli-skiing, video and photo production, and many more. These diverse backgrounds allow our instructors to pass along further knowledge and skills, which increase your understanding and skill level. During the summer months, our instructors work in the industry continually increasing their knowledge base and honing their skills. This allows our instructors to be in top condition when they return to the teaching environment.



The R44 Raven II delivers the performance of an expensive turbine helicopter at an affordable price. The low price is due to the R44’s piston engine, which reduces maintenance and fuel costs. Its sleek design, impressive speed, and unparalleled reliability give it a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced, changing environment. The R44 will be the primary machine most graduates will fly after entering the industry. The R44 Raven II’s low operating cost allows students to complete their training at only a fraction of the cost associated with larger, more expensive helicopters, all while still receiving the same quality of flying experience.


The EC120B offers the luxury and advanced technology of high-end helicopters without the exorbitant price tag. Its economical Turbomeca Arrius 2F turbine engine cuts down on emissions while maintaining a cost-effective operational profile, making it an ideal choice for students and professionals alike. The helicopter’s spacious cabin and panoramic windows provide an unmatched flying experience, combining comfort with the thrill of flight. For graduates stepping into the aviation industry, the EC120B serves as a versatile asset, capable of performing a variety of missions from scenic aerial tours to precise law enforcement operations. Despite its slightly higher operational cost compared to piston helicopters, the EC120B’s multifunctional capabilities and state-of-the-art safety features, like the Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display (VEMD), ensure a comprehensive training platform that is both efficient and forward-thinking.

AS350B3 (H125):

The AS350B3 (H125) stands as the pinnacle of high-performance, versatile helicopters, designed to tackle the most challenging missions with ease. Its Arriel 2D turbine engine ensures superior lift capacity, reliability, and fuel efficiency, marking it as the helicopter of choice for demanding operations, including high-altitude and hot weather flights. The H125’s rugged construction and advanced avionics package promise unmatched performance and safety. For students aiming for careers requiring peak operational capabilities, such as mountain rescue or heavy lift construction, the AS350B3 H125 offers invaluable real-world experience. Though it comes with higher acquisition and operational costs, its durability, low maintenance needs, and exceptional versatility make it a wise long-term investment for any aspiring aviator.


Calgary offers a wide selection of housing solutions.


A cafeteria is available at the airport and it is based at the “Calgary Flying Club.” It is open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch. A Large selection of restaurants, fast food and grocery shops are within a 15-minute driving distance from the airport.

L R HELICOPTERS base has a Kitchen with microwaves, a fridge, a stove, and a lunchroom. Feel free to bring your lunch as well.


The Civil Aviation Medicine Branch (CAM) was created to enable Canada to fulfill its commitments associated with the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation. The primary activity of CAM is the performance of medical assessments required for the certification of Licensed Aviation Personnel. Approximately 55,000 medical examinations are conducted annually by over 950 designated Civil Aviation Medical Examiners across Canada and overseas.

L R HELICOPTERS recommends the services of:

M.D. Brendan Adams
YBW Aeromedical Clinic
Unit A 152 MacLaurin Drive T3Z 3S4
(403) 269-5323
Fax (403) 264-5362

M.D. Katherine A Helleur
The Airfield Clinic YYC
Suite 105A (upstairs)
5621 11 Street NE Calgary AB
T2E 6Z7
(403) 275 7705
Fax (403) 275 7701



The Aviation-Language Proficiency Test (ALPT) is an English-language or French-language proficiency test, set in an aviation context. It is designed for people with some knowledge of aviation whose native language is not English. However, all applicants, including native English or native French speakers, are required to complete the test.

L R HELICOPTERS requires all students to pass (ALPT) test before the first solo flight.



Applicants, who apply for a Student Pilot Permit, must pass a Transport Canada written examination on Aviation Regulations and Air Traffic Control Procedures. As well, military and certain foreign licensed applicants seeking a Canadian Private Pilot Licence need to pass the same examination. This examination is called the Student Pilot Permit or Private Pilot License for Foreign and Military Applicants, Aviation Regulation Examination, the computer code for which is PSTAR.

PSTAR consists of 50 questions. The pass mark is 90% and the examination will be reviewed and corrected to 100% by your examiner. When the examination is written in a Transport Canada facility, a feedback letter keyed to the questions will be provided. In the interest of flight safety, it is very important that you thoroughly review your weaker areas.



Examinations for the Restricted Operator Certificate with Aeronautical Qualification can be conducted at a district office of Industry Canada or by one of its accredited examiners. These examiners are typically individuals who are engaged in the aeronautical industry.

The examination may consist of written, practical, and oral exercises. The candidate must satisfy an examiner that he or she:

Is capable of operating radiotelephone equipment; possesses a general knowledge of radiotelephone operating procedures of the international regulations, applicable to the aeronautical service and, specifically, of those regulations relating to the safety of life; and possesses a general knowledge of the Radio Communication Act.



Applicants for the Private and Commercial Pilot Licence in the Helicopter Category must demonstrate their knowledge by writing a Transport Canada multiple-choice examination.

These examinations are divided into four mandatory subject areas and require an overall pass mark of 60%. As well, the candidate must achieve 60% in each of the four subject areas.



Applicants for Class 1, 2, and 4 flight instructor ratings are required to write the appropriate Transport Canada multiple-choice examination on subjects contained in this guide. As well, helicopter candidates are to refer to reference guide TP 2476E.

Applicants for a Class 4 Flight Instructor Rating – Helicopter are required to write the FIREN examination on instrument instruction in addition to the HIRAF examination. Class 2 and Class 1 candidates write the same examination, however, a mark of 80% or higher is required to meet Class 1 standards.



All of the flight test items required by the flight test guide must be completed with a minimum passing mark for the Private Pilot Licence of 72 (50%) or for the Commercial Pilot Licence of 104 (70%) must be achieved.

Ground flight test items are those exercises or tasks performed before the pre-flight inspection of the aircraft. Air flight test items are those exercises, tasks, or maneuvers performed with the aircraft, including the pre-flight inspection, start-up, run-up, and emergency procedures.



At registration, a CAD 1,000.00 deposit is required.

The deposit is refundable. Administration fees of CAD 500.00 for cancellation up to 30 days before the course commencement date. Cancellation between 30 days and the day of the commencement date, expenses incurred by the school will be charged to the account.

It is the responsibility of the student to maintain sufficient funds in the account during flight training. Flight training will be suspended if sufficient funds are not available in the account. L R HELICOPTERS INC. will accept cheques, bank money transfers, and interact. Credit cards are accepted as a form of payment, however, charges will apply.

Foreign students must ensure that they have all the necessary funds available before commencing the course.


Canadian Residents Financial Assistance Program available for individuals at:

As a Designated Learning Institution, training with L R HELICOPTERS allows the student to access various government and private institution loans to assist with the training costs associated with becoming a commercial helicopter pilot.

For government loans, the application is primarily done online. Should you require help, L R HELICOPTERS can assist you with this process, please contact us. This will ensure that the application process runs smoothly and with the minimum of delay. Government student loans are available both federally and provincially and are handled through the government website. Please see the links below for your province. You should establish the financial aid available from your province as this varies. These loans require Canadian residency.

L R HELICOPTERS is unable to provide financing options.

Links to student aid: (From time to time, links to these sites change. If you experience difficulties, please use your preferred search engine to locate the information and advise us so we may correct this information).

Alberta                                   https://studentaid.alberta.ca/

British Columbia                  https://studentaidbc.ca/

Manitoba                                http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/msa/

Newfoundland & Labrador https://www.gov.nl.ca/education/studentaid/

North West Territories        https://www.ece.gov.nt.ca/income-security/student-financial-assistance-sfa

Nova Scotia                            http://novascotia.ca/studentassistance/

Nunavut                                 http://gov.nu.ca/family-services/programs-services/financial-assistance-nunavut-students-fans

Ontario                                   https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/index.htm

Québec                                   http://www.mesrs.gouv.qc.ca/en/aide-financiere-aux-etudes/

Saskatchewan                       http://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/education-and-learning/student-loans

New Brunswick                    www.studentaid.gnb.ca/

Prince Edward Island         http://www.studentloan.pe.ca/

Yukon                                     http://www.education.gov.yk.ca/student-funding.html


Tax and benefit information for students





L R HELICOPTERS commits to the following principles on discriminatory practices:

  • To provide an environment free of racism, discrimination, and bias, where all persons are treated with respect and dignity;
  • To recognize that this responsibility extends to all individuals involved with the organization;
  • To implement anti-discriminatory policies that outline the organization’s commitment to and expectations of its participants, staff, and members;
  • To investigate and address any perceived violations;
  • To eradicate discrimination by identifying and challenging barriers that exist in obtaining or accessing activities, programs, and/or employment;
  • To promote the principles of equity for all groups of diversity and have this reflected in the organization’s policies, procedures, programs, and relations with staff, participants, and the community at large;
  • To ensure full representation of all persons in the development, implementation, and evaluation of LR Helicopters Inc. policies and programs.
  • L R HELICOPTERS INC. Employees and students are entitled to a harassment-free environment in their workplace.
  • L R HELICOPTERS INC. Employees and students will not tolerate nor condone behavior that is likely to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of an individual, or which creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Harassment is not a joke. It is an expression of perceived power by the harasser over another person, usually for reasons over which the victim has little or no control. Prohibited grounds under the various Human Rights Codes can include sex, race, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, political or religious beliefs, and place of national origin.

Harassment can be defined as any action (verbal, psychological, or physical) on a single or repeated basis that humiliates, insults, or degrades and is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome by the victim of the harassment.

Harassment can include but is not limited to unwanted comments, slurs, racist or sexist jokes, pictures or posters, bullying or intimidation, graffiti, physical contact of any kind, remarks about a person’s appearance or personal life, unwelcome sexual advances or demands, suggestive looks or gestures.
L R HELICOPTERS takes harassment complaints seriously. LR Helicopters Inc. management, for any necessary follow-up, will investigate complaints of harassment by L R HELICOPTERS. employees and or students. A substantiated complaint will result in action by L R HELICOPTERS, which could include discipline up to and including termination.


“Danger” – Means any existing or potential hazard or condition or any current or future activity that could reasonably be expected to cause injury or illness to a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected, or the activity altered, whether or not the injury or illness occurs immediately after the exposure to the hazard, condition or activity, and includes any exposure to a hazardous substance that is likely to result in a chronic illness, in disease or in damage to the reproductive system.
For instructors and students onboard aircraft, potentially dangerous, situations could occur during preparations for flight or once on-board the aircraft, in a variety of different scenarios, such as:

  • Security issues onboard aircraft;
  • Concerns about mechanical issues;
  • Pressures to complete flight on schedule;
  • Deteriorating weather conditions; or
  • Medical conditions

When a student on an aircraft that is in operation has reasonable cause to believe that a dangerous, or potentially dangerous, situation exists, they must immediately notify the person in charge of the aircraft of the circumstances of the danger.

A student who has or was prevented from refusing to fly, while the aircraft was in operation, under any of the above circumstances, must report the circumstances of the matter to the CFI without delay after the aircraft has landed. When a student on an aircraft that is in operation during a solo training flight, has reasonable cause to believe that a dangerous, or potentially dangerous, situation exists, they must immediately terminate the flight and notify the supervising instructor or the CFI of the circumstances of the danger.

  • 18 years of age (training may begin before the age of 18)
  • Birth Certificate or proof of Canadian Citizenship
  • Passport in case of a foreign student (*)

(*) Canadian Immigration study visa is necessary for periods greater than 6 months, check with Immigration Canada for the requirements
(**) Parents/Guardian signatures required less than 18 years of age
(***)Please contact L R HELICOPTERS to receive the application form.

How to Select a Flight Training Unit.

Please also see our FAQ page

“I want to become a helicopter pilot, where is the best place to take flying lessons?”

If you have little or no aviation experience, selecting a flying school can be overwhelming and should not be an impulsive decision. Careful consideration of a number of factors will assist you in finding a school that meets your needs.

Transport Canada Guidelines:

  • Determine your aviation goals (recreational or career)
  • Identify the type of school that will best serve to achieve those goals
  • Make a list of schools
  • Visit the school in person
  • Assess the bottom line cost and quality of the training
  • Make a choice.
  • Determine Your Aviation Goals (Recreational or Career):

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do I want to learn to fly?
  • What is my ultimate goal?
  • Do I want to fly for fun?
  • Am I seeking a flying career?
  • Will my flying be in the local area or will I use a small helicopter for travel?
  • Do I want to own a helicopter or will I rent?
  • Am I able to train full or part-time?

How you answer these questions will significantly affect the school you choose.

Identify the type of school that will best serve to achieve those goals

Everyone who flies in Canada must hold a pilot licence or permit. The training to obtain these is regulated by the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).

Schools providing flight training in helicopters are issued Flight Training Unit Operator Certificates. These schools are subject to stringent operating requirements and periodic inspections by Transport Canada.

A different type of flying school is one affiliated with a provincially accredited college or university. These organizations are subject to the same regulations outlined in Part 406 of the CARs and have a complimentary post-secondary program leading to a college diploma or university degree.

Make a List of Schools

Once you have given some thought to what you want, assemble a list of possibilities and request all available literature from each school. Some schools have Internet websites. Ask for an outline or curriculum for each program in which you are interested and a copy of the school’s regulations and flight operations procedures.

Do not base your decision on the literature alone! Do not be misled by glossy pamphlets and catchy sales pitches. Look for information with substance. This can be found in photocopied sheets as well as full-color brochures. While reviewing the material, take notes for verification during the school visit.

Some things to look for are:

  • The school’s philosophy, goals, and objectives. Do they match or come close to yours?
  • Is their housing, financial aid, and additional training available such as Operational Training to broaden your experience?
  • How long has the school been in business?
  • What are the credentials of the operators?
  • How many students have graduated and how many do they have right now?
  • What is the classroom facility like?
  • What kinds of aircraft are used for training?
  • Is this aircraft commonly used in the industry? (The more time you fly on the type of machine commonly used by operators, the better chances you have to get hired)
  • What kinds of services are available at the airport (control tower, flight service station, etc.)?
  • Where is the base located?
  • How challenging is the terrain surrounding the base?

Visit the school in person

If you do nothing else in your search – VISIT THE SCHOOL! Your first contact will likely be a line instructor or the chief flight instructor. Listen closely and ask questions about everything. Do not be shy. If you do not understand something, ask! During your tour, ensure that no area is unvisited, from administrative offices to the maintenance area. Some questions to ask are as follows:

  • How does the CFI supervise flight training in the school?
  • How many students does each instructor have?
  • Will you have a principal instructor or will your bookings dictate who you fly with?
  • How the training is scheduled (one versus a two-hour booking)?
  • How are cancellations due to weather or maintenance dealt with?
  • Is there a no-show policy?
  • How are student training records kept and by whom?
  • Is the ground school run continuously or on an as-required basis?
  • How does the school’s insurance cover you as a student from both personal protection and personal liability perspectives?

 What about the ground school?

Learning to fly requires that you develop essential piloting skills. However, another aspect of flight training is the academic knowledge required to understand how, where, and when to fly safely. This is accomplished in ground school.

Ground school usually takes the form of an instructor teaching a scheduled class over several weeks. Alternatively, a self-paced study program using video or audiotapes and/or computer-based programs may be offered. Which is better depends on you. If you are self-disciplined, a self-starter, and self-paced, video programs are excellent learning tools. You can “attend” ground school on your schedule and review the videos as needed. If you need the discipline and structure of a classroom, the choice is obvious. Perhaps the best option is a combination of the two. Many schools have a traditional classroom ground school and a resource room that contains self-paced materials for additional study.

Many schools are also using instrument ground trainers (or simulators) in primary training. They are a real benefit in instrument training. Some are PC-based while others are actual mock-ups of training aircraft. Look for Transport Canada approval to ensure that a simulator will provide credit for the training you receive. Even if you cannot credit the time on the ground training, its operating costs are far less than the real aircraft and may save you money by helping you learn more quickly.

Check out the training aircraft!

The training aircraft is where you practice in the air what you have learned on the ground. Color and looks, it does not make much difference. What is important is how well the helicopter is equipped and maintained.

The number of aircraft a school has depends on the number of active students. Generally, one trainer aircraft serves approximately four or five full-time students. This ratio may be higher with part-time students.

Because training aircraft are flown often and sometimes hard, how a school maintains them is important for both safety and scheduling. Ask questions on how the maintenance is carried out and the overall reliability of the school’s aircraft fleet.

Meet the flight instructors!

A good flight instructor is a vital key to becoming a safe and skilled pilot. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the training and the experience of the instructors. The most experienced and highest-rated instructor holds a Class I Flight Instructor Rating. The newest instructor has a Class IV Flight Instructor Rating. You could also talk to some of the other students at the school to ask about their instructors.

A good way to get acquainted with your instructor is through the familiarization flight. During your lesson, assess your instructor’s attitude. Only you can determine what personality best fits yours. A good instructor strives for excellence and will work with you until it is achieved. He or she is also someone who cares about you not only as a student but as a person as well. If you do not get a good feeling about your instructor, do not be afraid to ask to fly with someone else.

After your tour, the instructor will probably suggest a familiarization flight. This is offered by the school to get you in the air and experience the fun of flying firsthand. This is the best way to get a sense of how the training will be conducted and how interested the instructor is in providing you with a good service.

After going through all of this, ask for references from current students and past graduates. See if they had any problems and how they were resolved. Another information resource may be the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. They can offer insights into the school’s business practices.

Assess the bottom line cost.

Compared to most of your activities, learning to fly is expensive. But remember, you are investing in your future and skills that will open a new world of opportunities. Flying is an activity of purpose, personal satisfaction, achievement, and pleasure. It is also a never-ending learning process, and as with all education, your initial training provides the foundation for any advanced flight training you may wish to pursue.

Looking at the bottom line, you will notice that adjusting for location and slight differences in training, schools more or less charge about the same. Only you can determine if what you get for your money is fair. As with any other major purchase, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

When comparing costs, make sure you are comparing “apples to apples”. Some schools base their prices on the Transport Canada minimum-time requirements, for example, 45 hours for a private pilot license. Others base their prices on an “average completion time” figure. Some include books and supplies, ground school, flight testing, and written examination fees. Others do not. In other words, read the fine print and ensure that you are making a comparison of all factors.

Most schools in Canada allow you to pay for your training as it occurs. Some schools offer financing, and others have connections to financial institutions that can provide loans for flight training. Some schools also offer “block-time” prices if you pay in advance for a certain amount of training or flight time. This can often offer substantial savings.

Some schools guarantee their training in that you will earn your permit/licence for a fixed price no matter how long it takes. Read the fine print carefully, because many of these guarantees expire after a certain number of flight hours. If you have not achieved your goal in this time, the school will still train you, but you will have to pay for the training that takes place above the guarantee’s ceiling.

Inquire about refunds. If you have pre-paid flight training and circumstances prevent you from continuing, you should be familiar with the school’s refund policy.

Aircraft rental and the instructor time are usually charged “Hobbs meter” time, which is a timing device activated by oil pressure. If the engine is running, so is the meter. Even if you are sitting on the ground, you are still charged for it. Find out if the instructor is paid for pre and post-flight briefings in addition to flight time. These are crucial parts of every lesson, and if the instructor is not paid for them, you may get abbreviated briefings before you start the engine, and then get the rest of the briefing while the engine and the meter are running.

There is an old saying that says, “Time is money.” In your research, make sure that you are getting the most quality training for your dollar.

Make a choice.

The flight school you ultimately choose depends on the quality training you desire in a method convenient to your schedule. In earning your pilot permit/licence, you will have achieved a “licence” to learn. Aviation is an ever-changing activity, and good pilots are always in training.

Perhaps the final deciding factor between several schools that are running in a dead heat is personality. Like people, schools have personalities. Some are very serious, while others are more familiar. Select the one that matches your personality.

We’re excited to help you begin your journey as a pilot. Best of luck!