Before receiving a permit a student pilot may only practice dual instruction with an instructor. With a permit, a student pilot may fly solo under the supervision of a flight instructor and for purposes of flight training only. Only domestic day flying under visual flight rules (VFR) is allowed under this permit and no passengers may be carried.
In order to attain a student pilot permit, a student must sit and pass the PSTAR examination.
The PSTAR, originally standing for Pre-Solo Test of Air Regulations but now called Student Pilot Permit or Private Pilot Licence for Foreign and Military Applicants, Aviation Regulation Examination, is a written examination that a student studying for their Private Pilot Licence in Canada must pass before being awarded their Student Pilot Permit. All students must achieve a pass mark of 90% before commencing their first solo flight.
Visual Flight Rules (VFR) are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. Specifically, the weather must be better than basic VFR weather minima, i.e. in visual meteorological conditions (VMC), as specified in the rules of the relevant aviation authority. The pilot must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.
As in any industry, aviation employment is dependent on many factors. The most important one is YOU! Like any career, the greater the network of contacts you build, the more doors will open for you. During your training at the Club you’ll be exposed to people from every facet of aviation – first impressions count and your effort, attitude and skill will be noticed.
The economy plays a role as well. Today the industry is gaining momentum, many manufacturers and journalists are again forecasting a shortage of pilots. Back in 2006 the market was red hot, pilots with less than 500 hours were finding work in turbo-props and light jets. A year later, airlines were furloughing pilots and new graduates had difficulty finding work.
So is there a good time to get a commercial license? Yes, the ideal time is: when you decide that this is the career for you and you plan to commit the time and effort to earn the license. The industry will always be in flux, so graduates with their license completed will always be a step ahead of candidates who wait “until the time is right.”
Basically the doctor will ensure that nothing will prevent you from flying safely. You don’t need to be in perfect health but you should have good vision and hearing, a healthy heart, and you should be able to operate an aircraft’s flight controls. We recommend that you see an Aviation Medical Examiner before you start training to ensure nothing will disqualify you.
For more information about medical requirements, see our Aviation Medical Exam page with an article written by Dr. Brendan Adams.
We’ll spend about one hour with you, 30 minutes or more will be actual flight time. Once in the plane, you will see how we taxi the aircraft to the end of the runway (you steer with your feet!). The instructor will go through the various pre-flight checks, talk to ATC, and then you’re off on a flight around some of the most spectacular scenery in Alberta. Once we have left the Springbank Airport control area, your instructor will introduce you to basic flying maneuvers – Straight and Level Flight, Turning, Climbing and Descending. For the remainder of the flight you will take the controls and fly the airplane, earning your first minutes of flight time towards your PPL.
As we said, your introductory flight counts as time toward your Private Pilot License, so after the flight we’ll provide you with all the information you need to log the flight if you decide to pursue training. But it’s not all work – remember to bring your camera to capture the scenery and yourself at the controls!
This is probably our most-asked question, but the answer is based on you. If you have the time set aside to fly and study you could complete a license in two or three months. The closer together your flights are, the faster your learning will progress and you’ll spend less time reviewing previous lessons. Ideally, two or three flights per week will keep your skills sharp and it would take about six months to a year to earn a license (the average is just under one year). Staying on top of homework and reviewing flight training exercises before each flight will ensure your training goes smoothly.
Cost is closely related to the amount of time you commit to training. Keeping flights close together results in fewer review flights and will reduce the number of hours required to complete your training. Transport Canada requires that private pilots complete 45 hours of flight training, but the average is closer to 60. The average cost to complete a private pilot license is $12 – 14,000. Check out our Rates page for more information.