THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SILLY QUESTION
Here are a number of questions that students and their families often ask us.
If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please contact us and ask questions. We’d be happy to provide a detailed answer.
We are right at Graz Airport! Our offices are on the airport forecourt and our aircraft are hangared just past airside security. Customers can park outside our offices either free of charge or for a flat rate of EUR 3.50 per day. It is just a few minutes stroll from our offices to the aircraft, saving you time and increasing the efficiency of your training.
Our training complex consists of:
- An aircrew lounge for students and instructors
- A classroom
- A study room for web-based training or private study
- A briefing room for flight preparation, briefings and de-briefings
- A lounge area for briefings and de-briefings or relaxing between flights
- Office space for the Head of Training, Chief Flight Instructor and Chief Ground Instructor
All of these facilities are mandated by the authorities and we are happy to provide a professional and appropriate learning environment. It’s worth checking carefully if you are scoping out other flight schools because in our experience not all fight schools provide a suitable learning environment. Some schools provide facilities a long way away from their airfield, disrupting training flow, reducing efficiency, costing you money and causing headaches.
There is a very significant difference between the sports flying environment and the world of the professional pilot. At an international airport, trainee pilots learn to operate alongside airliners right from the start, understanding, living, breathing professionalism. At interview the difference will be clear to recruiters. When it comes to ‘line training’ or ‘simulator checks’ trainees will be confident and relaxed in the environment in which they have trained. There are also practical advantages:
- Longer daytime opening hours (from 06:00 to 23:30 LT) and open daily all year round – so it is also possible to fly in the evening and at night
- Guaranteed year-round operation, the airport will ensure rapid snow clearing in winter and is required to guarantee runway availability
- On-site infrastructure central to for instrument rating (IR) training. There is an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Graz airport. Attempting IR training at a flight school based at a small sport airfield, you’ll have to transit on every flight to a suitable airport, this transit will be charged at the higher rates for IR training and is not only inefficient and costly, but also reduces the amount of useful training you will get on each flight.
Aircraft availability can negatively impact your flying training. Poor aircraft availability stretches out pilot training, thereby increasing indirect and overall costs.
Availability can be successfully managed through:
- Aircraft redundancy: several aircraft of the same type, identically equipped.
- Direct aircraft ownership by the flight school, i.e. the flight school is the owner/operator of the aircraft and does not rent-in externally owned aircraft with random availability
- Short turnaround times for maintenance and repair work
Absolute Pilots operates a training fleet of three aircraft:
2 completely identical and highly specified Cessna 172 Skyhawk (C172N-CD155):
- Basic training PPL(A),
- Night vision flight rating NR,
- Instrument flight training IR(A),
- Commercial Pilot Training CPL(A)
1 Diamond Twin Star DA42TDI for
- Multi-engine training MEP(LAND),
- Instrument flight training IR(A) as well as commercial pilot training CPL(A).
A further Diamond Twin Star DA42 is continuously available to provide backup should it be required.
Our achieved figures demonstrate a historically excellent availability of aircraft for our trainees.
We work very closely with our maintenance company and the Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation, guaranteeing short downtimes for maintenance and repair activities.
Yes! All our aircraft are hangared in fully enclosed buildings at Graz Airport all year round, protected from the elements and ready to fly. This is the only way to ensure that you, as a student pilot, do not find an icy-covered or snowed-in aircraft. Other schools require that that you, the customer, must first clear frost, snow and ice from the aircraft and remove winter covers, working as a team (or not) with your instructor. Time spent doing this is better spent in a classroom or in private study, don’t underestimate the burden this imposes during flying training. Airlines don’t ask you at interview about how to remove covers from your training aircraft!
As a trainee pilot you must concentrate 100% of your time together with your flight instructor on the very cost-intensive and demanding training, and not waste your time on de-icing and cleaning the flight school’s aircraft.
With disreputable flying schools it is not uncommon for students to lose deposits or pre-payments. Flight schools have ceased trading or become insolvent overnight. Sometimes virtually identical schools with a similar name and the same staff and equipment have magically appeared the next morning after an insolvency the previous day.
Our policy is very simple and transparent: Absolute Pilots does not require any advance payments – the services consumed are charged exclusively in manageable instalments after the service has been provided.
Ask yourself why a sound flight school would demand advance payment? After all, costs only arise during the training as a result of that activity. The flight school does not have to order or pay anything in advance for your training (except for the software for the web-based training).
By not paying a deposit.
We believe that a prospective student and his or her family have the right to know how much the training will really cost. We believe that it is unreasonable to expect the potential trainees to identify costs ‘overlooked’ (!) by other schools. Typical examples are landing fees, authority fees, examination fees, aeromedical certificate, etc. All of these have to be included in the calculation at the outset.
We think it irresponsible to gloss over expected costs with potential trainees and their parents and families, trying to make the whole affair a more financially attractive proposition. Most student pilots who are aiming at becoming a professional pilot need a clear financial plan and and rely on our initial information – we cannot evade and do not want to evade this responsibility.
We have made every effort to list all the training costs in great detail and provide transparency in our price lists. We provide you with realistic information to make an honest price comparison with other flight schools.
Basically, there can only be two situations during training with regard to responsibility:
- Training flight with an instructor (DUAL flights).
- Training flight during which the student pilot is alone in the aircraft (SOLO flights).
The majority of training is conducted by the student pilot together with the instructor, who is of course the pilot in command. Thus, the flight instructor (our employee) and ultimately Absolute Pilots, are responsible for any damage that may occur.
Some flight use the services of independent flight instructors working on contract or commission, paid by flight school, or even paid directly by the student pilot. Since any damage to an aircraft tends to involve large amounts of damage, in recent events there has been an increasing trend of “follow-up discussions” about the responsibility of the student pilot and the flight instructor in each case.
This is not the case at Absolute Pilots. Our instructors are employees and we stand by our responsibilities.
Note: According to the Austrian Salaried Employees Act, the activities of a flight instructor requires an employment relationship – regardless of whether the activity takes place within the framework of a commercial flight school or within the framework of a club flight school.
Private Pilot License students a required to fly 10 solo flight hours. These take place after a minimum of 18 hours of flight instruction with a flight instructor. We use the ‘4-eyes principle’. Solo flights are not approved by an individual flight instructor, we ensure oversight and quality of training by having the student fly with a second flight instructor. We only give the go-ahead for solo flights if we are 100% confident that the student pilot is ready and safe to fly alone. If student pilots do not feel ready to fly solo, we don’t force them to do so! Whilst solo flying is a requirement for license issue, and is a great confidence boost for students, solo flying can wait until later if required.
Should damage occur during these solo flights, when the student is the Aircraft Captain, Absolute Pilots will cover the costs. These are any case capped at the insurance excess plus no claims bonus expense at approximately EUR 2,500.
(Note: This does not, of course, apply to damage caused by negligence).
You will be happy to know that no damage has ever occurred in the course of our solo or dual training flights.
At Absolute Pilots, the flight instructor fees are EUR 46.80 per working hour. This is more than the industry average. But we have good reasons for this:
- Flight instructors perform a very responsible and demanding job. We believe that savings should not be made in the wrong place. The quality of the training ultimately depends on the quality and motivation of the flight instructor. Put simply “you get what you pay for”.
- Flight instructors contractually bound to the flight school and are economically dependent on the flight school, using company-owned facilities and aircraft. In Austria this requires an employment relationship. All our flight instructors are registered with the social security system as employees, which, in contrast to contracts for work and labour, is associated with non-wage labour costs. Not all commercial flight schools or club flight schools register their flight instructors as employees with social insurance authorities and thus risk a substantial penalty charges if this should be objected to in the course of a company audit. Even wage replacement in the form of flight minute credits for the flight instructor or similar is inappropriate, because this would be a payment in kind, which must be considered remuneration.
Experience has shown that the minimum hours specified by the aviation authority are sufficient to achieve the required results. But this needs a significant amount of personal initiative (e.g. independent preparation for the flying hours) as well as sticking to a regular and frequent flying regime.
Young, fresh and determined trainee pilots are able to learn quickly and effectively, but being older is not a disadvantage. If you are getting on a bit you shouldn’t allow this to put you off.
No deposits are required and our students are not required to sign a contract with Absolute Pilots. Trainee students can change to another flight school at any time without incurring cancellation fees. We will provide your training record folder with confirmation of the training content completed at Absolute Pilots up to that point. Training content already completed can be credited at the new flight school, this transfer is regulated and approved by the authorities.
Why do we not rely on contractual obligation? Because we genuinely want the best experience for our graduates.
The entire training sum can be financed through a Wüstenrot education loan. Up to an €25,000 land register security is not required.
If the application is made through Absolute Pilots, you also benefit from a one-time education cheque of €300 for any education loan of €5,000 or more.
All costs incurred in connection with professional training, i.e. in our case with the final goal of becoming a professional/airline pilot (in addition to the costs of the actual pilot training, e.g. travel costs, pilot equipment, licence issue, aeromedical examinations, technical literature) are tax-deductible as retraining costs (counting as income-related expenses) for employed persons tax assessment (for) or income tax returns (for self-employed persons) if the following conditions are met:
- The continued generation of income in the previous occupation is at risk
- Career opportunities or earning potential are improved through retraining activies
Whether the costs of professional pilot training can ultimately be claimed as income-related expenses varies from case to case and should be checked in advance by your own tax advisor.
In contrast to flight schools run as associations, our prices include 20% VAT.
As with other consumer goods, VAT cannot be refunded to private individuals by the tax office. On the other hand, companies entitled to deduct VAT can offset the VAT on their expenses against the VAT on their income as part of their monthly or quarterly input tax return. In this case, the costs for an entrepreneur undergoing training would be reduced by 20% VAT.
Whether a company can ultimately claim expenses as business expenses varies from case to case and should be checked in advance by your tax advisor.
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk offers a combination of:
- a robust aircraft type that has been tried and tested worldwide for decades,
- a modern, economical and yet very powerful diesel engine with constant speed propeller, and
- the most modern avionics of the latest technology and smartphone philosophy, is current best practice in high-quality and professional pilot training.
Although our Cessnas as configured are considerably more expensive to purchase (approx. EUR 350,000) than most of the aircraft used by other flight schools for basic training, ultimately the operational costs are comparable to the ‘cheaper’ aircraft due to the hyper-modern engine and the versatility of the aircraft.
Learning from your very first flight in an Absolute Pilots Cessna 172 hyper modern glass cockpit environment gives you the opportunity to learn and apply features of a professional aircraft cockpit from the first time you strap in. A modern cockpit environment will ultimately help prepare you for flying a business jet or airliner.
Absolute Pilots Students, right from the start on their PPL(A) training learn how to
- operate in a multi radio cockpit,
- use a Horizontal Situation Indicators (HSI) with Heading Bug and Course Deviation Indicator (CDI), critical skills for an airline pilot,
- interpret weather radar,
- use radio navigation tools,
- operate an autopilot and control modes,
Learning these critical skills during the PPL(A) ‘front loads’ training, enable the student to better focus on the new aircraft-specific requirements as the training ramps up later in the course.
The complex control systems of the legacy engines in other schools training fleets were phased out of airliners many many decades ago. They create unnecessary learning requirements and gobble up training time whilst getting you no closer to your goal of being an airline pilot or gaining your PPL(A).
Our modern diesel engines are FADEC engines. Fully Automatic Digital Engine Controls provide a fully redundant engine control system for the engine. The basic functionality of the ECU (Engine Control Unit) includes engine and propellor control. The pilot controls thrust with a single lever, just like in an airliner.
Our modern Continental Diesel engines have overcome the limitations of traditional aircraft engines providing a highly fuel efficient, reliable and powerful alternative.
This engine makes a huge difference to the way Absolute Pilots can deliver flight training:
- Increased aircraft performance: better take-off distance, rate of climb, cruise speed
- Saving operating costs due to fuel efficient operation with Diesel fuel.
- Engine handling more similar to the business jet or airliner
The decisive factors why we chose the DA42, apart from the advantages of the glass cockpit and diesel engine already described for the Cessnas, is the built-in anti-icing system, which enables continuous and reliable instrument flight training throughout the year. Preventing ice build-up on the wings, tailplane, vertical stabiliser, propellers and windscreen means going flying when other aircraft are grounded.
Yes, pilot training alongside a job or studies is possible and practical, as long as your flight school offers correspondingly flexible courses and a goal focussed mindset. Part-time training has 2 advantages:
- you do not have to give up your job, guaranteeing you a secure income during and after your training, and
- the training costs may be reduced due to the potential availability of tax deductions.
Part-time training whilst holding down a job naturally also has the disadvantage that it represents an additional burden for you (and your family) and you cannot concentrate all your energy and attention on your pilot training. You should plan on your training taking twice as long (about a year longer). Ultimately, however, your availability determines the training time.
The modular training concept of Absolute Pilots offers students sufficient flexibility for part-time pilot training. The high proportion of web-based training (90%), which can be conducted from anywhere via the internet, also enables part-time pilot training.
Take a look at the STANDARD ATPL(A) TRAINING COURSE.
We also offer a STREAMLINED ATPL(A) TRAINING COURSE, where our student pilot devotes all their attention to training to become a professional pilot.
In the “STREAMLINED” option, the student pilot concentrates fully on their commercial pilot training. There will be no time for a job or other studies during this intensive course.
The student pilot can complete their entire training “from ZERO to ATPL(A) theory” within 12 months, saving time and fixed costs such as living expenses, and opportunity costs such as salary gained as a result of earlier job entry.
In addition, we offer a discount of approx. 5% on this training option, as we can directly schedule the flight student somewhat like an employee, using up spare capacity within Absolute Pilots. We can then maximise efficiency, directly benefitting the student pilot.
A major side effect of compacted training form is of course an increase in retention of ‘Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes’.
If you have the time and finances to back it up, we recommend that you opt for the “STREAMLINED” option.
If you were to purchase a car for around the same amount of money as you spend on commercial flying training, the transaction would be completed in a very short time. You pay, and in return you get the purchased item, the car. It is not absolutely critical to you if the car dealership is still there in a month’s time. If you need a workshop you can still go and find one elsewhere.
In the case of professional pilot training, things are really quite different: the service is not provided in one simple transaction, but continuously over a relatively long period of one, even two years.
With a flight school you really don’t want interruptions of service or variable quality of service. Interruptions and lack of standardisation lead to increased training time overall.
Ask questions and think hard about the answers. Do your research.
- Is the flight school a proper business with a regulated company structure?
Are there qualified employees for administration (e.g. for accounting and training planning), theory instruction and flight training?
Is it a ‘one-man-band’?
Is there personnel redundancy or just one person running around with their hair on fire?
The training of pilots is our vocation and not our hobby, and this is what we concentrate on with all our capacity – “FOCUSED ON YOUR CAREER”.
- Are the training aircraft available with redundancy?
In each class of training aircraft, at least two of the same type and equipment should be available.
Changing aircraft types during a training course is not conducive to learning progress and does not “broaden your experience”, but generally results in additional costs and time. Ski racers don’t change ski brands between races!
We operate two Cessna C172N-CD155 single-engine aircraft, which are completely identical down to the last detail, and a Diamond DA42TDI twin-engine aircraft. A second Diamond DA42 is redundantly available to us.
- Are the aircraft hangared and continuously maintained?
Aircraft are not as robust as cars. This does not mean that they are dangerous from a technical point of view, but that they are not as structurally protected and shielded from environmental influences such as moisture, rain, snow, ice, heat and cold. Aircraft are built lightweight to get into the air. The whole system is not cocooned like the components of a car. By way of example, car electrical connections are splash-proofed. In an aircraft, however, weight saving measures preclude this option. Aircraft are more sensitive to weather; aircraft parked permanently outdoors are more susceptible to malfunctions. Annoying defects can occur more often, lessons get cancelled, days get wasted.
If you get frost on your car windscreen you can scrape it off and go for a drive. Frost on an aircraft is a dangerous situation due to significant aerodynamic alteration of the aircraft flight surfaces. Aircraft stored outdoors must be de-iced by the instructor and student, wasting time and effort better spent on actually learning to fly.
Our aircraft are all hangared and are inspected several times a week by a salaried employee, reducing wasted time and effort for our trainees.
Airmanship refers to the skills and behaviour of a pilot. This is made up of 3 areas of competence:
- Technical competence (handling the aircraft, system knowledge).
- Procedural competence (knowledge of procedures, awareness of rules)
- Interpersonal competence (communication, teamwork, structured approach, diligence and sense of responsibility).
Most of the time you will learn technical competence and procedural competence at a flight school. However, professional pilot training also includes interpersonal skills training, which is also very important at Absolute Pilots.
Can you learn ‘airmanship’? YES! It is at the core of what we do at Absolute Pilots.
In pilot training there is the unique situation that amateur clubs and commercial training organisations coexist in the same space.
There is a historical precedent. It used to be impractical for entrepreneurs or small businesses to purchase expensive aircraft for flying sports. Over time, clubs were formed, which bundled financial resources in the structure of an association. In order to be able to keep these clubs alive, new membership was generated by providing training, ensuring the viability of the clubs.
Until the beginning of the 1990s – professional pilots were trained almost exclusively via the national flag carriers/airlines, the majority of which were owned by a state.
It was not until market liberalisation in 1992 that private airlines, many new airlines and the business aviation market emerged and with it the need for additional professional pilots who were not trained by the flag carriers’ own schools.
As a result, commercial flight schools emerged, which, in addition to private pilot training, also trained commercial and airline pilots. Pilot training, which is now standardised throughout the EU, is regulated by the EASA Aircrew Regulation Part-FCL. This regulation applies equally to clubs and commercial training companies. From this point of view, there should be no difference in the learning content between pilot training in an aviation club or in a commercial flight school.
However, in the case of clubs, the primary objectives are usually non-profit-oriented, such as the promotion of aviation, the organisation of aviation events, aviation lectures, and the training of club members – in other words, the continued survival of sport general aviation.
In contrast, the primary business objective of a commercial flight school is to make a profit. Like any business, a commercial flight school can only survive in the long run through economic success, and this can only be guaranteed in the long run through satisfied customers and high quality output. Satisfied customers impact the quality of the training, because only satisfied customers ensure the continuity of the company.
We set higher standards during private pilot training because we are focussed on our client’s goal of becoming a professional pilot.
We strive to create the most professional working environment possible for student pilots and flight instructors, directly impacting the efficiency and quality of the training, ultimately improving the student pilot’s competence and his or her career opportunities. A club trained sport aviation pilot is simply not the same prospect to an airline employer as a professionally trained commercial pilot license holder.
Our customers appreciate our respectful scheduling of their free time, allocated in a very disciplined manner whilst considering to their job or studies. We live up to our commitments, we arrive on time and are ready to fly at the allocated time.
We can’t offer you the vibrant social life of an flying club – our focus is 100% on pilot training.
Our focus is on “from ZERO to ATPL(A) theory”. This is our core competency. By maintaining a single focus we are able to streamline your training whilst providing exceptionally high quality results for you.
Our focused specialisation makes elite performance possible, producing better results for you. Specialists can produce much better results in their field than diversified all-rounders. Check out any elite sportsmen to validate this claim.
Our specialisation is better for you because we can nuance and schedule your training to fit your personal needs. Standardised average performance only satisfies the wishes of an imaginary median player. Attention to the details of your specific situation creates significant benefits for you, the trainee.
MCC and UPRT are outsourced to partner flight schools who have specialised in these areas.
This philosophy increases the quality in the respective area and at the end of the day increases the chances of success of our flight students on the job market.
This question cannot be answered with a clear YES nor with a clear NO. Any job guarantees implied by a flight school are highly dubious.
There are so many options for working as a pilot: with an airline, with a charter operator, as a ferry pilot, or, after appropriate additional training, as a flight instructor.
You can get a good overview of the job market on the following websites, for example:
An airline selection usually consists of 3 stages:
- General aptitude test (apparatus tests regarding multiple stress, reaction speed, mental arithmetic, logical thinking, etc.)
- Simulator screening (testing of flying skills on a flight simulator)
- Company qualification (knowledge test / group game / interview)
Your career preparation really needs to start with with truly professional pilot training. After you have gained a license, each subsequent stage of the selection process requires careful preparation.
The first stage of selection is highly suited to any one of several computer based training systems, for example Sky Test.
At the second stage, we recommend a screening preparation of around 2 to 4 hours on a suitable simulator.
For company interviews there are a raft of books and online videos which can help you out – look for “Airline Interview”, “Checklist for Success”, “ACE The Technical Pilot Interview”.
There are a number of preparatory seminars offering help with the 1st and 3rd stages, how useful they are depends on your learning style. If you are used to learning independently, you can achieve the same results without expensive preparatory seminars.