The AeroStar Team enjoyed the WATS conference – we attend each year to keep up to speed with what’s going on in the Aviation Training industry, and to connect with vendors, partners and others.
We enjoyed meeting all kinds of aviation training professionals at our booth, and want to thank everyone who dropped by and/or participated in our drawing.
Congratulations to Frank with Sim Industries, who was the winner of our A320 Type Rating Prize at the WATS Conference! #WATS2018
WATS is the world’s largest gathering of aviation training professionals serving airlines, regulators, training providers and training industry with more than 1,200 expected from 50+ countries expected. WATS offers a relaxed yet professional environment conducive to developing new and building existing business relationships. WATS offers unrivalled opportunities to meet with your peers from the senior echelons of the international airline training community, to discuss the latest training issues and consider and learn how others have addressed and resolved these scenarios.
For those who career takes them across the world to promote training solutions and those for whom sharing training experiences WATS truly provides a huge saving in time and cost by enabling ‘three months worth of meetings in three days’.
WATS 2018 will deliver five independent and impartial conference streams alongside the sector’s biggest tradeshow, with all delegates receiving full access the event.
AeroStar recently attended the annual Women in Aviation International conference in Reno, Nevada. “We really enjoyed attending the conference and connecting with other female entrepreneurs and aviation professionals in the industry from around the globe. We’re already looking forward to next year!” said Deidra Toye, the owner of AeroStar. WAI featured AeroStar in their daily show newspaper with a write up about the latest endeavors of the company such as our new sim and recent training facility expansion efforts. Pictured below: Devin Messer, Flight Attendant Enrollments & Deidra Toye, President & CEO
I recently had a chance to sit down with our director of flight training, Rob Becker, and we spoke about some of the most frequently asked questions students have about flight training in general. If you have a question you don’t see answered here, please contact us and we’d be happy to answer it for you!
Robin Frey: Hi Rob, I have put together some flight training questions that are frequently asked by students. I’m hoping you can help me answer them. Rob Becker: Sure, I will try my best!
Robin Frey: How quickly can a student obtain their private pilot license at AeroStar? Rob Becker:The minimum flight hours by the FAA is 40 hours, but the industry average is between 55 and 60 hours. If you train 2 to 3 times a week you should finish in 3 to 4 months.
Robin Frey: What usually happens during a typical flight lesson at AeroStar? Rob Becker: You and the flight instructor will meet for about 15-20 minutes and discuss what training you are going to do during the lesson. Next, you will pre-flight the airplane and then fly and do the lesson. Lessons are generally broken up into 3 types of lessons: 1) Practice in the airport traffic pattern doing take offs and landings 2) Go to a designated practice that is close to the airport area where you will do flight maneuvers such as slow flight, stalls, steep turns, and emergency procedures 3) Cross country and night flights.
Robin Frey: Will a student have just one flight instructor during training or multiple? Rob Becker: You will be assigned a primary instructor with who you will do most all your training. Occasionally, you may fly with another instructor because your primary instructor may be unavailable due to vacation or sickness. You also will fly once or twice with the Chief Flight Instructor prior to completing your training.
Robin Frey: Do students need to complete a medical examination before they start flight training? Rob Becker:You do not need to have a medical prior to starting your training but you must have it prior to your first solo flight.
Robin Frey: Will the student need to obtain any kind of special insurance prior to their flight training? Rob Becker:You do not need to have special insurance for training flights, but if you are renting the airplane to do time building you will be required to obtain additional insurance that we can assist you with getting.
Robin Frey: What are the most important skills you need to be a successful pilot? Rob Becker:There are no special skills that are required. Male or female, young or old, they have all learned how to fly. The most successful students are the ones that make training a priority and set aside ample time to study prior to and after any lessons taken.
Robin Frey: How soon will a student actually fly the plane or solo? Rob Becker: You will be handling the plane on your very first lesson. Your first solo will be when you have completed the first phase of training, which is usually around 20 flight hours of training.
Robin Frey: Where will students fly on their cross-country flights? Rob Becker:You must fly at least 50 nautical miles from your departure location. Common airports that you will fly to would be Ocala, Brooksville, and Crystal River.
Robin Frey:Are students required to submit payment up front or is it pay as you go? Rob Becker:We do not require money up front, it is pay as you go. You do need to have a credit card on file so that the flight cost can be charged to the card. If you do not have a credit card on file, you will need to keep a balance of $500 on your account that will allow you to have the funds available for your next couple of lessons.
Robin Frey: How far in advance does a student need to schedule their flight lessons? Rob Becker: If the airplane and instructor are available, the lesson can be reserved at any time, although this is not recommended because that would mean that you the student probably haven’t prepared probably for the lesson. It can be done occasionally, but it should not be the norm.
Robin Frey: Okay and one last question, what would you say is the biggest advantage for students to choose to do their initial flight training with AeroStar? Rob Becker: When training at the Kissimmee Airport with AeroStar, you can start your practice area maneuvers within just a couple minutes because the practice area is so close. This will save you from having to pay an extra 10-15 minutes of flight time every time you have to go out to the practice area. Training at AeroStar allows you to train with professional instructors who have trained students for many years and have thousands of hours of experience, instead of a school where instructors are brand new to teaching and have zero to very small hour amounts of experience.
Robin Frey: Great answers. Thank you so much for your time Rob, hopefully this has been very insightful for student pilots who are just starting out or shopping around for a flight school. Rob Becker: My pleasure!
Rob Becker, our Director of Flight Training has been flight instructing full-time since 2009. Rob holds an ATP, MEL, and SEL license. Rob’s instructor ratings include CFI, CFII, and MEI with Gold Seal. He also has his Ground Instructor and Advanced Instrument Ground Instructor Ratings. He has 4,500 total flight hours and has given over 4,000 hours of instruction. He has also given 1,000 hours of multi-engine instruction.
Rob enjoys taking students on Discovery Flights and introducing students to the world of aviation. Rob has been happily married to his wife Lyn for 29 years and together they have two adult children. Prior to working in aviation, Rob owned a construction company for 26 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Robin Frey, AeroStar Training Director of Marketing
Graduate Stories: As the Admissions Director of AeroStar, I learn a lot about our students and their careers.
The career path for pilots has changed in the last few years. The career path used to be something like this:
Get your multi-engine and commercial license
Become a CFI
Build time as an instructor
Work for a Regional Airline or 121 to build more time
Apply to a major airline or for a corporate flight department
Airlines were also willing to pay for type rating training for new hires.
A more typical (and better!) career path for today’s pilots goes like this:
Get your multi-engine and commercial license
Get your A320 or B737 type rating from AeroStar
Get hired by an overseas airline (many of whom are hiring our graduates!)
Get paid while you build time
Apply for a major U.S. airline (if you like.)
Many of our students do exactly this.
It is good to see people who are so excited about their success.
A few months ago, Kenian Jabbour had had his doubts about our program. His crew partner was getting his flight training at a competing academy (PanAm) and had been quoted a lower price than AeroStar was offering. But Keenan toured our facility, compared the quality of the program, and started with us.
Kenian spent 10 days on site with us getting his A320 type rating. He was hired as a first officer for an airline, and recently stopped by our office while his aircraft was being fueled. They had just returned from France and were planning a trip to Casablanca.
Since then, his crew partner has actually spent MORE money on additional training and was still working on his type rating.
Why do AeroStar students get hired?
Our students stand out from the pack by showing that they’ve made a smart investment in their career.
Our students save time for the airlines because they are already fluent and proficient and no additional training is needed.
A big thank you to Sunrise Aviation for helping students like Kenian get started and referring them to AeroStar for advanced flight training. Together we help aviation career dreams take flight!
We recently returned from the RAA convention and are very encouraged about the prospects for pilots starting airline careers.
The Regional Airlines (members of the RAA) are an important career step for many of AeroStar’s former students as they graduate to legacy carriers and wide-body pilot positions. Advancing through the ranks at a regional airline can set you apart from other candidates applying for Captain or First Officer positions at larger, more prestigious carriers.
Many regional airlines have realized that they need to provide additional incentives to attract quality candidates. Those incentives may come in the form of sign-on bonuses, training opportunities, and other incentives that make these positions more attractive than they may have been in the past.
Paula Williams: All parts of that question. Great, exactly. Let’s carry on with the next one. How can flight schools attract more students? I know this is a problem for a lot of flight schools coming out of what was a slow period and I know a lot of them are starting to get a few more students in the door but depending on where you are in the country, this is still a problem.
David Santo: We see this is a multifaceted problem. First of all, and I’m guilty of this too when we started AeroStar, we had the concept, if we build it they would come. When we built it and opened the doors, we were shocked and surprised that people weren’t lined up around the street to enroll in our programs because nobody knew who we were, they didn’t know we existed. One thing that flight schools should really look at is their marketing, their branding, how they’re getting their message out there, and I think that’s a plug for you guys, Paula, at ABCI because I think internet-based marketing to the global market is the way to go. We see our opportunity working with the flight school as making yourselves even more attractive. You might have the best flight school in the world but how can you make it better? Are you offering your students the option to complete the ATP CTP? Are you offering your students the option to get advanced jet flight simulation training or type ratings? If you’re not, that’s where we think we can bolster your offering catalogue by adding classes that you don’t have to spend the money in doing your own certification, research and development. We’re turnkey. We formalize an agreement. You advertise and market us as part of you and you’re out there really attracting students who maybe want that extra program and then you package that into your pricing structure.
Paula Williams: That makes perfect sense. It’s like what we call a white level service. As far as the student knows he’s working with Cochise College or FIT, or Sun State Aviation and the student may not know or care or want to know about FIT or any other partners or anything like that, or sorry, about AeroStar. They just see the school that they initially entered in agreement with, is that correct?
David Santo: That is absolutely correct and we really do see ourselves as a subcontractor so we’re not out there trying to beat the AeroStar drum, we’re trying to beat the we’re a subservice to the larger pipeline which is the flight school itself. We just want to be there at the end to help you provide that finishing school, that graduate school piece which is the type rating ride. How you market it, package it, present it, it is really up to the individual school. We want to support whatever the school thinks is the best approach for their individual marketing efforts. I will say that with FIT, for example, one of the things that we did early on with FIT was FIT actually got our programs approved for academic credit so that students could attend a type rating course or a flight deck observation program and receive college credit for it, number one, and therefore, they could apply student aid, financial aid to help offset some of the cost of these programs.
Paula Williams: Right, that makes perfect sense. The other side of that I think is that affiliating with AeroStar is to the advantage of flight schools because of AeroStar’s reputation. As you’ve mentioned you’ve been in business for six years, a lot of the other providers in the market maybe don’t have the reputation that you do for quality of training and things like that. It’s like a Gulfstream with a Rolls Royce engine. You do want to have the best components in your system and AeroStar is a really good engine to have under the hood for those students that do want to look at the details.
David Santo: I’ll say this, Paula. Our students have given us very positive feedback. The quality of the training that the students who have come to our type rating courses really has been very, very positive and that means a lot to us. Now, I’m not going to say that we don’t occasionally have people that run into training issues because every flight school does. In fact, if you have a flight school that doesn’t have some kind of training issues, they’re probably selling the license and not selling the training.
Paula Williams: True.
David Santo: We take great pride with the fact that people have been employed from our training program. We currently have a relationship with Tiger Airways where Tiger Airways in Australia is sending their initial new hires over to AeroStar, a preferential provider for them and the feedback that we’re getting has been very, very positive so we’re very proud of that.
Paula Williams: Right. Let me just expand on that just a little bit more as far as how can flight schools attract more students and I think the keyword here from a marketing perspective is competitive advantage. If there are four flight schools on your field and you are the one that offers ATP/CTP and type ratings and all of the things that AeroStar can add to your catalogue, that really makes you stand out because people don’t buy flight training, they buy a career. It’s just like … the old marketing saying is people don’t buy a drill they buy the holes that that drill can make. They’re really buying a solution. I think as flight school owners, sometimes people get in to the mode of we have to lower our prices, we have to offer training at a lower cost per hour than the other folks on the field and that’s our competitive advantage but that’s just a race to the bottom and that doesn’t do anybody any good. Adding to your competitive advantage rather than subtracting from your price I think is really, really key to staying in business, in a healthy business as a flight school.
David Santo: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Paula, and of course you’ve got a lot of experience with that. We try to compete on value and not on price. We want to have the best targeted value. We’re not trying to be the Walmart provider in our market. We’re trying to be the Target. We’re also not trying to be the Tiffany’s. We find that most of the students are looking for somewhere in the middle where it’s a reasonable price, reasonable quality product, they’re going to get a good foundation of the training and they’re going to be able to better afford it than some of the $40-50,000 type ratings. I mean let’s be clear here. To get a type rating on a Gulfstream or a Challenger at flight safety or semi-flight CAE, you’re looking at paying 40, 50, $60,000. To get a type rating on a AirBus A320 or a Boeing 737NG with AeroStar is $13,500 and you’re going to get 28 hours in that program of flight simulation training. Now if you take 28 hours of flight simulation training and just run the math, so I think the average twin is about $350 an hour. If you get 28 hours of that, that’s almost $10,000 of the cost right there so I think it’s very attractive. I think one of the other things that I didn’t mention, Paula, if I can, I’m going to go slightly off the track here a little bit, but I think one of the challenges that we’re faced with as flight schools in the United States is, with the new ATP rule how do we get graduates from the commercial multiengine instrument and/or type rating program to employment. Because if we can’t get them out the door and get them into a job, then it slows down that pipeline and this is where we really see a symbiotic solution to a global problem. In the US, we have a pilot shortage but that pilot shortage has a hurdle of 1500 or 1000 hours depending on what type of 141 school you are. The international market does not have that limitation. Right now, the average new hire flying an A320 or a Boeing 737 or any narrow body airliner in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the average new hire has about 300 hours or less. That’s where the biggest demand is. Here’s what we would propose. We would propose to the flight schools to go after the international foreign student, bring those foreign students into your flight school. They are not going to get work visas so they’re not going to want flight instructor jobs. They don’t have time to go out and do the time building for flight instruction. As soon as they graduate they’re going to go back and go into their airline’s specific training program. What that does for you is it increases the number of people utilizing your airplanes, increases your revenue streams and it also increases the flight instruction opportunities for our local American men and women. By helping the international market we’re creating more flight instructor opportunities for our own market which then bridges the gap to get people to the airlines. We really see it as a global and a symbiotic solution. If you stop and think about the demand, with a half million pilots needed over 20 years, if every single flight school in the United States pulled the resources together, we still couldn’t meet that demand in that timeframe so there’s plenty of work for everybody. We need to try to figure out a solution. It really brings more foreign folks into our training environment and that helps our training environment produce more American pilots.
Paula Williams: Right, which brings up the question, is there anything specific that I need to do as a part 141 or 61 school to be authorized to do those visas and other kinds of things? If I haven’t been pursuing that market, is there something I need to do to make that legal, correct and all those kinds of things?
David Santo: Yes, you have to apply to SEVIS for what’s called an I-20 authority to issue M1 visas. It’s a lengthy process, it’s a government process but any 141 school should have a fairly easy time of doing that. Even the 6191 schools I think have a venue for being able to do this. Then of course when they come for jet transport training, we will do the TSA portion to make sure that they’re properly vetted by TSA to train in the sims. I really think it’s getting out there to the global market. There are going to be some hurdles. It’s not going to be easy. Nothing that’s worth pursuing is going to be easy but we certainly are in a position to help flight schools. We’ve done the SEVIS I-20 visa authority, we’ve done VA, we’re currently VA approved. We’ve trained a lot of foreign pilots and are very familiar with the process. Those are things that I think we can bring to the table to help the schools that are interested in diving into this ab initio market.
Paula Williams: I promised to bring this back up and that is the screening tools that you mentioned, COMPASS and others. At what point should flight schools even approach that? Do they want to disqualify students from the front end or would that actually be a selling point to be a little bit more exclusive with people who really have a good shot at becoming a pilot? David Santo: First of all, I think that the right time is at the beginning or prior to initiating the expense of the flight training but I also would not want to see this as a tool that weeds out the determined. I have to share with you. I don’t know that I could have passed the COMPASS test back when I was trying to get … break into the industry. I go with more the American concept that says it’s a great screening tool for airlines. It’s a great screening tool for moms and dads to feel like before they make a capital investment in their son or daughter, do they have the aptitude for it? I believe if they show the passion and certainly put forth the effort, I wouldn’t take COMPASS as the ultimatum in deciding whether somebody can or can’t do something. I think with enough passion and effort and time and dedication, a lot more students would pass and graduate than what COMPASS would select.
Paula Williams: That makes perfect sense, so maybe a flight school could offer that as an option for students who maybe are not sure if this is something they want to do or for corporations or airlines or others to use as well.
David Santo: If we were going to use it in an ab initio setting, what we would tell the parents or the airline is if a person graduate … completes the COMPASS test and scores above a certain level, you have a high level of confidence that they’re going to complete the training on track, on course without additional cost. If they complete below that level, you should anticipate that they may take extra training and there may be some associated extra cost.
Meet our new graduates! Within the past few days AeroStar graduated two A320 initial type rating customers and two more on the B737NG. All of them did an outstanding job while completing their new ratings both on budget and on schedule! Congratulations!
David Santo, AeroStar President and CEO and JetBlue Captain delivers keynote address at the annual NIFA ( National Intercollegiate Flying Association) awards banquet.
This year’s regional flight competition was hosted by Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne Fla. AeroStar was honored to be the major sponsor for the event and Scott Patton Director of Sales and Business Development at AeroStar served as an official NIFA Judge for the competition.
In his speech to the group of over one hundred and seventy five young pilots, and representatives from the competing aviation universities, Dave related his personal experiences with his aviation career and encouraged the group to continue to advance their training because the future for pilots is very bright and that they “are all in the right spot in history to enjoy long careers in aviation.” Our thanks and congratulations to FIT, NIFA, and all the great young aviators for the tremendous success of the competition and banquet. Well done!
The National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) is a professional organization that provides a forum of competition and learning for aviation students from colleges all around the United States.
Official NIFA Mission Statement “The National Intercollegiate Flying Association was formed for the purposes of developing and advancing aviation education; to promote, encourage and foster safety in aviation; to promote and foster communications and cooperation between aviation students, educators, educational institutions and the aviation industry; and to provide an arena for collegiate aviation competition.”
AeroStar will be the primary sponsor for the awards dinner for the Southeast, NIFA Region IX. on Saturday, November 12. This is opportunity to recognize top aviation students.
This sponsorship is just one more way that AeroStar helps aviation career dreams take flight!
Watch for reporting from the event – we may have photos and video!
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