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Merging VFR and IFR training into one?

It has already happened in the commercial arena, decades ago. Both the CPL/IR and the ATPL roll up the two into one set of flying skills. Obviously, it would be silly to pretend clouds don’t exist for some pilots, some aircraft types or some routes.

It will IMHO never happen in the official PPL training apparatus – far too radical. There is no commercial incentive to produce competent pilots; the business model is to sell aircraft rental, preferably with an instructor in the RHS.

But if you were training somebody you care about, and he/she really wanted to fly to go places, what would you do?

There were some successful experiments done in the USA, with a merged syllabus, going from zero to a PPL/IR in something like 50hrs, all dual time (no solo). I don’t know what happened to it. It would have been non ICAO compliant training, so a dead end in practice.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Some people don’t want or need the IR. Why force it?

I also think that the comment that “there is no commercial incentive to produce competent pilots” is far too cynical.

You can be a very competent VFR pilot.

EGTK Oxford

OK, let me rephrase that bit:

There is no commercial incentive to produce pilots who can fly from A to B.

Note that -

  • I did not exclude the option of a “cut down” license
  • I did not say “IR”. The present-day IR bears little relation to competence actually required, and as avionics systems progress……
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There is no commercial incentive to produce pilots who can fly from A to B.

This may be true for the UK, it isn’t for the US.

There is no commercial incentive to produce pilots who can fly from A to B.

The larger modular schools will have half their PPLs going on to CPL/ME/IR. They typically undertake hour building which usually involves flying around Europe. In the somewhat distant past we had an hour builder go to Timbuktu, but I am putting that down in the urban myth category. Greece, Eastern Europe are not unusual destinations for new PPLs going onto CPLs. EASA has also raised the minimum hours for commencing CPLs, so this practice will continue.

The PPL qualifying cross country does a good job of ensuring the PPL has acquired reasonable cross country skills, including, usually, negotiating landing at busy airports with ATC. The students are flying 150nm plus near controlled airspace, towns, on the instructor’s licence, so there is a good incentive, including peer pressure, to ensure they know what they are doing.

The more interesting model is the integrated MPL where you go from PPL to base training in a 320, not having flown a cross country in anger since your PPL solo cross country qualifier! Training after PPL being entirely in a SIM until you test for your type rating.

Oxford (EGTK)

The larger modular schools will have half their PPLs going on to CPL/ME/IR.

Not half, but 95 percent for the two schools at my homebase! I have the impression that here (Germany) private pilots get their licenses mainly from flying clubs where they are taught by amateur instructors most of which are not qualified to instruct instrument flying. And even if they were, the flying clubs are not allowed to teach anything but PPL VFR.

Peter: … going from zero to a PPL/IR in something like 50hrs…

If I would change anything in the training system, I would rather get away from the fixed number of hours required for this or that license. Pilots/students are so much different! We should rather introduce a syllabus based on grading and cross-checking between various instructors, maybe every ten hours of so. Like that, the talented students will finish their PPL/IR in 50 hours whereas the less talented ones will fly as long as it takes (and I know quite a few pilots where another ten or twenty hours would have done no harm…).

Peter: … all dual time (no solo).

What you describe here exists, sort of, in the form of the multi pilot license (MPL). Some airlines introduced it a couple of years ago when there was a shortage of pilots. Pedestrian to right-hand-seat in a B737 in six months. No solo time, no PPL no nothing. Which is not a problem in the airline environment as these guys never fly solo anyway and will sit in the RHS for a decade and 10.000 hours before gaining any kind of responsibility.
But a private pilot (or CPL/ATPL holder in the GA environment) will be on his own right after his checkride. Therefore I think that he needs (supervised) solo time during his training, and lots of that!, to build the necessary confidence in himself and his trainer(s).

EDDS - Stuttgart

The reason for me stirring the pot with my original post is that I don’t think the present PPL delivers a good package to a VFR-only pilot, and I don’t think the present PPL/IR delivers a good package to an IFR pilot.

Due to the amount of irrelevant stuff, the amount of time wasted is considerable which, to the average customer doing that stuff, is probably worth more in time than the money actually paid.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In my view, the current PPL delivers the minimum to safely command an aeroplane, do some planning, and do some navigation safely. If more IFR or GPS or anything else was added to the basic package, then the minumum term of 45 hours would have to be increased to 55 hours, and possibly more depending on age, experience, aptitude and so on to meet the standards of a full IR, and then the time and cost of a PPL is less appealing to most. The current situation where you can do the basics, but pay your FTO extra post-PPL for any more useful training works IMO. Or you come to a place like this and be inspired or learn from other people’s experience, or get help removing the complexities of flying more than 1 hour away from home.

In some countries where the weather is not a major issue, VFR pilots can fly A to B perfectly well generally. Take a place like the UK though, and hardly a single flight can be done without any consideration of weather and or possible cancellation of a lot of flight – particuarly if you really want to go somewhere. If you planned a flight of 200NM its fairly unlikely to be CAVOK along the entire route. Thats why we were lucky to have the IMCr.

I think also the lack of people ‘going places’ isnt necessarily the trainin, or the PPL package, its the cost of renting, coupled with complexities of airspace that make a simple fun flight a hassle. If you dont rent, then you dont mind dog-legging around large chunks of airspace because at least your flying is relatively cost-efficient.

In general, I wouldnt change the package.

I think also the lack of people ‘going places’ isnt necessarily the trainin, or the PPL package, its the cost of renting, coupled with complexities of airspace that make a simple fun flight a hassle.

Not only that. Usually, airfields for GA are nowhere near you want or need to go, you can’t take much luggage, usually you are stuck in some dead-end place with a fifty Euro taxi ride to the next (small!) town and so on. People usually discover that during their first year after gaining their license…

And then there are people like myself who greatly enjoy flying, but really don’t have anywhere to go. I like flying, but I don’t like travelling. So for me, it was either flying commercially (ideally short haul and home almost every evening) or no flying at all.

EDDS - Stuttgart

Both the CPL/IR and the ATPL roll up the two into one set of flying skills.

Not strictly true. There is no ATPL course so we can discount that. There are Modular and Integrated commercial courses both of which seperate the VFR flying from the IFR flying. Within the Modular CPL there has always been a requirement for10 hours of IF; no approaches, just en-route flying. This can now be replaced by the Basic Instrument Flying Module BIFM which is creditable towards the VFR CPL module and the IR Modular Course.

Integrated training began as Theoretical Training folowed by Flight training on an almost exercise by exercise basis and then as students moved on to IF they started to place the Simulator Training in between the other two. The latest Integrated Courses are actually a series of Modules, The TK Module, The VFR Module and the IFR Module. In essence they are no different from PPL training.

The latest MPL Courses are VFR Courses but in the 70 hours conducted in an aeroplane IF is introduced towards the latter end and when the student moves into the Simulator phase it is all IFR flying.

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