COVID-19 Blog 2: Real People, Real Issues

We have received so many queries from individuals who have responded to the APC COVID-19 video and the blog. Slowly, we are working our way through all the queries and our intention is to respond individually to everyone. 

It became obvious that this blog should be devoted to the queries or stories  from students and others who in the early stages  in the industry. 

One story is no less than a searing indictment of the technical knowledge training methodologies that have been in use in professional pilot training for years. Thankfully a solution is at hand. Or should I say, a solution will be available to those ATOs who embrace the concepts behind Area 100 KSA and work hard to improve pilot TK training. 

Keep well, stay safe, 


Stories from the industry

Below you will find a series of real submissions by members of the aviation community. Some of them are insightful and ask really pertinent questions, others are more predictable but are full of angst and worry, nonetheless.  

Please note that some submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

ATPL Exams

I am in middle of my ATPL integrated course and all our exams are cancelled now , its fully paid self financed but I am 38 years old and am afraid time will pass without being able to finish on time to get an airline job. Any suggestion what should I do? I am missing still 6 subjects out of the 14 and have done 50 hours in 1 year, my school is badly managing our course. 

APC Response

This is a tough situation and disappointing that your course is not being managed well for you. My advice is to keep in training so that when this current crisis resolves itself, you will be in a position to get a job. Anthony Petteford of VA Airline Training has some great insights into this in his interview with Petter, available on the website. Also, someone who I have great regard for in the industry says “when there are NO JOBS you should be TRAINING….so when there ARE JOBS…you’re TRAINED!” 

P.S. VA Airline Training have been great over the last few days and weeks in how the team there there have looked after their students and others who have been badly affected by this ‘novel’ situation we find ourselves in.

ATPL Theory

I’m at the ATPL theory stage of my training. I have studied a lot in my life, now I’m facing something I never expected and experienced, and something what is one of the worst training systems I’m part of. I’m writing about theory ATPL. We know that there is only one goal to pass the tests. You can have knowledge about something, and you fail if you don’t learn the correct answer. The system favours learning off answers instead of understanding the process.

In addition to this, elements like language poor instructor skills, AND the required “number of hours” can all impact results. In my opinion, at the level of PPL, this should change. There should be requirement to conduct a number of landings in different scenarios. It could make the training to be cheaper, and pilot more experienced.

Is there any chance organisation like yours, could rethink the training system, ask pilots, students and business representatives, find the weak points and maybe contact few CAA and start working about changing the rules and requirements to make the training system better?

APC Response:

This is a great point that identifies a major weakness in the current pilot training process. It is a weakness that has been identified and a fix for it has been designed and will be implemented.

I have referred this query to 2 experts in the ATPG who have been very involved in the development of the Area 100 KSA TK instruction and examination procedures. 

This new training methodology is designed to deal with exactly the weaknesses that this point highlights. However, like any training program, the outcome depends on how well the ATO implements the process. 

I will share the response when I get it. In the meantime, here is a link to a useful presentation from EASA at the 100 KSA Workshop that took place in Koln on 3rd and 4th September 2019. You can find the relevant presentation in Presentation No. 4 located in the Day One folder of Presentations Area 100 KSA Workshop Follow Up.

Airline Bankrupcy

The following two requests are have been linked with the same answer.

Currently I am undergoing an airline sponsored course which will offer me a job at the end. I’m just in the beginning, having theory classes. After I will have my ATPL exams with CPL, ME, IR and MCC. I will have to wait for the next phase, the type rating. It will only happen if they will need pilots, however I will have to start paying back the loan at that point. This is a difficult situation for a few reasons. Firstly, I am not sure if they will need pilots. Secondly, I’m not sure whether they will go bankrupt due to this chaos.

Is it possible to find a platform where another airline, could carry me, my loan and the type rating over? I’m just really worried about getting there to the end and having no job, no type rating and a huge loan. This is the moment of my life to make a really hard decision whether to continue or go around… If I quit now I could save some uncertainty which we are all at but could lose a dream. I’m trying to think rationally.

I’m a junior First officer in an Airline. I’ve flown exactly 499 hours on the 737NG but unfortunately due to the COVID-19 Viruses things are started to be unstable specially that most of the European destinations will be closed until maybe 30th of June and our scheduled routes to the middle eastern destinations maybe Closed till 15th of April and currently I don’t what to do and I can’t find any opportunities in case my Airline has gone bankrupt or decided to stop the business. 

APC Response

If I were you I would watch Petter’s excellent video on Crisis Management. In the video he works through a problem-solving technique that airline pilots use when they have to make a significant decision. You might see from this process that you are not at all in the worst situation possible and if you keep calm, this will work out for you. So many other people that have been in touch with us would love to be in your position!

Training during COVID-19

I’m not yet a trainee, but I intended to begin a training later this year. Unfortunately, I will probably have to postpone that plan due to the COVID-19 crisis. So my questions will be about the ATOs and the training. First, is it a good idea to begin training today, hoping that the effects of the training will have passed? Second, what impact this crisis will have upon the ATOs? Is there a risk that the ones that keep up are the biggest and most expensive, leaving the smaller ones to die?

APC Response

My friend says: “when there are NO JOBS you should be TRAINING….so when there ARE JOBS…you’re TRAINED!”

You should continue to pursue your training. I spoke in the APC blog about how you need to be careful about which ATO you choose due to the financial damage that this situation will inflict on some ATOs. However, if you can find a well-established ATO that has a good track record of getting its students into airline jobs, then you should take the advice and train NOW. This way you are in a position to get a job in 18 months to 2 years’ time.

Please also watch Petter interviewing Anthony Petteford in our latest video. He has a lot to say to future pilots like you and this decision that needs to be made.

Maintaining Your Qualifications

I am a recently qualified pilot just waiting for my licence back in the post. With the current scenario I see that there’s going to be a rough year ahead and I am still hoping to get work soon but not expecting to. As such I have a few questions relating to maintaining your qualifications. Some of the information is available when you do some rooting around but hoping to condense all the information using this platform.  

  1. Does AUPRT need to be renewed?
  2. After how long should you update your APS MCC?  
  3. What is necessary to renew your MEP and IR ratings? Flights, simulator sessions, exams, also what do people recommend to do to keep your currency? Obviously having just paid for my flight training it’s not like money is falling out of my pockets so could people recommend places and prices for flights and sims and exams etc?  
  4. I do not have the PBN qualification on my IR rating as I didn’t use RNAV in my IR and also only became aware of it after the exam and my school doesn’t have the approval for PBN yet. I have the theory part through having done the PBN EASA exam but do not have the flying part Can PBN be added during a revalidation? Can it be picked up during a type rating?  
  5. I am lining myself up to do a management course as this will have transferable skills to eventually becoming a captain. It’s also less expensive than flying for the minute as I need to save to maintain my ratings. What else would airlines look for apart from flying etc in an interview situation to show that you have been looking at preparing for a job on the line whilst you have not been working as a pilot.

APC Response

Mark Casey of AFTA had great insight into the above questions. 

  1. AUPRT does not need to be renewed. It is a standalone qualification/endorsement. AUPRT instructors, however, need to do an annual renewal. 
  2. If you have a budget to maintain currency, completing 1 hour every 2 months in a good FSTD or FNPTII with a buddy would maintain currency of your APS MCC skills. 
  3. It is considered best practice to keep all your ratings current, but budget is always a constraint. It’s probably wise to wait until there are “green shoots “on the horizon before renewing ratings at this time. You can always renew when the market is turning. 
  4. You can add it at revalidation with a school that has the appropriate aircraft, theory and simulators. You should have PBN before applying for jobs as an airline will usually not want to get involved in up-skilling applicants before type rating. 
  5. That’s a good idea. A management course would be valuable for sure. The best advice is to try and stay in the aviation industry (preferably in a flying role, be it instructing or any other aerial work activity). People that don’t often miss opportunities when the market turns. Put yourself at the forefront of the industry and you will be well informed with regard to upcoming job opportunities.

Aviation Jobs

These queries are generally about the viability of the future jobs market in the aviation industry.

I am trying to work out if it is still a viable option to pursue a change of career in the current climate. My concern is that due to the amount of staff being laid off, the pool of pilots awaiting employment will have ballooned enormously. What are your predictions for the future employment rates, short and long term? 

With all that is going on with the airline industry, the Max delay and coronavirus, many airlines have gone into financial difficulty and some have ultimately gone bust. Do you foresee any likely impact on trainee pilots or people who are starting ATPL training in terms of competition for jobs? Do you have a list of training facilities that you will recommend to us or is it only one place that you have in mind? 

I’ve literally started my EASA ATPL theory training, on Tuesday my school closed. On the same day I got an email with advice on what to do. They essentially said that I shouldn’t carry on and find another career. I really don’t want to follow this advice because I’ve wanted to do this for my whole life. I feel as though it’s my purpose in life. As an industry insider, what do you think about airlines laying off people? What should a student pilot do right now in this situation? 

APC Response

I think this concern is well addressed in the APC website.

Firstly, our video on whether the aviation industry will survive this crisis is very positive about the future. You should check that out for sure. Also, in my blog that I posted today (under the NEWS tab), I have comment from very experienced people in the industry which is both honest and optimistic. My own thoughts are there for you to read also.

So I believe it is definitely a viable option to pursue a career as an airline pilot. When we get our website and our processes finalised, and the time is right to launch APC in “Normal” mode, I think there will be loads of help for you there. The main aspects to help you will be:


  1. ATO Quality Assurance: We will only recommend ATOs to club members that we have done a thorough assessment on. This process will examine financial stability, quality of equipment, management standards and crucially, the standard and standardisation of the ATO’s instructors.
  2. The Indicative Assessment: Check out our Update Newsletter #2 under NEWS in the website. This assessment is going to be a great help to people before they make big decisions about trying to become an airline pilot.
  3. Insurance Policy: The training fee insurance policy is, I think, absolutely brilliant. It covers many obvious reasons why a student may not finish or qualify as a pilot but there are really helpful criteria as well, such as behavioural disorder, which covers many real-life situations. This policy then turns into a loss of licence policy when you qualify and no professional pilot should be without one. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the cost of this policy also.
  4. Funding for your training: If you meet the requirements of the AON system, as described in our website, you will be eligible for unsecured credit for the cost of your training, including type rating, if applicable. So, many reasons to be cheerful about the future, even in these very strange times.  

As a final note, I would like to leave all of you with a poem that has always stuck with me since my days as a cadet in the Irish Air Corps. This beautiful poem by John Gillespie Magee has inspired countless young people who aspired to take to the skies and fulfil their dreams. We all need some inspiration right now so think about these wonderful words, and be inspired.

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