The Complete Guide To Becoming A Pilot (3): Student Pilot Life
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Congrats, Mr New student pilot! You made it to flight school, so what and how will you study then as an Integrated EASA ATPL Student?

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This is the third article of a series named "The Complete Guide To Becoming A Pilot".

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In simple terms, flight school is divided into two parts (Theoretical and then Practical):

Phase 1: Theoretical Knowledge Training (ATPL Theory):

The duration of your ATPL theory studies is around six months up to 1.2 years, depending on the school.

An Important Advice For Student Pilots: I would highly advise that you consider the duration you think it’s most suitable for you before joining a particular course, as doing ATPLs in approx six months can get quite intense, analyse your limits and decide accordingly in advance, especially if you come from a Non-English country where you studied in a language other than English.

You will study the following 14 subjects as a student pilot:

  • Principles of Flight
  • Aircraft General Knowledge - Systems
  • Aircraft General Knowledge - Instrumentation
  • Human Performance
  • Meteorology
  • VFR Communications
  • IFR Communications
  • General Navigation
  • Radio Navigation
  • Flight Planning
  • Aircraft Performance
  • Mass & Balance
  • Operational Procedures
  • Air Law

In addition to a new training called Knowledge Skills and Attitude (KSA) – I haven’t done this in my time -

How long will it take? - Approx 750 Hours.

ATPL at CAE Oxford (The Manuals)

My Experience – Tips and Tricks to pass your ATPL exams:

  • The first phase was the hardest during my entire student pilot journey, not because of the complexity of the content but rather due to the amount of info that you need to learn in a short time.
  • Understand, and don’t fall into the trap of doing questions banks only; open your ATPL manuals at the end of each day and revise what you have learned.
  • If you don’t understand something or forgot it, refer to the CBT as it has visual explanations, which I found easier to grasp. And then refer to the books.
  • Don’t delay studying anything, as your time is minimal during this period.
  • Get yourself in a full focus mode for six months, and always look at the light at the end of the tunnel; 6 months might seem a lot, but it’s gratifying when you pass all of your subjects first time in the end.
  • Story Time: Our timetable at CAE Oxford was packed, with classrooms starting at 8:40 and finishing around 16:50. After that, we go home and have to do compulsory CBT’s at home, which usually takes another 2 hours or so depending on the day. (Monday to Friday)
  • Everyone was screaming with happiness when we got the results of our final EASA Exams at the campus.
  • It’s doesn’t matter if you don’t pass one internal exam the first time; what matters is that you pass your official exams the first time!
  • Prepare a checklist of items you need to take to your EASA Exams, as stress might cause you to forget an essential item.
  • Quite obvious but be early to get a feeling of the environment and chat with your colleagues.

Phase 2: Single Engine Flight Training:

You learn to fly a single-engine piston aircraft. You start by learning how to fly circuits. After passing your first exam, you will get released to fly Solo circuits – Your first solo flight is quite an exciting moment. The memory will stick with you for life!

After that, you learn to fly cross-country. The same thing happens when you pass the exam at this stage. You will be released to fly solo cross-country and get rewarded at the end with your Commercial pilot licence (CPL) after you pass your test.

How long will it take? - Approx 120 Hours + 10 Hours FNPT.

Single Engine Flight Training At CAE Oxford - Student Pilot

Phase 3: Multi-engine Flight Training:

You upgrade the aircraft, add an engine on your little plane and fly faster! You are now a more advanced Student Pilot!

At this phase, you learn to fly a twin-engine piston aircraft at this stage, you start off with circuits and move on to cross-country as well, at this stage, you learn how to fly using instruments without having to refer to the outside world, and get rewarded at the end with your Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR) after you pass your test.

At this stage, you get to do Advanced Upset Prevention & Recovery Training (A-UPRT). You learn how to recover the aircraft from upsets, crucial training! And you get to have a lot of fun by flying upside down and doing barrel rolls!

How long will it take? - Approx 65 Hours split between aircraft and simulator.

Multi-engine Flight Training at CAE Oxford - Student Pilot

Phase 4: Airline Pilot Standards Multi-Crew Cooperation (APS MCC)

You usually get onboard a big aircraft simulator (737 or A320). You will learn how to work in a Multi-Crew environment and operate a modern commercial jet. Yes – it’s the last phase, but it’s a vital one, here where you combine all of what you learnt to reach a level where you are suitable to join an airline and do your type rating.

How long will it take?
- Approximately 40 hours of simulator sessions (Based on CAE Oxford. The required is 20 Hours)

At the end of this phase, you get your MCC/JOC certificate.

Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC) at CAE Oxford - Student Pilot

My Experience – Tips and Tricks for the practical phase to excel as a Student Pilot:

  • One instructor once told us that the flying phase is more demanding than the theory, but you don’t notice because you will have fun! To which I agree with to a certain extent!
  • Chair-fly a lot at home, practice, practice and practice again and again.
  • Learn your procedures inside-out so you can turn your focus during your training Flights & Simulators into learning how to handle the plane and not stressing over a procedure that you don’t know.
  • You have to break the fear of taking control.
  • Try to talk on the radio early on, and don’t be scared of ATC; they know you are a trainee, just don’t block the frequency and talk too much!
  • Please make the most of your simulator; it’s where you test anything. If you are not comfortable with any procedure or manoeuvre, always ask your simulator instructor to try it at the end of the Sim.
  • Be respectful to your instructors!

The total course duration should be approximately 24 months. From my experience, our course took approx 19 months from start to graduation.

Please note that the previous information might differ from one flight school to another, but the general concept is the same.

Please note that all the previous information were based upon my experience at CAE Oxford; for more info, please visit their website: (

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