Learn to fly: Frequently asked questions

Learn to fly: Frequently asked questions

How does learning to fly work?
To achieve a pilot licence a candidate has to complete requirements setup by Transport Canada.  Transport Canada is Canada's civil aviation regulator. Transport Canada spells out the requirements in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARS) and written and flight test guides.

These requirements include ground school, flight training time, flight training device time, and flight test standard requirements. To achieve these requirements you need to work with a flight training unit who then has the responsibility to develop a syllabus and hire flight instructors/examiners to complete the training efficiently and safely.

There are 2 parts to learning to fly. The ground school and the flight training.

Flight Training. This is the actual in flight training in the airplane. One on one with a flight instructor. A typical lesson  takes 2 hours. 30 minutes on the ground in a briefing room going over the flight (preparatory ground), 15 minutes for a preflight/walk around/fueling, 60 minutes for the flight itself, then 15 minutes to debrief. During the debrief you will discuss what went well, what didn't go well and how to prepare for the next lesson.

You can start the flight training any time. You are in a class or one. When you and the instructor show up, the lesson starts. The pacing and schedule of the lessons are up to you. You can fly once a month, once a week, or 4-5 times a day if it's productive for you. The more often you fly the sooner the course will be done and the less money it'll cost you to learn to fly.

Ground Schools covers the theory you need to fly and to pass the written exam. Ground School can be done in a group setting, one on one with a flight instructor, or online as a distance learning course. The best method for ground school depends on the schedule you can maintain, the start day, and how you learn best. 

You do not need to complete ground school before you start flight training. We suggest to do ground school and flying at the same time. What you learn in theory you can put to practical use in the airplane and the lesson will be better remembered.

Is my international medical good in Canada?

The answer depends. It depends on what you want to do in Canada. If you only want to fly recreational (to build hours), then your international medical is ok. If you want a Professional licence in Canada you'll have to obtain a Canadian aviation medical. See below on obtaining a Canadian medical.

I just completed a medical for my visa or class one drivers licence. Is this medical ok for the aviation medical?
It's probably a similar test, but a Canadian aviation medical must be completed.

What is the difference between the FAA, JAA and Transport Canada Private Licence?
 

  Canada
(Transport Canada)
Europe
(JAA)
USA
(FAA)
Unusual Attitudes YES Some what NO
Spins YES NO NO
Instrument YES,  5 hours NO NO
ICAO YES YES YES
Min hours 45 45 40
Night No, add on after Private Licence  (10 hours) No, add on after Private YES,  2 hours

Can I convert a Canadian Pilot Licence into a (INSERT COUNTRY) Pilot Licence?
Yes. Canada belongs to the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) country. All flying hours are transferable. Some countries will require written of flight test to convert.

Can I convert my (INSERT COUNTRY) Licence into a Canadian Pilot Licence?
Yes. For the procedures visit our license conversion page.

What is the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization?
The United Nations of flying. They try to standardize aviation world wide. Currently there is no "International Aviation Licence". Perhaps in the future.

How long does it take to learn to fly and complete the courses?
That depends on you and the courses you want to complete.
We allow students to progress at their own pace and schedule.

  • Students may complete any of the courses part time or full time.

  • A part time schedule might take 4-5 months to complete the Private Licence, and the Commercial Licence would take 24-30 months par time. Students can train on weekends, weekdays, evenings.

  • Students can complete the course in stages. Or complete the Private Licence, and then continue training for the Commercial a year later for example.

  • Some students will train in "shifts". For example 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off.

  • Students can complete the training full time. Flying 2-4 hours in a day. Training at this pace would complete the Private licence in 3-6 weeks, Commercial Licence in 3 months. IFR in one month.

  • Students who are staying in the Harv's Air accommodations must be full time students.

I'm (XX) years old? It that too old to fly?
No, there is no maximum age to learn to fly. The only requirement is too pass the medical. The oldest student we've trained was 82.

I'm (XX) years old? Am I old enough?
Solo at 14. Recreational Permit at 16. Private Licence at 17. Commercial Licence at 18. One can start to learn to fly before 14...however you may not solo until your 14 birthday.

Is it hard to learn to fly?
Anything in life that is valuable takes some work. Actually flying the airplane is similar to driving a standard shift car in terms of hand/eye coordination. The ground school material is written at a grade 9 level. There is nothing in the ground school that is rocket science, what surprises people is how much has to be learned and then brought together.

I completed some flight training (XX) years ago.  Can I still use this flight time and complete my licence?
Yes. However you will still need to get your self up to the current standard of currency and ability.

Do I need a medical to start lessons?
No, you need a medical to fly solo.

What are the types of medicals?

Recreational Cat 4 Family Doctor Valid for 5 year No Cost
Private Cat 3 Aviation Doctor Valid for 5 year 120$ in Steinbach
Commercial Cat 1 Aviation Doctor Valid for 1 year 150$ in Steinbach

Where/How do I Schedule a Medical?
Just call one of the following doctors. Listing of some aviation doctors in Manitoba that we recommend. To find more aviation doctors, visit this page: Click here for a search for Canadian Aviation Medical Doctors

Kaethler, H.W. Steinbach Family Medical Clinic, Steinbach, MB (204) 326 3401
Kati, A Kati Medical Centre, A3558 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg, MB (204) 261-1411
Lowden, C.S. Wildwood Medical Centre, 1151 Pembina Hwy., Lower Level, Winnipeg, MB (204) 452-3345
Lee, H.B. Rossmere Medical Clinic, 1046c Henderson Hwy., Winnipeg, MB (204) 953-1260
Young, J.D. Assiniboine Clinic 633 Lodge Ave., Winnipeg, MB (204) 958-6705
Fogel, M.L. Air Canada Medical Clinic Air Canada Cargo Bldg. 209-2020 Sargent Ave, Winnipeg, MB (204) 783-7070


Do I need perfect vision to fly? For the airlines?
No. Vision must be correctable to 20/20.

Do you fly in actual instrument conditions?
Yes. Do not be misled by any excuse regarding not flying in actual instrument conditions. As you compare schools, ask about their policy regarding flight under actual instrument conditions. Flying under the hood is not the same as flying actual   instruments. Some very "prestigious" schools do not allow flight under actual instrument conditions. We slow down only for ice and convective activity.

What are some questions I should be asking instructors and flying schools?

  1. Look for friendly personnel.  Meet the instructors.  If they seem happy, it’s probably because they are flying for an employer they enjoy, flying well-maintained aircraft.
  2. How long have they been instructing?
  3. Meet the Chief Flight Instructor of the school.  Speak with them about your options in flight training.
  4. What is the instructor availability? Full or part-time?
  5. How long does it take for one of their students to solo? To get their license.
  6. What does it costs to rent an airplane? Dry? Wet?
  7. Where can you take ground school? What are the options?
  8. What medical examiner do they recommend?
  9. Be careful of schools that demand up front payment of large sums of money.  Good schools will allow you to pay as you go.
  10. Look for an environment that is conducive to making contacts.  Aviation is a very small community and the connections you make while training will be around for your entire career.  Usually people connect with a flying buddy who is at the same level of training.  Lifelong friendships have often been made at the airport.
  11. What kind of schedule can you make with the airplanes and the instructors?
     

What is an uncontrolled airport?
Airport with no control tower. In North American 95% of airport are uncontrolled. Due to government cutbacks this number is on the rise. An uncontrolled airport is just as safe as an controlled airport.

What is a controlled airport?
Airport with a control tower. This means delays. More traffic. Fees. Training aircraft's have the lowest priority in a controlled airport.

Is it cheaper to own my own aircraft?
One must fly over 200 hours a years to justify owning an aircraft for financial reasons over renting. Fixed cost are high. Most people own their own airplane for convenience and pride.

What is VFR? IFR?
A way of flying.
VFR –VISUAL FLIGHT REFERENCE: Flying by looking out the window.
IFR – INSTRUMENT FLIGHT REFERENCE Flying by reference to the instruments.

What is the difference between the Classes of Instructor Ratings?
This is the Canadian system of Instructors:

Class IV New Instructor
Class III Instructor with some experience
Class II Supervisor Instructor
Class I Instructor of Instructor/Supervisor

Hints on saving money during flight training
FLY OFTEN
Pursuing flight training in as short an amount of elapsed time as possible will ensure that you are learning something new each time you go out, instead of trying to re-learn things you were taught last time. As a minimum, try to fly once or twice per week.

PLAN YOUR TRAINING INTELLIGENTLY
Where the requirements for one course are covered in another course, make sure you take the courses in an order so as to minimize the amount of flying you have to do. For instance, doing the instrument rating and the commercial pilot licence concurrently may minimize the amount of instrument training you will have to do.

USE THE SIMULATOR
Harv's Air has a certified instrument flight simulator on premises, and most courses involving instrument training allow a portion of that training to be performed on a flight simulator. Simulator time is substantially less expensive than flight time.

PREPARE FOR LESSONS
The more time and preparation you put into preparing for the next lesson the more you will get out of it. Prepare for the lesson by reading the manuals, memorizing the procedures, and visualizing the exercises.

STICK WITH ONE INSTRUCTOR
When you are starting out, fly with a couple of instructors. Once you find one you like, stick with that instructor - it will minimize the time it takes you to get your licence or rating (which reduces the overall costs).