Student Help & Advice

One, the other or both ?

UKCAA or EASA Post Brexit

Stefan Wagner

One, the other or both?

Anyone who has been within hearing range of an airfield, flying club, flight school or aviation-themed café has heard mention of it: EASA, UK CAA, nightmare. Next time you do, seize the opportunity to join in and vent your frustration in a safe environment to get yourself ready for the next step before returning to this brief confuser to help you figure out what to do where and how. 

Political background 

All of us who are “lazy slippers” and seldom bother to untie and re-tie their laces have arrived at the front door ready to go out only to find our favourite shoes tangled into a neat bundle. Indeed, anything which relies on being intertwined for a prolonged period of time will be difficult to separate. The United Kingdom’s (UK) extraction process from the European Union (EU) is no different and especially in aviation, an industry whose regulation has become centralised and standardised heavily across Europe, there has not been a shortage of challenges during the endeavour. Unlike other European countries which are not EU-member states, like Norway or Switzerland, the UK government made a decision to also part with EASA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, leave some European regulations behind and copy-and-paste a lot of other European regulations into UK national law – at least for now. 

The official extraction date was midnight between 31st December 2021 and 1st January 2022. As of that date, any automatic recognition of EASA licences, ratings, certificates, approvals, documents and other paperwork by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is restricted to certain exemptions for pre-existing, “grandmothered/grandfathered” items; in short, if something is issued outside the UK after that date, it will not be recognised for use in the UK by default. 

Leaving aside the increase in licence tourism between the UK and many EASA member states by already qualified pilots who flew in one jurisdiction using a licence from the other, this leaves a lot of us who have not started training wondering what we should do. After all, the decision on where to start PPL training is a decision for life. Isn’t it? 

Training considerations 

Well, no, not quite. To get into the age-old discussion of integrated versus modular training would bust the scope of this article and there is a lot of information available on what is ultimately a matter of personal preference and considerations of time and finance. You may also want to have a look at some of the airline programmes on offer before you start, some companies help finance your training and some are willing to make a commitment to you with part-sponsored training or a cadetship approach with either guaranteed employment or at least better employment prospects at the end.

For the purposes of “choosing a side”, we need to understand that integrated courses are faster-paced, more flight-school driven and often (part-)sponsored by the airline industry and therefore leave less wiggle room. This is where we have to put a strength on the pro-list of modular training because it allows for more customisation and a pick-and-mix approach which lends itself better to training towards both licences. Both, really? 


First of all ensure that you have the right to live and work in an EU country which is often contingent on a job offer and sometimes you may not be eligible. If it is likely that you are not permitted to work in one or more EASA countries, getting a commercial licence there would cost a lot of extra money and make no sense. 

Without putting the cart before the horse, let’s start with three simple scenarios regarding your commercial career plans: 

1. I’m in the UK and here to stay, I can’t see myself moving abroad for work. Sorted, shop around, find yourself a training organisation in the UK to get a UK licence and read Lawrence’s article on how to do that methodically! Your first few jobs at least will be flying aircraft on the UK register (G-XXXX). 

2. First half of a chance, I’m outta here, the south and the sun are calling. Sorted, find yourself a flight school in Europe (in your case Southern Europe if it’s sun you’re after) to get an EASA licence and read Lawrence’s article too! You will not be allowed to fly a UK-registered aircraft. 

3. I’m in the UK and wouldn’t say no to a home base but if something comes up across the water … and what about Ireland, north and south? Okay, it can be done, stick the kettle on and we’ll look at the challenges together: 

  • It will take you slightly longer. 
  • It will cost you more. 
  • t will take some more research and self-organising. 
  • It will make you more familiar with the nitty gritty of regulations than the average pilot. 

All is not lost 

We have kept scenario 4 quiet: I’m in the UK and have a flight school nearby which would suit me to start my PPL (Private Pilot’s Licence) course. Tell you what, as long as you don’t insist on a zero-to-hero fully integrated programme, jump in there and do it, you won’t look back. The big decision now will be where you do your commercial courses (ATPL theory, instrument training, etc.) and generally a UK PPL will still give you access to most EASA countries for commercial training. The pre-entry requirement under EASA, as in most countries around the globe, is a PPL which is compliant with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards and the UK Part-FCL PPL is in that category (unlike the UK national PPL or NPPL, beware!) and that should not change any time soon. 

So whatever your decision for your Part-FCL PPL course, remember that nothing is set in stone until you start training for a commercial licence. In many ways, there are benefits to having at least a PPL in the UK if you’re planning on holding a commercial EASA licence – like being able to fly around in your favourite Piper or Cessna when you’re home for a few days. 

Last but not least, there are good conversion options from a CPL (or PPL with a minimum amount of hours) in one country to a PPL in another without too many hoops to jump through. For fear of opening another can of worms, we will let conversion of existing licences be the focus of another article … 

About the Author:

Stefan Wagner

SkyLearner TKI
Based: Northern Ireland

Stefan is a qualified Commercial Pilot, Flight Instructor & SkyLearner TKI, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 10 years of aviation experience, Stefan has a passion for flight, training & aviation theory.

Is now the best time to become a pilot?

Opinion Piece

Lawrence Lagaay

There is no denying that Covid-19 has had an utterly devastating effect on the aviation industry. At the height of the pandemic, economic losses to the global aviation industry amounted to $200 BILLION. The effects were felt far and wide and one doesn’t have to look far to come across someone who is either unemployed or has left aviation completely.

Even now, 2 years on in 2022, the repercussions are still being felt and will continue to be felt for years to come. The war in Ukraine and inflation troubles many countries are experiencing has only added to the difficult situation that aviation finds itself in. With all this doom and gloom, you may be forgiven for thinking I have gone completely mad when I say now is probably the best time to become a pilot. During the course of this article I’ll be explaining why I think the time is right to become a pilot.

The recovery has already started to take place.

Global flight volumes have already started to regain pre-Covid levels and on occasion even surpass 2019 figures. While aviation still has a long way to go until one can consider the industry as having “recovered fully”, there are definite signs of recovery.

A quick look on popular flight tracking website, Flightradar24, at the time of writing (May 2022) reveals statistics of daily flights in the tens of thousands. This is all very encouraging I’m sure you’ll agree.

The current pilot shortage.

Before the onset of Covid-19, the aviation industry was facing a major pilot shortage. Covid-19 had the effect of temporarily masking this shortage, but now that the industry attempts to recover and get back to profitability, the pilot shortage is becoming a fast reality. In fact, it is firmly believed that the shortage will be even greater than before Covid-19! There is strong evidence to back this up.

At the onset of the pandemic, many airlines were forced to retrench staff in an effort to remain in business. Some airlines unfortunately went out of business altogether. There were mass levels of unemployment amongst pilots. Many of the older pilots who were retrenched have either decided not to come back to aviation or have reached retirement age. Large amounts of younger pilots have also moved away from aviation completely.

So across the board, large numbers of pilots have been permanently lost to the industry. As the industry begins to recover, airlines are facing shortages already. It’s not that there are no pilots available, but rather a case at the moment of pilots needing to undergo recurrency training to legally be able to fly.

This training is time and resource intensive and means that several airlines have had to start cancelling flights because they simply have no pilots available.


Let’s use a typical airline as an example and consider the make-up of the pilot pool within that airline. In order to cater for operational needs and to fulfil the schedule, an airline needs an average of 6 crews per aircraft. So, for each plane in the fleet, an airline needs about 12-15 pilots.

If 50% of the pilot pool was retrenched, the airline will need to conduct recurrent training for this 50% of pilots if they want to have a full schedule. The problem is, within the remaining 50% of operational pilots, there will be a large amount of the airline’s instructors and check captains.

These pilots are unable to conduct the training and fulfil the operational needs of the airline and this is where the choke point is at the moment. The result is that the airline is desperately short of pilots, and they find themselves needing to hire crew who are already current (it is cheaper to hire someone who is already current than it is to re-train a pilot who hasn’t flown for a while).

We are seeing higher levels of airline hiring at the moment as the bigger airlines seek to hire crews to fulfil their operational constraints. This has a knock-on effect on smaller operators throughout the industry.

The looming pilot shortage.

Several studies and forecasts have been carried out by various companies and aviation agencies regarding the future outlook for the aviation industry. Most of them seem to agree on one thing: there is going to be dire need for pilots in the years to come.

One of these forecasts was carried out by CAE Aviation (the largest flight training organisation in the world) in September 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic was it its most severe. Their report looked at the global pilot forecast for the 10-year period between 2020 and 2030 and their forecast makes for startling reading…

According to the CAE Aviation forecast, the global aviation industry will need an EXTRA 264 000 new pilots over the next 10 years. This equates to SEVENTY newly qualified pilots A DAY for the next ten years. Yes, you read that right; 70 pilots a DAY for the next 10 years. This is just to keep up with the expected growth of the aviation industry and to cater for natural pilot attrition due to retirements etc.

This figure is backed up by the main aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus. Both manufacturers have order backlogs amounting to thousands of aircraft. Boeing forecasts that for the 737MAX alone, they will be ramping up production to 59 planes a month. If each aircraft that gets produced needs an average of 6 crews per plane, it is clear to see that a massive pilot shortage is on the not-too-distant horizon.

Starting now is good timing

With the anticipated need for pilots in the coming years, starting your flight training now is a good idea. It typically takes a student pilot an average of 18-24 months to go from beginning to fully qualified commercial pilot. In 2 year’s time, the industry is expected to have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels and healthy growth should be starting to be seen in many parts of the world.

A word of caution though: Upon qualifying as a commercial pilot, you won’t likely be immediately eligible for employment as an airline pilot. The step-up to transport jet operations is not an easy one and a newly qualified commercial pilot simply just doesn’t have the competencies required to operate large transport aircraft. Do not despair though; through structured training programs such as jet bridging courses or APS-MCC, you’ll be equipped with the competencies to make the step-up. One of these previously mentioned courses will stand you in good stead with potential employers.


The past two years have been an incredibly tough time for everyone in the aviation industry and a lot of negative sentiments still remain. It is plain to see from the evidence that there will be a need for pilots in the years to come. The fact that it takes time for a pilot to be fully trained and fulfil all the regulatory requirements means that this shortage cannot get filled overnight. If your goal is to end up flying professionally, starting your training now will give you a competitive edge in an industry that is extremely dynamic. As they say in the classics, “you snooze, you lose!”

About the Author:

Lawrence Lagaay

SkyLearner TKI
Based: South Africa

Lawrence is a Commercial Airline Pilot based in Port Elizabeth South Africa, and TKI for SkyLearner Aviation, with experience in both GA and airline training environments.

Balancing Theory & Flying

The Great Balancing Act

When learning to fly or upskilling our General aviation skills, we often forget the need to balance practical flying alongside theoretical knowledge studying. The combination of theory and practical flying, helps us to retain and understand our knowledge, whilst refining our skills. It is important however to recognise that spending time on theory content, such as the SkyLearner System, must be considered as active learning (duty) time.

Combining Ground School & Theory Time

There are many different ways to integrate theory knowledge and practical flight training, and schools use a variety of different programs. At SkyLearner we recommend that students should normally begin a period of focused ground school after completing approximately 5 hrs of practical flight training. This allows students to begin to familiarise themselves with aviation concepts that can be useful when answering your exams and learning that all important theory.

Understandably, not everyone likes to do this, and often students mix their ground school and theory training, alongside practical flight training. This can help break up the ground school content and help act as a stress reliever while you try to wrap your head around the exam subjects. The large downside to this, however, is that it can be easy to become tired, stressed and possibly even fatigued, more easily due to the high workload of the ground school environment.

Remember it is all cumulative

It is important to recognise that you need to account for your hours of ground school learning alongside your practical flying time, as these will both have an effect on your sleep, stress and fatigue levels.

There are legal limitations to the amount of duty time, for safety reasons, that pilots must work within. Your operator, flying school or club may be more stringent, and it is important that you account for your practical and theoretical learning time, when considering your compliance with these limitations.

How Much Sleep Do I Need ?

The amount of sleep we need, is subjective, and therefore varies from person to person. In general, however, studies show that the amount of sleep varies through the various age groups.

It’s important to know how much sleep you naturally need, and then work this into your work / life schedule. You can do this by having a week of no alarms and allowing your body to awaken naturally.

How Much time to spend on SkyLearner

We understand, how much some of our students want to keep up the learning pace and make their way through the learning content, getting through those tricky tests and finally passing the instructor knowledge checks.

It is important to recognise however that you should aim to spend a maximum of 8 hours per day on the system, and plan to give yourself at least 2 days off every week, free of flying and studying. When mixing your SkyLearner Ground school with flying, the combination of both, should remain under 8 hrs per day and comply with any legal flight time limitations.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you remain compliant within any flight time or duty limitations, and to actively monitor your sleep and fatigue levels, to help ensure adequate and safe flight performance.

Article Prepared by:
SkyLearner Aviation Safety Department

The importance of having the right Flight Instructor.

Insights From an Instructor

Edition 2

In our last article, we spent some time discussing why it is so important to choose the right flying school and I gave some pointers on how to go about choosing the right flying school for your needs.

If you’ve found the right flying school for your needs, then congratulations! You’re already well on your way to a fulfilling a rewarding aviation journey. This article deals with the next aspect of flight training and one that is so crucially important – your flight instructor. Over the course of this article, we’ll discuss why having a good instructor is important, what to expect from your instructor, what your instructor expects of you and what to do if you’re not happy with your instructor.

What does a flight instructor do?

Well… They teach you to fly. Duh! Setting aside the obvious for just a moment, let’s explore the role of a flight instructor in a little more detail.

A flight instructor is primarily responsible for conducting ab-initio training. In other words, they are responsible for conducting training towards the issue of a PPL. This training consists of ground and flight training, so the instructor needs to be able to deliver both aspects of the training.

During flight training, the instructor remains the pilot-in-command which means they are ultimately responsible for the pre-flight preparation, in-flight safety and aircraft management, communication, and post-flight duties.

Since your training will qualify you to act as pilot-in-command as the holder of a PPL, the instructor will start shifting some of these responsibilities to you at the appropriate times, they however,

Your flight instructor is the most important person you’ll work with. Choose them wisely.

remain ultimately responsible for the safety of the flight. This means that in addition to teaching you how to fly a plane, they are also constantly monitoring the fuel state, engine parameters and looking out for traffic.

When not flying, an instructor could be expected to deliver ground briefings pertaining to the flight exercises being undertaken as well as theoretical lectures and post-flight debriefs. In fact, the debrief is one of the most important aspects of the whole training process as this is when the student and instructor can review the lesson and discuss what went well and what needs to be improved. The duties of the instructor don’t stop there though. Every training session must be documented in a training file, and it is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that the student’s training file is kept up to date.

So, while you may only deal with your instructor for a short time per day, you’ll often find that an instructor has an incredibly busy work schedule and works tirelessly to stay on top of things.  

Why a good instructor is so important.

Have you ever had that one school teacher who inspired you to want to do better and learn more than just the basics? I’m guessing that teacher had a profound impact on your life and played a pivotal role in shaping who you are as a person today? A good flight instructor is no different.

If you consider that your flight instructor is most likely the first person in aviation that you’ll deal with on a regular basis, it stands to reason that they will very likely set the tone for how your training will go. If you and your instructor don’t get along well, then you’ll feel less comfortable around them and be less receptive to learning from them.

On the other hand, the two of you get along well, it makes the whole process much more enjoyable and allows you to feel comfortable enough to ask questions about things that you don’t understand.

It goes beyond a feel-good factor though. You are entrusting your life to your instructor whenever you get into a plane together. Flying with someone you don’t like has an impact on how much confidence you have in that person – even if only at a subconscious level.

An instructor very often becomes a role model to new students. I still do some of the same things my first instructor did. Luckily, they were all good habits! If an instructor has an unprofessional attitude, doesn’t take safety seriously and treats you like you know nothing, then immediately you are given the impression that it’s okay to behave in a similar manner. The saying “first impressions are lasting impressions” is painfully accurate here.

A good instructor recognises the vital role they play in the development of a new pilot’s career and makes every effort to always ensure they role model the appropriate behaviour.

This may all seem wishy-washy and full of nonsense, but I have seen it all too often in my 10 years as an instructor. There are countless aspiring pilots who have given up on their dreams of becoming a pilot because of their instructor.

A really good instructor can be thought of as more of a mentor than a flight instructor.

What makes a good instructor?

A good instructor doesn’t need to be some all-knowing god of the skies who never makes mistakes. In fact, these types of pilots often make the worst instructors. Because all students have different personalities, motivations and aspirations; what one student thinks is a “good instructor” may be seen by another student as a terrible instructor. Below, I’ll discuss some traits that set good instructors apart.

1) The student is King/Queen

By far and away the most important thing for any instructor to remember is that they are there to provide a service to a student. The focus should never be on the instructor, but rather on the student and their needs.

A good instructor puts their ego aside and refrains from showing how much they know or how well they fly unless there is a direct benefit to the student’s learning. There is no place for showboating.

2) A good instructor takes the time and effort to get to know you.

By knowing what motivated you to become a pilot, what other interests you have, how you react to stress and where your strengths and weaknesses lie, the instructor knows how to get you to perform to the best of your abilities. The simple act of taking 15 minutes to get to know you a bit better does wonders. On the one hand, the instructor is armed with information that will help them to develop you as a professional pilot. On the other hand, you as a student feel like your instructor is taking a genuine interest in you – you feel like more than just a number.

3) A good instructor is continually looking for valuable teaching moments.

Be it during the flight or whilst walking around the airfield, there are always opportunities to learn about something extra. As an example, say you and your instructor are walking past a plane that is different to the one you fly.

There are bound to be components of that plane that you may have learned about in your groundschool. A good instructor will take the opportunity to show you how this component works in real life. It’s these small details that give you a broader understanding of the aviation environment.

4) A good instructor is honest.

We don’t have all the answers all the time. The hallmark of a good instructor is one who admits if they do not know something and makes an effort to find the correct answer. Very often this turns into a valuable learning opportunity.

5) A good instructor is professional.

Flight training is serious business where large amounts of money are spent by customers and where the time pressures are ever present. An instructor who conducts themselves with a good degree of professionalism is a must for several reasons.

Most important of these is the fact that from day one, an instructor’s every move is being picked up on by the student who has little to no foundational knowledge of what is expected of a professional pilot.

The instructor becomes the student’s barometer of professionalism. Any bad habits that the instructor displays in an aviation environment invariably gets copied by the student. Instructors must always ensure they are role modelling the appropriate behaviour.

The key is to find an instructor who suits YOUR needs the best.

What does your instructor expect from you?

The working relationship you and your instructor will have is a two-way street. In order to get the best out of your instructor (and by extension, the best value from your training), there are some things that your instructor will expect from you.

1) Be Prepared

As mentioned earlier in the article, your instructor is usually incredibly busy training several students. Your instructor often doesn’t have the luxury of time to postpone a training session because you are not prepared for the session.

By far the biggest complaint that you’ll hear from any instructor is that their students were not prepared for the session. Try to ensure that you have all the equipment ready and in working order before you attend class or go for a flight.

Also make sure you have read through any prerequisite training material before the lesson. In short, please come to the lesson prepared!

  • POOR

2) Be Punctual.

This goes in hand with my previous point. Flying schools need to ensure that all their aircraft and staff are utilised in the most effective manner. This means that flights are booked back-to-back. So are the instructors. There is usually not a lot of time available for delays as this causes a knock-on effect. Arriving late to a lesson or flight is not only unprofessional, but also causes delays that could have an impact on your fellow students. We’re counting on you to play your part in ensuring the operation runs smoothly.

3) Ask questions.

Ever since the Wright Brothers first took to the skies, there has never been a single instructor who has been able to read minds. So, if you don’t understand something, the onus is on you to say so. An instructor would far rather have a student who admits they don’t understand something than a student who pretends to know everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Like anything in life, there is a time and place for this (asking your instructor a question about altimeter setting procedures on short final approach is probably not the most appropriate place to have the conversation!)

4) Do your best!

All your instructor wants from you is for you to do your best. Acknowledge your strengths and make an effort to improve your areas of weakness. Your instructor is not expecting you to be the next Sully Sullenberger or Chuck Yeager. Perfection will come in due course; just work to the best of your ability.

5) Have fun!

It is proven that learning something happens best when a person is enjoying the experience. Don’t forget to have fun during your training – you’re learning to fly an aeroplane for goodness’s sake! If you are not finding the training enjoyable, discuss this with your instructor to try and find out why you’re not enjoying the training and what could be done to make the process more enjoyable for you.

What should I expect from my instructor?

We’ve had a look at the characteristics of a good instructor and what is expected from you, but now we will discuss what you should expect from your instructor.

1) Your instructor should be punctual.

Quite simply, being late for a lesson sets a bad tone and leads to the lesson being rushed or postponed altogether. I’m sure that would frustrate you immensely. Don’t settle for an instructor who is constantly late for lessons or flights. This just places unfair pressure on you.

2) Your instructor should be respectful towards you.

Nobody wants to be treated like a fool. Do not tolerate an instructor making you feel like an idiot for making mistakes. There is an appropriate way to address mistakes and an inappropriate way. Being yelled at is certainly a red flag, as are snide comments.

3) Your instructor should not put you in a situation beyond your capabilities or set you up for failure.

This is a fine line for an instructor to follow because there are times when we can see a student is grasping a concept quicker than normal, and so we decide to raise the stakes to develop your higher order thinking skills. There is a difference between this and making you land the aeroplane at maximum crosswind limits on your first landing. The difference here is that you are being put in a situation that you have no hope of successfully carrying out; whereas an instructor getting you to do something a little more complex than what you’re used to makes you use all the skills you have learned so far to achieve something that required a higher order of thinking. If you feel your instructor placed you in an unfair situation, discuss your concerns with them. They may have a good reason for doing it that way.

I don’t seem to get along with my instructor. What can I do about it?

We’re all humans. We don’t always get on well with everyone. Personality clashes in the training environment is not conducive to the learning process.

Most of the time the flight school will make every attempt to pair you with an instructor of a similar personality. Sometimes this doesn’t work out as planned but have no fear!

If you and your instructor don’t seem to get along, you are well within your rights to request a change of instructors. It is perfectly normal to do so and is done often at flying schools the world over. This is best brought up with the Chief Flying Instructor or Head of Training, as appropriate. If you find the school unwilling to facilitate an instructor change without a valid reason, think very carefully about whether this is the right school for you.

Do not be afraid to request a different instructor!


As we’ve seen from this article, choosing the right instructor is one of the most important choices you’ll make in your flying career. An instructor can make or break your aviation career in the sense that a bad instructor can very easily turn you off flying and cause you to abandon your dream of becoming a pilot. I have seen it happen more times than one would like. Similarly, a good instructor will help you get the best value out of your training and provide a solid foundation for a long and successful career in aviation. Hopefully this article has provided you with some good pointers to help you choose the instructor that best suits your needs.

Happy flying!

About the Author:

Lawrence Lagaay

SkyLearner TKI
Based: South Africa

Lawrence is a Commercial Airline Pilot based in Port Elizabeth South Africa, and TKI for SkyLearner Aviation, with experience in both GA and airline training environments.

Diving Back Into Studies!

How to return to studying after a “sabbatical”

Worried about getting back into your Studies ?

Regardless of whether you have just finished school or university or if it has been several years since you were last confronted with study material, returning to studies after a prolonged period may be quite daunting, having the brain being “inactive” or “dormant” in terms of its approach to theoretical application and then suddenly jumping into the deep end may seem to be a strenuous task.

Therefore, understanding how to approach your studies after having been away from them for an extended time is important. Whatever the reason for the absence, be it work commitments or family, finance or travel, there are a few key things to remember when approaching your studies which will assist you in getting off on the right foot.

In this short article we will highlight some key areas that can help ease you into studying once again as well as offer a few tips on how to get the most out of the SkyLearner System.

Create a Timetable

Creating a study timetable will help you create a routine and ensure that you complete the work you set out to do. It is important that this is a realistic schedule, one that incorporates all your daily activities & commitments and allows for down-time.

Your schedule should allocate for all your subjects and should be diverse in the way that it is laid out so as not to overwhelm you. Some people may find that it is easier to split their time between two or more subjects. This may help a single subject from becoming too tedious, but care should be taken so as not to spread yourself too thinly.

Take a Study Break

When focussing on achieving a goal, such as completing your ground school subjects, it is easy to overlook the value of a well deserved study break.

The increased mental capacity required and additional workload that come with studies can very easily lead to an individual burning themselves out.

Study breaks are known to improve energy levels, reduce a stress and improve your memory!

 Types of Study Breaks

Be sure to use your study break effectively, during this time try and step away from any external stressors you have. The idea is to be able to return to work feeling refreshed!

  • Go for a walk
  • Meditation or breathing exercises
  • Power nap
  • Reorganise your workspace
  • Listen to music
  • Have a snack



Study Smart

It is very important to study in such a way as to store information in your brain’s long term memory banks. There are many technics you may use such as creating mnemonics (using a pattern of words, phrases, songs, or poems to help remember a larger concept) or by creating visual aids such as mind maps. It is also essential to create study notes as you go along.

The human brain remembers best when it can see, hear and feel an example.

You may also find that you struggle to study alone, if so, reach out to other students at your flight school, form study groups and try bringing the subject to life by talking about your understanding of the content and trying to piece together how the concepts may be applicable in the flying environment.

If you are unable to create a study group, or if you simply need some more professional guidance book a lesson with your instructor, this can often help you pinpoint problem areas you may have been struggling to grasp by yourself, which, will ultimately assist with time management as you will be spending less time on that particular problem area.


Commit your Learning to your Long Term Memory

Create Study Notes !

Practice Makes Perfect

Remember the Private Pilot’s Licence can be used as a stepping stone to your Airline Pilot Exams and even if you do not intend to fly commercially the information you learn should be retained in order to make you a better General Aviator

The SkyLearner System affords you the opportunity to attempt practice exams, which allows you to test your knowledge in an exam environment.

Understanding the concept is more important than simply knowing the answer as aviation is about the practical application of these concepts. So when using the solution bank make sure you understand the explanation rather than simply remembering the answer verbatim.

A key element in retaining knowledge is repetition and this is why the solution bank is so handy. Our Solution bank allows you to practice exam style questions as well as view a detailed solution to each problem.

Create an Appropriate Working Environment.

Create a clear and functional working environment for yourself. Remove distractions and allow yourself to be submerged in your work for the time that you have dedicated to your studies.

Find a quiet area to set up your workstation, place your phone on silent & turn off any background noise – do not listen to music with vocals, studies reveal that whilst music can aid studies, music with lyrics detract from concentration and tend to decrease the amount of information retained.

It may also be useful to inform your friends, family, or roommates that you are studying to decrease any possibility of being distracted. Also remember that a cluttered workspace will make you feel uncomfortable and may distract you from the task at hand.

Set Realistic Expectations.

Set yourself realistic goals, these must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and, Time-based. Once again, we are all different and what is achievable and measurable for one individual may not be for another.


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-Based

If you are struggling to settle down and get into the work, one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was very simply:

“Do it for 5 Minutes”

This may seem ridiculous, and I too was a sceptic, but I have found that inevitably sitting down to work for “just 5 minutes” feels easier than committing to a prolonged study session.

Once you have committed to making a start with “just 5 minutes”, you will find yourself naturally studying for longer and ultimately being able to build a good study habit.

Do not be afraid to ask for HELP

Never be afraid to reach out to your instructors for help if there is something that you do not understand. The SkyLearner TKI team is always ready to help, so please reach out to us if need be. You may also look to your peer group, others who are busy with their studies may also be struggling and need your help, or, they may have been stuck on a concept once before and so may understand where your difficulties lie.

Aviation is a small community, and you will find most people are willing to help if only you ask. It is also however advisable that you do the work, do the research, and do not rely solely on others. If there is something that you do not understand the first-time round, always try first to make sense of the problem yourself, but, if you get stuck, ASK FOR HELP!

Enjoy the Ride!

Ultimately, gaining knowledge is about furthering and advancing your skill set, it should be an enjoyable experience, if you’re not enjoying it (at least for the most part), you’re doing something wrong!

So, with all that in mind, the best thing to do, is to take a deep breath, and start at the beginning, and remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon! Have fun!

About the Author:

Ryan Mitton

SkyLearner Accountable Manager & TKI
Based: South Africa

Ryan is the Accountable Manager at SkyLearner Aviation and has vast knowledge in the aviation industry afforded to him through his CPL, BMIL in Technology & Defence Management as well as his 10 years of aviation experience as a pilot in the South African Air Force.

How to get the most value from your flight training?

Insights From an Instructor

Edition 1

Your journey to becoming a fully-fledged pilot encompasses not only the exams and practical flight training, but also a subtle transformation in your personal attributes and skills. Flight training is an expensive undertaking, so it stands to reason that you would want to get the best value out of your training.

In a series of articles we’ll explore everything from choosing the correct flying school to insights and tips I have gained from a decade’s worth of experience as a flight instructor to ensure that you get the most value out of your training and ultimately become a more complete pilot. In our first instalment, we’ll explore why it’s important to pick the right flying for YOUR needs.

Choose the best flight school for YOUR needs

Anyone who has wanted to start flying has most likely come across the bewildering array of different flying schools all promising to give you the best training at the best price. Like any industry, marketing plays a huge role in flight training. The path to having an enjoyable time during your flight training starts with doing some homework in order to answer one simple question:

“what is the best flight school for YOUR needs?”

The aviation industry is incredibly diverse, and each individual wants to become a pilot for different reasons. You may be thinking of making a career out of being an airline pilot or a career instructor or even a bush pilot flying guests to some of the most amazing lodges. You may want to fly recreationally as a hobby, or you may want to become the next aerobatic champion. Because we all have different needs and goals, there can’t be one answer to this question. Things to consider are:

Where do I want to be Based During my training?

You may want to learn to fly at your local airfield, or you may want to go learn a little further afield, possibly even in another country. Several factors could influence your decision, but don’t forget that accommodation costs will invariably need to be factored in when considering the cost of training. Be advised that doing your flight training in another country may have implications for licence conversions.

It is possible to convert a flying licence from any ICAO country, but licencing requirements differ from country to country and the conversion process could involve a substantial amount of money and time. To ensure the easiest conversion process possible, British citizens wishing to do their training abroad should look for a flight school that is EASA approved. This will ensure that all the UK CAA’s licencing requirements will also be met.

If in doubt, feel free to discuss this with any prospective flying school that you’re considering. They will have the most up-to-date information regarding the licence conversion process.

You can also reach out to us at SkyLearner, and we’ll gladly assist you.

Small school or large school?

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Smaller flying schools typically have a more relaxed atmosphere, and you’re more likely to get more attention from your instructor as they would typically have fewer students to work with. On the other hand, a smaller school may have a smaller fleet of training aircraft and delays could be encountered when routine maintenance or a training mishap takes an aircraft out of service for an amount of time.

A larger flying school has plenty of resources at hand to facilitate your training to allow you to progress through your training as quickly as possible. These flight schools operate more like a university with lectures and briefings for a larger number of students at once. One might find that due to the increased number of students, each flight instructor may have several students that they’re working with at any one time which often means quality one-on-one time with an instructor may be limited.

If you’re someone who feels that they benefit more from one-on-one time with an instructor, finding somewhere where this is possible will be a main consideration for you.

Due to their size and commercial presence in the industry, the larger schools tend to have formal agreements to conduct training for airline operators and this is an attractive option for many prospective students aspiring to become airline pilots.

A larger flying school has plenty of resources at hand to facilitate your training to allow you to progress through your training as quickly as possible. These flight schools operate more like a university with lectures and briefings for a larger number of students at once. One might find that due to the increased number of students, each flight instructor may have several students that they’re working with at any one time which often means quality one-on-one time with an instructor may be limited.

If you’re someone who feels that they benefit more from one-on-one time with an instructor, finding somewhere where this is possible will be a main consideration for you. Due to their size and commercial presence in the industry, the larger schools tend to have formal agreements to conduct training for airline operators and this is an attractive option for many prospective students aspiring to become airline pilots.

You’ll most likely come across schools referring to their training courses being modular or integrated. A “modular” flying school refers to a school where the student completes a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) before moving on to a Commercial Pilot (CPL) licence course. An “integrated” flying school refers to a school where there is no clear break between the PPL and CPL. Instead, the student enrols onto an integrated course and goes all the way through to a CPL level without obtaining a PPL. Again, your personal goals and needs will dictate which type of training course is right for you.

Quiet airfield vs busy airfield?

Again, there are pros and cons to each. A quieter airfield will usually allow you to complete your flying exercises in a shorter time as there are less traffic delays. At larger, busier airports it is not uncommon to wait a significant amount of time on the ground whilst you wait for your chance to get airborne. Right now, you’re probably thinking that it would be a no-brainer to fly at a quieter airfield but consider this: if your aim is to become a professional airline pilot, it may benefit you to learn to fly from a busier airport from the beginning.

You’ll learn to deal with air traffic control, have a better appreciation for the importance of disciplined radio work & visual lookouts and generally have more confidence operating in busier environments. In addition to this, larger airports typically have more facilities that allow you to do more advanced training elements such as an instrument rating in a more efficient manner.

You get what you pay for.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, and it is important to be cost conscious when it comes to choosing a flight school. One might think that the cheapest flight school is the best option, but this is seldom the case. It is not unheard of for flying schools to advertise an incredibly low fee for training but leave out several hidden costs which ultimately end up costing you more down the line.

One of the most important things for you to do is to get quotes from several schools and compare them. Pay careful attention to what you’re being quoted for. Unscrupulous flying schools have a habit of leaving out important costs such as exam and equipment fees in an attempt to make them a more attractive option to prospective students.

The fact is that learning to become a pilot will be an expensive undertaking. There is no way around this

My advice is to get quotes from schools, scrutinise those quotes and speak to current students who can give you an indication whether the school is transparent about their fees. You’re investing a significant amount of money into your career, don’t be fooled by fees that sound too good to be true.

Get a feel for the place, if possible.

If you’re able to visit the prospective flight school in person, do it. You’ll get to see the facilities for yourself and get a feeling for the atmosphere of the school. Pay attention to how the staff treat the students and whether the facilities seem well maintained.

Try speaking to students who will give you an unbiased opinion of what it’s like to be a student there. Take note of the attitude of the staff. If there is a general air of unhappiness amongst the staff, that invariably translates into a poorer standard of training.

Book an introductory flight, if possible

Choosing to book an introductory flight at a prospective school, you’ll get a good idea of the state of their aircraft. Nobody wants to fly in an aircraft that looks tatty and poorly maintained. The ethos of the school is often reflected in the state of the aircraft. Planes with untidy interiors or tatty fittings shows you that the school doesn’t take much pride in their machines. This is a red flag. Your life literally depends on the aircraft being well maintained.

During the intro flight, you’ll also get the chance to see how the instructor behaves. Whilst the intro flight isn’t a lesson, it certainly isn’t a joyride where the instructor has free rein to show off their skills. A good sign is an instructor who shows an interest in you wanting to become a pilot at their school and who conducts the intro flight according to your limits, NOT theirs.

A good sign is an instructor who shows an interest in you wanting to become a pilot at their school and who conducts the intro flight according to your limits, NOT theirs.

Remember! The instructor is essentially an ambassador for the flying school during this time and how he/she behaves will tell you a lot about the environment you’ll be operating in. In conclusion, we have seen that choosing the right flying school is a vitally critical first step in your journey to becoming a pilot.

You’ll have a much more enjoyable time in an environment where you feel comfortable and supported, so take the time to make sure you’ve found the right school.

About the Author:

Lawrence Lagaay

SkyLearner TKI
Based: South Africa

Lawrence is a Commercial Airline Pilot based in Port Elizabeth South Africa, and TKI for SkyLearner Aviation, with experience in both GA and airline training environments.

EASA License Holders in the UK

Applies to EASA License Holders who are normally resident in the UK

Some of you may have noticed an alert on Skywise issued by the UK CAA stating that the CAA will not recognise EASA licenses from 01st January 2022, and advising all license holders that they must hold a UK Part FCL license after this date.

We believe this to be a mistake in the dates, issued by the CAA with the actual date being 01st January 2023 as per their original guidance material. We have sought immediate clarification on this date from the CAA, however putting all the evidence together, we believe it is still the 01st January 2023.

If you are a current holder of an EASA Issued license and are affected, please do not delay in starting the simplified EASA to UK Conversion, to allow you to hold a UK Part FCL license.

The core steps to this process include:

  1. Having a valid foreign EASA license which is current
  2. Obtaining a UK issued Medical Certificate from a UK Medical Examiner (AME)
  3. Applying to the UK CAA online via the customer portal
  4. Payment of a Fee to the UK CAA and the EASA National Authority

More details can be found HERE on the UK CAA website

Common Questions

Do I need a UK Issued Part FCL License for GA aviation?

All UK residents flying recreationally within UK airspace require a UK issued license.

How long Should I allow for the conversion process?

Understandably, the UK CAA will have alot of applications from many pilots, this has resulted in a delay to many getting licenses issued. Please allow up to 2 months for the license to get converted successfully.

Can I hold UK & EASA licenses?

Yes, however, unless you can find dual approved Medical Examiners and Flight Examiners, you would require:

  • 2 Medicals
  • 2 Proficiency Checks
  • 2 Licenses

Do SkyLearner Offer EASA licenses & Training?

No. We have no plans to offer EASA training or examinations. To avoid any confusion, SkyLearner does not sell our products or services to EU countries.

More Questions?

If you have any further details please contact the CAA at or contact one of the SkyLearner Team.

Refining your Exam Technique

“I think I understand the knowledge and the theory, but I cannot answer the questions”

Student Pilot

Sound Familiar?

This is a regular feeling repeated to instructors by theory knowledge students. So if you are feeling this way, don’t worry, you are not alone in feeling it.

The theory knowledge required for a pilot license can be complicated, with many detailed learning objectives and difficult concepts, requiring a wide range of skills, many of which will be brand new to a new student. So once you grasp the concepts and spend the time, building those notes, learning the facts, you easily pass your exams right ?

We Know it Gets Frustrating


As anyone who has passed CAA examinations will tell you, it’s not that simple, but don’t be daunted.

Suggested Exam Technique

The techniques used by the CAA to try and assess knowledge in their exam, can often require you to flex your mental muscles, and at some points question your understanding of the English Language. So how do you translate your knowledge into passing the exams.

You need a good exam technique when answering the questions, and you need to start building that technique now, integrating it into your learning.

  1. Read the Question properly, do not skim read it or try to predict it
  2. If possible, answer the question BEFORE looking at the options, purely from what you know. It is not always possible due to the way questions are structured, but where possible, aim to answer them without reading those answer options.
  3. Look for the answer option you expect, and then ensure the remaining ones are incorrect. If you are not sure, then the answer is a possibility, and you need to see which option is most accurate, complete or indisputably correct.
  4. Before moving on, re-read the question and ensure you have answered the question asked, making sure you have answered in the correct units eg.

Whilst this process seems long, it can be carried out in a methodical and timely manner if practised and will likely catch alot of your errors attributed to question style and technique, rather than a lack of knowledge.

Getting Help

At SkyLearner we integrate end of module tests and cumulative module tests to try and help with your knowledge retention and get you through the exams with a strong understanding of the theoretical knowledge.

The questions we use are similar in style to those asked by the CAA and include pitfalls in many cases, helping you to build an awareness and resilience to the question trip up problem.

We then encourage you to use the solution bank to keep practising the question areas and keep refining your exam techniques and knowledge.

If you are still struggling, Ask for Help !

Get in touch with us by our FREE text based student subject support, or book a premium 1: 1 tuition slot with one of our instructors over Zoom. This puts the information at your fingertips, so just reach out and grab it!!!

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Joshua Van-Rietvelde

Head of Training