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Integrated or Modular? That’s the Question

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Integrated or Modular at GreyBird

Having decided to go for the dream and become a commercial pilot, there are still choices to be made. There are two routes to take to become a commercial pilot. They differ in quite a few ways, but they end up in the same place when it comes to certificates as well as rights, and they may end up in the same spot when it comes to capabilities.

Having a certificate and a right to fly an aircraft and being capable are not the same. Unfortunately, we have come across quite a few pilots who indeed have the certificate and the right to fly aircraft, whose capabilities, however, have not struck us as impressive. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the quality of the education you choose is sufficient to bring your capabilities to an adequate level.

Fundamentally, the integrated education is difficult to build in a bad way. The education design varies from ATO to ATO, and the number of valuable flying hours that are being put into the education differs a lot. In that sense, it can most certainly be argued that one integrated education is a lot better than another. However, none of them can be really bad because of the authorities’ requirements for education. One could argue that the integrated education ranges from average to incredibly good. 

The modular education, however, can be built up in a terrible way and still be legal. Hence, it can very easily be argued that the modular education ranges from exceedingly bad to incredibly good. Note that both types of education can be incredibly good. We do not argue that one is better than the other, but we do argue that if you choose to go the modular way – and there can be very good reasons for doing so – you should be careful in your choice of school and programme.

The integrated education is a full-time programme. Some students may be capable of having a part time job on the side during certain sections of the education, but studying requires your attention for at least 40-50 hours a week. In some countries, there are government-funded programmes which ensure a minimum income for the students, and in these cases, this can be a very good reason for choosing the integrated programme. The programmes do not include funding for the education in full, but in some countries a relatively large portion of the tuition fees can be paid by loans offered by the government. 

This kind of education funding is typically strictly available for full-time students and thus strictly applies to the integrated education. If your country does not provide such government-funded loan options, the integrated education can be tough, because you may need to have a job on the side to pay for your living expenses during your education. In this case, the modular education might be a better option for you. 

However, if your savings or financial situation allows you to fully immerse yourself in your education and still be able to pay for your living expenses during the education, the integrated programme may indeed be a valid option for you.

The modular education can be designed in many different ways. At GreyBird, we offer fast tracks which take the same time as the integrated programme, which is 24 months. However, for most people who choose the modular education, the reality is that they need time to earn money to pay for their living expenses as well as some of their education expenses while studying. Hence, the education programme will take longer. We offer 3, 4 and 5 year programmes to accommodate this need. The outcome of the education is the same, your level of competence can be the same, and the pace of the programme can be adjusted during your education, should your financial situation change. The modular education is by far the most popular option in countries where government funding in terms of education loans is not available.

The main difference between the two tracks to becoming a commercial pilot is that the modular education is a lot more flexible than the integrated. The modular education can be bent and stretched to better match your particular needs. On the other hand, the requirements for the integrated education are a lot stricter. Thus, your pilot school has to comply with tougher demands, hence less flexibility. Nevertheless, this means that you can be certain that the education is of high quality.

The integrated education is relatively new; it has existed for less than two decades. The integrated programme takes you from zero to hero in one big swing. You completely skip becoming a private pilot and move directly from nothing to commercial pilot. You will fly fewer hours during the integrated program compared to the modular, but the hours will be more complex, there will be more instrument training and the requirement for timing in the education makes sure to keep you on track during the education.

The modular education, which is actually the traditional education, takes you through more steps. You start out by training to become a private pilot, then build rights on top of that. Typically, you will start with night qualification and then move on to a class rating for a twin engine, then add on an instrument-flying right and finally add your commercial pilot license. Along with this, you have to add what is referred to as hour building, which has to do with building up your experience.

The only way a pilot’s experience can be measured is by flown hours. However, hours flown can be very different. You can take your PPL in a flying club in which the purpose is to educate safe pilots who, for the most part, enjoy flying as a hobby. Only a fraction of the pilots who train in a flying club move on to become professional pilots. Nonetheless, the modular journey can start here. If you complete your PPL (Private Pilot’s License) in a flying club, chances are you fly well and safely, and your theory level is sufficient to be a private pilot, but none of what you have learned aims to move you on to bigger jets. In addition, you can increase your flying experience by renting a club aircraft and go flying during the weekend with friends and family; mainly flying around the same city or airport and strictly doing so when the weather is beautiful. On paper, your flying experience has increased, but chances are that your flying skills have decreased since your PPL instructor left you with a new certificate. 

That is why we highly recommend that you get your license at a professional pilot academy that aims at training you to become a commercial pilot. If you take the entire modular programme with GreyBird, all your flight training and all your theory lessons will aim at training you to become a professional commercial pilot. You will not spend hours flying around the airport for fun; you will fly missions with specific training purposes every time you set foot in an aircraft. By doing so, we can make the outcome of the modular programme as great as the outcome of the integrated programme, whether you spend two, three, four or even five years completing the training.

Whether you take the integrated or the modular programme, you should finalize your education with an MCC course. MCC is short for Multi-Crew Cooperation. This is a course that allows you to function as a first officer in a large aircraft that requires two pilots.

Again, there are options: The MCC course and the APS MCC course. The MCC course is the standard course offered by some pilot schools. It consists of 15 hours and aims to train you in cooperation in a cockpit. However, most operators require that you also have a course called JOC (Jet Orientation Course) which is not really a standard but has become a de facto standard in the industry. Furthermore, most operators prefer – if not outright require – that their applicants have taken the APS MCC course. 

APS MCC is short for Airline Pilot Standard Multi-Crew Cooperation. It includes not only the above-mentioned JOC, but also something called scenario training. The course is 40 hours long, and the purpose is to train you to get ready for a type rating for a big jet.

In GreyBird, we offer only the APS MCC course, whether you are a student in the integrated or the modular programme. Go here to read more about our APS MCC course.

As we offer both courses, we believe that we can be seen as a trustworthy source of information in this matter. The answer, however, is none or both. Both courses can be incredibly good, and if you choose to study at an academy that has taken the steps to ensure that, we do not believe that there is much to be said about the differences between the two.

We recommend that you choose the training programme which suits your needs best, and we would be happy to talk to you about this and offer our advice on the matter. No matter what you choose, make sure that your flight academy has done its part to make your education great.

At GreyBird, we are confident that both our programmes compare to anything you can find in the industry, and we encourage you to study our information, to join one of our many information events and to come visit us at one or more of our facilities. We would be happy to welcome you so that you can see GreyBird Pilot Academy – our facilities and our fleet – with your own eyes.