The Pilot Education – Train to Become a Commercial Pilot at GreyBird

The Integrated Pilot Education – Multiple Bases and Trans-European Training

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General Information

GreyBird’s offer both the integrated and modular pilot education, which means that you can start with no experience at all, and finish as a commercial pilot, ready to apply for a job at an airline.

  • There are many reasons why we have chosen to offer both the integrated and the modular education. Most importantly:
    • Students get to choose the programme which suits them the best
    • They get much more time with instructors
    • Students get more complex flight training
    • Students get more instrument-condition flight training
    • There is a common thread from the first flight to the last MCC training
    • Students get a clear picture of the education structure, costs, and timeline at the education start
  • The education duration is usually 22-24 months, depending on weather conditions.
  • The education features a combination of flying aircraft, attending theory lessons, and flying simulators. The combination is carefully planned by GreyBird, and the student has no planning responsibility.

The International Programme at GreyBird's Headquarters

The international programme starts once every year in May. It is a truly international experience; your classmates will come from all over the world, and in addition to becoming a commercial pilot, you will learn about Europe and the countries we fly in.

All communication related to teaching, flying, and passing on information takes place in English.

Our instructors’ English skills have been tested, and to instruct the students in the international programme, they must be at Level 6 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

To be accepted at GreyBird’s international programme, students must pass an English test at Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference Languages (CEFR) or Level 4 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

There are dorms at all the GreyBird bases you get to visit.

You can apply for the international programme here

Education Modules

The education is split up into four modules. The modules are vastly different, and this enables the students to focus on exactly what they need to focus on during that specific part of the education. GreyBird’s programme is very structured and strictly laid out, and in combination with the uniform fleet and simulators that reflect the aircraft the students will fly, the education becomes extremely efficient and takes the students to extremely high levels of competence.

Module 1 takes six months. The purpose of this module is to train the students in flying aircraft under visual conditions. In addition, the purpose is to give them sufficient knowledge to understand why and how an airplane flies, and enable them to make good decisions.

As a student, you will fly 75 hours of VFR (Visual Flight Rules) training. This will all be flown in our P2002 trainer airplane. You will fly some of it at your home base, and some you will fly in Spain (for Spanish students, this means that all 75 hours will be flown in Spain). Alongside flying, you will be taught eight subjects of basic theory. You will be introduced to subjects like: 

  • Air law
  • Principles of flight
  • Human performance and limitations
  • Metrology
  • Flight planning and monitoring
  • Operational procedures
  • Aircraft general knowledge
  • Navigation

With the theory subjects, we will acquaint you with the theory behind the reason why your aircraft flies; why it can fly, why the weather acts the way it does, how to find your way using a map, which procedures must be followed and the limitations your own body and mind have in relation to forces in the aircraft and high altitudes. In this module, the fundamental knowledge is settled in the students’ minds, and their flying skills improve to a level at which they learn to fly on their own for several hours and hundreds of kilometers away from the base where they took off. The students will also obtain their first certificate – a BEG certificate which allows them to control the radio in an aircraft during visual flying conditions.

This part of the education is strictly theoretical. The students can now fly an aircraft on their own and have a good basic understanding of the theory of aviation. Now it is time to dig in deeper. This module is nine months long and consists of three blocks of each three months, and each block includes four subjects. A total of 12 subjects plus a smaller 13th communication subject will be taught. Associated exams must be passed at the end of each block. The knowledge covered is much deeper than the basic theory mentioned above, although eight of the subjects have the same title. This time, all theory lessons take a starting point in large jet aircraft, which means flying fast, being heavy, flying high and having a lot of power at your disposal. Decisions become much more complex to make, and the aircraft is more complex. Exams are usually based on Boeing 737 or Airbus 320, and the theory lessons match this. The subjects covered in this module are:

  • Air law
  • Principles of flight
  • Human performance and limitations
  • Metrology
  • Flight planning and monitoring
  • Operational procedures
  • Aircraft general knowledge
  • Navigation
  • Mass and balance
  • Instrumentation
  • Radio navigation
  • Performance
  • Communication

When the student has passed all 13 exams, she/he holds what is referred to as a frozen ATPL. This means that the student has passed the theoretical exams that will make her/him qualified to become a captain later in her/his career. What is needed – in addition to more flight training and a commercial certificate – is experience in a large aircraft. However, three to five years down the line, the first students will be ready to be upgraded to captain in their airline.

IFR training

This module focuses completely on flight training – advanced flight training, that is. Initially, we set out to make the students utilize their newly obtained knowledge from Module 2. 

IFR training means flight training with no visual reference to the ground. Students fly in rain, in misty conditions and into and over clouds with zero visibility. This part of the training is done in the P2006T aircraft and in the corresponding P2006T FNPT II simulator. You will fly 57 hours in the aircraft and 25 hours in the simulator. The IFR training is split up into three blocks of aircraft training and two blocks of simulator training. As a consequence, your training will switch between aircraft, simulator, aircraft, simulator and back to aircraft. The IFR training is completed with a MEIR skill test. This flight exam provides you with the right to fly multi-engine aircraft in instrument conditions.

CPL training

Next is CPL training, and you are back in the same aircraft in which you just passed the MEIR skill test – the P2006T. You now have 57 hours of flying experience and 25 hours of simulator experience, and you know the aircraft very well. Now it is time to go back to visual flying. You will spend five hours training visual flights, and this time you will focus on becoming a commercial pilot, which means that you have to handle the (imaginative) presence of passengers. Passengers must be briefed – also in case of emergencies, which are a large part in this phase of training. The CPL training is concluded with a CPL skill test. The CPL skill test provides you with a CPL certificate, which is a commercial pilot certificate. You have now passed your final flying exam, but you need further training to comply with the hour requirements.

UPRT

The final part of this module is the UPRT training. The aircraft used is the military aerobatic trainer Zlin-242. Now it is time for the biggest and wildest roller-coaster ride of your life. You will fly with an aerobatic instructor who will take you through your passes. First, the instructor will demonstrate the maneuvers, then instruct you, and finally monitor you doing it yourself. You will experience several fully developed spins during which your aircraft will spin around its own body at a rate of approximately 420 degrees per second while being in a very steep dive. You will see more than 1,500’ (which is equivalent to half a kilometer of height) disappear in about 10 seconds, and most importantly, you will be able to get the aircraft out of that situation and back to normal flying.

You have now completed all the flight training in small aircraft, and time has come to move to large jet aircraft. The APS MCC course is spectacular. APS MCC is short for Airline Pilot Standard Multi-Crew Cooperation course. The aim of the course is to train you so that you reach a level at which you can enter directly into a type rating of any jet or turbine aircraft and start working as a first officer. 

In the initial phase of the course, you will be back in the classroom, focusing on working together as two pilots in one aircraft. The monitoring pilot and the flying pilot are both pilots, and both have very important tasks during a flight. You will learn a lot about cooperation, about crew resource management and large jets. All your flight training will be done at our headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark, in our Airbus 320 FNPT II MCC simulator. The simulator is a one-to-one replica of an Airbus cockpit. Many parts in the simulator come directly from the Airbus factory, including the seats and the flight control with which you fly the aircraft. The 40 hours of training are split up into 10 intense sessions; each with extensive briefing before and after. You will experience a massive development in your understanding of large aircraft, and you will see why the intensive training on smaller aircraft is so important. All the IFR training, all the commercial training and, not least, your ATPL theory will benefit you immensely during your training. After you have completed the course, you will pass an APS MCC exam, and you will get an exam certificate. This concludes your education as a commercial pilot, and you are now ready to go make us proud. From this point on, you can no longer state that the sky is the limit for you – you will be one of the few who go further.

Job Possibilities after Graduation

When you have completed the commercial pilot education on an integrated program, concluding it with an APS MCC course like we do at GreyBird Pilot Academy, the possibilities you have for your future after graduation are enormous. Below, please find a few of the possibilities that are now available to you:

  • First officer on a commuter aircraft. A commuter aircraft is typically a smaller turbine or jet aircraft with seating capacity of 50-100 passengers. Life as a commuter pilot is characterized by many flights and short flying times, which means many landings and departures per day. Very often, this type of operation is domestic, and often your working day will end in the same airport as you started. Therefore, most nights you will sleep in your own bed.

  • First officer in a medium-sized aircraft – typically, the Boeing 737 series or Airbus A320 series, but others qualify as well. The operation is characterized by being international. You will fly to many different countries, typically in Europe. Long flying times means fewer flights per day compared to a commuter job, but you will visit many countries, and you will most likely be working 4-6 days in one stretch. During this period, you are likely to end up in a new airport every night, and as such, this job will give you the opportunity to experience many different countries. You will stay in hotels most nights, and you will have a number of days off after a work stretch. With this type of job, you will obviously be away from home for more days than with the commuter job. However, you will also have more days off in a row.

  • First officer on a private jet. This is a completely different type of job. As a pilot on a private jet, you will fly whenever the owner or renter of the jet needs to go. You will be on standby duty and should be ready to fly at a very short notice. You will rarely fly the same route twice, and consequently, the planning of the trip is much more complex. Usually, the pilots of such an operation have a more extended job description with tasks outside the aircraft. These tasks could be to find out if the aircraft can depart later than scheduled in case the owner or renter is delayed. If this is not possible, you may need to find out the cost for keeping the airport open or for repositioning the aircraft and routing the renter or owner to another airport. And the list goes on. Typically, this type of job offers less flying, but a much more complex operation.

  • An instructor at a pilot academy. For some newly graduated pilots, becoming a flight instructor is a great first stop in their career. Being a great instructor calls for more competences than just being a great pilot. You should be interested in teaching, developing and helping others. The job as an instructor offers training and flying experience which is very difficult to get as a commercial pilot, and it is great preparatory training for some of the job offers that will open up later in your career. For instance, one future role could be a line-training captain who flies with the least experienced first officers, another could be a simulator instructor who can teach new first officers how to fly large aircraft, or the role could be one with administrative responsibilities in the flying operation. In all these types of roles, an instructor background would be an asset. However, being an instructor is not for everybody. You can be a great pilot without being a good instructor candidate. To become a good instructor, you need to be a good pilot and have great theoretical understanding. This type of job normally offers shorter working days and fewer days away from home than most other flying jobs. 

There are many other types of jobs that match a commercial pilot background, however, the above-mentioned are some of the most common.

Brochure

In this brochure, you can read everything there is to know about GreyBird and the pilot education.

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