Today you can become a pilot in as little as 18 months if you pick a training school where the weather is good. Price varies between 60.000 EUR to 120.000 EUR depending on country and flying school. The reason for the difference in price can be things like landing fees, local taxes, aeroplane type, background of instructors, school network and if you are considering the modular or the integrated route.
It is not always black and white which route is the best, it would really depend on your individual circumstances but let’s look at how the two options may differ:
I think the biggest difference between the two options is the training environment.
Pressure to learn
The integrated student tend to feel pressure from the school to be able to follow an expected learning curve and it is not uncommon that some students are feeling threatened to be kicked out of the integrated school because of poor performance.
The modular student hasn’t got this pressure as there is nobody really overlooking their performance – at the end of the day if they are not at the expected level they just book extra lessons which is handled with no drama or consequences.
Deciding who you fly with
The integrated student has rarely got the option to pick an instructor, you just fly with who the flying planner sets you up with.
As a modular student, you have full control of who you fly with. If there is an instructor you don’t like, well then you just don’t book that instructor. If there is an instructor you love flying with, you just go with that instructor as often as you like.
Some schools offer both integrated and modular courses. These schools tend to give their integrated students some preference and there tends to be an unspoken hierarchy where the integrated students think they rank above the modular students.
Size of the school
Schools offering integrated course are often a lot larger/ bigger than schools offering modular courses.
Schools with integrated courses usually claim that they have some kind of arrangement with one or more Operators, where you can apply for a job directly after graduation.
Schools offering modular courses rarely have any firm arrangements with any Operators. You learn to fly with them, that it usually it.
Integrated students tend to fly their training on modern aeroplanes.
Modular students tend to train on more basic aeroplanes.
The integrated courses can sometimes be sold at a premium, in particular if they include some kind of link/ promise of jobs after graduation.
Modular route can sometimes be completed at half the price of the integrated route but expenses can quickly run out of hand if you end up with a lot of self induced extra lessons.
As an integrated student you have to keep up with the pace as “the show must go on”.
The modular student can go over a subject again and again and control the pace.
Planning of flight training
The integrated student pilots follow a class and programme as laid out by the school. You rarely have an opportunity to take a holiday or break when you want it.
The modular student is in charge of their own training and planning. You can take as many holidays and breaks you want. If you are not on the ball at all times and planning ahead, you will be graduating a lot slower than integrated students.
Some schools offer accommodation for their integrated students which can be very handy if you study abroad.
Who is the best
If you ask the integrated pilots, they tend to think they are the better pilots. Modular pilots tend to be a bit more balanced and modest about how they rank in the industry. This is perhaps only natural, as they have been completing their training alone with few opportunities to compare their performance against others.
Schools offering integrated training usually have one or two banks they work with. The integrated training program is well documented and described.
The modular route is often less descriptive and as a result a bank, even though the amount you are asking for is a lot lower than the integrated, may not be willing to lend you the money.
In some countries training to become a pilot is supported by the government with monthly support payments and access to government secured loans. This is however usually limited to integrated courses.
Integrated students tend to only get the licences required to work for an airline. The modular pilot also ends up with a PPL (private pilot licence) which can be used to rent a small aeroplane and fly with friends and family. There is nothing preventing the integrated student from getting a PPL if they want to, but it usually comes at an extra cost.
When it comes to MCC (multicrew cooperation course) the integrated pilot will usually have this as part of the basic training package. The modular pilot has the freedom to combine the MCC with a type rating. This can be a smart move as it may give the pilot more training on the type and save money.
So which route suits you?
It is hard to find reliable data, but my estimate is that 90% of all commercial pilots decide on the integrated route. But why is it that so few are still deciding on the modular route?
I think the first reason is that the modular route is rarely advertised and not all schools offer the modular route.
The integrated schools are usually quite agressive on social media. They are the ones you will meet at job seminars, conferences etc. The schools offering modular courses rarely spend a lot of money on advertisement. They usually have a majority of customers that just want to get a private pilot license and fly for fun.
In the industry the modular route has historically had a slightly bad reputation, but over the last few years this has disappeared and there are only a few Operators where the integrated student may have a slight advantage.
If you would like to start you career flying small aeroplanes, sightseeing tours, parachute jumping, banner towing etc. then the modular student may have a better network to do so. I
ntegrated students tend to stay within the flight school bubble and not really socialise with the rest of the industry,
The modular route requires you to do a lot of planning and you need to be disciplined to keep track of your training. If you already know that you work best with someone telling you what to do all the time – then stop right there – go integrated.
The modular route can be completed just as fast as the integrated route, but usually pilots going down the modular route are about 2- 4 months slower.
If you have commitments like a partner or kids the modular course can give you the flexibility you need. Along side a modular course you may be able to do part time or even full time employment.
Typically integrated pilot courses have a majority of students that are in their beginning of twenties. If you are around 30, the idea of being around (in your view maybe) kids, the modular course may give you less headaches.
I hope you will find this information useful. Remember that all flyings schools tend to present themselves as the best and do take your time to select the school you think will suit you best.
If you need any professional advice or help with selecting a flying school, you may want to consider booking one of our professional pilots.