The Airline Pilot Club
There has been a UK company called The Airline Pilot Club trading in the UK between the 9th of January 2012 and 18th of November 2014. This is not the company this blog post is about. The Airline Pilot Club that we are writing about is a company registered in Ireland and registered 23rd of October 2019 and this is their website.
Who is behind?
Behind The Airline Pilot Club, you find Andy O’Shea and Petter Hörnfeldt. This is what we think you need to know about the founders. Andy has worked 18 years for the European Low-Cost Airline RyanAir as head of training. In this role, he has had the oversight of the training of RyanAir pilots and also the recruitment of pilots wanting to work for RyanAir. Petter is well known in the Aviation Industry for his youtube channel Mentour Pilot. At the time of writing this, his youtube channel has some 644.000 subscribers and 515 videos.
Possible motive(s) for Andy and Petter?
Overall we think that the primary motive for Andy and Petter is to help more people become pilots. However, we think there is also a secondary motive to make money. In our view, Andy and Petter could probably earn a lot of money with their club. Andy is a big name with many contacts in the industry and Petter has a huge aviation audience that could serve as an effective marketing platform.
What we find interesting about The Airline Pilot Club
The first one is the timing. Why is The Airline Pilot Club doing marketing for their club in November 2020? This is around the same time as The UK Pilot Union BALPA issues a press statement Don’t become a pilot. So it seems a little odd at first unless you consider Andy’s background in RyanAir. His former boss (CEO RyanAir) has recently gone out with a prediction that passenger numbers will return to pre-covid-19 levels already in 2021 So with that in mind, The Airline Pilot Club probably hasn’t got many choices. If they want to have an option for a future partnership with RyanAir under their STEP 8, they better be in line with the CEO’s view. Another view could be that Andy and Petter had started working on The Airline Pilot Club long before Covid-19. Maybe they just wanted to launch it now as it is ready.
Membership of The Airline Pilot Club
Who will help you? Andy and Petter have clearly got a lot of experience. But surely they will not be able to help all members one on one. It would be interesting to know who is likely to be in the other end helping if it is not Andy or Petter?
Andy and Petter are selling you a year membership of their club. How about those that sign up for the club, but then find out that they don’t have the skills or health to become a pilot? What use have they got out of the membership?
The Arline Pilot Club has a section for Parents, which Andy explains “it is not a bit strange, it is essential”. Most of this section is about reasons why “your child” should take the IA (indicative assessment). It also explains that the IA is developed by “experts in the pilot talent assessment”. Surely someone who wants to become a pilot can think for themselves and make decisions without their parents? It leaves you with the impression that parents should put pressure on their child to join The Airline Pilot Club.
Is the club only for people that buy all the products that The Airline Pilot Club offers? Can people join in straight on step 8 (getting help to get a job)? At the moment there would be plenty of experienced pilots looking to get some help. Maybe the club is not for them (yet)?
What does it cost to be a member of The Airline Pilot Club?
Why are the prices not easier to find? In our view, it is really hard to figure out what the price is going to be for completing all the 8 steps.
The medical check comes as a step 6 out of the 8 steps. What is the point paying for 6 steps in The Airline Pilot Club if you cannot get a medical? Interestingly, the medical comes so late in the process. Is it because The Airline Pilot Club is receiving money for each of the earlier steps?
The Financial incentive(s) of The Airline Pilot Club?
The Airline Pilot Club is making a valid point. There is no point in becoming a pilot if you don’t have the skills to become one. But how about “There is no point in becoming a pilot if the industry is unlikely to make you happy due to unrealistic expectations.”? It makes us question if The Airline Pilot Club has a financial incentive for people to become pilots? If they have, they are in the same boat (edit: plane?) as the flying schools.
How will The Airline Pilot Club benefit from their various partnerships? Do they, for example, get a “finders fee” from the flying schools or a commission from 3rd party companies?
Discounts when you are in The Airline Pilot Club
Are the discounts really that great? Let’s look at some of them.
- Discount on Pooley’s shop for pilot equipment. But what is it you need to buy? A lot of the pilot training equipment is included when you buy your training at the flying school. We think it is often possible to secure better deals by buying for example a headset directly from Bose. Also, there is a market for second-hand aviation products, where you can easily safe a lot of money.
- Discount on a flying school introduction flight. If you want to get a feel for flying, it would in our view not be very difficult. You could find a private or commercial pilot that will be happy to take you as a passenger. The gentlemen agreement is often that you split the cost. Some pilots may even take you up for free if they are going flying anyway. The true benefit from this kind of deal is that you don’t end up with all the flying school sales pitch.
- Preferential treatment for start dates at a flying school. It is true that some courses do get filled up and that you often need to book your spot about 6 months in advance. But this is rarely a problem or disadvantage. You probably don’t want to rush into pilot training.
Summary about The Airline Pilot Club
It will be interesting to follow their mission. There are plenty of examples of setups that milks the future pilot for money or that promises something that cannot be delivered. Let’s hope The Airline Pilot Club is not in that category. Would we recommend them at this stage? – No. This is mainly because the timing just does not seems right and there are still too many unanswered questions about The Airline Pilot Club concept.
3 simple changes that could make the club better in our view.
- Ensure people have a realistic approach to the industry. For example the pilot job (pay, terms and conditions) and the type of flying they want to do.
- Try to figure out if you or your family have medical restrictions that might prevent you from getting your medical. You can for example see all the EASA requirements here.
- When both your expectations to the industry and your chances of getting the medical are realistic then it makes sense to consider investing in getting your skillsets checked. This is something you can do in a lot of ways, but joining the club could be one of many.
Get a free pilot theory test from Ask A Pilot
The Airline Pilot Club is suggesting that it is a good idea to check your skills before you become a pilot. This is something we do agree on. That is why we will be releasing a pilot theory test shortly which will help you test your theoretical skills. The test will be a generic test which will include various questions that may be part of a flying school entry test. It will be completely free and you will be able to download it from our website – stay tuned for more information.
Ask A Pilot