Welcome to APG Radio Episode 7, I’m Paula Williams.   We’re continuing our chat with Captain David Santo, and the topic today is one that is on the minds of many future pilots – what is the cost for pilot training, what does that investment include, and what options do I have for making that work?

apg radio 007a - cost for pilot training

Paula Williams: Excellent, down to the nuts and bolts. What is the cost of pilot training?

David Santo: So, again, the tailored flight plan is really there to determine that, because there’s a lot of forks in the road. For example, you might complete your commercial multi engine instrument, and you might decide at that point, I want to go fly a single engine bank checks. Well, then let’s not do a multi engine course right now, let’s focus on a commercial single engine instrument.

Save the cost of the twin engine, and get you out there and get you flying. There’s a number of jobs like that. There’s crop dusting, there’s pipeline patrol, there’s highway patrol. There are small single engine airplanes delivering cargo and passenger service all over the world. If you want to pursue the airlines and you want to pursue going to the Pacific Rim, then the cost is gonna be impacted by adding a type rating program.

So there’s lot of variables. The cost for pilot training are somewhere between $50, $55,000 on up, depending on how you tailor your flight plan. And one of the things I can’t advocate this enough. I can’t say this enough. You don’t wanna go to the cheapest flight school. All right, that’s like going to the cheapest doctor.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

David Santo: You wanna go where you can get the best value, so I’m not saying you need to go to the most expensive flight school either, and that’s what having a mentor helps you with is determine. Is this training program going to give me the best cost advantage, the best value?

There are programs out there that are offering zero to type rating for over a $100,000. I can tell you that the Airline Pilot Gateway programs are not that expensive. And there are options along the way for you if you become a flight instructor or go into some other jobs to possibly earn money while you’re trying to work towards your rating.

So tough one to answer in a blanket, it’s tailored to you. And it’s tailored to give you the best value.

Paula Williams: Right, and you kind of started to answer this one as well. In addition to the cost for pilot training, what does this price include, and I guess it depends on what the question is framing.

So I don’t know if you want to-

David Santo: Of course that’s right and so this is where we see flights schools, cadet programs that are one size fits all, right? They’re not asking you what you wanna do. They’re not asking you about your career success and what you wanna become.

They’re telling you this is what we deliver and this is what you’ll get at the end of the assembly line, if you will, the factory that they produce. Airline Pilot Gateway is not a factory. It is not an assembly line. It is a customized tailored program to fit your individual flight plan.

And that flight plan is going to try to target where you wanna live, what you wanna do with your career, and how you wanna do it. Don’t go to some school that’s gonna just shove you into their mold. Come to a gateway program where we are going to listen to you, tailor our programs to you and make you a success.

The kind of success that you want. Because success, Paula, to me is not what everybody else expects of me. Success is accomplishing what I want for myself.

Paula Williams: Right, yeah and it’s different for everyone, and that’s why the flight plan is so important. But what I really like about what you’re saying is, that there is a lot of flexibility in here, because a lot of people will have things change and will have circumstances happen.

Because it takes a long time to build this career. And things may be, at the end of that time span different than what you had pictured starting out and you’ll find options and learn things that you didn’t know before and your mentor can help you with that.

David Santo: And that yes, that’s the goal.

Paula Williams: Right, you did have another question come in, do you think I should get a college degree before I start flight training or would I be better off just going straight into flight training?

David Santo: Well, that’s a tough question. And so I never, ever wanna to discourage somebody from completing college education.

It is however, dependent on where you’re from in the world, okay. So for example, here in North America I would absolutely say that you need to have a college degree. Does that mean that college comes after flight school, before flight school? Or do you combine them to do a aviation four year degree?

That’s something that we really would help you to vet out in your career flight plan.

Paula Williams: Right.

David Santo: So I’m gonna say yes, big supporter for education. A four year degree is essential depending on where you live. In some parts of the world like in Europe for example, the University degree is not important to the success of being an airline pilot.

In fact, I would say a lot of the airline pilots do not have a quote unquote university degree. They do a kind of a college, well we’d combine college and high school here in the US, or junior college. That would be completely sufficient for the airline career, so that’s a tough one.

It just depends.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly and that would be something we’d have to look at in someone’s flight plan. Then, I kind of derailed you, but the next question in our queue is that if I don’t have that much, meaning for the program or for the APG program or for the university degree or all of the above, can I borrow it?

And if so, where?

David Santo: There are always ways of finding the funding and this has been, for civilian aviation, this has been a problem since the very beginning as I don’t have the money to pay for it And you know, $50,000 is not a lot of money compared to the return on investment of your career.

But if you’re a young person who’s struggling to get by every day, the cost for flight training can be pretty high. $50,000 might as well be a million dollars.

Paula Williams: Right.

David Santo: It seems like an impeccable amount. Yes, there are lots of ways to get this funded. There are companies out there that loan money. There are banks that loan money.

That is starting to become a little bit more common. You can also use credit cards, which is I don’t ever advocate running up credit card debt. However, if you can change your earning potential from $10,000 to $20,000 a year, to $300,000 a year, it might be worth it.

There’s family loans, there’s all kinds of different ways. There are student loans, if you do a college program that can be had, but there are ways to get the money. It’s not easy, but there are ways out there. Also, there’s VA funding, if you’re coming out of the military.

There’s VA funding available through the APG network.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. And a related question, what happens to the money I have paid to APG if, for some reason, I’m unable to complete the APG program?

David Santo: So one of the things that I like about what you’ve put together, Paula, one of the many things I liked about it is that the money is protected.

We’ve heard horror stories in the past where people have put up a lot of money for flight training and they’re asking flight schools to take that on good faith that they’re worth the money. And that’s difficult for the flight school because the flight school has to dedicate resources that are very expensive.

Airplanes and flight instructors, and so forth. So to meet both requirements, to protect your funds, well, also making sure that the school has the confidence that the funds are available. APG is offering, basically, a trust account. Almost like an escrow account, but a trust account that allows you to fund the trust.

However, if at any point you withdraw from the program, the balance of the funds, unused in that trust, are delivered by the bank back to you. You don’t have to wait for the school to deliver the money back. If something happens to the school, your funds are protected and your money is safe in a bank, in a regular lending institution.

Paula Williams: Right. I’d love to take credit for all of these decisions, but we have a really fantastic network of airline professionals, and flight schools, and students, and people who have been through these kinds of programs. And they’ve had problems in the past and that’s really how we put this together, by asking everyone for their thoughts about what could go wrong.

And one of those things that could go wrong, of course, there were some incidents that got into the newspapers where flight schools closed their doors leaving people high and dry. Having paid their money and not getting what they paid for. And then of course, you can always go through the court system, but that takes a lot of time, and the end person doesn’t have the time or money.

That really puts them in a horrible situation. So that’s one of the things that I really like about the network that we have, is that we hear what the problems are and get to brainstorm solutions to those problems with some of the smartest people in the industry. So that’s really, to your credit too, Dave, as part of that advisor network, a great way of solving some of these problems.

APG Radio 7a - how to pilots finance their training - cost for pilot training


David Santo: That’s where mentorship and bringing in people that, you’re right, and that’s from the beginning of every decision that Airline Pilot Gateway is making is, how do we create a successful gateway to cadets or to airline pilots and everybody in between to help  bring down the cost for pilot training, and help you enjoy career success and do it at the minimum risk.

So that you know you’re focused, you know your money’s safe, you know you’re getting the quality, you know that this is the right choice at the right cost for pilot training. That give you the piece of mind to put your nose to the grindstone and focus on your success and studying, and getting yourself through the program to be the absolute best airline pilot you can be.

Thanks for joining us for this episode. Money is a very important issue, and we know everyone has a different situation and priority, so we urge you to get in touch with us, get with a mentor who can help you navigate your specific circumstance, and look at the options for your financial situation.


Join us next week when we talk about where, when and what – the specific programs, locations, and ratings that are available through APG and how we work to get you into the best program for your situation.