Integrated vs. Modular and your employability
Courses are always full-time, and advertised to last 18-20 months. Usually the theory training is classroom / lecture based and will take around 6 months. It is often not integrated with the flying – students instead do blocks of theory and flying training.
The training is delivered under the approval of a single organisation, but elements may be contracted out to third party training organisations.
Integrated courses consist of around 150 flying hours – 70 of which will be PIC (pilot in command) – and 40 Synthetic Flight Training Device (SFTD) hours, plus 15-40 hours in an SFTD during the MCC phase.
Training may be all at one base, but quite often the initial flight training is done in a low-cost, good weather environment – which means that a lot of integrated courses utilize 2-3 locations around the globe.
Advantages of integrated courses:
- a ‘campus’ environment;
- all the training is delivered by one organisation;
- the training record is complete;
- the schools delivering them are generally larger and therefore well known to and accepted by employers.
Disadvantages of integrated courses:
- integrated courses usually include fewer flight hours;
- integrated courses are usually considerably more expensive;
- the service in a big school can be quite impersonal;
- you will have to live at the school location(s);
- good weather is an advantage initially, however, some locations (e.g. Arizona, USA) fail to expose you to European style weather, terrain or density of airspace restrictions;
- you will have to study full-time for 18 months+; and
- integrated schools can rarely accommodate partners or dependents.
Marketing claims made by schools pushing integrated courses include:
“The courses are faster than modular training”.
FALSE. A full-time modular course is likely to take the same time and may even be completed more quickly, as the student may learn in their own style.
“The quality of training with integrated schools is better”.
FALSE. The quality of modular training is just as good, if not better, than some integrated flight schools; the level of quality varies between schools in both routes. That’s why it’s important to choose a flight school with an excellent reputation, such as Wings Alliance.
This was once referred to as the ‘self-improver’ route, as it was a way for people who had some general aviation experience to start progressing towards a commercial licence. We understand that you are most likely reading this as someone who has little or no experience, so will outlay the description with that in mind. However, if you do have some experience and are wondering what credit it gives you / how much of your training is already done, this should help answer some of your questions.
The components (or modules) of a Modular route to becoming a commerical pilot (CPL/MEIR with ATPL theory) are;
- An ICAO PPL (A PPL issued by any state other than Liechtenstein and the Cook Islands);
- 14 ATPL exams;
- Hour building;
- A Multi-Engine Piston (MEP) class rating;
- A MEIR;
- A CPL course and test; and
- An MCC
Compared to Integrated, Modular courses are defined by a few key differences;
Flexibility – you can choose between training providers and the rate at which you progress, part-time or full-time training; almost everything is customisable to fit your needs and preferences.
Hours – Modular courses have more hours in them – the minimum being, 200 total and 100 pilot-in-command (PIC)
Cost – Typical costs for a complete modular course, starting with no flying experience, are between £50K-£65K.
Structure – The structure of an integrated course is quite prescribed, whereas within a modular course there is room to mix the order of some elements of the training up. Rather than explain the nuances in detail here, now, we’ll post a separate blog about the fine details of structuring a modular course.
Modular based training has the advantages of:
- full-or part-time (at least until the last few months);
- a variety of locations;
- it’s spread over a timescale to suit your needs;
- it is possible to continue working (and living at home) for much of the training, which can greatly affect the affordability;
Generally, being much better value and lower cost than integrated courses;
You are able to learn at the pace and in the style which suits you, rather than having to conform to the standardised delivery of a school;
It is more likely to be ‘family friendly’.
Disadvantages of the Modular route:
- incomplete or diverse training records;
- ‘patchwork’ training; i.e. mixing lots of different suppliers with little or no coordination between them.
These potential disadvantages which can be mitigated against, or avoided entirely, with careful planning and the assistance of a training advisor.
So, how does your choice between the two effect your employability?
There is a common misconception that you might have heard:
“Training with an integrated school increases your chances of employment”.
This may have been true a decade ago but is no longer the case. Other than those with their own training programmes such as KLM and Lufthansa, all the major European airlines who accept flight school graduates accept modular trained applicants now. For a few reasons:
- There simply aren’t enough qualified pilots coming from a single route;
- A recognition of the levels of non-technical competencies that modular students can bring;
- The introduction of the APS MCC, which bridges the gap between single pilot CPL flying and airline pilot operations.
The evidence for this shift can be seen in the recent reversal on the policies of British flagship carrier, BA, and easyJet. These two airlines had been quite exclusive about where they recruit newly qualified pilots from and chose solely from integrated schools. But in the last few years have opened their doors to modular pilots to apply.
Other airlines, such as Flybe and Jet2, have publicly stated that they particularly like modular students as they’ve invariably shown great motivation and a high level of non-technical core competencies through the experiences they’ve gained outside of theory and flight training. All other airlines in EASA will accept newly qualified pilots from both routes and place no preferential treatment on either during screening and assessment.
As stated earlier, one of the advantages of the integrated route is that you will complete your training with a single training record that vouches for your performance across all your training and thus the airlines have some evidence of your knowledge, skills and attitudes. Wings Alliance mirror this by tying all of your training under one umbrella organization, and providing a single record that encompasses all the stages of your flight training which is written in the language of the airlines.
“Don’t you need a PPL already to start a modular course?” This is inaccurate, as embarking on a PPL is essentially embarking on the first ‘module’ of a modular commercial pilot course. This conveniently leads us to the last common misconception.
“You have to do an integrated course to get a frozen ATPL” This is incorrect. A ‘frozen ATPL’ is a pseudonym for a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) with a Multi Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR) and Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL) theory exam passes – it is not an actual licence type. Both routes get you exactly the same licence: a CPL/MEIR with ATPL theory, but the journey there can be significantly different.
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