Why not train with a freelance instructor? 7 reasons! In the student community, I’ve sometimes heard the consideration of wanting to train with a freelance instructor, because it probably costs you a few dollars less per hour. That might be true, but… Let’s analyze what you are getting for those several extra dollars per hour that basically support the overhead cost of the school:
- Most freelance instructors will not provide an office, classrooms, flight planning room and even freshly brewed coffee (we’ll get back to it once COVID is over!). This is a necessity, not a luxury, when you want to be properly prepared for your next trip and not miss critical details doing a quick nav log in your car from the weather and maps combined on your phone. Unless you have a nice private hangar, having the school facility available will make a big difference.
- Training with a freelance instructor will not save you aircraft cost. If you own your plane, well, the cost is the same. If you rent, you may even pay a premium. Note, that Transport Canada is VERY specific about what type of aircraft ownership is required for each type of training. You don’t want to find out that your entire training is invalid because your instructor – intentionally or not – omitted to give you those details. There is no such risk at a flight school.
- Aircraft maintenance. All flight school planes are commercially registered with a highly regimented commercial maintenance schedule. If you end up using a private plane for your training, be extremely vigilant. I had more than once a request to do a flight test on an aircraft that was “owner maintained”. I am flying for many years, but I still cannot fly without a properly functional aircraft. Other examiners may feel the same way, and you would end up being stuck unable to complete the required testing on the plane you trained on.
- A flight school will have all your required examinations at their fingertips: Radio Operator License, PSTAR, Language exam, License written exam, License flight test, incl. any required retests if needed and even an authorized person to issue your license the same day. Freelance instructors typically do not have any of these authorities, and having it set up for you elsewhere will unavoidably cost delays. Delays in aviation equal money.
- Flight following and Operations Control. Dispatcher is not just a pretty face. They are trained to keep track of proper maintenance, provide alerting services if your flight is overdue or arrange for your aircraft deicing before the flight. On a private airplane parking lot you are on your own!
- Safety Net. Flight schools have multiple instructors and staff members working together, usually including more senior and experienced pilots. You might not be flying with a class 1 instructor on a daily basis, but you are always indirectly benefitting for their experience in a school – through supervision and continuous training of your primary instructor, second opinion or supervisory flights for you. If you are with a freelance instructor – you better be sure that this person is always doing every right on his own at all times.
- Who will take responsibility shall something go wrong? Liability case, third party damage etc? School planes are commercially registered and are required to carry high enough liability coverage. Would a private arrangement give you the same peace of mind?