According to research, approximately 80 percent of students who enroll in flying school do not make it to the end – they quit. Why does this happen? What can we do about it? In this blog post, I share with you the top six reasons why student pilots drop out of flying school.
1. Running out of money
Money tops the list of the reasons for a high student pilot dropout rate. Here is a simple explanation: Most of the flight schools will give a training quotation based on the minimum flight hours. This is often attractive to the student because they think they have gotten a deal. Unfortunately, an average student does not complete training or acquire the required competence within the minimum hours. For example, in Malawi, the minimum flight hours for the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) is 45 but the average student often acquires the competence at 60 hours. For some students who do not fly regularly or learn a bit slower than others, this could be as high as 80 hours. This is why at Eastrise, we ensure we give a reasonable estimate which for others, may look expensive. More often than not, it is not!
2. Personality mismatch
Sometimes personalities clash and students have been known to drop out of flight schools because of bad instructor-student personality pairings. The Chief Flying Instructor comes in at this point to ensure that the student has the best learning environment possible.
3. Unreasonable expectations
Flying training is not just getting into the aircraft and learning to fly. There is a lot more to learn such as using the radio, flight planning, navigation and others. In fact, the theory (commonly called ground school) takes more time than actual flying training. For the excited student, the first thought is that s-he will just learn within the stipulated time and get the licence. This is not always the reality. Think about aircraft availability, weather, and other regulatory issues that may arise. Again, this is why at Eastrise we estimate the PPL to be completed in about six months. If you complete in fewer months, that is also fine.
Some distractions are bad enough to push the student to quit. These may be unavailability of aircraft or flying instructor, failure to complete a stage, news of an accident involving another training aircraft, or even unforeseen circumstances that cause the student to divert financial resources and time away from flight training. Some distractions may actually not be related to finances: think about social media as an example. It is a subtle distraction that can rob people of their dream of becoming a pilot.
5. Unstructured training
Unstructured training is as bad as learning to fly on the street. In trying to impress the student, some instructors may introduce so many concepts and maneuvers at once or within a short space of time that tend to overwhelm the student. Ultimately, the student would have learned about maneuvers that s-he is unable to perform solo. A professional instructor will always ensure that the student only moves on to an advanced stage when s-he has developed competence in the current stage.
6. Failing knowledge tests
Industry requirements demand that the student completes at least eight modules and sit for official exams. The pass mark is 75 percent. As you can see, it takes a little more effort to get that score. For most flying schools, they do not have resources that enable the student to prepare apart from offering taught ground school. This reduces the chances of the student to pass pilot exams at the first attempt. At Eastrise, we saw this deficiency and developed the mock exams site (and the Flytex Pilot Exams Adroid app) which allow our students to take mock exams for free. Our intelligent system will shuffle questions and automatically mark for the student. This enables Eastrise students to have unlimited mock exams attempts as long as their ground school subscription is active.