FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions

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You will find here all the questions most student pilots ask before starting their training at European Civil Aviation School. However, if there is anything else you would like to know do not hesitate to contact us !

+ What is ECAS ?

European Civil Aviation School is a pilot school located in the center of Brussels. We work in partnership with an ATO (Approved Training Organisation) called Air Academy New CAG. ECAS provides the ground training for our student pilots while New CAG provides the flight training and the supervision of our activities in Brussels. Both entities are bound by a contract in accordance with EASA and BCAA's rules (Belgian Civil Aviation Authority).

+ I am a citizen of a non EU country, can I join ECAS ?

Yes you can. You just need to get the appropriate visa which gives you the right to study in Belgium. Check it with the Belgian embassy in your country.

For more information :

+ What is EASA ?

"EASA is the European Aviation Safety Agency. Created in 2002 by the European Commission, the agency progressively took over the functions of the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) of the EU countries. Among others, EASA oversees the Flight Crew Licensing (part FCL), ATOs (Approved Training Organisation), AeMC (Aero-Medical Center), the certification of aircraft and aircraft parts for aircraft operating in the EU, the approval of aircraft design organisations world-wide, the approval of maintenance organisations inside and outside the EU, etc."

+ What are BCAA, DGTA and DGLV ?

BCAA is the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority. In Belgium we call it DGTA in French (Direction Générale du Transport Aérien) and DGLV in Dutch (Directoraat-Generaal Luchtvaart).

+ Where is our school located ?

In the center of Brussels, in the business center Euclides, Rue du Chimiste 34-36, B-1070 Brussels. You can easily go to school by metro, get down at Clemenceau metro station and walk 10 minutes. You can also take the train to Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid train station and walk 15 minutes. Or take the tramway 51 or 82 to Porte d'Anderlecht and walk 5 minutes.

+ At which airport will I do my flight training ?

You will go to Brussels South Charleroi Airport to fly and practice with a flight instructor.

+ I want to get a pilot licence and fly as a hobby (PPL) !
  1. First pass the medical exam (class 2 or class 1) in an Aero-Medical Center (AeMC).
  2. Then join our school for 12 months (6 months with the intensive PPL course) every Saturday morning or Thursday evening.
  3. Fly 45 hours with an instructor and pass the PPL theoretical exams organised by BCAA.
  4. You will then be ready to take the practical exam in the air with an examiner approved by BCAA.

You will need 12 months (6 months with the intensive PPL course) in total to get a PPL (Private Pilot Licence).
The PPL licence gives the right to fly a single engine piston airplane (SEP) with passengers anywhere in the world, as a hobby. No commercial transport is allowed with a PPL, which means you cannot carry any paying passenger nor paid cargo. If you wish to do that, you need to get a CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence).

+ How do I become an airline pilot (ATPL) ?
  1. First pass the medical exam (class 1) in an Aero-Medical Center (AeMC).
  2. Then join our school to get a PPL (Private Pilot Licence).
  3. Start the ATPL ground course (Airline Transport Pilot Licence). You will go to class from Monday to Friday and from 9:00 to 17:00 during 10 months.
  4. Pass the theoretical ATPL exam organised by BCAA
  5. Follow the 6 modules of the flight training at Charleroi airport and that's it !

To summarise you will need 28 months (22 months with the intensive PPL course) to become an airline pilot from scratch, and only 16 months if you already own a PPL.

+ What is a modular and an integrated training ?

ECAS offers only modular training. This is the best way to study, train and work at the same time. The modular course allows you to arrange your training according to your availability and financial means. If you have no time and/or no money during a certain period, you may delay the beginning of the next module and keep your money. Indeed, in the modular course, you pay each module at a time. It is more convenient if your financial means are limited. However, if you do an integrated course, you will have to start and finish the complete airline pilot training in one piece with no possibility of interruption. The integrated course is also usually more expensive and only slightly quicker than the modular formula.

Note: Once you have successfully passed all the theoretical ATPL exams, you have to complete the full airline pilot training within maximum 3 years.

+ What is a CPL ?

The Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is required for professional pilots. This is the licence you need if you want to fly paying passengers or paid cargo for a commercial airline.

+ What is a ME/IR ?

ME/IR means Multi-Engine and Instrument Rating.
ME is the rating you need to fly an aircraft with two engines.
IR is the rating you need to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). You will need to fly IFR when the visibility is low or to fly into clouds. The only way to find your route and to make a final approach for landing in the fog will be your instruments.

+ What is an ab initio pilot training programme ?

"Ab initio" means "from the beginning" in latin. So an Ab initio training programme is a pilot course to train airline pilots from scratch, with no previous experience. At ECAS we accept all students, with our without previous experience in the air.

+ What is a MCC ?

MCC stands for Multi-Crew Cooperation. You have to complete an MCC course if you wish to fly in a multi-crew aircraft for an airline. You will then follow 25 hours of theory in a classroom and 20 hours in a simulator usually a Boeing B737 or an Airbus A320. The objective of the course is to improve your CRM technique (Crew Resources Management).

+ What is a type rating ?

Once you will have completed your professional pilot course at ECAS, you will be able to send your CV to airlines in order to get a copilot job on a multicrew jet or turboprop airplane for instance. Then when hired by an airline you will learn to fly their aircraft type in a full flight simulator. This is called a "type rating course".

+ Can I fly anywhere in the world with my pilot licence ?

The training and the licence you will get at ECAS gives you the right to fly anywhere in the world as a private pilot and as an airline pilot as well. However if you want to get employed outside the European Union as a professional pilot or as an airline pilot, you will have to go to a country which agrees to hire foreign pilots (it is the case in many countries of the Middle-East, Asia and Africa).

+ I want to start a pilot training now, when is the next course ?

You can start the PPL or the ATPL course at ECAS twice a year, at the end of September or at the beginning of March. Contact us to ask for more information or Register now !

+ I am 16 years old, can I start a pilot training ?

You can start a PPL training as soon as you turn 16 years old. By the time you finish the ground and the flight training you will be 17, which is the minimum age to take the PPL exam. You can then continue the course to become an airline pilot if you wish so.

+ I am 45 year old, can I become an airline pilot ?

Of course ! We know 2 people who successfully became respectively copilot on Boeing 757 and captain on ATR 72 after having both started a pilot training at the age of 45. However note that to maximise your chance to be hired by an airline, it is usually recommended to start the training before turning 32 years old.

+ I am 72 years old, can I become a private pilot ?

Of course ! As long as you pass the medical examination in an Aero-Medical Center and get the class 2 medical certificate.

+ Which diploma do I need to start an airline pilot course ?

You do not need to be an engineer to be an airline pilot. Basic knowledge of math, algebra and physics are sufficient. However you will need a diploma from general or technical secondary education or equivalent (enseignement secondaire général ou technique / algemeen of technisch secundair onderwijs).

+ I wear glasses, can I fly for an airline ?

Yes ! as long as you can see normally with your glasses or contact lenses. Plenty of airline pilots fly with glasses and they have no problem whatsoever. Visit the closest Aero-Medical Center to confirm.

+ I am colour-blind, can I fly ?

If you fail the Ishihara test, you will be asked to recognise the colours used in aviation. For this purpose, the Aero-Medical Center will use the Holmes or Beyne lantern to show you different light colours : white, blue, red, green and amber. The test will be considered successfully passed if you can recognise each colour without hesitation. If you cannot recognise those colours, you will be granted a class 2 medical certificate which gives the right to get a PPL and fly only during day time.

+ I am an artist, I am not so good at math, is it a problem ?

No problem at all as long as you are willing to make an effort. You only need basic knowledge of math, algebra and physics to follow the course.

+ Is there any pre-entry exam to study at ECAS ?

No ! Everybody is welcome if he has a diploma from general or technical secondary education or equivalent (enseignement secondaire général ou technique / algemeen of technisch secundair onderwijs) and a medical certificate from an Aero-Medical Center (class 2 for PPL, class 1 for ATPL).

+ How much does it cost to become a pilot ?

To become a private pilot at ECAS you will have to spend 8,115 EUR (VAT incl.). Then if you want to become an airline pilot it will cost an additional 42,650 EUR (VAT incl.). You can pay those amounts in several instalments. You think it is expensive ? You are actually right. Unfortunately there are no subsidies for pilot schools in Europe anymore. The only exception is France and only a few candidates are accepted every year. However, by working hard, saving money, spreading your training over 3 years and taking a small loan at the bank, many pilots with modest means manage to get through that financial hurdle.

+ Why is it so expensive to become a pilot ?

The equation is easy to understand and difficult to solve : a pilot school has to pay its teachers, the rent of the classroom, buy airplanes, pay the mechanics for the daily maintenance of the aircraft, pay the fuel, etc. All this is extremely expensive and there are no subsidies for flight school in Europe anymore. Only France still has a public pilot school but it takes only a few candidates per year.

+ I am not rich ! How will I pay the course ?

By spreading the training over 3 years, most student pilots manage to save around 25,000 EUR while working part-time in parallel with the pilot course. Then you still need 25,765 EUR to pay the rest of the airline pilot course (the full airline pilot course costs 50,765 EUR). Where to find it ? Our students take usually a loan of 26,000 EUR at the bank or they manage to borrow it from friends and family.

Remember that ECAS allows you to pay the course in several instalments.

+ How much will I earn with a pilot job ?

As a junior first officer you can expect a gross salary of 2,400 up to 3,600 EUR/month the first year. Then it will increase every year. By the time you become a captain (after 4 up to 10 years' experience) you can count on a gross salary of 6,000 up to 10,000 EUR/month depending on the company you fly for.

+ Why is ECAS cheaper than all other schools in Belgium ?

ECAS and Air Academy New CAG have been tailored since the very beginning to offer a pilot course at an affordable price even for families with modest means. Our teachers and flight instructors are all passionate about transmitting their experience in aviation and they do not expect ECAS to pay them sky-high salaries : they work part time at ECAS while they have another main job which is usually related to aviation (airline pilots, business aviation, retired pilots, management of aerodromes, aviation meteorologist, retired air traffic controllers, etc).

+ How long does it take to become a pilot ?

12 months are needed to become a private pilot. Then 16 months to become an airline pilot.

Note: on demand, we organise an intensive PPL course in 6 months. This brings the duration of the complete ab initio airline pilot course (PPL + ATPL) down to 22 months.

+ How easy is it to find a pilot job in an airline nowadays ?

It depends on the period of the year as well as on the economy. It might take 6 to 8 months if the market is picking up and 1 to 2 years if the market is bad. What to do while waiting for a job ? You can always become a flight instructor or you can be a ground instructor for a pilot school (which is a great experience), you can also fly for fun and accumulate flight time (which looks always good on a CV), you can work as an OCC officer for an airline (Operations Control Center officer), etc.

+ I am a female, is it easy to work in a world dominated by men ?

Yes. airline pilots are usually civilised people and you will be very welcome among them.

+ Where can I get a class 1 or 2 medical certificate ?

The following Aero-Medical Center can deliver an initial class 1 or 2 certificate :

  • Centre d’expertise de médecine aéronautique (CEMA-ECLG) :
    Place Victor Horta 40/10, 1060 Bruxelles
    Phone : +32 (0)2 524 97 97
    Email : eclg-cema@health.fgov.be

  • Centre de médecine aéronautique CMA (SPF Défense) :
    Quartier Reine Astrid - Bloc B, niveau –1, Rue Bruyn, 1120 Bruxelles
    Phone : +32 (0)2 264 52 55
    Email : cma@mil.be

  • Brussels Aviation Medical:
    Brussels Airport, Building 26, 1930 Zaventem
    Phone : +32 (0)2 416 22 70
    Email : info@brusselsaviationmedical.be
+ How many days per month does a pilot work ?

It really depends on the company. Some European companies make their pilots fly 12 to 15 nights per month (cargo operations) while some others make them fly 21 days per month (passenger flights).
A normal day of work will be between 8 and 13 hours duty followed by 10 to 12 hours rest.

+ Is flying safe ?

Yes it is. Especially with European companies. The maintenance of airplanes is well organised in Europe and EASA is overseeing it very carefully. An airline or a pilot school with a maintenance department below EASA standards would not last long in Europe.

+ What can I do in case of engine failure in flight ?

Engines are extremely reliable nowadays and failures occur very rarely. Nevertheless in case your engine would fail in flight, do not worry, single engine airplanes are built in such a way that in case of failures the pilot can glide slowly towards the ground and land in any clear area such as a corn field for instance.

ECAS will help you to become a pilot above average with the skills required to enter all major airlines and have a successful career.

Interested ? Ask for more information !