AvPrep Aviation Industry Blog - Learn to fly with RAAus or General Aviation?


So, you want to learn to fly with RAAus or General Aviation…

It’s one of life’s great mysteries and one of the $64,000 questions to ask yourself before embarking on the journey to become an aviator. Do I learn to fly in a recreational aircraft with RAAus or a general aviation aircraft with CASA? Both platforms have their pros and cons and without getting too much into the whole Ford Vs Holden, paper or plastic, Coke/Diet Coke polarised arguments, what’s important is that you understand firstly what “you” want to do now and into the future as you take to the sky.

You need to ask yourself a few questions

Why do you want to learn to fly? Is it because you want to do it for fun? Do you want to one day get a job in the aviation industry? Do you want to own your own aircraft and if so, what sort of aircraft? There are many factors that contribute to the pros and cons of either training in a recreational RAAus or General Aviation (GA) platform. Once you have asked these questions to yourself, you can gain further insight into what platform will be suitable for your training. For example, if all you’d like to do is fly recreationally in a small, cheaper to hire (or maintain) platform, in good weather and are not in a great hurry to get to your destination, then a Recreational Pilot Certificate may be a good option. However, if your dream is to work in General Aviation or even perhaps progress to work for an airline, you will need to train in a variety of bigger and faster GA aircraft and work your way up from there.

Think about the future

The questions you have just asked yourself may be relevant now, but you might want to also cast your mind’s eye into the future and think about what you might like to do then. The reduced cost benefit of recreational platforms in the short term might be outweighed by the extra training you may need at a later stage to convert to GA for example. You may also wish to one day fly a multi engine aircraft, or get an instrument rating, all of which can only be done in GA platforms. So it’s always good to think about the future in this case.

What’s your budget?

There’s no doubt about it, RAAus registered aircraft are cheaper to own and maintain, and therefore the cost to learn to fly in them is less expensive. However, there are a number of limitations to an RPC. Unlocking the potential of your RPC can end up costing more than simply getting a Private Pilot License. This may not be true in every case, but, you may wish to do some research into the costs of several pathways that will achieve your goal and compare the cost and weigh up the limitations imposed on each scenario. Another thing to be aware of is that just because a flight school is cheaper, doesn’t necessarily mean its better value for money. So questions to ask might be to inquire about the age of their fleet? What kind of equipment do the aircraft have? What kind of experience level do the instructors have? What facilities are provided for you to train in? Does the cost include a club membership? How close is the flight school to controlled airspace? Etc etc. If you are looking to get a CTA endorsement, you would be wise to train at an airfield that is close to a Class C or D airport otherwise you will spend more time in the air flying there, which costs more money. Likewise, if you’re not looking to get a CTA endorsement, it would be better if you trained at an airfield that is located in Class G so you can begin your airwork the moment you are airborne and have departed from the circuit area.

Whatever the weather

This might not be a huge issue, but something to consider nevertheless. Recreational aircraft are much lighter and have smaller tolerances to things like “crosswinds”. So in less than ideal conditions, you may find that when you want to fly, you can’t because your aircraft can’t be flown in those conditions when compared to a heavier aircraft. This extends past your training phase too and well into your tenure as an aviator. There’s not much difference between the ambient condition tolerances of a Foxbat and a C150, but later on, you may wish to fly bigger and heavier aircraft in order to push the limitations of your own flying in certain conditions. In that case, there is a huge difference between the tolerances of a Foxbat and a Beechcraft Bonanza for example. Food for thought.

What’s available to you?

First things first, what is the closest airport, training facility, or flying club to your residence. Once you find that out, organise a tour of their facility and ask all the above questions and find out what they offer. One thing that is worthwhile considering is how long it takes you to commute to that facility. Since we are bound by weather conditions, it’s important that if you have the chance to go flying, it should be a quick and easy exercise. Being able to jump in your car and be ready to go flying and not have it be a whole day experience is a huge advantage. But again, depending on what you are wanting to achieve, your commitment ability, fluidity of your situation and the time frame you’d like to achieve your goal, you may be able to make some concessions in travel time. For example, if you’re not in a great rush to get things done and don’t mind a long commute in order to have better training facilities, then why not go for a training provider that is further away and make defined plans for your days of training.

If you want to learn to fly and want more information, head to the RAAus Website or the CASA Website.

AvPrep offers Recreational Pilot License (RPL) and Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC) Theory Training and Tutoring.