Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills.
Although there are various types of aircraft, many of the principles of piloting them have common techniques, especially those aircraft which are heavier than air types.
All training courses consist of some combination of theoretical learning conducted on the ground, and practical exercises conducted in the air. Initial training is often conducted in specialized training aircraft, which are designed for benign handling characteristics and lower costs compared to the aircraft which the pilot concerned is ultimately aiming to fly. Flight training devices, of which full flight simulators are a major subset, are also used to train pilots in some circumstances, at much lower cost and risk than actual flying. The minimum amount of flight training required for private pilots is generally set at 40 hours, however most students require 50-80 hours of training. For glider training the time and expense may be considerably less.
The cost of flight training can vary, at local part 61 flight schools it will be approximately $7,000 USD for a Private Pilot License. A Commercial Pilot License will usually cost $40,000-$60,000 USD and take 1-2 years. Another option is to attend one of the larger 141 schools. These more structured training programs are qualified by the FAA to issue pilots' licenses with reduced hours of training. A full time student can expect to complete a training program for Commercial Pilot License in 4-6 months. Some universities also offer 4 year Aviation degree programs that include flight training. The final option is the military route, but unmanned aerial vehicles and forced retention policies have decreased the flow to the civilian sector.
A type conversion (Now more commonly known throughout Australia, the United States and Europe as an Endorsement) is the process undertaken by a pilot to update their license to allow them to fly a different type of aircraft.
The process typically involves Cockpit and aircraft familiarization to allow the pilot to become comfortable with the type. A series of Circuits and possibly training area flying to become accustomed with the aircraft is flown. Once completed a final conversion Checkride is taken and a solo flight in the aircraft.
Usually a ground based written assessment including questions on MTOW, Maximum Airspeed, Fuel Capacity, stall speeds, engine operation, safety and emergency procedures is completed to ensure proficiency in the theoretical side of the aircraft.