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Simtech Aviation

Cost of Private Pilot in NY/NJ Area!

This is one of the most commonly asked questions, and yet the answer often begins with, “It depends.”  Between $12,175 to $32,250. Why the big difference in the cost to earn a Private Pilot Certificate?

How much does it cost to earn a Private Pilot Certificate in the New York/New Jersey area?

How do you get charged for the airplane?

You normally book the airplane for a two hour lesson. But you will only get charged based on the HOBBS meter. The HOBBS meter generally runs from when the engine starts until the engine stops. It is a meter, similar to what a taxi meter does, once the meter starts, you are paying.

In a two hour lesson you might only fly 1.2 hour or (1 hour and 12 minutes.)

How do you get charged for Instructor time?

Generally, when you book a two hour lesson, you should expect to pay the instructor for the full two hour lesson In other words if you book a lesson expect to pay for the instructor for the amount of time you booked.  Example: If you already know how to do the airplane pre-flight, and you showed up right on time for the lesson, and the instructor was waiting on you, it’s not uncommon for the flight school to charge you for the instructor time, as they are ready and waiting for you.  On the order hand, if the instructor is running late and lands 10 minutes late on a prior lesson, you should not pay for the 10 minutes the instructor is late.
Expect that you may only fly an hour and a couple minutes on a flight lesson. The remainder of the 2 hour lesson is spent in ground training; briefing the goals and what you will accomplish on that flight; and a short post flight briefing, assessment, question, and next lesson session.  DON’T SKIP THE BRIEF.  Brief the flight, fly the brief.  You need to have clear goals set prior to each flight.  It’s also important to get an assessment of your progress post flight, even if it is an email or text, and should include items to prepare for the next lesson.
The exact amount of time spent on the Pre/Post flight brief will vary through your training.  In the beginning is about 1hour because the instructor has to teach you the skills for your to get the airplane on the way, but as you progress the briefings can be abbreviated.
Expect something like - a two hour lesson: 1.2hrs for the airplane, 2 hours of instructor time, including the 1.2 airplane time, and .8hours of PRE/POST flight brief.  As you progress in your flight training, it could look like 1.7hours in the airplane, and 1.7 for the instructor airplane time, and .3 for PRE/POST.

Does 141 vs 61 make a big difference for a Private Pilot Certificate?

Short answer, NO. Main reason is because it is very difficult to finish a private pilot at 35 hours (the reduced number or hours common at most part 141 schools.)  The only way to finish a private pilot certificate in the NY/NJ Area is by flying 2-3 times a week, and studying on the non-flying days.

If you find a Part 61 flight school that has a syllabus, and the instructor uses it, it's pretty much the same as a 141.  Look for established schools with instructors that use a structured syllabus and preferably conduct “phase” checks - or opportunities to fly with senior instructors at critical junctures in your training such as prior to solo.

Here is the breakdown of costs to earn a Private Pilot Certificate:

Why is the national average 80-100 flight hours to earn a Private Pilot Certificate in New York/ New Jersey?

Is a busy region is the simple answer. Just like the roads in the area the airspace is congested and strewn with “potholes.”  Is not uncommon to spend 30-45 minutes waiting on the ground just to takeoff at airports like Fargmingdale, or Cadwell in NJ.

Then of course, if there was congestion getting out, there is congestion coming in.  Further, due to airspace considerations for the large airports in the area, it takes about 15-20 minutes of flight time to get to the practice area where you are free to practice your maneuvers. 

The other major factor in the NY/NJ area is (hate to say it) the weather.  Not all days are suitable to fly in a light aircraft.

What Can you do to earn your Private Pilot Certificate closer to 40hours?

Study, study, study.

  1. Get your FAA Written out of the way before you start flight training, learn more on our blog.  Look into “self study” courses for the written test.
  2. Use a home flight simulator! There are many procedures you practice at home. Visit ReadyRoger.com to find a coach to help you study at home Flight simulator.
  3. Use a Certified Flight Simulator! Many Flight School instructors, and even pilots will discourage the use of a simulator at the Private Pilot level. Yes, you need to learn to fly the airplane, but there are many procedures you need to learn to make them second nature. Learn more
  4. Explore fast-track programs in areas of the country where good flying weather prevails.  This will require traveling to Florida or the southwest US for an average of 2 weeks to 2 months depending on your situation.

After I get my Private Pilot, can I get a job as a pilot?

NOOOOO. Private Pilot only allows you to equal share of the expenses of the airplane. Visit our blog on how to be a pilot as a career.

I’ve seen videos on YouTube that say I can get my private pilot’s certificate for under $X thousand, why do you say it is so much more expensive?

It’s not uncommon to find “hacks” that claim to save you beaucoup bucks.  Most of these are mathematical exercises that might add up on paper but have little relationship to the realities of actually operating airplanes in the airspace system.

If you train out of a cornfield in Iowa and fly to one airport with a control tower once or twice during your training; then, yes you might be able to get your certificate in the minimum number of hours.  However; just like the tourist in midtown who causes a sidewalk pile-up at rush hour because they want to stop and look at the Empire State Building (or is that one the Chrysler building honey? Which way is uptown?); you will only prepare yourself to get into trouble if you come to the “big city” airport.

The reality is that the complex airspace in a major metropolitan area will cost you some additional flight time and dollars.

The advantage to training in more congested airspace is that you will be prepared to operate in any area of the country or world for that matter.

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