Your Guide to Accelerated Flight Training

Does accelerated flight training work? We’ll cover where you can get intensive training, the pros/cons, and how to prepare.

Accelerated flight training seems to promise existing results. 10-day IFR (instrument rating)? 14-day private pilot (PPL) courses?

It sounds great in theory.

But how realistic are these programs, and what are the potential downsides?

This article delves into whether accelerated flight training can work. We will explore the pros and cons, help you find programs in the US and Europe, and help you get prepared for them.

What is accelerated flight training?

Think of intensive flight school like a bootcamp.

Accelerated flight training is an intensive program designed to significantly shorten the time typically required to obtain various pilot certifications.

Think of it like a pilot bootcamp.

These programs are structured to require a full-time commitment, with focused training sessions over a well-defined period (typically between 1-4 weeks). This replaces the “traditional” method of training at your own pace.

Accelerated flight training is nothing new. It’s the same way airline pilots perform their initial training, spending weeks of undistracted, immersive training.

Since accelerated training programs typically focus on preparing you for the practical exam, you need to have a solid knowledge base (and complete any written exams) before starting.

The most frequently advertised programs focus on Instrument Ratings. While Private Pilot certificate/license (PPL) courses are also available, they are less common. Other prevalent programs include accelerated Multi-Engine Rating and Flight Instructor (CFI) training.

Some schools specifically offer “finish-up” programs for those who started training already, but want to quickly reach the finish line.

Accelerated Flight Schools – Where to Find

Three main options for accelerated training, including part 61 and 141 schools

In the United States, there are several primary avenues for undertaking accelerated flight training:

  1. Train in your own aircraft/location: Some companies cater to pilots who own their aircraft, providing personalized training at the pilot’s location. These instructors typically spend one to two weeks with the pilot, ensuring dedicated, distraction-free training tailored to specific certification goals.
  2. Part 61 Flight Schools: Numerous Part 61 flight schools also advertise accelerated programs, offering more flexible training options at a potentially lower cost.
  3. Large Flight Academies and Part 141 Flight Schools: Larger institutions offer comprehensive courses that cover a range of certifications. Schools like this are most likely to cater to pilots pursuing an accelerated path to an airline pilot job. They often offer accommodations so you can travel to their location and stay there for several weeks until your training is complete.

If you’re not familiar with the difference between Part 61 and Part 141, check out this article.

In Europe, the most common format mirrors the large flight academy model, where professional training outfits provide structured and accelerated courses.

The Best Accelerated Flight Training Programs

The best program for you will depend on your specific goals, budget, and location.

Train in Your Own Aircraft (At Your Location)

Do you already have access to an aircraft and are allowed to use your own instructor? Or are you far from the other schools on this list (and don’t want to travel)? Then this first category of instruction may be a more personalized, affordable option.

Some of these companies will have the most experienced, dedicated instructors who specialize in your particular type of accelerated training (private, instrument, etc.).

Part 61 Flight Schools

If you happen to live near one of these locations, you can benefit from their accelerated training expertise without needing your own aircraft.

My own experience with accelerated training (in addition to airline pilot training) was a very positive one. I needed to get my multi-engine rating during my summer break in college. I found a school that specialized in accelerated multi engine ratings.

Although it was an hour away from home (Action Multi Ratings in Groton, Connecticut), the hourly rate of the aircraft was reasonable and they gave me ample material to prepare and study ahead of time. I had a good instructor that I knew who knew exactly what I needed to accomplish.

I drove there for two days in a row to train, then on the third day I took my check ride. Although this wasn’t the type of training that required many hours to be scheduled in advance (it took under 5 hours), it still was useful to have a dedicated 3-day period where I was certain to focus only on accomplishing the goal.

It also shows how accelerated or intensive training can work for ratings other than the typical “7-day IFR” or “2 week private pilot.”

The important thing is to have a willing instructor, schedule a dedicated block of time in advance, and be thoroughly prepared with any theoretical or procedural knowledge before you step in the aircraft.

Flight Sim Coach founder, Mike Catalfamo (CFI/CFII/ATP)

Part 141 Flight Schools & Academies

If you’re looking for the fastest way to get into the right seat of an airliner, without consideration of the costs involved, look into a large academy offering “zero to hero” may be a reasonable option for you.

Accelerated Training Schools - Part 141

Advantages of Accelerated Flight Training

Where does this type of training shine? If you haven’t been to a “traditional” flight school, it might be hard to understand some of these benefits.

But the below are indeed common problems experienced by flight students that can lead to wasted money and frustration—and accelerated training can effectively address them.

  • The average accelerated training program is usually very structured and organized.
  • A major benefit of intensive training is the rapid progression. Instead of dragging out your training over months or years, you can dedicate a few weeks to it. This reduces the chances you will forget or lose skills in between sessions—a common challenge in traditional training setups where lessons might be spaced many days or weeks apart.
  • Traveling away from home to complete the training may allow you to avoid everyday distractions and let you fully immerse yourself in training.
  • Have you experienced difficulty scheduling your flight instructor? Or have you had an instructor leave you for a different job mid-training? This sort of experience is unlikely with an accelerated training program. Since in some programs you will be the instructor’s one and only student for the entire training period, they are completely dedicated to your progress and motivated to help you succeed.

Disadvantages of Accelerated Flight Training

That being said, accelerated training is not for everyone. Here are some of the main downsides to consider:

  • Intensive flight training can be stressful due to the condensed timeline and the looming “deadlines.” This environment may not suit everyone, especially those who benefit from a more relaxed learning schedule.
  • The accelerated nature of the training also means there is typically less downtime for self-debriefing between sessions. Even if you record all your lessons on a GoPro or CloudAhoy, you might not have much time to replay everything and self-critique.
  • Accelerated programs often require a significant upfront financial commitment—versus traditional training programs where costs can be spread over time as you pay per lesson.
  • From a learning perspective, it is crucial to continue practicing the skills acquired in accelerated programs right away. If newly learned skills are not applied soon after acquisition, there is a high risk of forgetting. You really need a solid plan to use and maintain these skills post-training.

One of the challenges specific to accelerated IFR training is the potential lack of exposure to actual instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).

For example, pilots training in areas like Arizona might find themselves completing their instrument rating without ever flying through a cloud or needing to think seriously about icing avoidance.

While this is a definite downside, it can be mitigated. Pilots training in these sunny areas should plan to receive dual instruction in an area with frequent IMC soon after certification, and establish conservative personal minimums until gaining enough experience.

Can Flight Simulators Help Prep for Accelerated Training?

Flight sim training at home, with remote instructor station and aircraft breaking out of an ifr instrument approach

Flight simulators can play an important role in helping you get the most out of an accelerated flight training experience.

Simulators can help you practice anything that doesn’t depend heavily on the feel of the actual aircraft. They’re especially useful to prepare for an accelerated instrument rating. Once in the cockpit, the transition to implementing these skills in real-world scenarios is much smoother.

Companies like PIC, which bring instructors to your location, actually bring a certified mobile simulator unit to their clients, and you can log hours on it.

Pretty cool!

Certified Simulators

In addition to building valuable skills, some simulators can actually reduce the amount of in-aircraft training time needed.

For simulators that are certified as Aviation Training Devices (ATDs), the hours spent training with an instructor can often be officially logged (see this article for more info on how much credit you can get).

Home Simulators (Uncertified)

Even non-certified home simulators can be incredibly beneficial.

With the aid of a remote instructor, you can work through the entire syllabus from the comfort of your own home.

At Flight Sim Coach, we specialize in offering remote instruction that mimics the intensity and focus of in-person training sessions. This preparation ensures that when you undertake an accelerated program, you will be exceptionally well-prepared.

One of our instructors, Alan Edwards, is a specialist in accelerated IFR training and provides instruction for Professional Instrument Courses (PIC). Some of our students do accelerated training with Alan from home to help them prepare for real-world lessons.

“It was great. Alan is really knowledgeable, but even more important for this format, he’s really good at doing the back-to-back sessions like this and using the tech. I’ll be doing more with him for sure.”

Weston F.
Instrument Rating Student
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Other Prep Steps

Aside from using flight simulators, there are some other important steps to ensure that your accelerated training program will be a success.

  1. Medical Certificates: Ensure you have all necessary medical certificates in order, especially if you are pursuing a Private Pilot certificate.
  2. Passing Written Exams: It’s key to study and pass the written exam before starting accelerated training. This not only demonstrates your theoretical understanding of the material but also allows you to focus more on the practical aspects during the actual training. You can use a number of readily available online ground schools. At Flight Sim Coach, we can also provide one-on-one instruction if you need extra help preparing for these exams from your home.

Your flight school or instructor will likely have a list of recommended reading and study materials tailored to your training program. Many training programs will provide you with a list of aircraft speeds/limitations that you should memorize with confidence before you start training.

Does Accelerated Flight Training Work?

While accelerated courses such as a 10-day IFR or two-week Private Pilot course offer an appealingly concise timeline, it’s important to understand that completion within these periods is not guaranteed.

Instructors in these accelerated programs are typically well-experienced and equipped with the most efficient training techniques designed to prepare you thoroughly for your check ride.

However, everyone learns at a different rate, and there’s no magic bullet approach to ensuring this happens in 10 days.

Ultimately, the success of the training hinges largely on your dedication to the program and ability to learn the skills. However, preparation can set you up for the best chances of success.

And finally, it is essential to remember that the final decision on whether you qualify for certification lies with the examiner during the check ride. Completing the advertised duration of the course—be it 10, 14, or 7 days—does not automatically ensure that you will pass.

What to Ask the Flight School

Things to evaluate when thinking about an accelerated flight program

When you’re considering one of these programs, we would recommend asking:

  • What happens if I’m not ready for my checkride after the X days? How will any extra hours be billed?
  • What happens if I don’t pass my checkride?
  • Are there any extra charges not included in the quote?
  • What if I need to reschedule the training?
  • What if the weather is bad?
  • What materials will I be provided (and expected to study) before I start the program?

Is Accelerated Flight Training Right for You?

Accelerated flight training offers a fast way to achieve your aviation goals, but it’s important to recognize that this style of learning isn’t a good fit for everyone.

The intensive nature of these programs requires a high level of commitment, focus, and the ability to thrive under pressure.

Often pilots who try these types of programs describe them as grueling, overwhelming, and exhausting—but ultimately worth it if they can achieve their goals quickly.

Before getting started, it’s wise to reflect on your previous experiences with intense educational settings. Have these experiences been positive and fruitful, or do you find you perform better under a less pressured environment?

We also encourage you to read the experiences of other pilots (we’ll list a few below):

Fly with Trent’s discussion of “Is Accelerated Flight Training Right For You?”

Testing the Waters

If you’re uncertain, consider a trial run.

At Flight Sim Coach, we provide opportunities to experience what accelerated training entails without leaving your home.

By working with one of our instructors on an intensive basis as you fly your simulator, you can get a feel for the pace and demands of the accelerated program, and assess if it aligns with your learning style.

Try an at-home intensive training experience.
Our expert CFIIs can help you save money, maintain discipline, and avoid dangerous bad habits.
Learn More

For those new to simulation, we offer a comprehensive ‘Zero to Sim’ program to take the stress out of getting your first simulator.

While accelerated flight training can expediently advance your flying capabilities, it demands thorough preparation and the right mindset.

We encourage you to consider all factors and possibly take a preparatory step with our at-home flight sim training to ensure that this training style is a good fit for you.

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