Dear flight students and future pilots!
This blog post is brought to you by my dear friend Fabian who is currently at the Technical University of Berlin studying aerospace engineering. I choose Fabian to write this blogpost as he is an accepted flight student at the EFA (European Flight Academy). But prior enrolling his pilot training he agreed on with EFA that he first wants to complete his engineering studies and get his degree.
Read what he has to say about his decision on studying before commencing your flight school training.
Wishing you all the best!
„Studying before flying“
A blog post by Fabian C. on Aerospace Engineering
The past months, since the beginning of 2020, it has become appallingly clear how extremely vulnerable the aviation industry can be. With countrywide lockdowns, border closures and tight travel restrictions, air travel virtually came to a complete stop. Now that the airlines are slowly resuming their work under strict hygiene regulations, it is still unclear and extremely hard to forecast the next few years in terms of global air travel as well as fleet utilization and therefore the demand for pilots in the future. Since I live in Germany, one sad effect of the later is especially present to me these days. The possible closing of Lufthansa’s flight school the European Flight Academy (EFA). As of today, the fate of the flight school is still being discussed and it is not clear whether a shut down will be part of the cost-cutting program or not.
Currently, flight school centres are closed and the selection procedure for new applicants has already been suspended since March. Flight students, whether they have just started, are in between phases or even at the end just before their type rating are forced to discontinue and wait. It is like a standby call with no clear outcome. I stayed in touch with some flight students over the past weeks and felt their drive and motivation to continue. It was inspiring to see them not sitting back and hoping, they are actively stepping in and showing their faces as they did in a recent video. It is important to show that they are Lufthansa’s skilled and qualified next generation of pilots and not just red numbers on paper.
Although I hope the best for the flight school and its members, it is, nevertheless, a fact that the aviation industry needs time to recover. Experts are referring to numbers not less than 3 to 5 years. I am sure that this is not a secret at EFA and that students are aware of it even though this means that they might have to pause on their way into the cockpit. I have heard a lot from students who say that they want to go to university to earn some sort of degree within their waiting time and let me tell you, in my opinion, this is the best decision.
In this blog post, I want to introduce you to my field of study and explain how and why a university degree before flight school is worth a second thought.
I am 21 years old and study aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Berlin where I am about to start my final semester of my bachelor’s degree. I have had the dream of becoming a pilot since I was young, which is why I applied for the Lufthansa MPL program within the second semester. I passed all assessments but went on with my studies since it was clear to me that I at least wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree prior to starting flight training.
To break up the most common myths, you do not need to be a straight-A student and do not need to be a know-it-all in physics or maths to apply for and study aerospace engineering. But a solid fundamental knowledge especially in maths and physics is recommended and, in some cases, even assumed by the lecturer. For me personally, it was more about learning how to really learn. Learning how to structure your work and to use your time properly. A skill which you will not learn anywhere as fast as in a university. The first semesters are mainly about maths, physics, mechanics, computer science and design. Some fundamental knowledge which frames every engineer’s “toolbox”. In the beginning, it can sometimes be very theoretical but an important moment for me was when I was attending fluid dynamics in a later semester I realized that the things we learned in maths and physics were applied to real-life examples like pumps, windmills and of course aircraft. The courses which build on those fundamental subjects and that can be seen as advanced fundamentals are for example electrical engineering, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and aerodynamics. With those courses, the real fun begins because all of those are somehow related to aviation and aircraft technologies. Another interesting part is of course the decision whether you want to focus on aeronautical engineering or on space engineering. Dependent on your choice you can attend solely aeronautical courses, solely space-related courses or a mix of both. Those two fields offer a wide variety of courses to choose from. Some really interesting examples are aero-engines, space propulsion, aircraft design, air navigation, flight guidance, satellite design, human resources/cockpit design and many more. Once you completed a certain number of courses you can choose a field of interest for your final bachelor’s thesis.
Those were my bachelor studies in a nutshell. I am convinced that studying prior to flight school is and has been the right path for me. Not only do you gather additional qualifications, but a university degree will always present a plan B for you. Times likes these show the importance of that in an unpleasant way. Especially for EFA students, it is very interesting to have a look at the ILST program. Besides those technical studies, there is, of course, a wide variety of other subjects to earn a degree in.
Sure, from our standpoint today it is fairly easy to say that better times are ahead of us, but I am convinced that pilot demand will increase alongside the recovery process of the aviation industry. While we are waiting for those better times to come, I encourage you to inform yourself about alternatives like earning a university degree. Invest the time in yourself and shape your personal and professional profile.
Those alternatives are a chance, not a makeshift!
September 25th, 2020