What is the Best Country for Pilot Training? A pilots guide

Demand, cost, and track record are important factors when considering the best country for pilot training. We will break down these features to answer your questions about flight training.

IntroductionBest country for pilot training

“How long is a rope?” This is the stock standard answer I get when I ask difficult-to-answer questions of my sarcastic middle-aged uncle. Now the question about which country would be the best to train in needs some parameters –  if not, I might as well try and answer with the length of a rope. I thus want to place some parameters on how I am approaching this question. I have considered the question from the perspective of an eager-to-fly student pilot with the hope of flying Airlines, limited funds, and not an hour in his or her logbook.

Which country has the highest demand for pilots

There is an estimated shortage of over 600 thousand pilots around the world according to the Boeing outlook 2021-2040. As it is very difficult to determine shortages by country, Boeing (and many other respected trend monitors) splits the world into regions. Boeing pilot forecast

Regions currently experiencing major shortages are the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar) and the US (Delta and American Airlines). These are well-established aviation hubs and the return from COVID has created a short-term demand. However, since the target of this article is prospective pilots, it would do better to watch for the “emerging airline regions” – i.e. regions experiencing significant growth – which are South East Asia, China, and India. ICAO Airline Info

Job prospects are not definitive but do contribute to an assessment of best country for pilot training.

Areas with low demand include Africa, South America, and Australia.

best country for pilot training
It may be worthwhile to you to undertake pilot training in your country of birth – there are benefits to doing it this way

“There’s only one job in this world that gives you an office in the sky; and that is a pilot”

Mohith Agadi

Which country is the cheapest for training?

There are many factors to consider when looking for the “cheapest”. Long-term outcomes will in many ways shape what training will be required.  To fly for an Airline, a pilot will need an Air Transport Pilot License (ATPL), a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) as well as a Multi-Engine Instrument Rating with a significant number of hours in that category. Airlines will often take pilots with a “frozen ATPL”, which means that you have all the theoretical components of the ATPL license, but you are still building up hours. As such, a prospective pilot will be looking to get signed up from the start for an “Integrated ATPL”. That means flight training will be structured in a manner to make employment in the aviation industry easiest. This integrated training could however cost more than if a pilot were to do all the components individually and “integrate them” by him/herself. This integration is however tricky and if done incorrectly, could become much more expensive. If a pilot has good support from friends/family in the aviation sector, this “self-integration” could work, else my advice would be to sign up for Integrated Courses.

Another very important factor to note; you generally get what you pay for. If you sign up for the cheapest possible option, chances are the aircraft might be unreliable, there may be more aircraft maintenance and the flight instructor may not be first-rate.

The cost of living in the country of study is also important to factor in.

A good rule of thumb when considering the overall price for training would be to look at respected flight schools in countries with smaller economies. These countries tend to be “cheaper” for training and cost of living. Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Greece are all good “value for money options”. 

Cadetships from airlines and training via the military will be at no cost to the student and should be seriously considered.

The last thing to consider is what legislative body will be relevant for the region you want to fly in, with major differences in requirements between ICAO, FAA, and EASA.

best country for pilot training
You can become a pilot for free if you join the military or look for opportunities for scholarships

Which country has the best pilots in the world?

This is an excellent debate to initiate with fellow aviators as it cannot be answered empirically. Things to keep in mind whilst arguing your point are, are you comparing all the pilots from all the countries, or are you looking at the military/airlines exclusively? Would you judge “best” by least accidents or most accurate flying? Do you mean rudder-and-stick skills or procedures? In any case, whatever the parameters of your debate, here are some noteworthy bits of information:

·        German, Erich Hartmann, was the top-scoring pilot of WW2 with 352 confirmed “kills”.

·        Giora Epstein from the Israeli Air Force is the top-scoring “jet-age” fighter pilot, with 17 confirmed kills.

·        The Greek Airforce consistently gets voted as the best pilots during NATO exercises.

·        Paul Bonhomme from Britain has won the most Air Races in the red bull air races.

·        The USA is the country with the most aviation accidents. USA stats

·        QANTAS is considered the safest airline in the world. Qantas


There are many heroes of aviation, and as a pilot, it will do you good to study them. I do not believe one can answer the above-mentioned question, so to help settle the debate, I have changed the question somewhat.

You have to fly with a randomly selected pilot from any country in the world. Which country do you choose? 

best country for pilot training
There is still a global pilot shortage so it’s probably a good time to search for opportunities abroad if that’s what you are seeking

I learned the discipline of flying in order to have the freedom of flight….Discipline prevents crashes

Captain John Cook, British Airways, Concorde Pilot

What are the best countries to study aviation and why?

You have decided that you want to undertake aviation training overseas, and now you need help deciding where. If I were in your shoes, I would seriously consider the following places for aviation courses:

Greece is an excellent option for flying school. The relatively weak Greece economy makes training “cheaper” than in other European countries, but as it is part of the EU, you receive EASA accredited training. This will allow Airlines in Europe to hire you quite early in your career. Due to the good flying weather in Greece, it will allow for consistent flying and result in quicker completion of training. Furthermore, Greece borders the Middle East, which could make recruitment by the Airline powerhouses (Emirates, Qatar airways) simpler. It is also very close to the major European hubs. Lastly, Greece is a beautiful country with a rich history that will be interesting to travel in the times that the student is not on duty. It also has an amazing coastline with spectacular views.

Another good option is Australia. It is an English-speaking country, allowing non-English speakers the opportunity to rapidly improve their English, not only in an aviation context (English is the language of aviation). Australia also has excellent flying weather and a very efficient regulatory body. It is ICAO compliant which should make integration into other airlines relatively simple. Geographically, it is close to South East Asia, and as mentioned before, that is a region that is rapidly growing. Australia can be somewhat more expensive than other countries mentioned here.

South Africa is a significantly cheaper alternative to Australia. The advantages and weather are similar to Australia, but politically it is less stable, and as such, might be dangerous, especially in the big cities. South Africa does serve as a gateway to the rest of Africa, and if a prospective pilot is keen to see wildlife, this is the place to be.

The USA has a well-developed aviation culture. There is a myriad of aviation roles, from crop dusting, aircraft ferrying, corporate flying, doctor services, and many more. Many of the world’s aircraft manufacturers are also based in the US. This entrenchment of aviation in the culture makes acquiring that “first job” somewhat easier. It is however difficult to obtain a visa to the US, and studying aviation there can be daunting and possibly expensive.

England/France has some excellent aviation schools, most notable CAE. CAE web portal A pilot is almost assured of employment if he/she passes the CAE ATPL course. Some important things to take note of would be the weather which can be notoriously bad. You can expect to have many canceled lessons and as such training hours can drag on. Due to the high cost of living in these areas, this can become expensive.

best country for pilot training
One of the most important things to do is to ask yourself what you want to achieve from your training, and from living/studying abroad

Is there a country that stands out?

With the above-mentioned information, and considering the parameters set out initially, the best country for flight school is probably the country you are a citizen of.

There are some major advantages to staying in your country of birth.

1.      The cadet programs/military option will allow you to gain experience and training rapidly without having to pay for it yourself as these programs usually require citizenship.

2.      As a resident, you will have local knowledge of the weather conditions and terrain, this will make training easier and make you a safer pilot.

3.      You will understand the culture of the flying schools better which will improve learning and accelerate your growth.

Conclusion Best country for pilot training

What is the best country for pilot training? The cost of training varies, there are opportunities right across the world and each country believes they have the best pilots – so nothing definitive there.

Countries that report the highest pilot happiness in a recent poll by Travel, are the US Airlines (South West Airlines, then Delta) and then Emirates.

Thus, if a prospective airline pilot can manage to get qualified for an entry-level airline job within the next two years, I would say head to the US and or the Middle East. The short-term pilot shortage being experienced in the regions will result in rapid experience gain and promotion and will open many doors. Passengers carried

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ken johnson


Ken is a passionate aviator, a professional pilot and flight instructor. He has over 17 years of flight experience across hundreds of aircraft ranging from recreational, aerobatic, historic, commercial and military aircraft, training hundreds of students along the way. Find out more.

Ken has 124 posts and counting. See all posts by Ken

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9 thoughts on “What is the Best Country for Pilot Training? A pilots guide

  1. Unfortunately Ken you seem to have only used line-of-sight to make your selection and have not included the best kept secret in pilot training – that is New Zealand, which continues to produce many top pilots while having great aviation infrastructure and a relaxed life style. Just bore a hole through from UK and you will pretty much be here.

  2. I wish if I have any financial support I could choose the pilot training. Oh allah accept my praise.

    1. Not at all! Just be aware most commercial pilots retire around 60-65 due to the difficulties in maintaining a flight crew medical

  3. The USA has the best and cheapest General Aviation in the world. With hundreds of airports within a 2 hour radius, several with multiple instrument approaches, makes the USA an unanimous choice. It is a place, one can “get a license” or “learn to fly” or both . Learning to fly in the SF Bay Areas or the LA Basin will take more time, but worth it.

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