In the last segment, we took a closer look at how some customers new to the aviation training environment may see the larger commitment of a private pilot certificate daunting, and how offering a solo-only program or a Gemini-based training program could help to mitigate some concerns about the range of commitments required to start flight training.
In this segment, I want to expand that discussion and take a look at some other products that can help your school get people excited about your product offering.
Night Currency Special
I suspect many pilots, especially those who have not achieved an instrument rating, tend to avoid night flying. A few times a year, make it a point to offer a night currency special. Package it smartly, and make it something intentionally fun. Make it a round-robin supper flight to the best $100 hamburger in your area. Make sure that the night currency requirements for carrying passengers are met, and state this in the deal offering. Offer a standardized price for this flight that represents a small discount to your customers. For deals like this, people like to know what they’re going to spend in advance, so standardizing the price is smart.
No-IPC� IFR Currency Plan
Set this plan up like a gym membership. Have the customer come in and fly with you on a monthly or bimonthly basis in either simulated or actual IFR conditions to maintain his or her currency in such a way that an IPC is never again required. Again, packaging the pricing into a flat rate is a smart way to go. This is a great way to get and keep repeat business from some of your most skilled customers.
Class B Course
A good number of noninstrument-rated private pilots and even some instrument-rated pilots are reluctant to fly into or near Class B airspace or airports. This is really too bad. Often, it’s because during their initial flight training, their instructor stayed well away from Class B. Offering this course is your opportunity to help bring a degree of professionalism and a new level of fun to the everyday private pilot. Every student I’ve ever done this with has enjoyed a new level of appreciation and confidence with their aviation skill sets. If you can offer a flat rate for this kind of program, do so. Consider offering it to pilots with 100 hours total time or more.
This course concept is probably not new to you. Like of any of these courses, it takes time, energy, and effort to structure properly. I suspect that in most locations, offering it twice a year could be a great start for your school.
Off-airport Landing or Ditching Course
From where I sit, a unique feature of fixed-wing flight training is how little attention is given to the aftermath of an off-airport landing. I think the possible reality of an off-airport landing at some point in a flying career is almost treated as taboo by those of us in flight training. While emergency training is a good start, what happens next is often never brought up. Many pilots have the idea that “it took me 2 hours to get here, I should be rescued within 3 hours.” Quite a few pilots who have found themselves in this situation are unpleasantly surprised. A course that offers solid facts, practical tips, and proven best practices could be interesting for many pilots—and could save their lives someday. The Aeronautical Information Manual is loaded with information about this very subject, as are field guides published by organizations such as the U.S. Army and British Special Air Service.
These are just a few of the courses your school can offer in conjunction with the standard cadre of ratings, refreshers, and flight reviews. Leverage the seasoned talent in your school. Use your instructors’ varied experiences in aviation to create an atmosphere of learning that helps your customers to become better aviators and renters. Your bottom line will thank you for it.