APC – Elevating ATO Standards and Enhancing Pilot Career Prospects

APC – Elevating ATO Standards and Enhancing Pilot Career Prospects

Cadet Pilots


The Airline Pilot Club (APC), co-founded by Andy O’Shea, former Ryanair Head of Training, and Petter Hornfeldt, a seasoned Ryanair pilot and instructor, was established to address the significant variance in training quality across Approved Training Organizations (ATOs).

Amidst a backdrop of a global pilot shortage and increasing demand for highly skilled pilots, APC introduced a novel approach to audit and enhance ATO standards similar to the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) used for airlines.


Traditionally, the quality assessment of ATOs by regulatory bodies like the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been limited to basic compliance checks, often overlooking the nuanced differences in training quality among flight schools. This resulted in a gap between the competencies of graduating pilots and the operational needs of airlines, with an average pass rate of about 60% among new pilots seeking airline jobs.

APC’s Solution

APC developed a comprehensive quality assurance process for ATOs that includes a robust evaluation system to assess various aspects of an ATO’s operations, such as management systems, instructor training standards, and the practical and theoretical training provided. This audit process aims to elevate the standard of training far above the baseline requirements set by national aviation authorities.


  1. Aptitude Assessment: APC introduces an initial aptitude assessment to determine a candidate’s suitability for a career as an airline pilot. This helps ensure that only candidates with the necessary attributes proceed with training, potentially saving significant resources and time for both students and training organizations.
  2. ATO Audit Process: ATOs partnering with APC undergo a detailed evaluation that exceeds the scrutiny typically applied by national regulatory bodies. The process involves a group of subject matter experts who assess every facet of the training operation, providing a more nuanced and thorough evaluation.
  3. Continuous Improvement and Re-validation: After the initial evaluation, APC issues a report with recommendations for improvement, which the ATO agrees to implement within a specified timeframe. The evaluations are reviewed annually and repeated every two years to ensure ongoing compliance and improvement based on a risk-based validation process.


  • Improved Training Quality: ATOs that have undergone APC’s audit process have demonstrated significant improvements in the quality of pilot training, aligning more closely with the real-world demands of airline operations.
  • Enhanced Career Prospects for Pilots: Graduates from APC-audited ATOs exhibit higher competencies and are better prepared for airline careers, with estimated success rates in the recruitment processes close to 90%.
  • Market Differentiation for ATOs: ATOs that pass the APC audit gain a competitive edge in the market, akin to receiving a “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval, which attracts more candidates and potentially more favorable financing options for students.
  • Stronger Airline-ATO Relationships: Airlines gain more confidence in hiring graduates from APC-certified ATOs, knowing that the training they have received meets high standards and the pilots are well-prepared to start their careers.

APC’s innovative approach to auditing and enhancing ATO standards represents a significant advancement in aviation training. By addressing the quality disparities among flight schools and aligning training outcomes more closely with airline needs, APC is making a substantial impact on the global aviation industry.

This case study underscores the effectiveness of APC’s methods in improving the quality of pilot training and contributing to the overall safety and efficiency of airline operations.

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