Flight training: PPP vs FOP - What's the difference?

WRITTEN BY
Stein Mjåtveit
PUBLISHED
04.06.2018

Our two most popular programs are called the Professional Pilot Program (PPP) and the First Officer Program (FOP). They both lead to the same EASA certificates and licenses, which sometimes begs the question "So, which one should I choose?"

To fulfill the theoretical knowledge of both EASA and FAA certificates during the PPP, you will read these two theory courses parallel to each other. The EASA and FAA theory are similar to each other, but not the same. You will also do a skill test for your FAA certificates in the USA, and another skill test for your EASA certificates in Sweden at the end of the program. 

Apart from the license difference between the two programs, you will have to ask yourself where you would like to study. By attending one of our FOP’s, you will be spending the whole study time in either Västerås, Sweden, or in Arendal, Norway. The PPP is divided between our base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Västerås. You will spend 12 months in sunny Florida, and the remaining 8 months in Sweden.

Check out the comparison of the two programs in the infographic below!

PPP vs. FOP (1) 

USA vs Sweden

It can be hard for someone who has never flown in both countries to understand the difference between flying in Florida vs flying in Sweden. Since I have had the pleasure of teaching students at both of those locations I will try to give you some insight.

Airspace

USA

KFXE Sectional

When I arrived in Florida and had my first look at a map over the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area I immediately understood that I had some familiarization to do...

The picture above gives you an idea of the complexity of the airspace over Fort Lauderdale and Miami, with its many airports and special restrictions. Thankfully, Air Traffic Control (the ones who make sure that traffic is flowing smoothly) does an amazing job of sequencing aircraft and giving out clearances. 

Combine the complex airspace with a high volume of traffic and you will never have a dull moment when flying in "the sunshine state". 

Sweden

airspace_västerås

In Sweden, the airspace has a much simpler structure, simply because it was never designed to accommodate the same high volume of traffic as Florida. The USA is world-leading in airport infrastructure, so there is no wonder that Sweden and many other countries do not have nearly the same airport density. 

Radio Communication

USA

One of the things I was thankful for when I started flying in the United States, was that my English was already at a decent level. Something I can thank my amazing English teachers for!

Speaking English every day on congested radio frequencies allowed me to further sharpen my skills. Being slow or having poor phraseology is simply not going to cut it in the hectic Florida airspace. You have to stay sharp!


Sweden

"Klar studs-och-gå bana 19" is probably one of the most charming words I have ever heard spoken from the flight deck. It means "cleared touch-and-go, runway 19" in Swedish and I was intrigued to learn that the Swedes actually speak Swedish on the radio when I first came to this country. 

After the initial surprise, I started appreciating the joyful Swedish language as it traveled across the radio waves and into my headset. One thing is for sure, the Swedes have certainly earned the right to speak Swedish on the radio!

For those of you who don't know, Sweden has a rich aviation history. At one point they had the fifth largest air force in the world! In 1994 Sweden was home to over 400(!) fighter planes and even though the Swedish air force has decreased substantially in size since then, Sweden is still a force of aviation knowledge and experience. 

I have also had the privilege to work with many Swedish pilots and instructors throughout the years. Just like the American pilots I have worked with they care deeply about being professional and performing their duties with precision and attention to detail. 

Frequency and traffic congestion, however, is an unfamiliar occurrence in Swedish airspace. Thankfully, there are other things that increase the difficulty of flying in Sweden, such as the...

Weather

USA

surfing_newport_beach

A major contributing factor to Florida's well-deserved nickname, "the sunshine state", is, without doubt, the amazing weather that can be enjoyed year-round. The hurricane season begins on the 1st of June in Florida and lasts for around 5 months, but that does not mean that there are thunderstorms 24/7 during this period.

Usually, the mornings are beautiful, followed by the buildup of thunderstorms and heavy rain, and once the storms have spent all their energy and dissipate the warm and sunny weather usually returns in the evening. 

I like cross-country skiing and winter sports as much as any other Norwegian, but given the option, I would gladly replace it with beach volleyball and surfing!

The fair weather can be an advantage during the initial parts of the flight training and provides for a comfortable outdoor environment to enjoy in your spare time. Do beach life, snorkeling, and surfing sound like a good time to you? Then Florida is the ultimate playground!

Sweden

winter_is_coming

They say that summer is the best day of the year in Sweden - Sure, I'll wait while you let that sink in for a few seconds...

All jokes aside though, there ARE good things to say about the Swedish weather. For example, you will be able to learn new skills such as snow cave construction, skiing, and ice skating!

To be honest, spring and summertime here in Sweden are quite amazing. Besides, if the sunshine doesn't make it down to the ground level you will be able to see it on occasion regardless. Because above the clouds, the sun is always shining!

Not sold on the Swedish weather? Well, try to keep in mind that you are not coming here for a vacation. Flying an aircraft in the Swedish climate presents its own set of challenges. Ones that will further develop your skills as a professional pilot. After all, that is why you come to OSM Aviation Academy in the first place. 

ABOve the clouds

If coming up with a quote like that wasn't cheesy and poetic enough for you, I even made an inspirational picture to go with it. Be my guest! Feel free to steal it and inspire your Instagram followers with that one ;)

If you're considering a career as a pilot - take our pilot test and find out if you have what it takes... 

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