top of page

Where are all the microlight instructors?

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

With the advent of 600kg microlights, fitted with all of the comforts of their "GA" counterparts and the significantly lower cost of gaining the microlight licence, it is expected that more and more student pilots will choose the NPPL in the future. This route is especially useful for those who do not wish to become a commercial pilot.

However, it seems that microlight instructors are becoming harder to come by. My local flying club has advertised numerous times for more staff, but simply didn't receive any replies. In fact, having spoken to other school owners around the country, I now realise that the problem is nationwide.

The BMAA has already said that they are aware of the situation. They feel that the specific lack of flex-wing instructors is the most pressing situation and have even offered bursaries for those who wish to get the flex-wing instructor certificate.

The statistics for 2010-2020 show that the number of flexwing licence applications continues to decline and this may be for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are only a small number of flex-wing manufacturers producing new aircraft that are available in the UK. Secondly, the cost of such aircraft has, until recently, been quite high and when compared to fixed-wing aircraft with all their comforts, the attractiveness is reduced.

Ratio of fixed-wing to flexwing microlight licence applications (official BMAA statistics)
Ratio of fixed-wing to flexwing licence applications (official BMAA statistics)

Fixed-wing training is clearly the most in-demand and the apparent lack of instructors is starting to show. I suspect this will increase further when the first 600kg microlights begin to appear. Not only will this attract pilots who typically fly heavier aircraft, but there may be a burst in demand for new aircraft and all those pilots will need conversion training.

The shortage is also compounded by the fact that many flying schools are still working through students that would normally have completed their training in 2020, but due to COVID-19 closures, it was delayed. Those students, coupled with new ones creates a bottleneck that can only be resolved by hiring new instructors.

The number of new microlight instructors from 2012-2020
The number of new microlight instructors from 2012-2020

So where are all of the microlight instructors? I suspect some are retiring and some have moved on to other things. Personally, I know of two instructors that have retired this year and were not replaced. It would be interesting to know the average age of an instructor right now, as this would have implications for the future.

Ideas for growth.

In order to produce more instructors, we need to support those who wish to enter this industry. The BMAA bursaries are great, but I think they should be extended to those who wish to become fixed-wing instructors too. Perhaps flying schools could also offer incentives to train as an instructor such as financial support and a guaranteed job offer on completion.

I like the idea of an apprenticeship for young people where they can train from zero to instructor over the space of a couple of years. I've thought about this for my own club, but it needs more thought and development before it can be implemented.

Perhaps we should also be highlighting how microlights can be an attractive alternative career choice, from a Restricted Instructor Certificate all the way to a Flight Instructor Course Instructor (FICI) and Flight Instructor Examiner. This route to the sky is full of satisfying personal development and is more affordable than commercial pilot training.

Finally, I think more instructor course providers would help. I know of several pilots at my local club who would do the course if they could do it locally, but cannot travel to do it due to family commitments.

Six hundred kilogram microlights may create a sharp increase in demand.
Six hundred kilogram microlights may create a sharp increase in demand.

What do you think? Do you wish to become a microlight instructor? Do you have any ideas for producing more instructors? Let us know in the comments below.

If you are training for your NPPL Microlights, or PPL (A)/ (H), then check out QuizAero Bitesize - our highly acclaimed online ground school.




I think personally more flight instructor training course providers , bursaries and job offers would go a long way towards getting people of all ages into the industry . The idea of teaching zero to instructor is a great idea as like the sport in general ; we need to get new younger blood interested and involved for the future . I’m sure many commercial pilots of retiring age would love to get involved to enable them to keep flying if sufficient opportunities existed . As a newly qualified pilot myself ; I’ve seen just how important it is to have an instructor that wants to see you gain your licence and not jus…


Courtney, I agree with your comments especially regarding young people entering the sport.

Subscribe to our Articles

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page