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Welcome to Ahart Aviation Services

The Premier Flight school of Northern California

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International frequently Asked Questions

This web page is here to try and answer some of the most asked questions about international students coming to Ahart Aviation Services for their commercial training.

Note:  This page is ALWAYS under construction. 
Last updated on March 28th, 2012


Question:  Is Ahart Aviation a Certified flight school?

Answer:  Yes.  We are certified to teach Part-61, Part-141 (FAA approved), International students (M-1 Visa) and Veterans Administration Students studying on a GI bill (U.S.).  We are also approved to teach Dispatcher courses as we have a dispatcher CFI on staff.

Question:  What is Part-61?

Answer:  A Part-61 course is a course much like the FAA approved Part-141 course except it is more flexible.  We teach both Ground and Flight Part-61 courses.

Question:  What is Part-141? (TBD)

Answer:  A Part-141 course is an FAA approved flight and ground course.  This is the program that our international students come to Ahart to complete.  Minimum ground and flight hours for Ahart's approved FAA courses can be found here.

Question:  Why would I pick Part-61 over Part-141?

Answer:  A Part-61 course is much more flexible than a Part-141 course, but the problem with a Part-61 course is that international students need to be enrolled in an approved 141 course.  However, Ahart can teach our international students under a Part-141 ground course allowing the student to fly under Part-61.  We have found this a perfect combination.

Question:  What do airlines require pilot candidates to train under

Answer:  Airlines require that someone searching for a job with them be trained as an FAA certified pilot and they do not care if it was Part-61 or Part-141.  You do NOT need to be trained as a Part-141 student to be hired at an airline.  However, being trained at a Part-141 school is always advantageous because of the special relationship that school has with the FAA.  Airlines also are beginning to require 1,000 hours or more of flight experience to get a job, when in the past, they used to only require 250 hours.  So, the more hours, the better.

Question:  How do I get started?

Answer:  Fill out an enrollment form (press the submit button at the bottom of the form), we will contact you right after we get the completed form.  We will ask you for $300.00 for expenses we have in getting your paperwork ready.  After we get the down payment, we will create an account for you and mail you your I-20 form (if you are an M-1 visa student) so you can get your Visa.  We will then discuss your arrival date and time and arrange to pick you up at the airport.


Question:  Can I choose my own examiner once I am ready for my check ride??

Answer:  Ahart is a very high-quality flight school.  We have examiners that we interview, test and then decide to use or not to use based on their qualifications and their attitude to both flying and to the courtesy to the customer.  Ahart produces quality pilots and not just people that can pass their check ride - unlike some very low-quality flight schools. 

Here is how we decide on examiners:

If the examiner meets all of these qualifications, we ask them to do tests for us.  If they do not meet even one of these qualifications, we do not ask them to work with us.

So, we will assign to you an examiner who is available for the time frame which you are requesting a check ride for.  We do not allow you to pick any examiner you wish as they are all friendly and they are all fair when they give tests.

None of our examiners pay Ahart when we send them students to take check rides - this would be illegal.  We do not favor one examiner over another and all are deemed to be high quality. 

It is ONLY rumor when a student says one examiner is better than another - rumor only, especially the examiners that Ahart has chosen for its customers.

Question:  Can I do my FAA written tests at Ahart?

Answer:  Yes!  We have a full-featured Lasergrade testing center.  Cost for tests are around $150.00.

Question:  What do I need to bring with me to take a test?

Answer:  Ahart Aviation Services needs to abide by both FAA and Lasergrade requirements for people taking tests in our testing center.  To this end, here is a list of things you may need, depending on your current status in this country.

Question:  If I do not have another 'government' issued ID to use for my testing, where can I get one?

Answer:  The California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) can issue you a state picture ID for around $5.00.  We'll help you get all of that taken care of, just let us know.

Program Costs

Question:  Are there any enrollment fees or down-payment required?

Answer:  Before you begin your training, a $300.00 deposit in your Ahart account is required.  If you will be coming here on an M-1 Visa, you will need an I-20 to get your Visa.  We will create this document and send it to you in your home country.  The fee for this is a standard $100.00 and will be deducted from your account.  If you are currently here in the United States, the I-20 fee will only be $50.00.  The remaining balance can be used for your training.  If you do not come for your training, the remaining balance is not refundable.

Question:  I saw a cost break-out sheet on your web site.  Is this exactly what it will cost for me to get my commercial pilot's license?

Answer:  The cost for your training is dependent on how hard you work and how often you come in for a lesson.  The cost break-out sheet is a way for us to communicate to our customers the minimum cost for training (hours defined by the FAA).  Some students meet this minimum, and some do not.  It depends on two things:  1) Your skill as a pilot; 2) How hard you work.  The harder you work and the more often you come in for a lesson, the faster you will finish and the less expensive it will be.

Question:  In the cost break-out sheet on your web site, I see a $350.00 administrative charge.  What is this for?

Answer:  Managing international students is very expensive.  The $350.00 charge (per license acquired) is used for processing of paperwork, spending time with SEVIS, TSA and INS in managing your Visa and/or I-20, managing any accommodations you are staying here under, driving you to and from your finger print appointments and other appointments you need help with, and brokerage fees if you are coming here under a broker.  We charge this fee so we do not need to charge you for every individual fee.  We have found that in the long run, this single fee will actually be less than what we really spend on you, but close enough to make everyone happy.

Question:  What method of payment does Ahart take?

Answer:  Credit card, Personal check (in a U.S. Bank), Travelers checks, Direct wire to the Ahart bank account.  For more information, contact Ahart management.

Question:  Are there any hidden costs or other costs I have not been told about?

Answer:  Ahart Aviation prides itself on being very fair and up front about costs.  We do not charge students for anything they do not receive as a service or a product.  However, there are times where some costs may need to be increased temporarily.  One that comes to mind is fuel prices.  We may need to add additional costs of flying our planes if fuel prices get too high for us.  We will notify the student on our web site when this happens. 

There is also a small management fee for international students to cover our travel and other international fees we must pay to host these students.  Normally these fees are about $350.00 for each license acquired.

Question:  I have heard that Ahart gives a 5% discount if $500 or more is deposited into my Ahart account.  Is this true?

Answer:  For domestic and international students/customers who do not need special services (immigration documentation, use of a car, apartments, etc.), this is true.  However, because of the added cost of providing immigration documentation, lending a car to a student, broker or agent fees Ahart needs to pay, and other costs associated with international students, we do not offer this discount.  Remember though, Ahart Aviation Services is the least expensive flight school in California, so you get a discount by just coming to study here.

Question:  Does Ahart require me to pay the full amount of my training after I enroll and before I start my training?

Answer:  No, in fact, we would rather that you not pay your full enrollment fee all at once.  We allow you to pay in three equal payments, or, you can pay as you go as long as you keep $1,000 or more in your Ahart account at any one time.

Question:  If I leave Ahart before my training is complete, will I have to give up any money I have on account?

Answer:  Ahart will return the full amount you have on account if you leave before you complete your training, however, your refund may take 30-60 days depending on how much money you have on account with us.

Question:  If I need to have money wired to Ahart, what fees are there?

Answer:  Each bank is different, but normally the bank charges the student a wire transfer fee when wiring money to Ahart.  Ahart has no control over that.  Ahart is then charged, normally, a $10.00 fee when the money enters our bank account charged by our bank.

Question:  If I need to have Ahart wire me back money, what charges are there?

Answer:  For bank wire's within the U.S., the normal charge the bank charges Ahart is $40.00 per wire.  Ahart then charges a $20.00 fee as the owner of the company has to go to the bank and spend 1/2 hour with the bank to do the actual wire transfer.  For International wire's (like to Taiwan or India), the bank normally charges Ahart $60.00 per wire.

Question:  How can I avoid bank wire fees when doing business with Ahart?

Answer:  Paying with a Credit Card is the most simple answer here.  You can also pay by cash once you are here in the United States or approved check.

Question:  What other fees are there?

Answer:  Ahart does not hide any of its fee's, but every once in a while, an expense comes up that we have not planned for.  For instance, in 2010, the State of California may require flight schools to begin collecting a state tax to be paid to the state.  If this happens, it is something we could not plan for, but it will affect all of our customers, not just the international ones.  Again, we don't want to charge our customers these fees, but we need to or we go out of business.

Question:  If I pay with Credit Card, can I get Cash back from Ahart?

Answer:  No.  Ahart is not a bank or financial institution, so we do not convert credit to cash.  There is also a lot of illegal activity going on in the internet today and one of these 'scams' is people trying to get company's like Ahart to take credit card charges from 'stolen' credit cards, wire cash back to the customer, then the credit card charge is reversed when the real owner of the card notices the charges.  Companies loose millions of dollars a year because of scams like this, so Ahart will not participate in such activities.

Question:  I heard you had a referral program  How does that work? (TBD)

Answer:  Ahart Aviation appreciates your business, and any business you send our way, we will be happy to pay you a small commission for that referral.  You can find all of the details here, but in short, YOU must contact Ahart with the name of the person you are referring before the student contacts Ahart.  We have rules so this program is not abused, and these rules can change at any time.  Please see the details for more information.  Ahart Aviation services can change or cancel this program at any time without notice.


Question:  Where will I be staying during my training?

Answer:  Ahart Aviation Services does not own any apartments or 'rooms', but we have made arrangements with some local apartment buildings and hotels to house our students.  We prefer that the student come to Ahart, stay at one of our 'approved' hotels, and find their own place to live, with our help of course.  This is both easier and less expensive for the student.  Students that want to stay at an apartment that Ahart has made an agreement with, will be charged a security deposit (which is returned when the student goes back home - after repairs, if any, are deducted) and a $20.00 per month service fee will be charged for management of your room.

Question:  Where are the hotels that Ahart uses?

Answer:  All of the hotels where are students stay are very near to Ahart - walking distance.  We can provide you with a bicycle if you like, and even some of our students have bought cars during their stay.

Question:  What hotels does Ahart use?

Answer:  Here are a couple:

Question:  Where are the apartments that Ahart uses?

Answer:  Ahart no longer rents apartments to customers.  If you wish to stay in an apartment or house, we will help you find such accommodations through Craig's List and other methods.  Houses and rooms are available for rent all through the Livermore area.  If you come as a group (2 or more) and want to rent an apartment, we can help you get all of that set up.

Question:  How much does it cost to stay at an apartment or Hotel while studying at Ahart?

Answer:  Prices for either hotels or apartments are about the same.  When two people stay in a room, it costs each person about $600.00 to $900 depending on the kind of room rented.  In larger rooms (suites), where four people can live, it can cost as little as $450.00 per person.

Question:  Why would I want to stay at a hotel instead of an apartment?

Answer:  The hotels where students stay have furniture and are cleaned daily, have included television/cable and internet access, included cost of electricity and hot water, and even have free breakfast and some free dinners included.  Apartments have none of these benefits, and if the student wants these, they need to pay extra.

Question:  Do I need to pay for electricity, cable or internet access?

Answer:  If you stay in a Hotel, no.  If you stay in an apartment, yes.  These fees could add up to 30% of your rent fee, depending on how much electricity and hot water you use.


Question:  Will I have insurance while doing my training at Ahart?

Answer:  Yes.  Ahart Aviation Services is fully insured and you will be fully covered while flying our airplanes

Question:  Can I buy renter's insurance?

Answer:  Yes. You can buy renter's insurance from the Airplane Owners and Pilot's Association.  This insurance will cover the cost of aircraft repair deductibles that the insurance companies charge if there is damage to an aircraft and an insurance claim is submitted to the insurance company.  You can find more at this link ( once you sign up (free membership).

Question:  Can I buy health insurance?

Answer:  Yes. There are a number of company's that provide health insurance while you are staying in the United States.  The links below can help


Question:  If I fly into the United States to start my training, will someone pick me up at the airport?

Answer:  Of course we will!  We will pick you up at the airport and take you to either the school or to the place where you have arranged to stay during your training.  You should make sure you get everything arranged with the Ahart staff before arriving though, to make sure you are ready to begin training as quickly as possible.  You can do this via email.

Question:  Will car's be provided to students?

Answer:  if you have a valid driver's license, we can help you rent a car at a local rental car company. 

Question:  What kind of on-going transportation can be made available to me?

Answer:  Ahart Aviation is not in the business of buying and lending automobiles, so we do not let students use our cars for free.  However, we will be happy to provide you with a bicycle at no charge so you can get back and forth between the school and your hotel as easily as possible.  Remember, the hotels we use are less than a mile from the airport.

Question:  I read/heard that you will provide a bicycle to me.  How does that work?

Answer:  If you are here for the full professional pilot program, Ahart Aviation will lend you a bicycle for getting to and from our flight school if you desire one.  When you receive the bicycle, $250.00 will be withdrawn from your Ahart Account, and when the bicycle is returned, that money will be refunded to you.  While you have the bicycle, you will be responsible for it not becoming damaged or stolen.  We will provide a locking chain for the bicycle, and that too must be returned.  If the bicycle is stolen or damaged to the extent that it cannot be ridden, the $250.00 deposit will not be refunded.

Question:  What kind of public transportation is available?

Answer:  Busses are available all over the Livermore area, as is BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which can take you into every major and minor city in Northern California.  The busses and trains are clean and safe and are very easy to use.


Question:  Will I be working with the same instructor through out my training?

Answer:  If you like, Yes!  We don't 'rotate' instructors like some other flight schools.  Keeping the same instructor through out a certification is good for the student because you will benefit from the friendly relationship that will develop while training with your instructor.

Question:  Can I choose my own instructor?

Answer:  Normally, Ahart Aviation Services management will assign you your first instructor, but if for any reason, you are not happy with your instructor, we will let you change at any time.  The staff at Ahart Aviation Services is here for one reason:  To make you a good and safe pilot while having fun.  Working with an instructor you don't like makes this impossible - so feel free to let us know if you like your instructor or not.

Question:  If I don't like my instructor, can I change?

Answer:  Absolutely!  Just let Ahart management know and we'll make sure you are taken care of.


Question:  What airplanes does Ahart have available?

Answer:  That's an easy question.  Just click here to see.

Question:  Will there be enough airplanes available for my studies?

Answer:  Yes!  We have many airplanes and all can be used for almost all types of aviation education.  If, for any reason, we have a shortage of airplanes, we will let you know before you come to begin your studies.

Question:  How are the airplanes maintained?

Answer:  Unlike a lot of other flight schools, Ahart Aviation Services has it's own service department.  We have an incredible safety record since our staff is so knowledgeable and skilled.  For more information, click here.

Question:  How often will an airplane be off-line for maintenance?

Answer:  That's a difficult question to answer, but let's try.  The FAA and our insurance company requires us to schedule maintenance on our airplanes.  Every 50 hours the airplane needs to be taken off-line for about 1/2 a day.  Every 100 hours the airplane will be taken off line for about 3 days for its 100 hour inspection.  Every year an airplane will be taken off line for about a week for its annual inspection.  Also, if an airplane part stops working (like a light, alternator, etc.), that airplane may need to be taken off for a day or two allowing us to buy the part and install it.

Question:  Can I schedule airplanes more than once a day?

Answer:  If an airplane of the same model is available the day you wish to fly, on that day you may reserve it.  You cannot reserve the same model of plane multiple times a day in advance.  If you have any questions, ask our dispatch personnel. 


Question:  What's the weather like in Livermore?

Answer:  Beautiful!  The rainy season in northern California (where Livermore is located) is absolutely beautiful.  During the months of December through February, it can rain a couple of times a week, but bad weather like thunderstorms rarely, if ever occur.

Question:  Do you ever see a lot of Fog in Livermore?

Answer:  Fog will normally 'roll' into Livermore in the late evening and burn off, normally, no later than 9:00 in the morning.  Other cities like Concord, Hayward and Oakland can easily see fog all day long because of their location nearer to the water or ocean.  But even these locations see sunshine most of the day.

Question:  What are temperatures like in Livermore?

Answer: Between March and June, the temperature stays in the mid-70's.  Between July and September, the temperature can get into the mid to high 90's.  All other months, the temperature fluctuates between 70 and 50 (all temperatures are represented in Fahrenheit).

Question:  What are visibility condisions like in Livermore?

Answer:  VERY good!  Unlike Concord California, Livermore does not sit next to oil refineries or industrial centers which cause a lot of air pollution.  Instead, Livermore is more of a business, economic and education area where both college and flight students reside.  We have two community colleges in or near Livermore and a lot of businesses in the city.  It is very safe to live in Livermore as well