How much time should a pilot study during airline training?
Airline pilot hiring is improving and many pilots are getting their chance to go to the airlines. For many, this will be their first time to any formal airline pilot training. Airline pilot training is not easy to get through and requires a lot of time studying. For the first three weeks or more, a pilot will go through basic indoctrination and aircraft systems training. This usually consists of eight hours a day of training, which does not leave very many hours at the end of the day. Usually at the end of these days the pilot is very fatigued.
At the end of these eight hour days a pilot does not have but two or three more hours of study in them. Whether the pilot does that after ground school or they take a break and then finish their study it is up to their own personal preference. I've done it both ways and both seem to work just fine. When ground school ended at five o'clock, I often stayed for two or three hours to study and then I went back to the hotel room and/or dinner with not much more expectation of studying. Sure I would review by limitations and memory items a little bit more but I tried to slow down so I go to bed at a reasonable time.
I have also left ground school of five o'clock and got in a workout and then did my two or three hours of study. This method also seemed to work just as well. I think what a lot of pilots need to realize is that after they get out of ground school they are pretty limited on their energy and brain power and that they only have a few more hours of study in them.
Sleep is extremely important during pilot training. If you try to carry a heavy schedule of study right up to bedtime you probably will have trouble going to sleep. It is very wise to have some slow down time an hour to an hour and a half before bedtime and usually you will fall sleep fairly easily. If you've ever done any research on sleep, having a slowdown period before bed is the best technique to falling asleep quickly.
I won't go into much detail here but getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep is the recommended amount. Sleep is very important for memory consolidation. There have been many studies conducted where one group received around five hours of sleep in another group received around seven or eight hour sleep. The next day when they were tested on what they learned the previous day the sleep group they received seven or eight hour sleep performed much better. If you are depriving yourself of sleep during training just to get a little more study you will probably not remember your study material as well as somebody getting more sleep.
So when you head off to airline pilot training plan on an extremely busy few months. Don't kill yourself and don't deprive yourself of sleep but if you pay attention during your eight hours of ground school, listen to what your instructors focus on you will probably do fine. Plan on spending two or three hours every day wisely studying. Do your best to wind down at night and really try to get seven or eight hours sleep. If you do this you should get through training fairly well.