This is a long post. I didn't want to tag this onto the other thread, since I felt this warranted one on its own. Better go and make that cup of teaÖ
I attended the Flyer show on Saturday. This is my biased opinion that others may disagree with; feel free. My apologies for taking a week to write-up my thoughts, but its taken some time to read through the material I obtained.
The parking was utterly atrocious, but to be expected at any London Heathrow hotel. A few frayed nerves by an idiotic Golf driver in the car park - an attendee of the show by the way - but I managed to eventually find a suitable parking spot.
I was late, so dived straight into the seminar by the BA SFO. My first thought was that I had finished my A-levels at the same time as he had done. My second thought was looking around the room with all those people who are my competitors for the few cherished RHS available in the world. My there were lots of people! Quite a wide range of ages, but certainly the majority seemed to be farily young, i.e. some 6th formers and Uni undergraduate ages. Iím much older, and felt distinctly overage. A few military types were there too.
Fortunately, I stood at the back, so some other ****** came and stood right in front of me. I always appreciate gestures like that.
I think the seminars have been covered extensively in other threads and responses. I would say that the BA seminar sounded rather depressing. Essentially, the BA retirement bulge has peaked, and recruitment is unnecessary when you are shrinking a business. OK you canít keep shrinking a business, but with uncertainty around, I think any of the cadet hopefuls are wasting their time; I just canít see it starting for at least 3 years plus. Things seem to be: hire type rated first, then ZFT, then those with the licences. I found the character traits bit interesting indeed. Some of the same old b*llocks you often here from HR departments the world over, but peppered with some very interesting insights that anyone would do well to heed. Personally, I would love to fly for BA, but, in reality, I donít think BA is for me, since I consider myself to be too old to get a command in any realistic time frame. Iím hoping for freight myself...
The following is my view of the schools exhibiting at the stands. Iíve broken it down into the big integrated schools, and all the rest.
In general, the hall was very full for most of the time. I found the halls a bit too full, and often had to wait around to speak to someone at nearly all the stands I visited. The best opportunity to get to see who you want is to go when the seminars are on. Nearly all the stands were well presented, and people easy to talk to.
The Oxford stand was disappointing for me. I have seriously looked at attending Oxford, but I was actually put off. The problem for me was the over-zealous sales and marketing banter that I felt was over the top. They had no scruples about competitor bashing. Now you may think Iím being unfair, and that Oxford have often been the subject of abuse from PPRuNe, but in general I felt I couldnít get a word in for most of the time I was sat listening. I spoke to Mike Taylor, and after about 10 minutes I found his approach very irritating. Heís got his banter worked out which is the following:
Donít to a McCalpine: His said it costs more than just the quoted amount, because for seven years you are bonded on a low salary; he indicated £25K. If you did the APP, then you could be a captain in 4 years, therefore on £70K. Hence itís clear which is more Ďexpensiveí. Now this may seem a fair enough argument (it doesnít wash with me), but Iím 32, so I donít need to hear about the pros and cons of a scheme that is totally irrelevant.
Overall, it also began to dawn on me that Oxford seems to be geared up for the school leaver. A number of times it was made clear that the APP looked for people with maturity beyond their years, and I was regaled with the story of how a 25 year old was refused onto APP this year because he still lived at home. These sorts of stories are all fine and dandy, but not relevant to me at all.
I felt that in general the APP was after the younger end of the market with the military hurry-up-and-walk approach. I can do without the condescending approach of Ďnow let me tell you young manÖí Ė a term used when being addressed by Mike.
To be fair, I wish I could have spoken to the other instructors, but the stand was very busy, and each time I returned to find them busy throughout the day.
More seriously, it seemed that the few examples of airlines hiring Oxford graduates was being misrepresented. I spent some time with an 18 year-old and his parents who asked a number of pointed questions about hire rates and opportunity. I feel it is fair to say that Mike did not represent the picture: he constantly mentioned Ryanair taking graduates (and comparing this to the McCalpine scheme), and he said people were now being hired in greater numbers from the school. I think itís a fib. He also kept going on about how BA and other airlines would ask for decent graduates; making it sound that he was on the phone day-and-night.
So why is Oxford more expensive than others? Why is the accommodation more expensive than paying a £180k mortgage for 12 months? All of the above: we are just better was the answer.
Having seen the John Monks talk (BA SFO), I asked if they were an accredited school to recommend students to BA. He told me that John Monks didnít know what he was talking about, and there was no such scheme. I said well perhaps you just donít know about it as a school, to which the reply was No, thereís no such scheme. He kept saying that BA had no self-sponsored route, shaking his head and looking at me as though I had fallen asleep during John Monkís talk and must have imagined it. Any minute I thought heíd pipe up with the ĎNow I know I may be as thick as a whale omelette, but even I know thatÖí Unbelievable.
It also dawned on me about the so-called 200 hr integrated courses. Watch out for the breakdown of real flying time compared to sim time, and look out for the twin-time too.
I had a good chat with the CFI (a brit). Informative, and they look like a well kitted out school. You canít help be impressed by the sound of it all. With the airfield being pretty large, with ILS and Radar, it does sound like a good school. I was impressed.
Now, in the past, Iíve had my differences with WMU, particularly on their refusal to allow self-sponsored student attend their courses. Obviously, this has changed, since theyíve figured out the self-sponsored chappies will always be around, no matter what state the airlines are in.
On the downside, it seems WMU have re-structured their course and I was slightly concerned that they mentioned their ATPL ground school was mixed between FAA and JAA. My understanding is that JAA is much more in-depth than the FAA course, and I would remain to be convinced of the approach. The answer to time lost to flying due to cr*p weather was at odds with what others have written on this forum. So, still outstanding questions to be concerned. But, the CFI was perfectly willing to give out his card and have a chat at a later date. It was refreshing that there was little marketing banter. More of the case of this is what weíve got, and come and chat.
Reasonable price at £48K for the entire course, £6k for the accommodation (relatively speaking). 2 weeks holiday half way through sounded like a good idea to me: certainly would keep the partner happy. Indeed, I reckon you could get pretty good accommodation off campus at a cheaper rate. I seriously liked this school and will follow-up.
Were completely full all day. I did not manage to get round to see them, so I canít make a comment.
Down to earth and straight forward. Complete absence of any ability to sell anything, which was quite a difference. Still, they answered my questions, and I came away with a neutral view.
Professional Air Training Ė Bournemouth:
I really liked this outfit. There was an instant feeling of this being a very personal service, and they are very proud of the new simulator they have recently purchased. I think their pitch is for the customer who does not want the cheapest possible, but rather wants the better training. Or perhaps I was deluded by very elaborate marketing? I donít think so. The single instructor for the duration of the course, the refusal to let people go to the IR until they feel and know they are ready. Iím not saying this was not what other schools will do, but the fact that this was emphasis of the sales patter indicated a real difference that some of the others. I think it was the CFI being honest as he could. In any case, I could certainly see myself looking at these guys in more detail. Iím the type of person who would value quality of really knowing your onions in the IR test, rather than scraping through.
It was also good to know that if you want to check out flight schools in person, go to Bournemouth, since there seems to be at least four schools.
Again, a stand that was full for most part of the day, and I couldnít get to speak to someone. Their brochures are very good, but no price list in them. They certainly looked switched on.
Had a good chat, and looked through the manuals for the ATPLs. Very keen to emaphsise that they owned the manuals, and could revise them at will. Some definite poke at another school, but couldnít work out which one.
Of all the schools, the CFI here must have been the most honest. Through-out the day, you could pick up pokes at other schools, some clearly headed towards these guys. Being in sales myself, I donít like the direct competitor bashing, since it makes your product look vulnerable. I think honesty is a good thing, but here it maybe went a bit too far to the extent that I began to worry about a few things. In particular, emphasis was placed on resits for the ATPLs. ĎEveryone fails a few thingsí was the sales patter. Mmmm. Iíll give the man credit for saying what others werenít prepared to. The course seems about the cheapest about. They do have a military contract for hour building with the UAE defence forces.
Cranfield (Groundschool Ė Not Cabair or Bonus)
Never heard of these blokes before, but I liked them. They have a very good sounding ATPL distance or full-time residential course. Located close to me, so it sounds quite good. Offer a 10 hr maths and physics brush up course which I think I will most definitely take them up on it. In fact, I was impressed by the fact that they wanted you to be fully versed in the important basics before the course starts. The fact that they provide training to Cabair and provide a CBT course.
There were a few others which I have not listed here, simply because, first, I canít recall the conversations, second, I have a pretty much neutral view.