I am looking for a way out of the cfi world and into corporate work. I'm looking for any advice on how to break into the business. any chance on finding a left seat job in a 76 etc? Did anyone read the article in Rotor about the apprentice programs that are being developed around the country? Any info will be appreciated.
I'm afraid the corporate part of the industry is on the decline. Tarmac is giving up its helicopter after 11 years, JCB is full, there are no new companies of any substance who wish to be seen to own a helicopter, even more unfortunately there are a lot of cheap pilots around (especially I suppose ex- military with pensions) who are prepared to work as experienced single crew IFR pilots for £35000, What chance do the rest of us have?
I think the problem is people are in essence desperate for work, ex mil or not and we are undercutting each other all the time. The value of heli jobs really is very poor, single pilot night IFR and only 33K, it is a joke and only we can change it. But 33K is a start to pay the morgage after all. Ex Mil working at places like DHFS, Middle Wallop and Shawbury and mil sim instructors working elsewhere for 28K or less is justified because they are unlicenced. What is wrong is employers that pay low because they know that the pension will top it up.
You're quite correct PVR. I'm looking forward to biting my thumb at the company I work for. Even at my age I've taken the steps to converting to plank-wing. There is no future in helicopter flying. Another factor which undermines helicopter pilots salaries, is f-wing pilots with fat pay packets, willing to do freelance work at discounted rates, simply to keep their hand in at "real flying". Where are their moral obligations to there old colleagues? Instrument Ratings for helicopter pilots for night flying etc. NO, NO, NO, no need for that, that is if you are the BHAB, who pays for that lot? or the CAA, who pays them? It couldn't be anything to do with the fact that it would cost commercial companies some of their profits! Surely not. perhaps it's because most onshore aircraft wouldn't come up to the correct standard as an IFR machine! Meanwhile, pilots are still falling foul of CFIT. How many more of my friends will be killed in this way, when an IR MIGHT have helped?? You can not be issued with a useful ATPL/A without an IR to fly public transport, so why can you with only a helicopter CPL/ATPL?
Now I've got that off my chest, back to the perf A revision!!!!
Without trying to discourage you and with respect I think you should realise it may be quite difficult to count on a career as a helicopter pilot at your age and experience level level you have. Regardless of what the training schools tell you,look at the number of resumes of pilots desperate for that opening somewhere anywhere. Its not impossible but it will be difficult unless you know the right person.
G'day Chopperpilot, There is only one point I can add to the last reply above and that is that you will require a CPL(H) before you will be able to gain employment. To be honest, you shouldn't rule out any job (ie: instructing) they are few and far between. Having said that, nobody should really be instructing with anything less than 2000 hrs anyway. Good luck for the future - if you want it badly enough you'll get it.
Perhaps this may help with your decision making Here is a summary. I'm about the same age as yourself with a not too dissimilar background. I've spent the last two years building hours to the (then) 200 hr mark so that I could gain an instructor rating and get on the first step of the (any) ladder. It's cost around £40000 so far (inc the instructor rating) and it will continue to cost. Look at the requirements to maintain licences, particularly LPC's. I also hold fixed wing single and multi engine licences and have TT of approx 800 hrs.
However, having got this far, no one seems particularly anxious to offer employment anyway. Partly I suspect because of the glut of instructors at the moment (who like me rushed to get the PPL AFI rating before the 30th June deadline). The good friends (mainly fellow instructors) that I made along the way are only now beginning to make in roads into the commercial field - with no-one having less than 1500 hours, inc turbine and multi engine. Its not hard to work out how much they've ploughed in, getting to where they are today.
So the bottom line is - you must WANT to fly and want it badly. One colleague of mine who took a similar path on the fixed wing side all the way to CPL, jacked it in a few months back after his third near miss with a 'student'. Its not a career at our age unless you are so financially secure that you need not work anymore. Then you could class it as a hobby. This may come over as a bitter posting - its not meant to be, I love my flying - but you need to see the big picture - warts and all
If you want to e-mail me I'll pass on all the details you could ever want to know.
38 isnt to old old to start in the UK, I was 32 before I ever flew a helicopter and now I have a CPL and instructor rating and am busy, I did my PPL with a guy who didnt fly his first helicopter until he was 39 and now he is an very experienced first officer on the north sea.
consider instructing as its the easiest way to get hours, you will need 500-1000 pilot in command before you will be taken seriously as a commercial pilot, and you certainly dont want to pay for all them (do you?), and instructing can be very rewarding as you do all the flying exercises all the time, commercial work can be less challenging in many ways, i.e going to and from a pickup, no autorotations no steep turns, no confined areas, no engine off landings (i.e the good bits)
have a look at www.plh.co.uk they have links to lots of schools and have had all the questions you could ever dream of many times.
It's not impossible at all, but you're better off doing it in Canada (or USA, if the school is OK) 'cos it's cheaper. If it helps, here's part of the intro from The Helicopter Pilot's Handbook - it's directly aimed at people like yourself and really says it all:
The Job Flying helicopters is definitely not a 9-5 affair, and it’s the only work some people ever see themselves doing. You are certainly part of a select brotherhood, but there are things you need to know before doing it professionally, which is a whole different ball game than flying for pleasure – the rules are entirely different. Mostly, the “extras”, in the shape of paperwork and office politics, are just about bearable for the amount of pay you get, and the flying itself is the icing on the cake.
It can be tiring, for a start. Four hours’ worth has been compared to eight hours’ hard labour and double that when long-lining, all due to the concentration, particularly in mountainous areas and going in and out of clearings all day long, where you cannot afford to let your attention slip. Do this for 21 days on the trot and you will also find you need to keep yourself physically fit in order to cope.
However, don’t expect to be flying all day and every day. There will be a lot of waiting around in the back of your machine in remote places, so you will need plenty of paperbacks. A typical day on duty may be up to 10 or 12 hours long, within which you might fly for about 3. The ratio between the two will be even greater in the Corporate world.
In addition, some of it involves making money out of other peoples’ misfortunes, as when reporting on disasters, etc., which is an aspect I have never really liked, but they save lives, too and, as I said, it’s the only thing some people want to do, whether for the flying or the lifestyle, so let’s have a look at how you become a helicopter pilot.
Getting Started This is the most difficult bit – the cost of helicopter time is so great that it’s almost impossible to do without help, maybe from parents, or being trained in the Forces. Having said that, there are plenty of people who have done it, so it isn’t impossible, but these will tend be found in Canada or the USA, where it’s considerably cheaper. In Europe, where it’s over twice as expensive and you need more hours to get your licence (700 under JARs), anyone who can afford their own training would, in terms of pure financial reward, have to think twice before working as a pilot, because that sort of money can be considerably more productive elsewhere.
Mind you, it’s ultimately not that different in North America. Even though you only need 100 or 150 hours to get your ticket, you are still usually unemployable, unless your family owns the company (and even then the insurance companies would have something to say), so you either have to do a couple of years as a hangar rat, that is, washing windscreens until your company sees what you’re like and trains you up, or buy the hours yourself. To be even remotely interesting to an employer, you need at least 1000 hours on top of your CPL, or some sort of specialised training, such as a mountain course (preferably both) and maybe an instrument rating, depending on the job.
Typically, there will be an internal course every year for a few pilots, selected from ground staff with commercial licences, and who have been observed for a couple of seasons to see whether they are suitable. It will be run by senior operational pilots who are also instructors, and is a good thing to get on, as it will markedly improve your prospects over other pilots with the same hours as you. In fact, your training background is so important that you should pick your school carefully if you can’t get on one. Make sure whoever teaches you has actually been out and done the job themselves, and have maybe run their own companies. Unfortunately, it is possible for people to become instructors at 200 hours and stay there. Granted, if this wasn’t possible, the industry wouldn’t have nearly as many pilots as it needs, but there are many who would prefer that instructors have a minimum of 1500 hours before they start, because trouble is best avoided by not getting into it in the first place, and you only know how to do that with experience. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
Many schools indicate they might hire you once you complete your training, but I would not include that as a factor in your choice, as it’s generally only those that are part of a larger commercial organisation that can afford to do it, and the competition is keen. Sometimes, the employment situation can change from day to day, and it’s virtually impossible to keep up. Just regard it as a bonus.
When you budget for your training, don’t just count in the cost of your course, but the time afterwards going around companies to get hired; just sending resumes is no good at all (this could take up to four years). Note also that you may well need more hours than you think– certainly, as far as the PPL is concerned, the average time taken to pass is 67.7 hours, against a minimum requirement of about 40.
The machine you train on often counts, too – it took a long time for the Robinson R22 to get accepted over a Bell 47, and then only because the spares ran out. However, both are underpowered and are good for teaching you power management, if nothing else.
So, now that I’ve painted a really pessimistic picture of your prospects (by request, actually, from people who have been there before you), let’s start having a look at what you need to get your licence. After that, we’ll see what you might get up to after that, so you know what you’re letting yourself in for.