Sorry to answer a question with a question, but what do you think is the most important criterion in selecting a school for your FI rating ? If you get that one right, then I think you'll realise that only one person can make a proper judgement - you ! And you can only make that judgement based on detailed face to face discussions.
PS I'll give you a clue, it's nothing to do with the quality of teaching.
Many moons ago I did an FI(H) with one and taught at another. All things being equal it comes down to the people who are going to train you. First impressions count for a lot, so go and visit each training school and talk to the instructors who would actually be teaching you. If possible find someone who has recent experience of the FI(H) course and ask them for their opinion.
You are looking to spend a lot of money, and whoever you train with needs to offer you a well structured course, I preferred 9-5:30 five days a week as it suited me at the time. That way you can rattle through it fairly quickly. However you must see what they are each offering. Remember you are the customer and expect to be treated as such.
obviously important is which organisation is going to give you a good course, I did mine with an old navy boy, who was very demanding and ran a hard course. at the time I would have liked an easier ride but having come through it, I know that it was good for my character building, and improved my confidence etc, previously I was a self fly hirer at the same organisation and then went on to instruct and do commercial work at the same organisation.
other factors to consider
1) which organisation have you spent a lot of money with so far? as they will have more loyalty towards you, and are more likely to give you work once you have the rating
2)where would you like to work after the course?, as the company you do the instructor course with are more likely to give you work than someone they dont know.
3)if you spend a lot of money at one company on PPL, CPL etc, then go on to do your FI course at a second company and then try to find work at a third company, you have stacked things against yourself a bit.
Thank you so much Puntosaurus, Flying Foxhunter and Camp Freddie for your advice. I am planning on visiting the schools. For me the most important aspects will be the course and standard of instruction so I just wanted to gain a little information beforehand.
I have fairly recently completed my Instructor Rating (October) So here are my experiences.
I was looking to do it with HeliAir, where I worked, however, they did not have an "Instructor instructor", so it was arranged to do it at High Wycombe with Helicopter Services.
Mike Green was the instructor running the course, who has had many years teaching, as well as his time in the AAC (which he has many good stories to tell). Also on the course was another pilot of similar experience to my own . This I feel was important, as it aided the learning experience, being able to bounce ideas of each other during lunch, and the ability to fly with each other and practice teaching.
Leon Smith was my examiner, and I found him a very good pilot. There was a lot of banter before and around in the office, but as soon as we got in the cockpit, it was strictly professional.
I just wanted to gain a little information beforehand.
Very sensible. Of course visiting schools is important, but learning from the experience of others is also very useful. It may help point you in the right direction or, perhaps even more important, help you avoid making a mistake. Bear in mind when you visit that some schools are slicker at bullsh1t than others.
The FI school most consistently recommended on this forum over many years is Helicopter Services at Booker. The particular 'FI-Instructor' most consistently recommended is Mike Green (at Helicopter Services, Booker.)
(HeliAir used to be recommended, but the company changed ownership a few years ago. The key people who built up its previous reputation are no longer there.)
And I think it says something that the last several years, GAPAN FI(H) scholarship winners have all (correct me if I'm wrong) done their courses at Helicopter Services.
You are correct.
I haven't done a course at Helicopter Services but did a B206 type rating renewal there and was impressed by the TRE (Ruth Downey) and the school. Leon Smith and Mike Green both have long-established excellent reputations.
Thank you again for all your advice. I have not considered 'Highmark Aviation Ltd' so it's good to hear about others. Helicopter Services seems the way to go although I will definitely check out the others.
Location: UK, Oregon/US and soon OZtraileeyaaah baby
Which UK heli school does/has experience with ICAO (FAA) FI to JAA FI conversion? Obviously, all the CPL/ATPL and flight experience requirements will be met before starting the course. Other than the Helicentre and Helicopter Services in Wycombe.
I am enquiring with the two mentioned/widely known schools this weekend, but since I trained and will work in unrelated schools, it's also about the convenience, price and location/housing, not just FI instructor. The 15hrs flight and 30 ground minimum doesn't exactly fit into the regular 30hr/125ground FICs.
No idea what's up with Highmark Aviation Ltd since the website isn't operational and can't reach anyone on the number listed on third party company listings websites.
The 15 hours flying and 30 ground are minimums, the Head of Training will decide how many you really need, don't get overexcited because from experience I know most people need a lot more than 30 ground more like 75, flying usually only a few more but totally depends on previous training.