Can anyone shed some light on what command upgrades look like at offshore companies/others operating heavy multicrew helicopters? Are they based on seniority, merit, or sth else? How many hours does an average co-jo need to have to have a shot at command? How much time does it take to fly these hours?
I know, of course, that it will vary greatly from operator to operator and also depend on economic climate etc. I am looking for ballpark figures, just to make comparison to the FW airline industry...
Well Bristow are happy to put people through a command course in about 2500 hours, and 4 years, but whether you're up to it is another thing. You have to do a load of what are called QFR's qualifying flight reports, with a training Capt etc, and they monitor your progress.
CHC have minimum hours before you're eligible for command. The OGP requirements have a lot to do with hours requirements.
Minimum of 4 years I reckon. It all depends on ability and command positions becomng available. 3000 hours. Mind you, flying Southern North Sea is different to flying out of ABz. The aircraft are smaller, you spend a lot less time in the cruise down south, more landings etc, and i'm told even the night flying is different due to the lack of light from flare stacks. I've never flown out of Abz so only repeating what i've been told.
I would guess that 3000hrs up north is about 1/4 the number of landings of that you'd do down South in the same hours.
Most, if not nearly all of the guys I started with are now upgraded or in the process of being upgraded, and thats 4-6 years.
That's more or less similar to standards in the Airlines. For instance at the operator I work for, to be eligible for command course one needs 3500 "factorized" hours (with different kinds of experience being given different factors) and certain experience on type operated (500-1500, depending on previous experience). Of course it also depends on company requirements and there are operators where a 20-year wait is not unusual
On a side note - at my company, Rotary Wing hours may be credited towards the required experience (with a not-so favourable factor of 0.3, but still credited). Do helicopter operators recognize FW experience at all?
The short answer is yes, but indirectly. I'm not aware of any formula or factorising used by my employer in Aberdeen which would affect time to command.
Some pilots do a little (or a lot) of fixed wing flying before undergoing a helicopter CPL course, while others get their CPLs without ever having done any fixed wing time.
As far as I know (which isn't very far) someone wanting a helicopter CPL wouldn't get a large discount from the CAA for flying hours towards licence issue.
Yet many of us came from military backgrounds, where we did hundreds or thousands of f/w hours before converting to helicopters. Those hours are fully accepted as part of our grand totals, but not necessarily deemed relevant towards command.
It seems that after having several thousand hours, command becomes a waiting game lasting years to fill "dead men's shoes" or until the employer wins a big contract necessitating recruitment and promotions.
As has been said, 4 yrs / 3000 hrs to get a command course. Probably little or no "discount" for FW time. In reality the limiting factor is the need for commanders, which depends on winning / losing contracts and to a lesser extent (now we can work to 65) retirements. In our company, provided you meet the minimum standard, it is based on seniority, not ability.