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How to build and log hours effectively towards CPL?

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How to build and log hours effectively towards CPL?

Old 25th Jan 2021, 13:43
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: UK
Posts: 20
Question How to build and log hours effectively towards CPL?

Hi all,

I've not long gained my PPL and I'm just about to start getting on with my hour building in the UK. With covid making things a bit more difficult and not being able to speak to instructors etc face to face much at the moment, I was hoping I could get some useful info on here.

As I mentioned, I'm looking to start racking up my hours now and I am planning to do this on a "pay as i fly" basis - ie, I am not currently in a position to purchase an hour building package. The downside to this I would imagine, is that not being signed up to a flying school "package" means that you don't have the same resources for guidance/mentoring etc as you make your way through the hours. Therefore, first and foremost I really need to understand what the expected "structure" is to hour building and how to log my flights in such a way that it provides ample evidence of demonstrating the experiences required to satisfy CPL issue when the time comes. A few Q's:
  • Are there any resources available that show ideal expectations of types of flights covered during the hour building stages? I am aware of the CAA basic hours requirements for CPL but I would imagine these are not "ideal" to make most effective use of the time. For example, there is only one 300 NM VFR XC required - is this actually the norm or would most hour builders be expected to have logged say, 3 or 4 of these?
  • How do you log your hours? Should I keep some sort of flying diary where I can record details of flights, rather than just the bare minimum log book entries? What should be included in this? Is there an official document for this purpose?
  • Any other unwritten rules about what should be part of the hour building process, or suggestions that would be useful?
In essence, really I am just wanting to make sure that as I go through this process I am proceeding with a structure of some kind whilst ticking off all the requirements, dotting my Is and crossing my Ts - I don't want to be caught out at the end thinking I have completed it all, to be told "ahh you haven't completed X during the process".

Also, I'm based in Scotland and open to new ideas/opportunities for cost-effective hour building rather than just through my flying school. If anyone has any suggestions regarding this they would be most welcome! Wouldn't mind being a glider tug pilot on weekends but not sure how realistic that is!! :P

Thanks all!
thelowflyer is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 14:11
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EGBE
Age: 29
Posts: 53
Hello there,

I believe you are making a bigger deal of it than it is. But don't worry, it's normal.

For example, there is only one 300 NM VFR XC required - is this actually the norm or would most hour builders be expected to have logged say, 3 or 4 of these?
No, that's not expected. You simply need ONE such flight. If you do more than one, that's great, more experience and fun to you but don't feel like anybody expects that.

How do you log your hours? Should I keep some sort of flying diary where I can record details of flights, rather than just the bare minimum log book entries? What should be included in this? Is there an official document for this purpose?
If you are doing your PPL I assume you have a logbook already, don't you? Just keep logging as usual.
You can keep a diary of sorts if you want, but that's really just up to you. It's not a bad idea to comment on your flights, make notes of events or learning points that may help you in your training, but those are for yourself and nobody needs to read those! The logbook is what really matters.

Any other unwritten rules about what should be part of the hour building process, or suggestions that would be useful?
My suggestion is to try and fly to different airfields and as far away as possible. I've seen many time builders just drilling holes in the sky in the immediate vicinity of their base airport, this is boring and pointless in my way (but still legally acceptable to meet the requirements!). Of course, there are other constraints that may keep you from flying long trips away from base: weather is a big one and if you intend to time build in Scotland I assume you won't be able to get very far. There's also the ATO who may not want you to take an aircraft away for several days, or to fly too far away. Within the limitations you are given just try and make each flight different, that's my best advice.

Also keep your general handling skills current. You may want to fly one hour with an instructor every 10 hours solo, for instance, and practice general handling, steep turns, stalls, PFLs, circuits, crosswind landings, short field performance etc.
Finally, don't get too complacent using moving maps (SkyDemon) for planning and navigation because examiners really don't like them. It's archaic but it's the way it is. Use a moving map as a backup and for safety but try and keep your dead reckoning skills sharp.

Last advice: Scotland is a really crappy place for VFR flying due to WX, as I'm sure you'll know. There will be many weeks where you'll hardly log any hours. Explore the possibility of going to the South of Europe (or maybe the USA?) for hours building.
Central Scrutinizer is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 14:39
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Midlands
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As you have a PPL, it does not have to be an instructor that flys with you. If you could find a retired or not very busy professional pilot, it would be useful to take him/her along to set you little navigation exercises or other tasks to make the hour building more interesting. I flew as such with my son when he was learning many years ago and I enjoyed setting the tasks (such as how about we go to xxx for lunch) and I think he liked to have someone else along to share the experience.
Old and Horrified is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 14:53
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EGBE
Age: 29
Posts: 53
Another thing I forgot to mention, in line with "Old and Horrified"'s comment: try to find a time building buddy. You can fly along as co-pilot on his flights and vice-versa. It's not like you can credit any of that time BUT, it's valuable experience, increases safety and also is more fun than doing it all alone. Also this can be another way to fly further away: one pilot flies the out-route, the other the in-route.
Central Scrutinizer is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 15:03
  #5 (permalink)  

Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: White Waltham, Prestwick & Calgary
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Fly slower ....

Seriously, if you lean off properly and go into the graphs you might find you can save a lot of fuel for the loss of a few knots.
paco is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 16:42
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: uk
Age: 71
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Not necessarily an advantage unless he's hiring at a dry rate...

If you would like some challenges, do a flight up to 10000'. Not necessarily difficult but sets a few issues for you to think about.

Try to "go foreign". The laws of aerodynamics are the same everywhere but dealing with the admin of crossing borders and having a strategy for dealing with sea crossings will make you think a bit.

Mix up destinations; if you can stretch to the landing fees, add in a few "big" airports in Class D airspace, also add in some farm strips where aircraft performance might present a challenge.

Maybe do a "type conversion" which involves vp prop / retractable / turbo differences training. I appreciate this isn't solo flying but if you get this stuff squared away at PPL training rates rather than commercial, it might save a bob or two which buys you another hour somewhere.

Above all, have fun!
36050100 is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 17:16
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: UK
Age: 64
Posts: 48
If you have only recently obtained your PPL, then do a night rating, do your IMC, get a complex rating, get a twin rating. There is a lot that can be done as a PPL on your way to a CPL.

Good luck.
golfbananajam is offline  
Old 25th Jan 2021, 19:58
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Wherever I lay my hat
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Just to add to the previous post: the single most important thing is to get your IRR/IMC AND your CBIR.

Do that and you'll save yourself thousands over all.
rudestuff is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2021, 12:56
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 54
During the summer of 2019 I flew approximately 50 hours in Scotland.

You don't mention whether you are a member of a flying school or a club. There isn't any real advantage to purchasing an hours package, aside the discounted rate, as most schools (I speak regarding Scotland) don't have a structured guide book on the do's and don'ts. Speaking to instructors and fellow students should always be free - If you get the feeling you are ignored because you haven't deposited a large sum of money in the school's bank account then that will tell you a lot about them. Downsides to purchasing a block of hours (I did) are the school could go bust, COVID might hinder you using them or you get messed about by the school as they already have your money and their attention is focused on attracting new customers.

Your biggest issue without doubt will be weather. However that does mean you get a chance to sharpen your decision making skills, put a greater emphasis on flight and diversion planning and gain an appreciation of meteorology compared to someone flying in southern Spain. If you are looking for a job with Loganair, they like to see a logbook with Scottish trips.

There is only a requirement to do one CPL XCQ. You may find you inadvertently do more just by undertaking long trips on nice days.

If you are progressing to CPL and IR etc then try using old school planning methods. Paper chart and CRP etc. No skydemon or whatever it's called. I found the slightly younger crowd on the commercial training struggled more with the flight planning compared to myself who did a PPL back in 2008 before apps were a thing and knew only of the manual way to do it.

If your aircraft is equipped with nav aids then it's good to use them to get into practice but not at the expense of flying headings and timed legs. Use them as a confirmation of where you think you are or for random position fixes.

My preference for flying is long nav trips with circuits back at base on return. Every now and again I do a shorter local flight consisting of steep turns, stalls, PFLs etc.

It is good experience and keeps everything exciting if you mix between trips to large commercial airports and small grass strips etc.
Good grass strips are Glenforsa, Insch and Kingsmuir.
Travelling to the western islands are great for the scenery but water crossing appreciation too. Try Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra (added bonus of the beach landing).
Lots of these out lying airfields don't stock AVGAS so that won't necessarily make it a no-go but will require an added attention to planning.

If you can find a buddy to share the flights with you will get the experience for half the cost (you fly there, he/she flies back etc). But it will take twice as many flights to get your hours logged which means you need twice as many good weather flying days...

Below is a list of airfield popular with myself and fellow flyers at my school. Most can be achieved on a full tank on a leaned out PA28.

Once covid allows, I will be recommencing my GA activities in Scotland. Feel free to ask me anything.
Magpie32 is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2021, 08:41
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Hotel this week, hotel next week, home whenever...
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Not necessarily an advantage unless he's hiring at a dry rate...

If you would like some challenges, do a flight up to 10000'. Not necessarily difficult but sets a few issues for you to think about.
One of the worst taught / least understood controls in an aircraft - especially at commercial level. Perf charts are all “with the aircraft appropriately leaned”. A good pilot will always lean to the most efficient setting not only to save fuel but also to get the best performance at that altitude. Not even thinking about going “green”.

I used to make a student take full tanks and then fill on return just to have them check how accurate they were with their planning.
Duchess_Driver is online now  
Old 31st Jan 2021, 17:03
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Europe
Posts: 16
How valuable are PIC hours compared to Dual hours, regarding time building? Obviously PIC hours require much more responsibility since you need to fly solo or with a safety pilot instead.
It may sound weird, but by now (PPL holder with not many hours still), I don't really like flying solo since for security / unexpected reasons, flights are obviously much less safe. Probably its just a matter of time, since fear is not the word I think, but more something confidence-wise I guess.
Aviator172s is offline  
Old 31st Jan 2021, 17:19
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EGBE
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PIC hours are much more valuable than Dual hours.
Most licences and ratings have minimum PIC hours requirements. So watch out for those.

If your problem is flying "alone" in the cockpit, you can still fly either with a friend or with an instructor whom you hire as a safety pilot, however you keep to claim PIC hours provided he's not giving you any "formal" training. Or try and find a friend with whom you can sit on the right-seat on his flights, that way you'll build experience and confidence and it won't cost you anything (other than maybe paying for lunch at the stop-over airfields...)

Central Scrutinizer is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 06:27
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Wherever I lay my hat
Age: 43
Posts: 514
Your target is to have everything done by 200 hours. That means you need 100 PIC (mandatory) and 100 dual.

DUAL means you're learning, so make sure you don't fly any more than 100 PIC: get your IMC/IRR as soon as possible, then CBIR before your CPL test.

This is the cheapest and quickest way to get a CPL/IR

If you want you can get the MEP and MEIR along the way but I wouldn't recommend it right now. The best option at the moment is to get a SE CPL/IR and just sit on it. You can get the rest of it done in 6 weeks once the job market picks up again.
rudestuff is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 09:03
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Europe
Posts: 16
Central Scrutinizer

I guess flying alone is something I must get used to, although by now I reckon is something I don't really enjoy, probably because a lack of confidence... More hours will probably be the solution to this issue
Aviator172s is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 09:08
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Join Date: Apr 2020
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Thanks, that's what I am currently doing, building some PIC hours but still learning (so much more to learn still!) next to a CPL pilot who acts as a safety pilot. My idea was to keep progressing through time building until 200h approx, whilst studying ATPL theory on my own. Both things are very time consuming, specially having a FT job in a different field, which is my case. If I can achieve this in 1-2 years time, hopefully the job market and industry are a bit better than now, and a clearer picture of Covid consequences may be seen? Before Covid-19 many people told me that 200h experience or so was enough to get into a carrier as entry level/FO, but after this crisis I bet this number will be not enough... On top of this I am in my mid 30s, so many uncertainties at the moment, but trying to keep positive...
Aviator172s is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 11:31
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Sit down, have a cup of tea and remember this isn't personal!

There are so many things wrong with your approach and understanding I don't know where to begin, so I'll just go through your statement in order.

PIC Hours - you don't need to be on your own, but you shouldn't have too much guidance either. The whole point is that you build experience making decisions by yourself so having a CPL sat next to you kind of defeats the object. You learn by getting yourself into situations, then getting yourself out again, building confidence. It is Not about your standard of flying improving (It will not!) - generally your flying deteriorates and your decision making/confidence improves. That's why you do the CPL course - it is designed to bring your flying back up to standard. The truth is the CPL test is basically just another PPL test and nothing to worry about if you know the area.

Time building to 200h while studying. You fell for the oldest trick in the book: concentrating on getting the CPL first. Big mistake. BIG mistake financially. I don't know how many hours you have but I strongly advise you to have your ATPLs finished by the 100 hour mark. Even if that means slowing down or stopping flying. If you follow your plan - yes, you'll get a CPL at 200 hours, but then you'll have to pay another £10-15k for an IR. If you get the IR first, it counts as hour building which means it only costs about £2k (you're paying for the plane anyway)

Don't try to second guess what hours you'll need for a job. 200 is the minimum so that should be your target for the licence, after that by all means get extra hours, but don't expect to have any kind of advantage. An airline (generally) only cares about one thing: multi crew time. To them a 200 hour pilot, a 250 hour pilot and a 1000 hour pilot are all basically the same. If anything, having too many hours can be considered detrimental, and believe it or not people have got jobs only after they removed hours from their CV! Sure, there are a few airlines that have advertised for 300 hours, but that's generally to whittle the applications down. Get the license first and worry about finding a job later by networking, but that's another story.

Far more important to the airlines that hire low experience guys is how recently you got your licence. If you're modular, they don't care about your PPL or even CPL: they want to know when you passed your MEIR and MCC (the more recently the better!)

So help yourself - by NOT doing them. Get a SEIR, get a SE CPL and wait until the market is favourable - then get your MEIR and MCC. You'll not only save money, you'll save the ATPL exams. Eventually when you write your CV you can legitimately put down that you got your MEIR last month and your MCC last week. You'll be competing against guys who got theirs 2 years ago and are rusty, they might have even paid to do a second MCC just to get back up to speed.

Getting a job in aviation is like surfing. A lot of waiting for the perfect wave. Mid 30s is certainly not too late, unless you think a 30 year career isn't long enough? The shortage will come, they always do. All you can do is be on the board, facing the right way and ready to paddle.
rudestuff is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 15:23
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EGBE
Age: 29
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Good comments by rudestuff, but some points to mention:
  1. A CPL is definitely NOT "just another PPL test". Please let's stop spreading that myth. The standards are much higher and much more is expected from the candidate in terms not only of flying skills itself but also "professional" handling of the flight and, most importantly, the air law and regulations applicable.
  2. If you are modular and also working part time, be extremely aware of the timings involved. You must complete all the ATPL exams within 18 months. And then once you've passed all the exams, you have 36 months to complete both the CPL and the IR. It sounds like a lot of time, but believe me, in the UK even having full availability you don't normally get to fly much due to the miserable weather. Then add to that aircraft, instructor, flight school, examiner etc. availabilities and you can easily find yourself in a situation where a course that should have taken 6 months is actually taking 18 months... And on top of that, this bloody Covid thing is making "everything" so much more difficult and time consuming in every level. Don't get comfortable thinking you have 3 years to get your licences, do them as fast as you while you can since when something unexpected happens your plans go out the window.
Central Scrutinizer is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 16:34
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Europe
Posts: 16

I don't take it personal, just the opposite, thanks for your views. However, I might have explained badly or at least not accurately enough.

I am pursuing ATPL theory first, whilst building up some hours (150 or so). The order that my ATO has recommended me, which obviously may not be the ideal one, is the following:
PPL (done)
ATPL theory and time building at the same time
Night qualification
IR and MER

I have been told that the last 3 may be done in 3-4 months (feasible?), so what I plan, after achieving all the previous steps which are not easy nor brief, is to revalute how the market is in 1,5-2 years time, and see if it is worthy to go for IR, ME, CPL and MCC. Hope the path is more clear now.

Regarding total hours as PIC or even dual, I don't really understand why more than 200h may be seen as detrimental when applying for a professional job. Although there are many other factors, why would more flying and continous experience in recent years be negative in this case?
Aviator172s is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 17:17
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EGBE
Age: 29
Posts: 53

3-4 months is very optimistic. ATOs tend to always be optimistic rather than conservative with timings and costs involved. (of course they would be optimistic...)
Also, did you tell the ATO you are doing it part time? If so, the amount of time it will take triples.

It took me 18 months to complete the CPL/MEIR. Granted, with Covid in between, let's deduct 6 months. It's still a full year. And that's without the MCC.

The one thing you need to understand is that once you sit your first exam you are commited to finishing them within 18 months. And then you are commited to finishing CPL/IR within 36 months. Don't just "casually" do the ATPL exams and then wait for the market to pick up again before starting the CPL/IR. Don't count on it taking just 3-4 months, but rather a full year.

The CPL course is a VFR course. It's agonising how many days and weeks can go by in a row without being able to go on a single CPL detail. It's not just the VFC minima you need, you'll also need a 3000 ft ceiling to do the general handling bits. You'll come to despise the ever-present British BKN/OVC at 1000-1500 ft!
My CPL skill test got cancelled due to wx eight times (8 !!!).

It gets to a point where it really requires your complete availability and part time will not do it...

Last edited by Central Scrutinizer; 1st Feb 2021 at 17:29.
Central Scrutinizer is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2021, 18:51
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Wherever I lay my hat
Age: 43
Posts: 514

It sounds like you've got a decent plan dialed in in that case. Just remember to consider the CBIR rather than a full IR course. The CBIR tends to use more airplane time and therefore counts as hour building, so you can "write it off" against hour building - essentially you're only paying the extra for the instruction. If you do a traditional IR course you'll spend a lot more time in the SIM which depending on where you go can cost as much as an SEP!
There's nothing wrong with Sims when used correctly, but in reality they rarely are. The fundamentals of IR flying takes around 10 hours - the rest is practicing flying routes and test profiles etc. Most guys at my school were ready for test long before they finished the course, so a lot of time was spent in the SIM just flying around.

Listen to what Central Scrutinizer says: the clock is always ticking. Don't see "if it's worth" going for CPL and IR - You have to get them. Unless you want to do the exams again... The regulations say you have to get the CPL and (your first) IR within 36 months. It doesn't say what kind of IR, so an SEIR will work. As will an SE CPL. It's the cheapest way. The MEIR and MCC can wait, but those two can't.

Because all your flying is single pilot. Airlines fly multi pilot, which involves MCC and all that good stuff. Anecdotally it's been said that the more hours a pilot has as single crew, the harder it is to retrain him/her to fly collaboratively, hence why some airlines prefer guys fresh out of flight school and will overlook 700 hour instructors going for the same job. I know, right?!
rudestuff is offline  

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