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UK helicopter schools (Merged)

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UK helicopter schools (Merged)

Old 26th Feb 2012, 21:25
  #241 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: UK
Age: 66
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There is a sticky thread that goes through the process and where most questions have been asked and answered.

Getting a helicopter licence is not enough to get you work. You either need to have extra ratings (notably an instrument rating-which costs just as much as your licence) or to have lots of experience. With the IR you may be able to get an offshore job as a co-pilot, when there is a space. That sort of flying is pretty different from much of the other stuff. Onshore you need enough experience to be a flight commander, as such flying is almost entirely single pilot, so no co-pilot jobs.

You need to appreciate that aviation and especially helicopter aviation is different. Firstly, many experienced pilots come from the military with a licence and experience and will have first place in the queue (when compared with someone who just has a licence).

Secondly, operators do not think they need to train you. They think you should get yourself trained before you plead with them for employment.

Thirdly, the further you get, the more the training costs.

It is just my view but, the new European regulatory regime will probably kill all of the industry apart from that which HAS to be done by helicopter.
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Old 26th Feb 2012, 21:59
  #242 (permalink)  

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much positive encouragement from the rose-tinted spectacles brigade
Are there any left?

OK .. minina ...

PPL 45 hours @ approx 320 per hour (two-seater piston) plus allow for exam costs, books, equipment (say 500). Very few people do his or her PPL in minimum hours - safe to allow for more like 60-70 hours. Call it 21 grand.

Then hour building to 155 hours at approx 280 per hour. Call it 25 grand

Then ATPL exams ... around 1,800 for the course plus, I think about 70 per exam. Allow for re-sits. Call it 3k

CPL course .... including night qualification ... 35 hours at approx 320 per hour (instructor courses require a higher calibre of instructor) ...12k.

So that's nearly 60k before you can legally earn money. At this point you are still unemployable as a helicopter pilot (hell I should know).

Then you can do one or both of an instructor rating or instrument rating. An instrument will cost at least 42k.

The instructor course requires you to further hour build to 250 hours, then undertake a 30 hours course costing around 12k.

I don't understand why helicopter schools can't give you a) their hoursly cost and b) the legal minimums? The you could do the sums. However, most people do not do their PPL in minimum hours.

Hope that helps.

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Old 27th Feb 2012, 03:28
  #243 (permalink)  
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Dear Stuart,

All the above information is good advice. I started a thread sometime back on the cost of overall training in the Uk, with many people putting their input in.
You are like many people who have sold something, or working two or three jobs to get what they want or think they want to do. The civilian helicopter industry in the uk onshore and offshore is a long and very expensive road to travel. You will have some pilots that have gained their licences and have started to earn a appropriate salary to support the family within 18 months........ exceptionally lucky people, majority of guys I know it has taken them anywhere between 5 to 10 years !
In time you will gain experience, that will make you more maketable to the large companies. I take it you are married with a family, and do not have a job and your wife is going to retrain. Cold hard facts are that you maybe unlucky and are not earning 30.000pounds a year from instruction or commercial work until another 5 years, wifey is then qualified with her new degree, what will be her projected income after she finishes because she may have to support the household.
Another thing that a very good friend of mine tells people and that is, "before starting on this new career path your married partner must understand and be 100% behind you, as that quite a few students have travelled the path and their partners have become very despondent in not understanding your new career, and the large financial burden of sending your family down this road". Helicopter Pilots do have a rather high divorce rate along their career.
Be very aware of training schools saying you can earn 100,000 pounds a year after 5 years. There are very few training captains in the offshore market in the uk that earn that, and they have been at it for the last 20 years. Other option is once qualified tour and work around the world, which will then kick the settled down with family in the nuts.
Saying all of the above seems not a good horse to bet on, but we are not sitting behind a desk all day, we can be free and fly around the skies and realise that you could not do anything else.
I do have friends that are content in the uk industry, those that do not earn huge amounts of money, but their partners have well paying jobs so the family and household is financially secure, with no divorce solicitors insight

All the best

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Old 27th Feb 2012, 15:32
  #244 (permalink)  
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Hi Stuart
Going into the helicopter industry in the current climate would be brave for a family man, particularly one whose whife is looking to study for 4 years. Apart from a min of 70,000 you will have to fund for training costs, you will have to be geographically mobile to secure a job. If you are going to be prepared to move to the far end of the country at 2 or 3 weeks' notice, then you might have a chance of securing a first job once you have the necessary qualifications.

As regards where to train, I would recommend that you continue to work and do your PPL locally. Go and see several flying schools and have a trial lesson with each, see what you like but UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES be tempted to secure a cheaper hourly rate but putting a slug of money in their bank accounts upfront. Companies who are keen to quote much cheaper future rates to get cash flow may just be the one's who close the doors a few weeks later, once your cash has disappeared.

Find a school who have several instructors and several helicopters, so that your training isn't interupted when maintenance / availability is compromised. Above all find an instructor you like and feel comfortable with.

Very best of luck but don't expect to be easy.

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Old 29th Apr 2012, 12:13
  #245 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: UK
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Question UK Flight School List

Hi Forum

I am looking to compile a definitive list of all the helicopter flight schools in the UK.

Could you point me to any websites that could help me with this please, or indeed add their names, county and country to this thread please.

Thanks for any help

Last edited by initalcontact; 29th Apr 2012 at 12:13. Reason: Font style
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Old 29th Apr 2012, 12:28
  #246 (permalink)  
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The CAA already produce a list of 'Organisations Conducting CAA and JAR-FCL Approved Courses of Flight and Ground Training':

Standards Document 31 Version 106: Organisations Conducting CAA and JAR-FCL Approved Courses of Flight and Ground Training - Interim Document | Publications | About the CAA

For rotary providers, you will need Part 1 & Part 4. This document, however, does not include those organisations that only provide PPL(H) training.
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Old 29th Apr 2012, 12:34
  #247 (permalink)  
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East Coast.

Virage Helicopter Academy

Very friendly, dynamic. Recommended by... me
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Old 29th Apr 2012, 14:03
  #248 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Thank you Bravo73

There are quite a few flight schools only offering the PPL though isn't there?

Any suggestions where I might find those?
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Old 29th Apr 2012, 14:23
  #249 (permalink)  
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Not sure about UK CAA, but another Authority website I looked at, had separate lists for FTO and Registered Facilities (RF).

Why not just get in touch with few of the nearby schools, if you want to start training?
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Old 29th Apr 2012, 14:43
  #250 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by initalcontact View Post
Any suggestions where I might find those?

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Old 29th Apr 2012, 18:32
  #251 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Thanks for the advice, never thought of that

Lots of schools that offer PPL(H) don't appear on the front pages of Google, hence asking the question if people knew of a website that might have this as a reference

A good example being Virage Helicopter Academy, can't find them on a simple Google search

Any other helpful advice welcome
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Old 30th Apr 2012, 08:55
  #252 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2010
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If you are looking for schools in the South East, try Polar Helicopters at Manston in Kent. Small, professional and friendly they offer PPL (H) through to CPL (H). They would be able to give you advice as to the best way forward for you. (They did for me!) www.polarhelicopters.co.uk
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Old 30th Apr 2012, 15:09
  #253 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: UK
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Initial Contact.

I think what you are looking for may be....


Although Virage Helicopter Academy are not listed there yet (set up approx 6 months ago following the demise of Sterling).


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Old 1st May 2012, 09:21
  #254 (permalink)  
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PPL Training

There are a quite a few helicopter flying schools around the South East. At one end of the spectrum, there is the "one man band" RF operating on a shoestring from unlicenced fields (often out of the canteen) with only one helicopter. At the other end there is the established professionally structured Flying Training Organisation with a larger fleet and an established track record operating from fully air traffic controlled airports. Where you feel comfortable will depend on your personality and ambitions.

Go and fly with several different organisations and see what suits you but remember cheapest is rarely best value in the long run. Saving a fiver or tenner per hour may seem attractive but consider if you are getting best training value in the long run. Never lose sight of the fact that the one man band can easily close down or disappear with customers' money.

Training in an informal environment may be more relaxed on the radio but can be a bit chaotic in the circuit at busy fields. It will not prepare you for going to grown up airports or controlled airspace. On the other hand ATC can sometimes cause short delays and constrict you a bit but you will be a far better disciplined pilot as a result.

My recommendation is go for long established companies with good track records who are only interested in training you and don't promise allsorts of incentives to get you to sign up!
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Old 1st May 2012, 11:16
  #255 (permalink)  
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Also bear in mind the EASA changes coming that will alter the landscape of training providers as the RTF disappears to be replaced by the new legislation.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 13:17
  #256 (permalink)  
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Not sure you are right there, it is normally big schools that have the problem eg Fast, Cabair, Sterling ! Normally the one man band offers very good customer service and these guys are normally very experienced. The big schools tend to use new instructors who are still learning to fly themselves !
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Old 2nd May 2012, 14:40
  #257 (permalink)  

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it is normally big schools that have the problem eg Fast, Cabair, Sterling
In all fairness, Fast and Sterling went bust due to "special" circumstances () and not because they were a big school.


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Old 3rd May 2012, 10:52
  #258 (permalink)  
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Thats fair whiry but when i worked for fast 15 years ago they were teatering then !
You could describe my company as a one man band, but it is a cash rich company that owns outright its machines ( 2 x 300's 1 x 500D), so dont like being tarred with the "same brush"
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Old 3rd May 2012, 11:39
  #259 (permalink)  
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Fair point, although as Whirls implies some "special people" were responsible in your examples. (Special as in hopefully of special interest to the Feds). However I didn't recommend big schools, merely suggested that Professional Schools with proven track records might be a preferred option. You confirm other point though, if you are indeed a cash rich outfit, you don't need to be offering massive incentives to newbies. All I am suggesting is that, particularly in the current climate, customers should be wary of having their money in any flying company's bank account when it it could equally well be in their own.
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Old 4th May 2012, 10:43
  #260 (permalink)  
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Thats fair, but new guys should check the companies out. From my point of view i offer a discount on the rate so i dont have to do so much paperwork !
I now do more paperwork than actually teaching people to fly, which is not why I started
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