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ME IR(H) training provider recommendations UK

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ME IR(H) training provider recommendations UK

Old 21st Jan 2021, 10:30
  #1 (permalink)  
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ME IR(H) training provider recommendations UK

Hi folks - I'm looking for a training provider for the ME (IR) and ME type rating in the UK (spring/summer this year). Can anyone share advice/recommendations regarding UK based training providers, specifically, would any in particular have better chances of offering a co-pilot position compared with others for someone who has just obtained an IR with no experience? I'm aware from speaking to people in the industry that it is indeed possible, as there are newly qualified IR holders who have recently succeeded in getting co-pilot positions.

I've already obtained costs from Starspeed, Sloane, Helicopter Services and Babcock so I'm aware of the differences in terms of costs but have no idea which would give better chances of finding work, or which have better facilities, etc. Location is not an issue.

Thanks!
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Old 21st Jan 2021, 12:35
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Of those you have mentioned and others you will continue to look at, you might want to think about the type of operator they are. If they are predominantly a SP operator then you probably have your answer.
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Old 21st Jan 2021, 21:22
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Originally Posted by Nineteen84 View Post
Hi folks - I'm looking for a training provider for the ME (IR) and ME type rating in the UK (spring/summer this year). Can anyone share advice/recommendations regarding UK based training providers, specifically, would any in particular have better chances of offering a co-pilot position compared with others for someone who has just obtained an IR with no experience? I'm aware from speaking to people in the industry that it is indeed possible, as there are newly qualified IR holders who have recently succeeded in getting co-pilot positions.

I've already obtained costs from Starspeed, Sloane, Helicopter Services and Babcock so I'm aware of the differences in terms of costs but have no idea which would give better chances of finding work, or which have better facilities, etc. Location is not an issue.

Thanks!
Babcock is the only one of the 4 that has substantial multi pilot operations, both in the HEMS/Air Ambulance and offshore sides. I know of quite a few guys who have gone straight from the IR into jobs as co pilots. HEMS isn’t necessarily great for progression though (due low annual hours) to your magic number for ATPL though. The huge advantage of Babcock is their full motion sim matches the aircraft used for the test and you’re effectively getting a job interview the whole time you’re there. You can also of course do the MCC in the same sim. There’s also a lot of read-across and common terminology between the sim (ec135) and the likely multi pilot aircraft (h145). I’ve done training with all of them except Sloanes and all are professional organisations - you really have to find some past customers for their take. You should also consider Castle Air but I personally didn’t like their Fixed Base sims, nor the AW109 as an iFR aircraft for your initial IR (I did do my IR there but mostly due to operating the AW109 in my job)

Last edited by gipsymagpie; 21st Jan 2021 at 21:23. Reason: Number error
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Old 22nd Jan 2021, 07:13
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Just because one operates multi-engine / IFR does not make them a good training outfit....

There are a few questions to be asked before a proper answer can be given:

What is your background?
Do you fulfill all requirements?
Why do you want a MET/IFR?
Are you looking for Single Pilot or Multi Pilot ratings?

It does absolutely nothing if you want to obtain a rating simply for the purpose of being "more employable"...

If you have an offer of employment at hand, thats a different story-but then the type will be more important than the rating...
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Old 22nd Jan 2021, 07:32
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Originally Posted by hueyracer View Post
Just because one operates multi-engine / IFR does not make them a good training outfit....

There are a few questions to be asked before a proper answer can be given:

What is your background?
Do you fulfill all requirements?
Why do you want a MET/IFR?
Are you looking for Single Pilot or Multi Pilot ratings?

It does absolutely nothing if you want to obtain a rating simply for the purpose of being "more employable"...

If you have an offer of employment at hand, thats a different story-but then the type will be more important than the rating...
The original poster has highlighted the path he wants to tred - obtaining a co pilot position with the minimum hours. So to answer your questions for the original poster:

What's his background? CPL on a single piston type with about 200 hrs.
Does he meet minimum requirements? Probably since he has done some research.
Why do you want an MET/IFR? To get a job as a co pilot!
Are you looking for SP or MP? Refer to previous answer - he wants to be a co pilot so MP (although you'll usually get SP as well)

The IR is most definitely a rating which absolutely makes you more employable. Most "big" employers won't even consider you without an IR. There is of course no guarantee so it's a 70k gamble.

And your type rating is not the critical path. You could do your IR with Vantage on the Bell 206 - I know for a fact one recent co pilot was employed in an MET role based on a SET IR from Vantage. The expense to a company of upgrading from single engine IR to multi engine IR is small compared with other costs.
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Old 22nd Jan 2021, 18:14
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Is your hope to stay on your IR type?

Bristow like to get their IR pilots from Castle Air with the AW109 and sim does match the aircraft

Babcock as several have pointed out have EC135 which is a good type to have on your licence, and sim availability.

Helicentre Aviation have also just started an IR school on the AW109.

I don't think any of these will take you straight on after qualification - But they will provide the route to the North Sea if they are employing.
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Old 22nd Jan 2021, 18:35
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Thanks for the replies...all super useful.

The only real factor that determines what type I choose and which IR provider, is which will give me the best chance of getting a co-pilot job and the only two realistic options there are the North Sea or HEMS so I need to position myself well for the operators in these areas.
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Old 22nd Jan 2021, 19:28
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Originally Posted by SpindleBob View Post
Is your hope to stay on your IR type?

Bristow like to get their IR pilots from Castle Air with the AW109 and sim does match the aircraft

Babcock as several have pointed out have EC135 which is a good type to have on your licence, and sim availability.

Helicentre Aviation have also just started an IR school on the AW109.

I don't think any of these will take you straight on after qualification - But they will provide the route to the North Sea if they are employing.
If I were a betting man I think you’ll see Bristow change allegiance shortly.

Babcock have just advertised for a number
of new co pilots.

LZ
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Old 22nd Jan 2021, 19:29
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Might be worth to think if you want a UK IR or an EASA IR...Don't know if all providers can give you the option....

@Spindlebob: I think Bristow has a deal with Helicentre.

I would recommend either Helicopter Services or Castle Air.
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Old 23rd Jan 2021, 19:43
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If you decide on Babcock, IIRC you will end up having less flying time on the aircraft (most probably a 135?) as the simulator is an FFS class, thereby allowing training to be carried out in the sim.
I would personally want as much time in the aircraft itself, as humanly possible.

Think carefully on the single engine IR; it may not cost a lot to convert but should you be lined up against other candidates with an ME IR it could be a serious factor in the decision made by the employer....

I would also—without question—get booked in for the MCC. It’s an extra bit of dosh but in the grand scheme of things it gets you job-ready.

A LOT can be said about being the “right person/right candidate” etc when it comes to getting that first position. But in reality if you turn up to the North Sea with no ME rating and no MCC, why would they employ you over someone who is ready to go? You might be the nicest guy/gal in the world and done lots of charity work and Duke of Edinburgh’s but you’ll be having to slot into the Operators training programme....those MCC’s and ME ratings may be the overriding factor influencing the final decision.

Good luck with it and remember to enjoy! The IR is a fantastic course. IFR flying is different....and that is it.

Ive heard really good things about Starspeed. Good sim, nothing flash and fancy like a level D sim but, PBN equipped and let’s face it - after 10mins you’ll be white-knuckling the cyclic and getting slippery sweaty hands on that thing called a collective....I jest. They are a nice bunch of people and they’ll let you go back to the sim for brush ups once you’re done and getting ready for interview.

Congrats on getting this far, despite what some individuals may say....there ARE jobs out there for low experience Pilots. All you need is a bit of timing....I think that the North Sea will be looking for co-pilots for the next 2 years at least.

BH.
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Old 23rd Jan 2021, 22:17
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Some good advice there, but I'd be wary about focussing too much on getting airborne time.

Real aircraft are expensive, are subject to the weather, subject to slot time constraints at airfields, are sometimes not near the type of approach aid you want and they need fixing. The sim is pretty much guaranteed to work in any weather, can be repositioned, doesnt require you to sit with foggles on and, certainly with respect to the full motion FTD3 at Babcock, handles pretty much like the aircraft (you cannot say that for the fixed base ones, particularly at low speed). It's also got twin GTN750 which are a dream to use (no twiddly knobs). You'll get plenty of real aircraft time following the 40 hrs of sim time. I know where I'd put my money now if I'd not been constrained by the type I was already flying when I did mine. The stability and HMI of the EC135 makes it ideal as a SP IFR machine - the attitude hold is also much cleverer than the A109E or AS355.

But as ever you have got to do your research as you seem to be doing with the quotes you've already got. Keep working at it - good luck.
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Old 26th Jan 2021, 05:32
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Starspeed on there 135, not sure if Pat is still there
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Old 27th Jan 2021, 21:38
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Thanks for the additional replies/advice. I'm leaning towards Babcock in the EC135.
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Old 2nd Feb 2021, 11:28
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Any one of the schools mentioned would provide you with the qualifications to get taken on as a P2 in the north sea. However, I would reccomend Starpeed. I've used them for various bits of training before. They've got some great facilities, a decent simulator, friendly and approachable (and very knowledgable) staff and I would imagine area bit cheaper then Babcock. They also appear to be well connected with the offshore operators.
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Old 2nd Feb 2021, 16:10
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Originally Posted by HU300CBI View Post
They also appear to be well connected with the offshore operators.
Starspeed's new Head of Training is very well connected with the offshore operators. Especially one in particular.
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Old 4th Feb 2021, 15:45
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Very good to know.

I also see that Helicentre say in their AW109 promotional video recently released that they've got an "industry partnership with Bristow'. Does anyone know what this actually means in practice? I'm aware they were responsible for that recent one-off cadet programme but it would be good to know if there's an actual established ongoing route there. They also state on their website "The application window for the Bristow Cadet Programme currently closed, but there is still an opportunity to fly for Bristow by obtaining your CPL(H) with us".
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Old 8th Mar 2021, 06:13
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Change in emphasis in the initial IR

Just to add another facet to this discussion, the CAA has recently agreed a change to how initial helicopter IRs can be conducted.

With increasing automation, the CAA have said that use of autopilot upper modes (eg IAS hold, HDG hold) will be allowed for more of the test profile. In fact the only manual requirements will be the initial climb to altitude and the 3D approach. Whilst purists are going to decry the potential to lose (or never acquire) hand flying skills, let there be no doubt that the IR is still a huge hurdle to cross and hand flying will still feature heavily in the training.

With that in mind, I'd definitely look at which aircraft had the best autopilot! And which training provider had the best simulation of that autopilot. The AW109 and EC135 probably have the most comprehensive suites of AP modes with the EC135 probably just nibbling the AW109 in terms of features (eg better protections, fly-through mode, better heading control (can do >180 turn without reversing turn)). I can't comment on the twin squirrel AP but I suspect it's not as powerful. The mighty Longranger probably doesn't need the AP!

The Helionix AP on H145/H135 would make the IR a doddle (relatively). If you had a big bucket of cash, I'd consider those. But you can dream...
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Old 8th Mar 2021, 07:16
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Very interesting! Thanks for the additional info.

What % of the IR course/test is theory/procedure versus handling skills?
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Old 8th Mar 2021, 07:19
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Well there is some groundschool but a lot of the focus (50hrs!) is flying. Is that what you mean?
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Old 8th Mar 2021, 07:35
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Yea so if you do a lot of preparation on the theory side, go over the procedures in a computer sim, before you step foot in the aircraft does that get you a large part of the way there? Compared to your CPL where you can only do so much prep beforehand and it's not until you get in the aircraft that you can start to make inroads.
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