If you are serious about becoming a professional helicopter pilot, you will need to accumulate a minimum of 155 hours of flight time and pass your theoretical knowledge exams before commencing your CPL modular flying training.
This is a 30 hour course usually completed intensively over a period of 3 – 4 weeks. Choosing an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) is an important decision and it is vital that you pick the best ATO for your requirements and to give you the best chances for future employment. This page gives a few tips and pointers for potential CPL candidates in what to look for and some of the pitfalls involved.
As an intensive course, it is quite likely that you will need to stay near your ATO. This means that you need to take account of accommodation / living expenses whilst you are on the course. It is quite common for candidates to travel abroad as the basic flying rates often appear to be cheaper. Don’t be fooled, you need to be aware of all the add-on costs such as local taxes & required insurances, fuel surcharges, airfield fees and cost of living, not to mention the cost of converting any qualification into EASA compliant licences.
A CPL course will cost from around £10,000 depending on the helicopter type you choose. To minimise cost, most people will choose the R22 as it is the cheapest. The course should be generally be completed on a single type. It is unlikely that you will ever do any commercial work on a two seat helicopter, so consider when you want to do a type rating on a larger helicopter. It can be useful to get a type rating done as part of your hour building however you don’t know which type you might be flying as a newly qualified CPL, so it may be wiser to wait until you can see an opportunity.
Your choice of school should be solely based on where you believe that you will get the best quality training for your budget. Do not fall for promises of future employment or “guaranteed” future discounts/savings. If schools are making the same promises to everyone, they cannot possibly deliver to all candidates. Once you have spent your money getting qualified, you will find that you become a lower priority to that outfit.
Look at the fleet, are the helicopters well looked after?
Look for a school that is, above all, honest with you about the costs and your prospects in industry.