Choosing a flight school

A place to have your say and ask your questions on anything in the Helicopter learning environment.
FlyingSparks
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Choosing a flight school

Postby FlyingSparks » Mon Dec 3 2018, 09:15

Hi all, I'm a new member, looking to start my journey to become a helicopter pilot. I am just looking for some advice on what to look for to ensure I pick the right flight school. I am thinking price will be fairly similar wherever in the country I choose to learn and I have the option to learn anywhere as I am not tied down to any one location yet. I am just not sure how to gauge the quality of the training or what things I should be looking for to choose one school over another. Any information or tips you could provide would be great. Thanks
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Little Bird
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby Little Bird » Mon Dec 3 2018, 16:44

Visit schools in your area or where you want to base yourself. Talk with the instructors and go for a TIF. Get a feeling for the place, the instructors, their style, the “vibe”. Does it work for you? If so, that’s the place you should train. You’re going to spend a lot of time in the cockpit with these people and spend a lot of money. Train with a company where you feel comfortable.
Training has to be completed per the syllabus and to a standard. Where you train isn’t really important in the long run, but what you get out of it and how you can relate and learn from the instructors is more important. IMHO.
Of course consider overall price. Also, consider post-training employment. Does the company have any feeder companies where new pilots can end up?
Good luck.
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iPilot
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby iPilot » Mon Dec 3 2018, 20:38

Don't forget as well that you're not just a student, you're a customer of the school, who's about to hand over the better part of 75K to them. If you're not happy with something then speak up about it.

I've heard too many student stories about how they were so unsatisfied with their instructor or school and they just "stuck it out." Those students ended up spending a lot more money and taking a lot longer to get their license.

Work hard, study and get after it!

Good luck!
NZHelo
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby NZHelo » Tue Dec 4 2018, 06:53

Save yourself and go to the airlines..... pop;
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FerrariFlyer
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby FerrariFlyer » Tue Dec 4 2018, 10:20

NZHelo wrote:Save yourself and go to the airlines..... pop;


It’s kind of hard to argue against that logic. Smart money would go down the airline route.
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iPilot
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby iPilot » Tue Dec 4 2018, 10:41

FerrariFlyer wrote:
NZHelo wrote:Save yourself and go to the airlines..... pop;


It’s kind of hard to argue against that logic. Smart money would go down the airline route.


I agree, that's the path i'm looking at now.
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby Niko » Wed Dec 5 2018, 02:23

What is the path you boys are thinking of taking? I have flirted with the idea of doing both too, even with a few thousand rotary hours the minimums to gaining your CPL(A) in Australia are quite high. Going off this exemption https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L01659 PIC Hour element drops to 60 with everything else unchanged.
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby flyhuey » Wed Dec 5 2018, 08:37

FlyingSparks wrote:
I am just looking for some advice on what to look for to ensure I pick the right flight school.

Picking a "right flight school" is the easy part. Most any will be glad to take your money.

The secret is finding the right Flying Instructor and, as you are paying, you should know how well qualified the Flying Instructor is. The more well-rounded his/her overall Flying Experience is, the more he/she will have to teach.

Find someone who has just earned his Commercial Pilot Licence with the intention of building his/her flying hours at someone else's expense thinking he/she will become a Flying Instructor, at the first opportunity, then what does he or she really have to teach you? Blind leading the blind. And, there are plenty of those Flying Instructors out there around the world. As soon as they have built enough flying hours for their next flying job they deem as an improvement in wages, working conditions, aircraft, or proximity to home, they will be gone, like a shot.

So, the next question you might ask yourself is what do you want to achieve, as a helicopter Pilot? Are you doing it to prove yourself to the ADF? Are you doing it to become a Search and Rescue Pilot? Do you want to fly for the Police? What long-term goal have you set for yourself? You might consider getting a Private Pilot Licence in an aeroplane, then convert to helicopters, to save a bit of time and money.

As you are not tied down to anyplace, and unless you are a lottery winner or received a compo payout or inherited a ton of money, consider going to the USA to learn to fly. It will cost you half of what it does, learning to fly, in Australia.

Just document everything, get training records, signed and certified, get your Pilot Logbook(s) signed and certified by your Instructors, et cetera. The more information/documentation you provide to C.A.S.A., the more detailed your logbooks are, the easier it will be to convert to a C.A.S.A issued Pilot Licence.

Even, in the USA, if that is where you end up, seek out the most experienced flying instructor, with the most diverse flying back ground you can find. What you will learn during your training and early part of your career will keep you out of trouble and may save your life, when it is a bad day at Black Rock.

Study, study, study, fly as often as you can, at very least a couple or few times per week, during training, play by the rules, do whatever it takes to protect your Pilot Licence, once you have earned it.

Good luck.
Last edited by flyhuey on Wed Dec 5 2018, 14:33, edited 5 times in total.
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iPilot
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby iPilot » Wed Dec 5 2018, 08:41

Niko wrote:What is the path you boys are thinking of taking? I have flirted with the idea of doing both too, even with a few thousand rotary hours the minimums to gaining your CPL(A) in Australia are quite high. Going off this exemption https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L01659 PIC Hour element drops to 60 with everything else unchanged.


Currently, the path is looking like VET fee assistance through an approved fixed wing school and getting a MECIR fixed wing to progress into airlines over the next 4 to 5 years.

It's cheaper than trying to get my rotary MECIR and then trying to find a job in the rotary world.
Mick Cullen
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby Mick Cullen » Wed Dec 5 2018, 11:09

1. What is the school philosophy?
- Does their approach to training suit you and where you want to go?
- Is the culture supportive and encouraging? Are the instructors ‘in the trenches’ with you each
day of your course or off in an ivory tower?

2. What are their training costs? Are you comparing ‘apples to apples’ or are there hidden costs?
- aircraft hire cost
- instructor
- fuel
- pre/post flight briefings
- ground school
- books and equipment
- licence and flight test fees
- uniforms
- accommodation
- transport
- living costs
- landing fees
- add-on endorsements post licence

3. Are you required to pay in advance large amounts or do you pay as you go?

4. What real industry and flying experience do the instructors have?
- Are you paying for them to build hours or can they bring real world experience to your
training?

5. How long has the school been in business?
- Do they have a solid track record and are well known in the industry?

6. What engineering and maintenance support does the company have?
- Do they employ their own engineers or is it outsourced?
- Can small maintenance concerns be rectified on the spot?
- Do you have access to aircraft maintainers during your training so you can get a greater
understanding of the aircraft systems?

7. Does the company have industry links and provide employment on graduation?
- Getting that first opportunity after your training can be the hardest as you have limited
experience. A school with good industry connections may hear about new openings via word
of mouth.
- Just be cautious if a selling point of the school is that they are sister companies with an
employer and that they only hire from that school. There might be 30 pilots trained at the
school for each one person hired internally. Get the job offer in writing or it is not worth
anything other than ‘hope’.

8. How long does it take to complete the course?
- This is not the promotional brochure stated time but the actual time of recent full time
students.
- Instructor/aircraft/student ratios can make a big difference to how many flights you get each
week and hence how long the course takes.
- How does their scheduling look and how far in advance can you book your flights?
- Is the average weather for the area conducive to flying? Will you lose many days to bad
weather?

9. What do recent students say?
- Ask for contact details for recent students so you can speak to them and get a feel for the
company and its recent performance.
- Ex-students will be happy to talk about their experiences with others looking to follow in their
footsteps.
- Look online and see what reviews they have and how active they are on social media.

10. How does the airfield location lend itself to helicopter training?
- How far away is the training area?
- Are there delays due to high traffic numbers?
- Do air traffic control delays and requirements decrease the amount of effective training time
per flight?

11. What study and recreational facilities does the school provide?

12. What accreditations does the school hold?
Some schools will have undergone accreditation and auditing in order to meet international
standards (CRICOS) which involves regular external audits.

13. What insurance cover does the school hold?
14. Does the school hold in-house theory courses or will you need to do this elsewhere?
15. Does the school provide more advanced endorsements? – low flying, turbine, hook, night
16. How much commercial charter work does the flight school also handle? Does flying training take
a back seat to these flights?

And a new one :-) - do they have a virtual reality flight simulator? Although I'd recommend every student go get their own one of these given the training realism vs actual flight time cost.
FlyingSparks
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby FlyingSparks » Fri Dec 7 2018, 04:06

Wow, thanks all, that's given me a lot to think about. I've been to visit a couple of schools where I am now and will be visiting a few more probably in the new year now and I'll have a much better idea of what to look for. Cost wise USA may be a good choice but it's not for me, I'm going to stay in Australia. Thanks for all the advice.
HeliSport
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby HeliSport » Fri Dec 7 2018, 10:28

PM Sent to you FlyingSparks.


FlyingSparks wrote:Wow, thanks all, that's given me a lot to think about. I've been to visit a couple of schools where I am now and will be visiting a few more probably in the new year now and I'll have a much better idea of what to look for. Cost wise USA may be a good choice but it's not for me, I'm going to stay in Australia. Thanks for all the advice.
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havick
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby havick » Fri Dec 7 2018, 21:26

iPilot wrote:
FerrariFlyer wrote:
NZHelo wrote:Save yourself and go to the airlines..... pop;


It’s kind of hard to argue against that logic. Smart money would go down the airline route.


I agree, that's the path i'm looking at now.


I can point you in the right direction if you're interested in flying jets in the USA.
"You'll have to speak up, I'm wearing a towel."
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iPilot
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Re: Choosing a flight school

Postby iPilot » Sat Dec 8 2018, 18:46

havick wrote:
iPilot wrote:
FerrariFlyer wrote:
It’s kind of hard to argue against that logic. Smart money would go down the airline route.


I agree, that's the path i'm looking at now.


I can point you in the right direction if you're interested in flying jets in the USA.


Thanks H, kind of stuck here in Aust with a new bub on the way and the wife in a much better paying, secure job where we are!

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