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Military Helicopter pilot conversions to CPL MEIR (ATPL)

Details on gaining a CPL (H) or ATPL (H) can be found here.


Difference between a CPL MEIR and a ATPL is explained here.


There are plenty of ways to achieve your licence but we have set out below what I believe is the easiest and most cost effective route. Due to Brexit and the UK leaving EASA, these credits are only available for UK CAA licences.


PPL - You require a PPL before starting the ATPL (A) exams. You can use the EFT course towards the PPL as per CAP2254. A service flying club will be able to help you with this. You will need to pass the 9 PPL exams and fly a skills test. All fairly simple and should only take a few days.

Details of service flying clubs with reduced flying rates can be found here.

Medical - For a CPL (ATPL) you need a CLASS 1 medical. It is best to do this after your exams, unless you think you might encounter problems, in which case check you can pass your medical first before investing. Initial medical must be done by a CAA approved centre and there can be a long wait.

Exams - Now it's time to start ATPL groundschool. 14 exams in various subjects. You have 18 months from the first sitting to the last sitting to complete the exams. You have 6 sittings in total and can take any 1 exam up to 4 times before having to start again. We recommend Bristol Ground School, Path2Pilot and Skyborne, who you can use a ELCAS credit with. They supply the books, exam materials and online material. As a military helicopter pilot you are required to complete the course, along with the exams. The best way is to use their courseware, crammer sessions and 14000 actual questions. Break this down into 3 or 4 exam sittings and it's easily manageable. BGS run a mix of online self-study and crammer sessions. Path2Pilot are a good option for pilots based in Scotland and want to attend their crammer sessions near Edinburgh. Skyborne offer a 100% online course with weekly online lessons, a useful option if you're posted overseas. 

With the recent change to ATPL theory exams post Brexit (UK CAA / EASA / Both), we recommend you speak to us regarding your options before booking any ATPL theory courses. Use the contact form at the bottom of this page, we can then explain your options.

Once you've passed the exams you need a few more bits, a Multi-engine rating, CPL skills test and an Instrument Rating. You also need a Class 1 medical and a MCC certificate.


MEP - My advice here is simple, use a school with a modern training aircraft like the DA-42. It doesn't have cowl flaps, carb heating, mixture control, rpm settings, 6 levers, turbo charger boost limits. It just has 2 power levers (1 for each engine), forward for fast and backwards for slow, the computer does the rest. Passing your MEP/CPL/IR is all that matters, especially if you're going onto the airlines. These aircraft also have full glass cockpits with GPS, this makes it all so much easier and helps with the transition to the airlines. Use another ELCAS amount for this. Course is a minimum of 6hrs of which 3:30hrs must be flown as asymmetric instruction.

Military RW pilot to CPL+IR (A) - UKFlying have secured 30 (SERP grad) / 100hrs QMP(H) PIC towards the CPL and we have managed to get all Firefly and Tutor hours recognised after the issue of a PPL. You are credited 30hrs PIC if you have completed SERP and 100hrs PIC if you are a QMP(H) towards the CPL(A) 200hr requirement. We are still working hard to gain further credits against the total hours requirement but making limited progress on this issue (Oct 2020). You will need 150hrs FW (incl 70hrs PIC on aeroplanes for the MEP course which isn't covered by the credits above), a PPL (A) all before starting a MEP CPL course and you will need 200hrs total before the licence is issued. You have the same requirements as a new civilian student and must have completed a 300nm x-country route with 2 stops, night rating, 20hrs PIC x-country etc. You can use your EFT course to gain your PPL (A) using CAP2254 military credits. Military flying clubs are the cheapest way to hours build with both Boscombe and Benson offering aircraft for £100 per airborne flight hour. Another good option is take a few weeks off and go flying around the US. Once you factor in flights and accommodation it works out the same price as flying in the UK, but the better weather means you'll gain the hours quicker and it's a great experience. We recommend Pilots Paradise and American Aviation Academy


Guidance from the CAA on hours building using military aircraft can be found here.

Our advice is to get in touch as the best route for each military rotary pilot differs depending on experience. We can then advise on the best options based on your experience and circumstances. It sometimes works out best to use 3 different companies (using ELCAS), 1 for the CPL, 1 for the MEP and 1 for the MEIR. Use the contact form below for more details. 

The following companies run UKFlying military designed courses. These courses use all available CAA military credits and are designed to be as efficient as possible. UKFlying is a free to use service for military pilots. We'll ensure that you get the right course based on your military experience at the lowest price. You'll be linked to a Dropbox account with all of the pre-course reading material, including exam guides, DA-42 tech and examiners favourite test questions! This will make the conversion process much easier and reduces the time you need to be away from work. By booking through UKFlying you're enabling us to maintain the lowest course rates for military pilots.

CPL MEIR providers

07 Aug 22 - Update. Due to the recent increase in fuel and operating costs the prices below are no longer correct. We have asked the schools to provide updated prices and will add these once we have them. We work with 6 flying schools depending on what course is required, contact us to discuss your options and costs.

CPL + MEIR - Skyborne (Gloucester) - Skyborne operate DA-42s from modern facilities with good sims. They are one of the best options for military conversions. The cost is £28000 for the MEP, CPL and IR and they have a DA-42 sim. The prices includes all fees other than the 2 CAA examiner fees which are currently £827 each. You can use SLC and IRTC against this course along with ELCAS. Use the contact form below for more details.

CPL + MEIR - ACS (Perth, Scotland) - ACS have modern DA-42 aircraft at their Perth airfield. They are a great option for pilots based in Scotland or at the Northern bases. They are ELCAS registered and keen to assist military pilots. Their rotary conversion course is £29344, which includes all fees. Use the contact form below for more details.

CPL + MEIR - Booker Aviation (Wycombe Air Park) - Booker have limited availability to assist military pilots and their courses are not fixed price and they don't have ELCAS approval. Quote on request as they have various methods of assisting with your training. Use the contact form below for more details.

WARNING - The civil aviation industry is currently fragile with companies opening and closing on a frequent basis. Protect your investment by using a credit card where possible, only pay the minimum deposit until you start the course, or use a ELC to secure a course slot.

Other routes to CPL MEIR

CPL IR(H) or (ATPL(H)) to CPL (A): Skyborne now have an approved course for a CPL IR / ATPL (H) to CPL MEIR (A) which can be used by military RW pilots. There are catches, you need a CPL IR / ATPL (H) first, then you must pass 5 ATPL (A) theory exams, have 169hrs total fixed wing (as a QSP(H) you are credited 100hrs) before starting the 36hr CPL, MEP, IR course. The complete conversion course is discounted to £14,995 and covers all costs towards the MEP, CPL and IR including landings, approaches etc. The CAA test fees for the two test are not included and they cost approx £1500 for each test with aircraft hire. 

RW pilot but completed BFJT: If you completed BFJT and gained your wings on the Tucano (or equivalent) then you are credited the CPL course. This massively reduces the course length and cost. The regulations here are a little more tricky and it you want to use an ELCAS credit the training will need to be split across 2 training schools. This is now becoming a fairly common route and seems to be working well with split training. Contact UKFlying for more information.

RW Pilot but also a EFT / UAS QFI: UKFlying have succeeded on getting recognition for QFIs from a rotary back ground in the newly published CAP2254. If you have an IRT, then you are credited the CPL and IR courses and are only required to pass the tests, but in SE aircraft. Once you have a CPL and SE IR, you can complete a 5hr course converting this to a MEIR. Use the contact form below for more information.

My final warning: The information for helicopter conversions to CPL (A) is complex and not understood by the majority of the training schools. It has only been through speaking to the schools and checking their facts with the CAA that I have been able to provide the advice above. If a school offers you reduced training make sure that if your licence isn't approved by the CAA that the school is liable for the extra training required and not you, as more training and tests will be very expensive.

Other Courses

APS MCC / MCC - Required for airline work, use your final ELCAS credit for this course. No flying, just ground school and sim training on CRM aspects on how large aircraft operate. CRM Aviation have a good reputation of helping military guys with the MCC and are ELCAS approved. Skyborne offer both the MCC and the APS MCC on a new B737-MAX sim at Gloucester. 

UPRTThere will a requirement to complete an Advanced UPRT-Aeroplane course before starting an initial multi-crew Type Rating (Airliner) for all TRs that start on or after 20th Dec 19. There is currently no military waiver against this requirement.

After researching UPRT-Aeroplane providers we believe CRM Aviation is the best option for military pilots. They have been providing the course since 2013, the instructors are either ex-CFS military or airline pilots with significant aerobatic experience. More details can be found here: UPRT

After spending the time and money on all of the items above you want to make sure you get a job as quickly as possible. You will need to create a professional CV and you need to be prepared for the airline or job selection process. It really is worth spending a few extra pounds getting this right as you might only get one shot with a major UK airline.


I strongly recommend you get in touch with Andrew at flightdeckwingman who is ex-Navy and now works for BA. Further details on flightdeckwingman can be found here, 

You can practice the airline simulator profiles before an airline simulator assessment. Skyborne have a new B737-MAX simulator you can hire with an instructor to practice the profiles in a multi-pilot CRM cockpit.

If you want more details, quotes or advice on any of the courses or companies above, then please use the contact form below.

Get In Touch

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