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 we believe is the easiest and cheapest route.


PPL - You require a PPL before starting the ATPL (A) exams. You can use the EFT course towards the PPL as per CAP804. 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 or Path2Pilot, who you can use an 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. More details here: Path2Pilot or BGS

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 (24 Feb 19). 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 CAP804 military credits. Military flying clubs are the cheapest way to hours build with both Boscombe and Benson offering aircraft for £90 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. Their details are on the UKFlying commercial (Civilian) site with prices. Follow this link for more info: Pilots Paradise , 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.   Contact UKFlying.

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. Deposits are refundable, which is an essential requirement of a UKFlying recommended company. This means that you don't have to worry about your plans changing and being out of pocket. 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

Skyborne Airline Academy - Skyborne have brand new facilities and modern DA-42 aircraft at Gloucester airport. The full helicopter conversion course will cost £22,500 plus the two CAA test fees which are approx £1500 each including aircraft hire. They can also offer the CBMEIR course if you have had previous civilian IF instruction or experience, which will bring the course price down. They hope to be ELCAS registered by Aug 2020. Click here for more information.

ACS (Perth, Scotland) - ACS have modern DA-42 aircraft at their Perth airfield. They are very busy in 2019 and only have limited spaces which will be offered to military pilots local to the airfield. Once they have more availability then the slots will be opened to all military pilots. They are ELCAS registered. Courses prices and more details can be found here.

Booker Aviation (Wycombe Air Park) - Booker are a good option for the SEP CPL and also the CBMEIR. Details on Booker courses can be found here. Booker 

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. Click here for more information.

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.

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. Jet Masterclass are a new company with a new B737 sim at Gatwick airport and they offer the Airline Pilots Standards MCC (APS MCC). It is a more detailed pre-type rating course with the aim of making the type rating easier as the general procedures have already been taught. Jet Masterclass have agreed to offer reduced cost courses to military pilots and they also have links to major UK airlines. Slightly more expensive than the standard MCC, but money well spent if it secures you a job. They can also use any multi-pilot helicopter time to reduce the course.

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, but a military credit request is in with 22Gp and the CAA for all military pilots. We hope to have an answer soon (Jan - Feb 2020).

After researching UPRT-Aeroplane providers we believe CRM Aviation, ELCAS registered, 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 also practice the airline simulator profiles, usually conducted in B747, B737 or A320 sims. Practicing the profile first and being taught how the companies expect you to fly the aircraft as multi-crew can be very beneficial. We currently recommend Flight Simulators Midlands for B747, B737 and A320 airline sim profiles. We have had great feedback from military pilots who have used FSM and they offer very competitive prices. View their details here: Flight Simulators Midlands.