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Military Helicopter pilot conversions to CPL MEIR (ATPL) (Aeroplane)

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 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) theory 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.

CAA Class 1 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. Initial medical must be done by a CAA approved centre and there can be a long wait. CAA Medical Centres

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. Their course is run by mainly ex-RAF instructors and they offer a discount via UKFlying.

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, A-UPRT and a MCC certificate.

 

Multi Engine Piston (MEP) - Our 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 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. Use another ELCAS amount for this. Course is a minimum of 6hrs of which 3:30hrs must be flown as asymmetric instruction, before taking the MEP test. 

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 for this.

 

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. 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

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 £37450 (Jun 2023 price) for the MEP, CPL and IR and they have a DA-42 sim. The prices includes all fees including the 2 CAA exam fees of £850. 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 £TBC for 2023 and they have extremely limited availability for the remainder of the year. Use the contact form below for more details.

CPL + MEIR - Aeros (Various) - Aeros have availability to assist military pilots and their courses are ELCAS approved. £38,250 (2023 price), plus 2 CAA exam fees which are currently £850 per test. 

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 25.426 (2023 price) and covers all costs towards the MEP, CPL and IR including landings, approaches, CAA test fees etc. 

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.

Our final warning: The information for helicopter conversions to CPL IR (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 we 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

Airline Pilots Standard Multi-Crew Co-operation Course (APS MCC) / (MCC) - Required before starting your first multi-pilot type ratings (airline, business jets, etc). The course is a mix of ground school and simulator time, learning how to operate large aircraft as a crew. We recommend choosing a provider with modern A320 or B737 simulators as this will assist with airline assessment and make the training more realistic. We work with multiple operators in this area, many who provide a discount for military personnel via UKFlying. If you fly a military Multi-pilot aircraft then you are credited the MCC course, but may require the APS MCC to apply to certain airlines.

Which course do you require?

MCC is 2-weeks long, APS MCC is normally 3-weeks long and both are best completed in a B737 or A320 sim. The APS MCC has an extra 20hrs of sim training over the MCC, and is therefore more expensive. 


One of the reasons for the APS is due to many cadets failing initial Type Ratings due to a lack of familiarity with Multi-Pilot (MP) operations. The extra week of training on the APS helps with this, but it passes the training cost onto the student. 


Regulations state you only need a MCC and we haven’t heard of any military pilots struggle with a Type Rating, but a few major airlines have stated that an APS MCC is required to apply. 


Only the MCC is credited for military ME and Rotary MP types, no APS credit. 


Depending on what job you want to go to, you will have to choose between the courses, or pick a company that can upgrade your MCC to an APS if later required. Contact UKFlying if you want to discuss your options.

UKFlying recommended APS MCC companies:

 

Jet Masterclass use a modern B737-800 sim at Gatwick airport. Industry leading training with excellent feedback from previous military personnel. APS MCC £7194, MCC £4194. Discounts available via UKFlying.

VA Airline Academy use both  B737 and A320 sims for their APS MCC and MCC courses. They are located at Duxford and Cambridge airport with modern training and briefing facility. APS MCC £6900, MCC £TBC. They offer discount codes for military personnel via UKFlying and are also ELCAS approved.

 

Skyborne offer the APS MCC on a new B737-MAX sim at Gloucester. APS MCC £6000

Advanced - Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (A-UPRT)There is a  requirement to complete an Advanced UPRT-Aeroplane course before starting an initial multi-crew type rating (Airlines, business jets). There is currently no military waiver against this requirement despite years of trying.

UKFlying recommends Ultimate High as the best option for military pilots. The instructors are either ex-CFS military or airline pilots with significant aerobatic experience. Their course is ELCAS approved, can be completed in a single day from Goodwood and uses Slingsby Firefly T67 and Extra 300 aircraft, which are great fun! They also offer a 15% discount via UKFlying for UK military personnel. More details here.

Once you've completed a Type Rating (TR) course for an airline you will get a frozen ATPL, which will unfreeze once you have 1500hrs total with 500hrs on multi-pilot aircraft.

 

If you're a QFI or QPI then you can also use military credits for the issue of a FI. The Flying Instructor rating is a useful and fun addition. You need a few sorties at the discretion of a Head of Training at an ATO to get you to a standard to pass the FI check. It no longer matters what grade of QFI you are, just need to be a QFI (CtoI, B2, B1, A2). More details here.

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.

 

We 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, He offers a military discount via UKFlying, get in contact for more details.

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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