‘HC1’ is the eight-student intake of student pilots taking Helicentre Aviation’s first integrated helicopter training course – and it’s just coming to the end.
“The eight integrated CPL(H) students are nearing the end of their pilot training course and getting ready to sit their commercial skill tests,” saids a statement from Helicentre. “[It’s] a significant milestone both for the company and for each of these future helicopter pilots who aspire to fly in a variety of industry sectors.”
Helicentre believes HC1 is the first rotary integrated course to be offered in the UK for over 10 years. It has taken the ab-initio students right through to a commercial helicopter licence in just over a year.
Rory Auskerry, who self-funded his place on the course, said, “I think overall the integrated route is a fantastic option for people wanting to get themselves through the exams and flight training requirements quickly and efficiently.
“It enabled me to get from virtually no helicopter experience to CPL test ready in a relatively short space of time, and for a fixed cost which is less than what it would have been had I gone down the modular route.”
The usual route for helicopter pilots is to gain their by gaining their Private Pilot Licence then build hours before embarking on a modular commercial course.
Helicentre says the integrated method consolidates the process and provides more focus throughout the training taking pilots straight to a professional licence without obtaining a PPL(H) first. It has been a common way of achieving success in a short time frame in the fixed-wing world but for the last decade, there hasn’t been a rotary integrated option in the UK.
Helicentre Aviation gained CAA approval to deliver the course in 2019. Then, after securing an industry partnership with Bristow Helicopters, the course also included four sponsored cadet places alongside an equal number of self-funded positions.
Bristow Helicopters, one of the largest global helicopter operators and specialists in the North Sea oil and gas sector, have continued to work closely with Helicentre throughout the programme.
“Working in a class of students with similar interests and goals was really beneficial as we could discuss and help one another in various areas of training,” said Bristow cadet Ross McConnell.
Rory Auskerry added, “The integrated CPL (H) course was perfect for me as I was able to throw myself into the flying and exam study as if it were a full-time job. It meant getting through the course in the shortest time possible, with the greatest chance of success. I managed to pass all 14 ATPL (H) IR exams on my first attempt with an average score of 91% so I’m absolutely delighted.”
The students sat their first four exams in January 2020 marking the completion of module 1. They then spent three weeks flying for five days a week in Helicentre’s fleet of Cabri G2 helicopters.
Limited places still remain on HC2 which will begin in January 2021. It’ll be taught in Helicentre’s brand new Covid-secure classroom by the same instructors who’ve successfully guided the class of HC1 through their exams.
Rory Auskerry said, “The whole team at Helicentre Aviation worked very hard to make sure we were able to continue with the course despite Covid-19, and I think to have achieved what we have in 14 months is very good going. I’m very grateful to all the instructors and ground staff who have kept the show on the road despite some very challenging circumstances.”
Ross McConnell, who will be going on to complete an instrument and type rating before moving to Aberdeen to fly for Bristow on the North Sea said, “Once I pass my skills test I’m looking forward to flying larger and more complex helicopter types and getting onto the instrument rating. It’s going to be hard work but very necessary for my future career flying for Bristow.
“I’m excited about the chance to log lots of flight time and gain as much experience as possible in either the S92 or AW189 helicopters. Flying in the North Sea in challenging weather conditions, landing on rigs and meeting new people in Bristow is a very exciting prospect. I’m very fortunate to be in this position and very excited about what the future holds.”
Rory Auskerry plans to build hours on the Cabri G2 and complete an R44 type rating at Helicentre before adding a flight instructor rating to his licence in the spring.
“I am very fortunate that my childhood dream of becoming a helicopter pilot is rapidly becoming a reality, and I am extremely excited about the future,” said Rory.
“There are so many different flying opportunities out there for helicopter pilots and I think the training I’ve received from Helicentre has put me in a great position to compete in the jobs market.”
The application form for HC2 is available to complete online and closes shortly. The course is scheduled to start on 25 January 2021 with an induction day and foundation training to take place earlier in the month. Helicentre also runs regular careers days – more info here.