Recruitment focus: Helicopter pilot

Over 50% of pilots taking on their first job within Bristow will be starting on their first flying job

In our series focusing on the UK professional pilot recruitment scene, we put the questions to Bristow Helicopter Chief Pilot, Captain Rory Stewart

Can you give us a brief round-up of the type of flying that is available to professional pilots working for Bristow?

Bristow is a leading provider of helicopter transportation services to the global offshore industry. We are located in 20 countries and operate 594 aircraft worldwide. Our main areas of operations are in Europe (Norway, Holland and the UK), West Africa, Australia, the US Gulf of Mexico and South America.

In Europe our pilots are predominantly based in Aberdeen, Scatsta in the Shetland Isles, Norwich and Humberside, Den Helder in Holland and Stavanger in Norway. Bristow’s global fleet consists mainly of heavy type helicopters including the EC225, AS332 and S-92, as well as medium types such as the AW139, S-76 and EC155 models. Coming soon to our fleet is the new EC175.

What are Bristow’s plans for pilot recruitment over the next 12-24 months?

Any recruitment will be based on any increasing operational activity through additional contract awards. The company envisages that any additional requirement in Europe will come from the existing pool of rotary pilots that are available.

Is the employment position at Bristow typical of the helicopter market in general?
Bristow has cautious optimism for the Europe market and has been fortunate to not only extend existing contracts, but also to secure additional contracts.

Have you seen an increase in interest from trainee pilots looking to become professional helicopter pilots?

We receive a great deal of enquiries from ab initio pilots in certain areas of our operations. Europe is fortunate to have an experienced pool of pilots to draw upon when required.
What requirements do you have from applicants, in terms of experience and the types of licence and rating held?

Applicants must have a Commercial Helicopter Licence (CPL) with ATPL Theory and Instrument Rating. A type rating is not essential, as the company is able to convert applicants on to the relevant type.

What percentage of pilots that you hire will be taking on their first flying job?

Over 50% of pilots taking on their first job within Bristow will be starting on their first flying job. A significant number of pilots starting with us have gone through the Bristow Academy training facility in Florida, gaining their commercial licence and then becoming instructors at the facility.

What type of aircraft do you operate?

In Europe, principally Eurocopter EC155 and EC225, Aerospatiale AS332, as well as Sikorsky
S-61, S-76 and S-92. Globally we also operate Agusta Westland AW139, Bell 206 and Bell 412. Bristow is the launch customer for the new EC175.

What is the average salary for a pilot starting with Bristow? How can they expect that to rise with experience?

A year-one First Officer in Europe, with no type experience, starts at approximately £46,000. A Senior First Officer starts at approximately £63,000. We do not currently accept direct-entry Captains.

How long do pilots generally stay with Bristow before moving on?

Over 90% of our pilots have moved through the ranks from Cadets and First Officer – many have in excess of 20 years service. SFOs tend to be the group of staff who move on when the waiting list for a Command vacancy is in excess of 24 months. As we have a flexible and functionally transferable workforce this tends to happen relatively infrequently. Our turnover rate for pilots is less than 2% per annum.


This article first appeared in Flyer in June 2010.