So after returning from Poland, I had my first flight since my CPL ME IR.
For many reasons I have not been able to get in the air since. First the weather was not playing ball, then I had to have surgery which meant that my medical was suspended.
However, after finally getting it back it was time to get flying again!
I booked the Cessna 150 just for a few hours to remove the rust and get currency for the hopefully upcoming better weather.
I took a little bit of time the night before just to go over flying the Cessna again as I had mainly been flying the Tecnam P2008 and P2006T most recently on my CPL ME IR course.
I arrived at RAF Henlow and started with 2 circuits and like riding a bike, It all started coming back. It took me a minute to remember to call downwind as in Poland we were taught to call before base. I am not sure what the reason for that is as I believe downwind makes more sense.
The landings were not bad but the second one was definetly better than the first.
After this I set out into the local area, up towards Gratham water, down towards Bedford and finally back into Henlow joining long finals on runway 13.
I must admit it felt amazing to be back up and I am now looking forward to starting my MCC in just over 2 weeks.
Now, time for some study for the upcoming MCC / Course and brushing up on my technical knowledge.
I have not actually made a post for a while, because there hasn’t been anything to post about. However, after the best part of 2 and a half months, I finally have my licence!
I applied at the start of November for my licence but the CAA have been taken absolutely ages to send them. Towards the end of December after 39 working days, they decided to actually take a look at my application.
They said the application was correct but they could not send it as my medical was now suspended (just days before due to surgery).
3 weeks after the surgery I managed to get a report from the surgeon, send it to my AME and get my medical back. I called the CAA and asked for my licence to be sent to me and after a little back and forth they agreed to send it out immediately.
I waited for it over the next few days and nothing turned up, so I decided to call them again. I was told that they were not sure why it has not been sent, but to call back tomorrow. I did so and after a bit of back and forth, it was finally dispatched.
I just need to complete my MCC/JOC which is booked for the 5th of February. I am hoping for a cancelation on the earlier course but I don’t think that is looking likely at the moment, unfortunately.
Not much longer to go and I should be able to put some applications in at long last!
I had a call from the UK CAA yesterday and the CAA say my licence is ready, they just can’t send it to me.
I never seem to have a smooth experience when dealing with the UK CAA. I applied for my CPL ME IR on the 5th of November.
Yesterday on the 20th December they decided to take a first look at my application, an application that should have taken 10 working days but the CAA took 38 working days!
They went through my paperwork and it was all correct (which is a task in itself), my licence can be issued. Well, it could be issued if my class 1 medical wasn’t currently suspended due to surgery.
Despite the fact the CAA took forever to look at my application, I now have to wait till my class 1 is valid again to just get the paper version sent to me. To get the medical back I need a surgeons report which I am not going to be able to get till at least January at the earliest.
I guess the one “good” thing was they said as soon as my medical is back live they will send it straight out.
What a complete and utter nightmare this is all becoming. I mean I understand I wouldn’t be able to exercise it, but if they didn’t take 38 working days it would have been here ages ago!
I guess as I can’t do the MCC / JOC until early February it isn’t the end of the world, just a bit frustrating.
So, I have recently had experience with suspending the class 1 medical.
As well as going through the ATPL theory hell over the last 2 years, I have also been going through orthodontic work that cumulated in jaw surgery this past Wednesday. This is about as much fun as it sounds and obviously, during this time you cannot fly (and the fact I am in a world of pain).
It was actually really straightforward, I had talked to my AME at my class 1 renewal and all I had to do was send him an email the day before my surgery and he suspended me on the system.
To reinstate the class 1 he will just require a surgeon’s report. I spoke to the surgeon and he said that this should not be an issue.
Could something involving the UK CAA really be this simple? Time will tell.
Some that is not simple however is getting the UK CAA to issue your CPL ME IR. 6 weeks and counting, no license. I am also certain they shut down over Christmas till the new year too which will only add further delays.
When you call them you get the latest date that seems to be made on nothing more than a random guess. Joy.
So since I finished my training I thought I would give a quick update. To be honest, there is not really a whole lot to say.
The UK CAA is being the UK CAA. I have applied for my licence on the 5th November and they have not even looked at it. I called them to find out what is going on and they stated they would not look at it until the 10th December at the earliest due to a backlog.
When you consider we are paying £260 for this, it really is unacceptable.
Many guys at the school are also in the same position and due to this, nobody is actually even able to apply for any jobs. When you think a lot of us left employment to do this, you can imagine the problems this is causing.
I guess the situation isn’t as bad for me as I can not do my MCC until late Jan at the earliest, but for the other guys, it is a nightmare.
I am desperate to go flying as I haven’t actually managed to fly since my skills test. The weather at the moment is terrible so it doesn’t look like I am going to get up anytime soon which is a bit frustrating but what can you do.
That is it really, not much more to say. Hopefully, the CAA can sort themselves out and start processing the licences quicker. If memory serves me correctly, they also shut down from before Xmas till into the new year. So if it is not sent by mid-December then it will not be seen until January.
So the next big question is where to do my MCC / JOC?
The first big choice I had to make was, should I do an MCC (Multi Crew Co-Operation) / JOC (Jet Orientation Course) or should I do an APS (Airline Pilot Standard) course?
The main difference between these courses was
1. The price.
2. The hours in the sim
The APS is a new standard that gives you more time in the sim and more airline focused training.
With more sim time comes additional cost, with APS course costing anywhere from £5500 to £9000.
Standard MCC courses seem to start from as little as £2000.
I had to think to myself, what is an MCC course? An MCC course is defined as by EASA as a non-technical course. So as this is a non-technical course do I need to do it on the latest and greatest simulator available? It would be nice of course, but is it essential? I think the answer has to be no.
So then I asked myself, do I need to pay half of what I paid for the entire CPL ME IR for a non-technical course? Once again, it was hard to justify doing so.
From what I could see from looking at the time, there is just one airline stating a preference for APS courses. In fact, quite a few airlines will put you through their own MCC should you gain employment with them. This is the case if you do a standard MCC or an APS course.
I then asked my friends who are airline pilots what do they think I should do, they all told me that I should do a standard MCC course.
So for these reasons I then decided I will go with the standard MCC courses. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure the APS MCC courses are great and more training can only be a good thing. However, for now, the airlines are not really demanding you complete one.
While I was prepared to go abroad if needed, my preference was to stay in the UK.
So I started looking to see what courses are available. I have two friends who not too long ago went through a course and rated it very highly, so I decided to start my search there. This company was called CRM Aviation Europe.
So why CRM Aviation Europe?
1. The course was very well priced, at just £2695.
2. While the sim is a “generic sim” it actually looks pretty good.
3. It is not too far from where I live, which makes commuting an option, at least for the simulator details anyways.
4. Great reviews, the people I know who have gone have all had good things to say.
5. Helpful staff. I have been messaging them since before I started my CPL ME IR and they were always helpful and prompt in their responses.
6. A good record of student getting jobs.
7. Very experienced instructors, which is essential at this stage.
I cannot actually do my MCC before February so I have booked the course for then.
So this came round very fast but this is a recap of the CPL, MEP and ME IR Skills Tests
I don’t think I have ever been so nervous in my life, I was at the point of taking the skills test, something that I have been working almost 3 years for.
First up was the combined CPL MEP test. This is the route I was given the night before to plan.
Luckily another guy at the school (Mark) was testing and we really helped each other through by doing all our planning etc together.
This route was quite tricky as it crossed EPTM military zones, low-level corridors, TSA’s and TMA’s were also there to keep in consideration.
After the pre flight Etc I departed to fly the route. The weather was not perfect with very strong winds.
The night before I was up very early due to being so nervous.
I paid extra attention to make sure that I was correcting for wind and keeping my headings and altitude as I flew my route.
I had already checked what was and wasn’t active in the AUP (airspace use plan) and highlighted it on the map to make sure I did not infringe anything.
I also used Warsaw Information to double-check what I already knew.
As the route progressed I got a diversion to the south, this was quite straight forward as there was some good features to confirm my position with. However, this brought me through another TSA which thankfully I had already checked and knew was inactive.
On the final leg we stopped for some manoeuvres which included stalls, steep turns and engine shut down, asymmetric flight and engine restart.
We then went into EPPT for a touch and go, the high winds made this very tricky but I managed it.
Next up we returned to EPPL (Lodz) for more circuit work and landings in different configurations.
Finally I got down on the ground and taxied to park.
I got the good news, congratulations you are a commercial pilot!
Half the battle won and just the ME IR to go.
The weather had done a complete 180 the following day. We now had CAVOK and very light winds, perfect flying conditions really.
Again I was up early but my flight was departing at 8am. I feel this is a good thing as it didn’t give me the time to overthink anything.
The test route was to fly to a point called ADOXO then to BIMPA which is the arrival point for Warsaw Modlin.
The first thing to do, is to program the Garmin to make sure everything that should be in your flight plan, is in there.
So I took of on Runway 25 hand flying an ADOXO departure climbing to FL100. It was only at FL100 I was allowed to engage the autopilot.
In the cruise I prepared and briefed for ILS 08 in Modlin.
On reaching BIMPA the auto pilot was disconnected and as I was flying the arrival we began to be vectored for the ILS.
Today was a perfect day to be shooting approaches. The first approach was bang on and we did a touch and go before climbing and departing runway heading. A quick switch to Warsaw approach and they vectored us to do another.
This time it was a simulated engine failure, I feel I handled this well went around and did it again.
We then returned to Lodz ending up at the LOZ (vor).
At the LOZ an engine was shut down. I was preparing my approach when the rescue helicopter launched. I was then put into the hold with one engine out. Not really ideal but manageable.
Eventually I got my clearance and started my approach. I informed ATC that I would need an extra 2 mins on the runway to restart the engine.
Negative! 737 waiting to depart. WHAT?
So now I am descending to the platform while having to restart the engine. The work load was high but I managed to do it before making a good approach and landing.
The examiner said I handled that very well which was nice.
We taxied of to park and I heard what I wanted to hear, that’s a pass!
I am now a commercially rated, multi engine, instrument rated pilot!
I think it is a bit surreal at the moment and still settling in.
A lot of pilots have told me that the single pilot IR is the hardest flying they have done and I must admit I agree. Every single thing is on you and you absolutley have to stay ahead of the aircraft. The second you let the aircraft get ahead of you, it’s over.
I mean it’s been 3 years since I started this journey and to have finally achieved this is an amazing feeling.
I really have to thank my IR instructor Bartek. We put in a lot of work to get me to where I needed to be. So credit where credit is due, as without him, I am not sure I would have had the outcome that I did.
There have been so many up’s and down’s along the way, but hey im here now.
Next up is the MCC / JOC but I most likely will not be able to complete this until February now.
I must admit, I am going to miss flying the Tecnam P2006T. While I was not a huge fan of the single, I feel the twin was a beautiful aircraft to fly. Especially the newer one SP-RNP which I was lucky to have for my test.
Lastly, the students at Bartolini really help and support each other, It’s great the bonds you make with people in such a short amount of time. It really does help you get through it all.
Another busy week, so here is the recap of CPL ME IR: Week 12.
So this week has been very busy. I have completed the training for both the IR and the CPL complex.
For the CPL complex, we did a navigation flight and also practiced stalls and unusual attitudes. We then did a flight in the circuit and practicing maneuvers such as steep turns. We also did engine failures, short field landings etc.
For the IR we went down to Katowice and shot ILS approaches and also went to Warsaw Modlin and shot ILS and VOR approaches before coming back and shooting VOR approaches and a circle to land also.
The weather at the moment is dreadful and I was actually supposed to test this week but we will see what the weather does.
I am really getting desperate to go home, I never anticipated I would be here for so long on an 8-week course. However, saying that, I hope the end is in sight.
Just the small issue of some tests to pass first.
Not much to say as I was away for most of it, but this is the update from CPL ME IR: Week 11.
So I was back in the UK for a week as my instructor was going to be away and the twins were all in maintenance.
It was probably a good thing I returned home as the other students did not manage much if any flying in the time I was away.
It was nice to have a break and while back home I finished the last few hours I needed for hour building. I think in total it was about 4.5 hours but I did not go anywhere fancy just to Fenland and Turweston and the rest of the time was spent flying around the local area.
I returned to Lodz yesterday and did an IR flight which consisted of VOR approaches and there was also some engine failures that I feel went quite well. We also did some partial panel work, so it was a reasonably busy flight.
I think I have now completed 7.4 hours of the IR, so the time really is going quite fast. The weather for the upcoming week is a bit hit or miss so I am not sure how much flying I will do, but ideally, I would like to be almost finished by the end of this week.
Hopefully, I do not have much longer left before a skills test and I can return back home.
This month marks 3 years since I started flying, so following on from the first two posts, I thought I would recap what I have managed to achieve.
- I finished my ATPL exams – These exams were one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. What made it worse is that they were being done around a full-time job. It took me 2 years to finish but I am so happy I managed to pass them all.
- CPL ME IR course – I am currently on the IR part of my CPL ME IR course, a course which I hope to complete very soon.
The learning curve has been quite steep but I am enjoying the challenge of it. It finally feels like I am becoming a “real” pilot.
- Visited more airfields – I have stretched my wings and visited many more airfields this year. I am a much more confident pilot these days, but I guess that is natural with more experience.
All in all, I have made good progress during this year and I hope that bigger and better things lie ahead in year 4. I am looking forward to doing an MCC / JOC course and to finally be able to apply for flying jobs.