Is this the end of General Aviation at Cranfield?

I got a few emails in the last few days that has made me think to myself, Is this the end of General Aviation at Cranfield?
Clear Blue Skies Cranfield
The latest email I have received has stated that due to a controller shortage that the airport will be closed every weekend from 24th September until the March 2017. On top of this there are the following closures.

September 2016: 15th-18th for Festival of Flight.
20th – 25th September possibly to relay the runway.
November 2016: 3rd
December 2016: 21st, 24th-27th
February 2017: 8th
March 2017: 1st

Single ATCO days – Opening times will be 0900-1100 / 1600-1800. Prior Permission Required.
October 2016: 14th
November 2016: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 18th
December 2016: 2nd, 16th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd
January 2017: 20th
February 2017: 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 24th, 27th, 28th
March 2017: 2nd, 3rd, 24th

As you can see, this is a horribly unworkable situation for just about everyone involved. As a student I completed my PPL (Private Pilot Licence) on weekends. I am sure there are students that will be massively impacted by this, especially the ones who are also trying to complete their training around a full time job.
I guess I can consider myself lucky as I have completed my PPL, if I was still training now I would be in a pretty bad situation. I just wouldn’t have the time to complete it mid-week and I would be left with no choice but to change schools.
The schools / flying clubs based there will also be pretty badly impacted. At my school the weekend flying is normally non stop. This is also a lot of cash that they now cannot earn, and GA schools work to a pretty tight margins, so I can only imagine that this is really going to affect them.
If the schools / flying clubs are not making that much money then you have to question their ability to survive. The airfield has already lost some famous schools like Cabair (twice) and Bonus Aviation.
I know people have a love / hate relationship with Cranfield, however it really is a nice place to fly from. Is it the cheapest? Most defiantly not, but it has full ATC, fire services and well maintained facilities.
The lack of weekend flying means that finding the time to actually fly is going to be a lot harder, I work a 9-5 and winter is coming up so it gets dark a lot quicker. This is ok at the moment as I need to complete a night rating but what about after that? The thought of having to book half days to go flying until March is not really an ideal situation.
I hope everyone can come together and find a workable situation for Cranfield, I know there are suggestions of a radio service being put on for the weekends. I will wait to see if anything will come from it but I will not be holding my breath.

Aer Lingus mentored cadet programme 2017 is now open

Good news for all wannabe pilots. The Aer Lingus mentored cadet programme 2017 is now open!
The Aer Lingus training will take place over 14 months at FTE Jerez in Spain and on successful completion you will be assigned to the A320 fleet after a 12 week type rating course.
You have until 5pm on the 8th July 2016 to apply for this exciting opportunity.
Please see below this video for the requirements and the link to apply.

Essential Criteria

  • 18 years of age on or before 1st January 2016
  • Fluent in written and spoken English
  • Eligible to live and work permanently in the EU
  • Up-to-date unrestricted worldwide passport
  • Able to pass an airport security vetting procedure, including a five-year background check*
  • Two verifiable references
  • Able to obtain an EASA / IAA issued Class 1 Medical, including successfully passing a colour blindness test. Please refer to prior to application to ensure you can meet all medical requirements in line with eyesight/colour blindness limitations

*If you are a not an Irish citizen, you will require a current police disclosure certificate from your home country if successful

*If you have resided outside the Republic of Ireland for six months or more, you will also require a current police disclosure certificate from that country/countries

Educational requirements

  • You must have passed your Leaving Certificate (6 subjects) or equivalent
  • You must have obtained C3 grades in English and Mathematics at ordinary level or D3 at higher level in the Leaving Certificate
  • You must also have a minimum of 2 higher level subjects with a minimum of C3 grades in the Leaving Certificate
    *Equivalent grades are as follows:
  • GCSE Maths and English must be minimum of grade C plus
  • 3 A Levels taken at A2 level in any subject with minimum grades C,C,D

Where the minimum Leaving Certificate or equivalent grades have not been met, you must have one of the following qualifications:

  • A minimum of a Level 7 third level (ordinary degree) in any discipline
  • Completed an aviation-related apprenticeship

Key competences and skills

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Strong communicator who acts with integrity
  • Well-developed decision making skills
  • Technical aptitude
  • Strong team player with ability to build and maintain positive working relationships and demonstrate leadership qualities
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Ability and motivation to achieve a consistently high level of performance

If you think that this is for you then you can apply directly on the Aer Lingus site.

West Atlantic Cadet Scheme 2016

Great news, the details of the West Atlantic Cadet Scheme 2016 have been made available.
This is one of the better schemes out there as West Atlantic fund your training, then when you are ready to fly the line you pay them back 50% of the cost.
There are a few entry requirements that you must meet to be eligible.

  1. You must hold an EASA Private Pilots License.
  2. You must hold a class 1 medical.
  3. You must have a full and clean EU driving license with the right to drive a motor vehicle in the UK.
  4. You must have the right to live and work in the UK.

There are also two things that they prefer that you have which are –

  1. Have a night rating.
  2. Have 50 hours total time.

Applications go live on the 18th July and close on the 29th July.
You can find out more on the West Atlantic website.


Jet2 Pilot Apprentice

The Jet2 pilot apprentice is a great scheme for all newly qualified pilots looking for a job with a major UK airline based at Leeds Bradford international airport.
This scheme differs from some of the others because it is open to qualified pilots rather than pilots with limited hours under their belt.
What is cool about the scheme is that you spend 12 months working in other roles across the company before you start your line training (which is bonded) and flying the line. You will then join the company as a second officer.
As you work in different departments you learn a lot more about the entire business rather than just the actual flying side of it. You will do everything from working in flight operations to engineering.
To be eligible you need a fATPL, Class 1 medical, valid UK driving license and to have completed your MCC (multi crew co-operation) / JOC (Jet Orientation Course).
The Jet2 website says that they also have 3 intakes every year, which provides a lot of opportunities.
At the time of writing Jet2 have 58 aircraft which are mainly Boeing 737 but they also have a few Boeing 757’s. offers a competitive salary and benefits package with opportunities for progression within the company.

If this interests you, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t, please visit the Jet2 website.

Unemployed Pilot

BA sim

It’s the part of pilot training that nobody really wants to think about as nobody wants to be an unemployed pilot.
There are many reasons why this can happen to all of us. The best thing is to have a plan B as there is a good chance you will have to wait for that first pilot job.
These are just some of the reasons why you could find yourself as an unemployed pilot.

  1. The job market isn’t that good – If the airlines are not hiring or the economy is bad then there isn’t a lot you can do. There will be an over-supply of pilots which makes competition even higher than normal.
    Even though a lot of flight schools will love you to believe there is a pilot shortage, there is no pilot shortage. If there was we wouldn’t have so many unemployed pilots.
    This will be the case for most people, there are more pilots than jobs, that is the just the facts.
  2. Type rating costs – This is more of an issue if you took a loan to do your training and your repayments are so high that you either can’t save any money to pay for your type rating, or you can’t get more credit. A lot of airlines these days are expecting the pilot to cover the cost of the type rating, so this should really be factored into your pre training costs.
  3. You give up too easily – Just making a few applications to the big airlines is not enough, you need to think outside the box, make connections and you never know who you may come across and who is in a position to help you.
  4. You are a snob – Oh, you only want to fly a brand new 737 or A320 and you look down at other aircraft as being not good enough for you and all that experience you have with your minimum hours fATPL.
  5. You don’t want to work for it – A few airlines have internal schemes where you can work in different departments and then apply for a job on the flight deck after a qualifying period. This may be up to two years, however the experience you get in an operations role could be of benefit for you during your flying career.
  6. You are not that good – What? Yeap, that’s right. If you passed your ATPL’s with minimum scores and retakes and then went on to do the same on your CPL / IR tests then other people are going to be more employable than you.
    Now it’s not impossible to get a job, however you are probably going to have a harder time, especially considering some airlines require a minimum of 90% on the ATPL to even consider your application.

The wait for your first job may be a long one, what is your plan while you are waiting for it to come to fruition?

Cabair administration

As a trainee pilot I have heard about a company called Cabair multiple times. So naturally I was curious as to what happened to this big integrated training school (they also offered modular courses) and did a bit of digging into the Cabair administration.
This sign is actually still attached to the building of my current flying school.
Cabair was one of the big flying schools that supplied pilots to multiple big name airlines.
They were based up in Cranfield which is actually where I do my training for my PPL (at a different school of course). Cabair also had multiple satellite sites.
Being an integrated school Cabair would hold large sums of students money at any point in time, and my instructor actually told me that the airport was covered in planes owned by the company possibly upwards of 100! This gives you an insight into the size of the operation.
They operated a fleet of PA28’s, DA-40s and DA-42’s.
The original Cabair, which was called Cabair college of air training, went into administration late in 2011 placing the money of their students and the jobs of their employees at risk.
However a buyer was found and the company was setup under the name of Cabair International.
Some students were offered the chance to finish their training with the new company as long as they paid a top up fee of up to £15,000.
With some of them being up to £70,000 in debt they may have felt that this would have been the best option. I can’t say I would have been up for that idea but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
It is understood that around 80 students were enrolled when the new Cabair came into operation.
However just months later in the early part of 2012, the new company once again went into administration. Eventually the company was wound up and the students lost a LOT of money, as did the employees lose their jobs.
Cabair is now used by a lot of people as to why you don’t pay for flight training upfront, ever!
While the students didn’t foresee the difficulties at Cabair, it can happen to any school at any time.
The best way to pay for training is as you go, if a training provider demands all the money upfront be very skeptical and ideally find someone who has more flexible payment terms.
At the very least they should offer installments as you progress through the course.
A student who presumably lost a lot of money actually made this video around the time they went into administration for the second time. I must admit he took it well. By the date he said he started at Cabair I would assume he was closer to the end of the course, so he would have lost less than somebody who was at the start of the course.

Were you affected by the Cabair administration? Please feel free to comment below with your story.

Easyjet Scholarship for Women

a319 easyjet

Easyjet are trying to increase their new female pilots from 6% to 12% over the next two years. As part of this plan they have announced a easyJet scholarship for women.
This scheme will underwrite the training costs of £100,000 for 6 female pilots.
Now while this is great news and if you are female it is something that you should consider and apply for, the question must be asked, what about the men?
The barrier for entry for a lot of pilots is the training costs and while wanting more women on the flight deck is great, there are many males who could also do with having their £100,000 training costs underwritten too.
Hopefully easyJet will recognize this and announce a similar scheme for males too.
For any female who wishes to find out more about the scheme, the full name of the scholarship is the easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative and it is in association with the British Women Pilots Association (BWPA).
The pilots will all be trained at an integrated school as part of their MPL courses. Personally I think that if you are going to go integrated at these big schools you need to make sure that you are “tagged” on a course like this as you know that there is an airline waiting when you are finished.
Paying £100,000+ to just enter the “holding pool” on a regular ATPL doesn’t really make much sense to me, when you can train for £35,000 – £40,000 and end up with the exact same license.
The £60,000 uplift to enter the hold pool doesn’t strike me as good value for money and that money would more than cover any type rating that you need to pay when you join a lot of airlines.
To any woman applying for this, best of luck, it seems to be a great way to the flight deck if you are eligible.

British Airways to recuit 350 piliots in 2016!

BA A380

British Airways to recruit 350 pilots in 2016! The UK national carrier have announced that they are looking to recruit 350 pilots and 1,600 cabin crew. This will be the largest intake from the carrier in its 100 year history.

Captain Stephen Riley, BA’s director of flight operations, said: “It’s a great time to be a British Airways pilot.
“We have excellent opportunities for new pilots with the British Airways Future Pilot Programme entering its fifth successful year, as well as the very best experienced flight crew from other airlines and the military.
“We’re extremely proud that we have more female pilots than ever before, and we are continuing our recruitment campaign to encourage more women to apply to fly commercial aircraft”.

It is good to see that Captain Riley has specifically mentioned the Future Pilot Programme which in my opinion is the best scheme out there for any budding pilot.
It is also a scheme that will get you a job as a first officer for a major international carrier and give you lots of opportunities for progression.
Any budding pilot should be applying for the Future Pilot Programme in my opinion.
On top of this all flying crew will be trained at British Airways global learning academy based at Heathrow Airport, west London, which includes 15 flight simulators.
So not only will you get a chance to join a world-class airline but you will also get world-class training.British Airways have 13 brand new 787-9s and A380s arriving in 2016 that will be serving 13 new short and long-haul routes.
Of course, not all 350 will be coming from the Future Pilot Programme with British Airways also recruiting from other airlines and the military.

Update – Unfortunately it has been confirmed the future pilot programme will not open in 2016.

Metrojet plane crash

Airbus A321-231, MetroJet JP7726808

The world we are living in is a very scary place. I am sure you have all read about the Metrojet plane crash. An Airbus A321 plane carrying innocent people from Egypt to Russia was most likely blown out of the sky by terrorists.
This was a plane full of people of all ages just going about their day-to-day lives, who were murdered in cold blood by terrorists. I can’t help but feel sad for the people who have lost love ones, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandparents etc. And for what? Absolutely nothing.
These people are not human, and need to be dealt with swiftly, they have declared war on us normal people, us who know the difference between right and wrong, us who have respect for other people and their lives.
The airport security at the Egyptian airport was also reported to be very lax. This is not acceptable, airport security is not a joke and needs to be taken security at all times. Nobody should be able to get anything that hasn’t been screened on a plane. Questions need to be asked over the coming weeks and resolutions need to be put in place instantly.
These terrorists have not just attacked the Russian people but also their own. Tourism will take a massive hit, people will stop coming, hotels will have to lay people off, shops will close and the Egyptian people will lose a valuable source of income.
I am not sure about if the pilots were still alive post explosion, but if they were I can’t even begin to get my head around what it would be like not being able to save the passengers.

RIP the victims of Metrojet 9268

Wings Alliance

wings alliance

Great news for us modular flight students. The modular schools are coming together to offer something similar to what the big integrated schools do.
Under the Wings Alliance students can train via the modular route and benefit from airline links just like the integrated school courses do.
The wings route will also have a MPP (Mentored Pilot Program) of it’s own where the schools who are signed up can recommend students who meet the requirements to the partner airlines.
The Wings Alliance say that the training via the modular route can be 70% of the cost of integrated training. I think that is a conservative estimate and I would say it can be at least 50% of the cost.
BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) had this to say about the Wings Alliance.

BALPA supports initiatives that open up the training options for aspiring pilots. The Modular route gives students the same licence as integrated programmes, but gives them flexibility because it allows them to complete sections of the course at a time, and pace that suits them and their finances.

The following schools are members of Wings Alliance in the UK.

  • Aeros Flight Training
  • Airways Flight Training
  • Bartolini Air
  • Bristol Ground School
  • Cardiff Aviation
  • Multiflight
  • Stapleford Flight Center
  • Tayside Aviation
  • Ultimate Flight

Abroad the following schools have signed up

  • Ayla Aviation in Jordan
  • Bartolini Air in Poland
  • Egnatia Aviation in Greece
  • Hubair in France
  • Orbit Groundschool in Holland

It will be interesting to see how this program develops over the next few months as more details are released and more modular schools sign up.

Visit their website