Update for anyone reading this post as of Summer 2022.
This post was written two years ago, and that was a bad time for aviation. The good news is that we seem to be at the other side of this now, airlines are recruiting and demand from passengers is huge. There is no need to delay training any further (in my opinion of course).
This post is aimed at people in training who are finishing their ATPL’s or doing some hour building. We will go through reasons of why you should consider delaying your CPL ME IR.
- There are no jobs. No matter which way you look at it, nobody/hardly anyone is hiring cadets. Is there any logic in paying 10’s of thousands of pounds when job prospects are so bleak? Airlines are making redundancies left and right and center and some are making pools of people they will take back before any further recruitment. I don’t think you will find a pilot who feels secure these days and thousands of pilots have been made redundant. It could legitimately be years before we see any recruitment for cadets in any substantial numbers.
Lastly, a CPL ME IR can be done in 4-12 weeks. So when things look better you can have it done in no time and be ready to go, which leads us onto the next point.
- Skills erode. From the day your pass your CPL ME IR your skills will fade.
Every day you are not flying your skills are fading, you are getting rusty and your scan is becoming slower, you will be surprised just how quickly this all happens.
How much spare cash do you have? How does renting a twin at £500 an hour and going to fly holds and ILS or VOR approaches at an airport sound? Expensive no doubt. At this point, you will have likely spent £40,000+ so chances are money is scarce. Granted you can use a home-based simulator to try to stay current the best you can but it’s just not the same as an aircraft.
The MCC/JOC comes after your CPL ME IR as well, so these are more skills that are going to fade. Skills that airlines are looking for on your assessments. It makes much more sense to do these courses when you are going to need them (before an assessment).
The job market going forward is likely going to have you up against experienced airline pilots with thousands of more hours than you, but there is nothing that can be done about that. However, the person fresh out of training who has just completed his CPL ME IR and MCC/JOC is likely going to outperform the person whos been sitting at home flying the minimum hours who finished training a year or two ago.
Recency is also a real thing and airline application forms have asked for a minimum amount of flight hours in the past 6 or 12 months. Do you want to pay for 20-50 hours of flight time for an opportunity to apply or would you rather do it as part of your CPL ME IR?
- Costs. When you gain your instrument rating, you are responsible for revalidating it every year. After a year, you will likely need a few hours practice in a simulator/aircraft with an instructor and then you will be responsible for the costs of the test. When I did it, every two years you could revalidate in a simulator. After a bit of research, I can see that you can no longer have an “empty” IR. So where you could previously renew the IR and let the MEP expire, it seems that going forward you must have a valid class rating. For reference see CAP1855 for the UK and FCL.625.A for EASA.
Either way, the cost of renting an aircraft for 2 hours and maybe an hour or 2 for practice is not going to be insignificant. Why take on these costs when the prospects of employment are so slim?
I know some of you will have paid a non-refundable deposit but losing a few hundred pounds now might save you a few thousand going forward.
You could consider this post as food for thought. Make the decision that is best for you, and as always, I wish you the best of luck.