Normally we reserve the Boston Helicopter Blog for helicopter training articles and helicopter training pictures, but for this entry I’m going to go out on a limb and post some good advice for the person that is looking to become a helicopter flight instructor. As you probably already know, we are a Robinson helicopter flight school located outside Boston Massachusetts and Alexandria New York. You may also know that we are scouting more locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.We train exclusively in Robinson helicopters.
Since we are a Robinson facility, our bias is, of course, toward Robinson helicopters. There are many reasons for this, but the large fleet of Robinson helicopters, the low cost of operation, and the capabilities of the R-44 are the main reasons we operate only Robinson helicopters. I can think of only one flight school in the area that operates Schweizer 300s exclusively. Most Schweizer schools operate Robinson helicopters even though they call themselves “Schweizer” schools. The Schweizer 300 can’t perform the duties of a 44 under any circumstances, hence the need for the Robinson R-44 at these schols.
I was prompted by an article I noticed on the web that was sparked by the statement that it is “good to get time in the 2 most popular trainers, the Schweizer and the Robinson, at least 50 hours in each”. The article pretty much stated that getting time in each is useless (which it is), for the future CFI. It should be evident to any CFI now looking for work – if you come from a Schweizer school and are sending your resume to a Robinson school, having 50 hours in an R-22 is not going to get you the job! With the state of the economy and the amount of CFIs looking for work, we do not hire anyone with less than 250 hours IN ROBINSON HELICOPTERS! If you’re looking to train to become a CFI, you should be aware that if you choose a Schweizer helicopter, you are more than likely going to be limited to a CFI position at a Schweizer school (unless you pay for hours in an R22 at a later time). I’m not going to argue over which machine is the better machine, they both have strong and weak points – but I will say this – train in the machine that will get you your first job! Look at the number of Robinson and Schweizer schools in your area and make the decision based on what you think will get you that first instruction position.
Here’s the article – as I said – this is a repost of someone else’s words:
In theory, this is a great idea, and if this was any other industry, this breadth of experience would be viewed as a bonus by any employer. However, in helicopters, the companies (ie, flight schools) that are providing training are also gateway employers: you have to go through them to make it to a more normal career environment (one where experience and qualifications dominate hiring decisions).
Any single flight school can’t hire all of the CFIs it trains. It just isn’t mathematically possible. This is a bit of a problem for the industry, and it affects who a flight school will hire. As an external candidate–a CFI trained at another school–you have significant disadvantages compared to a student coming from within. Probably the greatest disadvantage is that the school doesn’t know you as well, and you aren’t familiar with the school’s procedures or the local training environment. You are also taking a job away from one of the students that was loyal to the school, and unemployed flight instructors can’t help a school’s image. Overcoming these barriers with previous experience–whether it’s experience in several different aircraft or transferable skills that you acquired outside of aviation–is very difficult.
Another reason having time in both Robinson and Schweizer/Hughes models doesn’t matter is that they are very different aircraft. An instructor that has 200 hours in an R22 is still learning to fly it, and I don’t see how reducing his experience in that aircraft by 25% is going to make him a better instructor or pilot. With so little experience, it’s better to build one skill rather than acquiring a portfolio of skills that you are unable to do with proficiency or consistency. With 50 hours of R22 time, you’re also sitting at the SFAR-73 minimums for instructing, and the Schweizer school’s that I’ve talked to believe the required minimums specified in 61.195(f)–5 hours PIC in the specific make and model–are insufficient.
Finally, there are very few schools who fly both Robinsons and Schweizers. You might be a good candidate for one of those schools, if they didn’t have a large pool of internally-trained candidates. But you wouldn’t be a good candidate for a school flying R22s if you were coming in with 150 hours of Schweizer time, or vice versa.
Maybe this broader experience will help you when you finish your CFI and start applying for turbine jobs. Not so. One operator I talked to basically said that R22, R44, 269/300, Hiller, Brantley, Enstrom, or whatever other piston time you have is just that: other piston time. For an applicant with significant turbine time, listing your time in all those piston aircraft isn’t even necessary.
So I’m going to call Bullshit! on the advice that you should get time in both Robinson and Schweizer airframes, and that it’s okay to switch schools mid-training. I’d advise that a student stick with a single school and single manufacturer. Doing anything else won’t improve your chances of getting hired on as a CFI, and may actually hurt them. -Referenced from cyclicandcollective.net.
My next post will talk about why you should do your instrument training in a Robinson 44. More information for a future helicopter instructor.
Train with the only Part 141 helicopter flight school in the Boston Massachusetts area that is also a Robinson helicopter overhaul center!