Zero hours to CPL ME/IR in 13 months

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Submitted by Thomas D on Sat, 29/08/2020 - 07:47

This Review Overall Rating

From zero hours to CPL ME/IR in 13 months - no waiting lists and £65k, enough said?

 

Note: All figures/costs are pre-covid. I trained here from end of 2018 to beginning of 2020

 

Firstly, the most important point to note is that myself (and some other students) managed to go from zero hours to CPL ME/IR in 13 months (fulltime). Regardless of the capability of the student, one has to acknowledge that the school has to have massive resources per student and a smooth operation for this kind of achievement to be possible. Evidently, school size (comparatively small), aircraft availability (abundance of), instructors (number of/quality of) are all crucial factors conducive to students completing PPL, CPL, ATPL Exams, MEIR etc in this amount of time. 

I don't know how many schools advertise their courses as 12-14 months, 14-18 months etc, however as you'll see on this platform, that simply does not happen. The massive 'industry leader' schools reviewed on this site, no need to mention the problems there, they simply take in too many £130k's to spit out fATPLs at the same rate. But even the smaller to mid size schools are doing the same thing such as a British school that trains in Spain/Florida, Aviation South West has taken at least 4 of their students to complete their CPLs and ME/IRs due to overcrowding (I'm sure there's more to the story, but that appears to be the crux of it).

Instructors - 5/5 for all of the instructors i flew with (Mark, Matt, Oli, Fabio and Oscar). The depth of experience, knowledge and teaching skills is hands down the best you'll find. The professionalism expected of an airline pilot is taught from day one and I have had various comments regarding my own professionalism that I have to attribute directly to the instructors and how they teach. I would extend this to include ATC at Exeter Airport (completely seperate from ASW), who are also extremely professional and helpful.

That brings me to facilities. The main building is a little leaky and weathered, the lunchroom is a portacabin and the toilets are either shared with the airport staff or shared with passengers in the terminal itself. This didn't bother me in the slightest as I was paying around £65k for the same license as someone who paid £130k, and I certainly wasn't too concerned about missing out on air conditioning, a brand new fleet of Diamond and a load more headaches. I should also note that the ATPL classroom and simulator building have had massive upgrades late 2019/early 2020. 

Aircraft - all old (30 to 40 years), not hangered and steam gauge cockpits across the fleet (I think the Arrow (CPL) has been upgraded to semi glass cockpit since). Whilst they are heavily and professionally maintained within the interest of safety and strict adherence to the law, some have seen better days. I have never ever felt unsafe in any aircraft and rarely lost a fight due to technical problems although, I did get a wet bottom from time to time. Again, look at the course price and it's fine. Some say that glass cockpit gives an advantage down the track when switching to jets however, I did not notice this being an issue on the JOC.

There are a couple of minor criticism's to note. Landing fees caught me out and although some are included in the PPL (80), CPL (15... I think?) & ME/IR (9, nowhere near enough), no home base landing fees are included in hour building which wasn't mentioned anywhere. I funded this course with savings only and this was quite a big blow to my budget. Dunkeswell Aerodrome is nearby with cheaper landings but I still found myself trying to do very long hour building flights to minimise my landing costs. I do consider myself lucky to not have had more issues with landings considering I was avoiding them for financial reasons, bad idea!! Other students were definitely caught out with needing more than the included landings on the various courses. On a positive note, the landing fee for a Warrior/Cherokee at Exeter is around £45 but ASW has them discounted down to around £16, so absolutely no complaints there. On another side note, all landings used to be included in the prices until a particular student started doing 1 circuit (6min flight) once a month to remain current. Upon doing the maths, the flight was in fact almost free due to the included landing. Of course, no one can blame the school for removing landings after this.

Weather - Obviously this is no reflection on the school whatsoever, I do feel it has to mentioned as this is the most frustrating thing to deal with training in the UK. Whilst training in bad weather definitely makes for a better pilot, losing days and sometimes weeks at a time takes patience and resilience to overcome (especially whilst on a budget!). The CPL has been done in three weeks, but has also taken two months or more. I've seen a fair few people who'd travelled to Exeter for a particular course have to leave unfinished, rescheduling for another time due to weather. Definitely take this into consideration when planning time-scales of training and definitely have plan B's.

Arguments with Exeter Airport - Occasionally ASW and the Airport clashed and on two or three occasions, students were banned from fueling at Exeter in protest. I have no idea of the ins and outs of the relationship with the airport but I did feel this approach meant that the students/instructors wore the burden of the fight rather than perhaps diplomatically negotiating with the airport to find a solution (Again, I don't know if this was even an option). Fueling at Dunkeswell (10nm away) isn't a bad thing for students as the landing is free when buying fuel and it's good to experience a popular, uncontrolled aerodrome. However, I did notice an extra stress placed on the instructors as they now had to include this pit stop in a lot of lessons and on a sunny day, Dunkeswell can be chaotic. Also, whatever the purpose of the flight, whether it's hour building or a lesson, sometimes it's just not suitable for to have to stop at Dunkeswell, something I occasionally found inconvenient. Not to mention there's always that one person, who seems to turn up in every setting imaginable, that leaves things empty for the next person...

 

SUMMARY - weighing everything up, I don't think you can beat this school. The outcome is amazing and the problems are minor. Not that it's hard for ASW to easily stand out in what appears to be a sea of corrupt, money grabbing, world-promising flight 'schools' that just don't deliver anymore, one has to acknowledge the time and money spent for the exact same license just doesn't compare. I've had the best experience of my life on the DCT course, learnt new skills, challenged myself, made lifelong friends and feel I'll forever be apart of Aviation South West. I cannot wait to land (pun) that dream job (once covid does one). Feel free to contact me personally for advice on ASW.

 

Course(s) taken: Combined Advanced Training (CPL/ME-IR)

General

Facilities

4

Atmosphere

5

Student Support

5

Customer Service

4

Communication

3

Graduation Support

5

Social Life

5

Aircraft

Overall aircraft rating

4

Aircraft Availability

5

Aircraft Reliability

5

Aircraft Age

2

Aircraft Maintenance

Simulators

Simulator Age

3

Simulator Maintenance

5

Simulator Reliability

3

Simulator Availability

5

Simulator Overall

4

Theoretical Training

Quality of Instruction

5

Instructors Per Student

5

Extra Tuition Support

5

Value for Money

5

Learning Material

5

Classroom Overall

5

Class Size

5

Class/Life Balance

2

Practical Training

Quality of Practical Instruction

5

School Manuals

5

Lesson Regularity

5

Standard Operating Procedures

5

Practical Instructors per Student

5

Lesson Scheduling

5