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800Euro deposit wasted. I could not get the time off work to complete my CPL IR MEP (Commercial pilot licence / Multi Engine Instrument rating / Multi Engine Piston Rating) at Bartolini. I was excited and looking forward to going there to complete my CPL course.
I remember feeling like I had hit a wall that evening and was somewhat stuck as truthfully, I struggled to find CPL MEIR training in the UK that met all the requirements. The problems I faced:
- I found a good school in the UK, but the multi-engine instrument rating cost in the UK was prohibitive (£50k for CPL ME IR)
- No instruction at the weekend
- Flying schools for CPL ME IR in the UK were too far away to allow me to hold down my job.
- Due to the UK weather, I was advised to budget 3-4 months full time to complete the course, which I could just not sustain from a work perspective
The Bartolini option was fab as people have completed the CPL IR MEP course in as little as 8 weeks. The cost was fantastic too at under £20k all in including transport, accommodation etc.! Anyway, I had to get that plan out of my head as it would not work.
In this blog post, I wanted to share the do it yourself CPL IR MEP modular path I followed on a part-time basis around my job! Surprisingly, it worked out and saved me money in the process! If you are struggling with where and how to complete your CPL IR MEP, read on, and I’ll share some options outside of the standard full-time courses.
CPL IR MEP Prerequisites entry requirements
- EASA Class 1 medical
- 14 EASA ATPL exams passed
- 150Hour Total time
- 70Hours PIC (100hours PIC required before CPL skills test)
- Night rating in licence
- Current SEP (Land) rating in licence
CPL IR MEP Course Content
Multi Engine Piston (MEP course)
- 6 hours Multi-Engine Piston flight training
- (Optional) I did my MEP skills test straight after my MEP course. You can delay your skills test until you come to complete your Multi Engine Instrument Rating (if doing your MEIR with the same school)
- Theoretical knowledge instruction and examination
Multi Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR course)
- 55hours instruction (can be reduced to 45 hours if you already have a Basic Instrument Flight Module or have completed your CPL)
- 30 hours in FNPT II procedure trainer
- 15 hours in twin-engine aircraft (I did mine in a DA42)
Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL Course)
- 25 hours of instruction (can be reduced to 15hours if you already have a Basic Instrument Flight Module/ have completed your Instrument Rating)
Fleet/ Simulator type
- DA-42 (MEIR)
- FNPT II synthetic training device (MEIR)
- PA32-R complex aircraft & PA28 (CPL)
CPL ME IR Cost:
In my specific case:
- MEP £4,500 including MEP skills test
- CPL £7,500 including CPL skills test
- MEIR £20,000 Including MEIR skill test
My total CPL ME IR cost was: £32,000
CPL ME/IR Course Duration
On a part-time basis (weekends only plus approx 1-week annual leave as I got close to my CPL & MEIR tests), my CPL MIER course took 5.5 months to complete.
How I got my CPL ME/IR in the uk?
I realised very quickly that to complete my modular fATPL whilst maintaining a full-time job, I would have to break down the individual components and potentially have to complete them separately. From my research, no flight school in the UK would meet all the requirements that I needed (mainly instructor availability during the weekend the main issue) to complete my training on a part-time basis.
Stand-alone Multi-Engine Piston Rating and test
I completed this aspect at PTT in Leeds. Unfortunately, the school has since closed down. In terms of time management, I completed my MEP on the days I had off between Christmas and New year.
What did I learn? Although not entirely necessary to complete your MEP skill test at this stage, I completed mine just for peace of mind. You can do your MEP skills test at the same time as your MEIR test.
Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR) Via the Competency-Based Instrument Rating (CB-IR) Route
I was fortunate at PTT to find an instructor willing to come in each Saturday to progress my CBIR. I had an IMC rating/ IR(R) rating and was eligible for the CBIR route. I needed a total of 53 hours to complete my CBIR. This route gave me a 2-hour saving compared to the standard MEIR route.
What did I learn? MEIR was probably the most challenging phase of training for me. My flying school went bust 4 weeks after I completed my MEIR and that emphasised the importance of formalising each step of training as soon as you can. For example, if you complete a MEIR course, get your course completion certificate and student records at the earliest opportunity.
If you are at a stage that a test could formalise a qualification but have the option to do it later (e.g. MEP rating), I would side to complete it earlier even if it is more expensive as you never know what can happen tomorrow.
Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL Course) on a complex single-engine piston aircraft
I progressed my IR on a Saturday, and Sunday was reserved for CPL training in Blackpool. The course was really enjoyable and took around 3 months to complete (this had approx 3 weeks delay waiting for an examiner to be allocated).
What did I learn? You can save yourself £5k £7k by completing your CPL course on a single-engine piston complex aircraft rather than a twin!
Living at home/ progressing professional pilot training around a full time job
Although staying in the UK meant that my CPL ME IR cost more overall, I was able to stay in my full-time job and continue earning vs having to take time off work on an unpaid basis.
Overall, I think the decision to remain in work left me cost-neutral, i.e. although I didn’t benefit from the lower costs by going abroad, the higher costs of pilot training in the UK were offset by me being able to remain in employment.
I did this blog post to allow people in similar situations to consider the option of potentially breaking up the CPL/ MEIR into stand-alone chunks.
In terms of job prospects, although I finished before the outbreak of COVID, I had 3 job offers 4 weeks after finishing my APS MCC/JOC. I suffered no discrimination when it came to airline employment by completing my professional pilot training with different schools.
Keep an open mind!
If you wish to learn more about professional pilot training, check out my best-selling Pilot Training Guide on Amazon.
If you have any questions about my pilot training or the path I took, please leave a comment in the section below. I would love to hear from you!
Kudzi Chikohora is a B737 pilot with around 2,000 hours flying in Europe. He holds a masters degree in Aerospace Engineering and is a chartered engineer and a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Kudzi completed his pilot training via the self funded modular pilot training route and created kcthepilot.com to share pilot training and aviation content.