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I suspect this is an age old topic but I wanted to get fresh take on whether to do my commerical training in Canada or the US.

 

First a little background:

I have completed my FAA PPL(H) in the US and am currently saving up enough money to complete my training with the ultimate goal that I break into the industry as soon as possible. After my PPL I flew for fun for a while and then took a break in order to seriously start building up the flying fund. (I have acheived the dizzying heights of 100 hours in the US).

 

Before anyone says it, yes I understand that the chances of actually making it this business are between slim and none, I read the forum posts regularly and its clear to me that trying to break into this business requires hard work, sacrifce, dedication, networking not to mention a shed load of money to just get started.

 

I have been to visit several schools around the US and have my own opinions about those, but my question in this case is on a broader topic. Which will provide a quicker route to employment, qualifying in Canada (TA) or in the US (FAA).

 

From what I have read so far I have weighed up the differences as:

 

US - From what I understand, the career path in the US goes Private, Instrument, Commercial, CFI, CFII then the fortunate ones land a job as an instructor and the very fortunate ones after that breaking into a turbine job either tours, GOM or something of that nature.

 

CA - (My knowledge of the Canadian system is minimal so please correct me if I am wrong here). The general route is acheiving the commerical licence and 100 hours with no need to cover the PPL first. After the Commercial most prospective pilots end up doing a year or so ground work in order to pick up the odd few hours in the air where possible until they finally break into the industry.

From what I can tell there is far more opportunities for lower time pilots to break into the industry - 500-1000 hours instead of 1000+ (Again correct me if I am wrong).

 

So in contrast it seems that the route to employment may be quicker and cheaper in Canada, but the student will walk away with less qualifications and no time teaching (given that the instructors are generally higher time experienced instructors in CA as opposed to the time building requirement of the US).

 

In terms of where I want to fly after training I dont care. I am happy to move to wherever I can get a job, get the experience and fly on a regular basis.

 

What are your thoughts on the above? Has anyone converted between the 2 countries?

 

On a side note, one of the schools I was looking at in Canada is Chinook helicopters. If I was to do the commerical with them, they offer a full commercial course in the 206.
Ignoring the cost aspect of this for a minute, would one hundred hours in the 206 in Canada be beneficial to securing that first job? Or is it like the US where 100 hours almost appears insignificant in the big scheme of things and although the future employer might see it as a bonus, it isnt actually enough to move the resume to the top of the pile.

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From what I've read on this forum about this subject, if I were a Canadian citizen I would get my commercial in Canada since its been said that there are jobs up there if you have at least 500hrs.

 

If I had less than 500hrs then I'd get my instrument/CFI/CFII down here in the States and look for CFI work, then go back to Canada once I had that 500hrs.

 

If I were a Canadian citizen!

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I read an interesting article called "Quebec training courses are increasingly attractive to the French" from Helicopter Magazine Europe (#43) that can be found on the following links (article in French and English): http://www.helicomag.com/emag/PDF_N43/HM_N43.pdf

 

According to the article, it is easier to find a job in Quebec and Canada in general. It seems that with 300 hrs only it is possible to get a job...

 

I heard that it is much harder to get the medical certificat in Canada, is that right ?

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Most of these questions have been answered in previous threads but I will share some of my relevant experience. I'm a dual citizen, born in the US raised in Canada, and have flown commercially in both countries. After much research I did my commercial in Canada with Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford BC, then immediately went on to get my FAA commercial in WA and eventually CFI in OR. My first job was in NT as a 160 hour pilot mostly working ground crew but flying a Jet Ranger several times a week. I was lucky that was before the economy tanked, it's much harder to get flying right of school in Canada now. Most 100 hour pilot jobs in Canada have very limited opportunities to actually fly. The BC operator I work for presently has 3 low time pilots. One works in the parts room and she has never started a machine, the other guy works on the hanger floor and keeps all the operational gear in order. He has done a few ferry and maintenance flights and has been there 2 years. The third guy is around 500 hours and has worked for the company for 4 years. He has a great attitude and is "over the hump" but it's still slow going for him. There is a lot of competition for these low time jobs so most of the newly licensed pilots will not even be able to find a ground crew position. Having said that there are exceptions and some people might actually fly a few hundred hours the first season out of flght school. Airborne Energy Solutions, Gemini, Bailey, are a few companies that use lowish time pilots for helicopter support in the gas patch.

 

Much has been said about the US system so I will spare you. In my opinion it's much easier to get going in the US than Canada, it's just a completely different model.

 

The medical is almost the same except over 40 years of age it's every 6 months instead of annually.

 

In my opinion the average training in Canada is way better because the instructors are very high time with lots of operational experience. There is an empahasis on off airport "bush" operations in Canada since that's mostly what helicopters are used for and the instructors often have decades of experience before instructing.

 

If you can work either side of the border and money is not a problem do the TC commercial 100 hour program first, then get your instrument, commercial and CFI in the US. Don't bother with an all Jet Ranger course it will not make much difference in the end and just costs a lot more. I highly reccommend Chinook but do the 47 piston program with perhaps 10 hours in the R44 and 10 hours in the Jet Ranger. That way you get both those endorsments on your TC license as well. Then train in the US on the R22. You will need another 100 hours in the US to have a remote chance at a CFI job. You will spent about $90 K for the above program but it gives options to get going in both systems and you will have lots of pieces of paper and 200 hours.

 

Having 200 hours in Canada will not really make a huge difference but if you can get to 500 PIC there are jobs. A friend of mine just got a good job at 500 hours flying an R44 north of Ft St John in the gas patch. $3K per month, plus $25. flight hour for a 14 day on/off rotation. His new boss is having a hard time finding pilots and hunted him down.

 

I am happy to share my experience so PM me if you want my phone number. Be advised I feel it's my responsibility to try to talk anyone out of becoming a pilot. I'm thankful for where I am now and love my career choice, it's just that it's way harder to succeed than most people acknowledge. I believe almost any one can do it, but the reality is the majority do not make it even after such a large investment of money, time, and effort.

 

Good luck,

 

Eric, WP

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Having 200 hours in Canada will not really make a huge difference but if you can get to 500 PIC there are jobs. A friend of mine just got a good job at 500 hours flying an R44 north of Ft St John in the gas patch. $3K per month, plus $25. flight hour for a 14 day on/off rotation. His new boss is having a hard time finding pilots and hunted him down.

 

I have more than 500hrs and would be more than happy to work for him. However, I'm a US citizen and I've read that its next to impossible to get a work visa in Canada, plus I can't afford the conversion!

 

If he truely is having a hard time finding pilots, tell him to just advertise here on VR! There are a ton of us who would gladly go up!

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Sorry but you will not be able to be sponsored and get a work permit to fly in Canada as a low time pilot. There are too many unemployed low timers in Canada to justify a shortage of pilots. Plus the company I mentioned is having a hard time finding 500 hour pilots who have 400 hours of operational flying experience. There is an experience gap because for about 5 years it was virtually impossible to get experience as a low timer in Canada. That translates into a shortage of experienced sub 1000 hour pilots. The same thing has kind of happened in the US but it's in the 2500 hour range. There will never be a shortage of low time pilots, ever! This is a tough business to break into that eats it's young.

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the company I mentioned is having a hard time finding 500 hour pilots who have 400 hours of operational flying experience

 

There's always a catch!

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Sorry but you will not be able to be sponsored and get a work permit to fly in Canada as a low time pilot. There are too many unemployed low timers in Canada to justify a shortage of pilots. Plus the company I mentioned is having a hard time finding 500 hour pilots who have 400 hours of operational flying experience. There is an experience gap because for about 5 years it was virtually impossible to get experience as a low timer in Canada. That translates into a shortage of experienced sub 1000 hour pilots. The same thing has kind of happened in the US but it's in the 2500 hour range. There will never be a shortage of low time pilots, ever! This is a tough business to break into that eats it's young.

 

I take this to mean that Canadian operators don't consider flight instruction as "operational experience"? Which means that a 100 hour Canadian commercial pilot couldn't come down here to the States, get his CFI, teach his way to over 500 hours and go back to Canada and find work?

 

This business is rediculous!

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I did my conversion and obtained a work visa, all courtesy of my employer. But I started working for the US side of the company first, and they paved the way for the conversion. It was pretty easy, but I have no idea what the cost was. All I know is I can legally fly and work both sides now.

 

Our company has in the past hired seasonal low timers for the busy season, and they usually get let go after the season ends. One of them was lucky enough to stick around and is just about to crack 200 hours after I think 2 years of doing grunt work. He gets to ferry once in a while, and does lots of maintenance run ups and flight checks. Slow going for sure, but he is patient, and once he gets 200 hours, he will get signed off and sent out on simple jobs, like flying engineers around to gps coordinates and what not. I think all but one, including the DO, CP and all the line pilots all started at this company as 100 hour guys. One of the "high time" and most experienced guys on the crew is a 2100 hour guy, but from day one he was flying 500's and getting good operational and sling experience as early as 200 hours.

 

And yeah your pretty much right, the Canadian operators dont care much about your 1000 hours of CFI time. I came to them with about 2k total time, and they treat me like a 500 hour guy cause I was that 1000 CFI guy before. CFI's in Canada are really experienced guys. It was awesome doing the conversion and actually flying with a CFI worth a sh*t. Made me feel bad about the level of instruction I provided, but thats the way of life in the states.... Think about it like this, a 2000 US pilot has probably 1000 hours as a CFI and maybe 500-1000 of operational time. A 2000 hour Canadian pilot will have roughly 1500-1800 of operational experience including a ton of sling time. Its an entirely different system and an entirely different culture, and not in a bad way at all. Knowing what I know now, I would have much rather come up through the ranks in Canada, although I am not so sure I would have had that kind of dedicated patience that it takes to be a 100 hour grunt, I give those guys alot of respect cause Ive seen some of the older guys treat them like garbage. I try to always make sure they are taken care of and they have a few cold beers at the end of the day because they work their butts off and dont get much in return.

 

The flight training in Canada, weather in school or with your employer BLOWS away what you get the in the states. When I did my endorsement training in the 500 in BC, I learned techniques that were so helpful it actually pissed me off that I hadnt received that kind of training up to that point, even from the american side of the company in rural AK.... The popular mountain course in Canada, the Okanogwen (dont have the foggiest how its spelled) has world wide recognition as being one of the very best mountain courses there is to offer.

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Hi Eric,
it is possible to contact you via email, or phone? I would like you to ask some question about this low time pilot situation in Canada.
Thanks.
Jan.

Most of these questions have been answered in previous threads but I will share some of my relevant experience. I'm a dual citizen, born in the US raised in Canada, and have flown commercially in both countries. After much research I did my commercial in Canada with Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford BC, then immediately went on to get my FAA commercial in WA and eventually CFI in OR. My first job was in NT as a 160 hour pilot mostly working ground crew but flying a Jet Ranger several times a week. I was lucky that was before the economy tanked, it's much harder to get flying right of school in Canada now. Most 100 hour pilot jobs in Canada have very limited opportunities to actually fly. The BC operator I work for presently has 3 low time pilots. One works in the parts room and she has never started a machine, the other guy works on the hanger floor and keeps all the operational gear in order. He has done a few ferry and maintenance flights and has been there 2 years. The third guy is around 500 hours and has worked for the company for 4 years. He has a great attitude and is "over the hump" but it's still slow going for him. There is a lot of competition for these low time jobs so most of the newly licensed pilots will not even be able to find a ground crew position. Having said that there are exceptions and some people might actually fly a few hundred hours the first season out of flght school. Airborne Energy Solutions, Gemini, Bailey, are a few companies that use lowish time pilots for helicopter support in the gas patch.

 

Much has been said about the US system so I will spare you. In my opinion it's much easier to get going in the US than Canada, it's just a completely different model.

 

The medical is almost the same except over 40 years of age it's every 6 months instead of annually.

 

In my opinion the average training in Canada is way better because the instructors are very high time with lots of operational experience. There is an empahasis on off airport "bush" operations in Canada since that's mostly what helicopters are used for and the instructors often have decades of experience before instructing.

 

If you can work either side of the border and money is not a problem do the TC commercial 100 hour program first, then get your instrument, commercial and CFI in the US. Don't bother with an all Jet Ranger course it will not make much difference in the end and just costs a lot more. I highly reccommend Chinook but do the 47 piston program with perhaps 10 hours in the R44 and 10 hours in the Jet Ranger. That way you get both those endorsments on your TC license as well. Then train in the US on the R22. You will need another 100 hours in the US to have a remote chance at a CFI job. You will spent about $90 K for the above program but it gives options to get going in both systems and you will have lots of pieces of paper and 200 hours.

 

Having 200 hours in Canada will not really make a huge difference but if you can get to 500 PIC there are jobs. A friend of mine just got a good job at 500 hours flying an R44 north of Ft St John in the gas patch. $3K per month, plus $25. flight hour for a 14 day on/off rotation. His new boss is having a hard time finding pilots and hunted him down.

 

I am happy to share my experience so PM me if you want my phone number. Be advised I feel it's my responsibility to try to talk anyone out of becoming a pilot. I'm thankful for where I am now and love my career choice, it's just that it's way harder to succeed than most people acknowledge. I believe almost any one can do it, but the reality is the majority do not make it even after such a large investment of money, time, and effort.

 

Good luck,

 

Eric, WP

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The flight training in Canada, weather in school or with your employer BLOWS away what you get the in the states. When I did my endorsement training in the 500 in BC, I learned techniques that were so helpful it actually pissed me off that I hadnt received that kind of training up to that point, even from the american side of the company in rural AK.... The popular mountain course in Canada, the Okanogwen (dont have the foggiest how its spelled) has world wide recognition as being one of the very best mountain courses there is to offer.

I would love to hear more about any or all of these techniques.

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There are some jobs in Canada for low time pilots.

It is often more about the right attitude that gets people hired than just hours.

Many operators prefer female pilots.

Sadly they are few and far between.

I would rather invest in a good person who only has 100 hrs, than someone with a bad attitude and 3,000 hrs.

I fired a 3k hour pilot after 1 month, and replaced him with a vastly superior pilot who had just 118 hrs. Why? She had the right attitude to become a great pilot someday. She has only been with me 3 months and already I see huge potential in her.

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"I fired a 3k hour pilot after 1 month, and replaced him with a vastly superior pilot who had just 118 hrs. Why? She had the right attitude to become a great pilot someday. She has only been with me 3 months and already I see huge potential in her."

 

 

BCBoater - Can you expand and qualify that statement (which sounds provocative btw) with a little more detail please. I am not sure how a pilot with only 118 hours can really replace a 3000 hour pilot. Is that helicopter time or total time? If total time then obvious questions arise . . .like legality.

 

Even with only 118 hours of helicopter time and some other amount of fixed wing time (???) it would still be questionable about what they would be qualified, and/or proficient to do exactly.

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"I fired a 3k hour pilot after 1 month, and replaced him with a vastly superior pilot who had just 118 hrs. Why? She had the right attitude to become a great pilot someday. She has only been with me 3 months and already I see huge potential in her."

 

 

BCBoater - Can you expand and qualify that statement (which sounds provocative btw) with a little more detail please. I am not sure how a pilot with only 118 hours can really replace a 3000 hour pilot. Is that helicopter time or total time? If total time then obvious questions arise . . .like legality.

 

Even with only 118 hours of helicopter time and some other amount of fixed wing time (???) it would still be questionable about what they would be qualified, and/or proficient to do exactly.

No matter how much more time and experience the 3000 pilot might get, it will never make him a girl. That requires surgery.

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AdminLB.

Attitude was so ingrained into him that he was a lot better than he was, that he is an accident just waiting to happen.

He was even rude and arrogant to customers....not just other employees and me.

The new pilot with 118 hours had a legal license to fly.

So was able to go with more experienced pilots and build skill and judgement, as well as hours. Also great for moving a machine to a site,or taking it for service.

She flew part time and worked the ramp.

Now with a couple months more experience and building more hours every week, she has become a helll of a good pilot.

Her attitude is right.

Confident, but not arrogant.

Knows that anyone can crash if they use poor judgment.

Doesn't think she is invincible.

Willing to listen to those with more experience, and esger to learn.

The 3k hour douche had no desire to listen or learn.

Swore he was tougher than suoer man.

More skilled than any 30k hour pilot.

Arrogant beyond belief.

 

A low timer with a great attitude and a willingness to learn can be taught to be good.

He has been let go by 3 companies in 2 years including me.

Has earned a bad rep and now to get a job will probably need to move far far away.

No company can afford to keep a pilot with a bad attitude.

 

And sorry it took me 2 months to reply.

I don't check here very often.

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