I would say both are a good idea, you can always convert your FAA IR to JAR later on, probably cheaper and easier in the long run, the IR schools in the UK are well booked up into next year, and most have pretty poor customer service when it comes to giving out advice and costs etc. on JAR IR courses to potential customers. (I only got one useful response out of them all!)
If you can afford to get a B206 rating on your JAR licence when you are out there you will save a few quid compared to doing it this side of the pond!
I say all this after doing all my training in the UK and Ireland over the years, the expensive way! At least the FAA are pro-aviation, not just out to rip you off like the aviation authorities over here...
Good luck with it all, hope it works out for you.
There are more good heli jobs in Ireland now than there used to be, they tend to be for experienced pilots though, so if you can get an IR its a good step on the road to a corporate job, but you will still need around 1000 hrs or so for most to consider you.
If you get an instuctor rating in the US and work there until your visa expires you should be able to get around 1000 hrs or so, remember if you want to instruct when you come back here you will need to do the bridging course (15 hrs) to convert to JAR instructor standard, but at the minute good instructors are getting quite rare, so its a rating worth keeping and there is plenty of work around at flight schools in the UK and Ireland.
Its a difficult career to get into and earn a living from, If I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I would probably think seriously about an airline career, but if your sure you want to do it, don't let me stop you.
You've hit the nail right on the head there friend, I'm wondering that myself! I trained under the old system prior to JAR and worked as an instructor to build hours. I worked during the week in my regular job and flew at weekends for the first few years until I eventually started flying full-time, mainly as an instructor and doing a bit of charter work from time to time. Now, I have not been down the north sea route, and to be honest it doesn't really appeal to me, but that is where the better pay and conditions are for a new CPL if you are lucky enough to get in.
An experienced IFR twin corporate pilot can earn decent wages, but its a long hard road to get there...
When I was newly qualified, if I had been lucky enough to be offered an offshore job I would have taken it, as thats the time when you need to earn most money to pay back debts!
I'm progressing up the pay scale reasonably well now with the experience I have but, I will still be paying back loans for many years to come!
Hope this gives answers some of your questions, you seem to have researched things fairly well, and have a good plan, as long as you realise it can be a hard career and I think the biggest pitfall is the financial side, I have enjoyed most of the flying I have done over the years.
If you have anymore questions let me know and I will do my best to answer them.
something you might think about before you sign up for the full JAA/FAA CPL in HAI is that if you spend you're time doing the JAA stuff you will have only about 9 months left on you J1 Visa by the time you get your licence. This leaves you very little time to find a job and get those hours in your log book.
I've been to HAI and was lucky enough to work there for a few years and if I had to start again I would probably just do the FAA CPL,CFI and CFII as fast as I could and then work towards getting a job and spending all the remaining visa time logging hours. After your visa expires you can start doing the JAA stuff.
Another way would be to get a JAA PPL on an M1 visa, then come home and do all the ATPL Exams. You can still qualify for a J1 as long as you only have a PPL (unless they have changed it) so you could then return to the US under your J1 ,do the FAA stuff, and look for a job.
I would say the most valuable thing to have coming back to Europe is a good 1,000 hours. Otherwise you could risk paying all the money, having no time left on your Visa to work and then arriving home with less than 200 hours logged. You will find it very hard to get work then.
Good luck though and HAI was a great school when I was there.
Instructors in S. Ireland can earn anywhere from 30 - 50 euro per hour, pay is actually creeping up (not before time) as they are getting scarce.
At a busy school you could average anywhere from 40 - 60 hours a month, I think I did around 80 in my busiest month ever, which was July or August one year.
Some of the schools (mainly N. Ireland or England) will pay you a basic salary with a smaller hourly rate on top, (eg. ?10k + ?20 p/h) some comfort at least if you get a run of bad weather, or things are quiet, at least you are still getting a small wage at the end of the month. Obviously this time of year most schools are a lot quieter and bad weather is a big factor.
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