ELCAS logo

Advance Helicopters joins UK military learning scheme

Advance Helicopters is delighted to be part of the UK military Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme (ELCAS), established by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to promote lifelong learning among members of the Armed Forces.

ELCAS is designed to assist service personnel with training that will enhance their current or future career; this assistance is in the form of an annual payment for up to three years. We are one of a handful of flying schools that are approved Learning Providers for helicopter training and we can offer a streamlined and inexpensive way to convert Qualified Service Pilots (QSP) to a CAA PPL(H) licence. The MoD provides financial support in each of a maximum of three separate financial years by way of contribution.

For example, Advance Helicopters can provide R44 type rating instruction as part of an ELCAS approved course. The first step is used to evaluate the pilot’s requirement for PPL/CPL training. This course provides a certificate of completion for ‘type rating instruction’ that can be claimed against using the first Enhanced Learning Credit (ELC). The course provides the 5 hour minimum requirement for a type rating.  The next step is for the QSP(H) to pass the combined PPL(H) Skills Test and Type Rating Test using a second ELCAS approved course. The QSP(H) can be offered any additional training needed (at the discretion of the training organisation) prior to the Skills Test.

As ELCAS courses are intended to be undertaken both while in the Armed Forces or as a preparation for leaving the Service, it is possible to maintain civilian currency and hour build (on civilian helicopters) while continuing a military flying career.

We also offer ab initio training courses for service personnel with no prior flying experience, the costs for which are on the ELCAS website.

Full information on how to apply is set out in JSP822.  The first step requires the candidate to be a registered scheme member and have accrued sufficient service before submitting an online claim to ELCAS. After which, if still serving, the candidate should speak to their Education Staff; service Leavers should contact their SSR to set up an account. Once the candidate has an account they can search for Advance Helicopters as an approved provider and the appropriate training course.  Our training structure has been proved in 2023 whereby a QSP(H) started the type rating instruction in February and was granted a CAA PPL(H) with type rating examination pass in June. Two ELCs were claimed by spanning 2 financial years over April.  As with all our training, we offer 1:1 ground school and flying instruction, at a pace tailored to the candidate.

For more information or to discuss any individual requirements, please contact:

Sara Barclay-Hudson
Advance Helicopters

UK issued EASA licence

EASA to UK licence deadline

If you have a pilot licence you may have heard rumblings about the need to convert EASA licences to UK ones by the end of this year.

The official guidance is a little complex but we have had confirmation that as long as your EASA licence has been issued by the UK CAA then you do not need to do anything.

The next time your licence is reprinted – for example if you change your address or add a type rating – your replacement licence will be a UK one. In the meantime your UK-issued EASA licence is just fine.

The warning is really aimed at those who obtained EASA licences issued by other states after Brexit, in order to be able to keep flying EU registered aircraft. This is likely to only apply to UK commercial pilots operating on the Continent so won’t affect many of our clients.

For the full info see the UK-EU transition section on the CAA’s website.

MD500 helicopter hovering at Advance Helicopters

Experience the iconic MD500

Few helicopters instil a sense of excitement as much as the MD500.

This awesome aircraft shares its history with the similarly iconic Huey.  Its predecessor the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse, nicknamed the Loach, operated as a scout. It scoured the battlefields of Vietnam in search of targets, dodging fire thanks to its incredible manoeuvrability.

What made it ideal for this role was the fact it was designed with one simple objective – to perform. Often referred to as the ‘Ferrari of the sky’ the MD500 is fast, responsive and dynamic. It’s very much a pilot’s machine and so we’re very pleased to have one on the fleet available for training.

The MD500 was originally designated the Hughes 369 and the C model is for many the perfect version, lighter and with the original rounded nose (think TC’s chopper in Magnum PI) and distinctive V-tail.

This is the model we have on the fleet and it is ready and waiting for you to do your type rating, or just to try out for a flight so you can experience this outstanding machine.

R44 helicopter at The Bull in Ticehurst

Flying through the winter

We’ve had a busy summer after a year of lockdowns having flown over 625 hours since 1 June.

But despite the nights drawing in and the weather becoming more changeable we get some great flying days this time of year.

The picture above was taken by one of our pilots on a lunchtime fly-out last week at The Bull Inn at Ticehurst. The weather that day was a gentle south-westerly wind with broken clouds at around 1400 ft – not so great for small fixed-wing aircraft which like to fly a bit higher but no problem for light helicopters. 

Flying into pubs is a great way to use your helicopter private pilot licence (PPL H). We’re able to recommend places to go and give tips on how to get in and out.

R66 helicopter on the pad at Advance Helicopters

Back in the air!

Despite the obvious sense of deja vu we’re really excited to reveal we’ll be back training again from Monday 12 April.

As before we have been busy in the background ensuring aircraft and instructors are ready to get our clients back on the controls.

Even seasoned pilots tend to get rusty after a few months on the ground so it’s a really good idea to do an extra bit of preparation before getting into the air again. Here are some things to think about:

We’re very much looking forward to getting you flying again but as before demand will be high and we ask for your patience if your preferred slots are not available. Please ensure you read our guide for clients before coming in. To request a booking call us on 01273 946044 or email lynn.clarke@advancehelicopters.com. We can’t wait to be flying with you again!

Airbus Helicopters H120 (Eurocopter EC120)

Rotors turning again (again!)

We’re excited to say we’ll be training again from Wednesday 2 December following the end of lockdown 2.

As before we will be following relevant guidelines. Check out or guide for clients, we ask all our customers to read this before getting in touch to book a flight. We also highly recommend a read of our blog post Preparing to fly again.

We know many of you are really excited to get flying. Demand will be high and we ask for your patience if your preferred slots are not available. To request a booking call us on 01273 946044 or email lynn.clarke@advancehelicopters.com.

We can’t wait to see you, again!

Helicopters in the hangar

Lockdown update

We have paused flight training and self-fly-hire during the current UK-wide lockdown.

Meanwhile the Advance team will continue to work in the background to make sure we can get started again as soon as we can.

We know many of you will be keen to get in the air once restrictions are relaxed so we’ll send a newsletter when we have further information on getting the rotors turning again – click here to sign up to our newsletter to be among the first to hear.

In the meantime if there is anything we can do please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Advance Helicopters competition

Share your best flying moment and win!

Have you been taught to fly at Advance Helicopters? Share your best flying moment with us to win!

Will you never forget that special moment when you passed your PPL skills test? Have a great photo of your favourite lunch spot? Have you landed at a spectacular location?

Send us a photo/short video via our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or email info@advancehelicopters.com

First place will win an Advance Helicopters t-shirt, cap and endless bragging rights. Runners up will win an Advance mug and slightly fewer bragging rights!

Deadline is August 31st 2020. We’ll announce the winner in our email newsletter (sign up to it here).

R44 and R66 starting up for check flights

Rotors turning again

We’re pleased to say we’ll be training again from 4 July, following the change in restrictions that come into force that day.

We’ll be following relevant Coronavirus guidelines diligently. To help you understand the changes we have produced a guide for clients, we ask all our customers to read this before getting in touch to book a flight. We also highly recommend a read of our recent blog post Preparing to fly again.

Since the beginning of lockdown the Advance Helicopters team have been keeping current and ensuring the helicopters are serviceable – including maintenance flights in line with manufacturer’s recommendations. We’ve also been planning for restrictions being eased so we’re ready to begin training again.

We know many of you are really excited to get flying. Demand will be high and we ask for your patience if your preferred slots are not available. We have temporarily suspended bookings via our online bookings system so we can manage availability. To request a booking call us on 01273 946044 or email lynn.clarke@advancehelicopters.com.

We can’t wait to see you!

Robinson R22 helicopter at a private site

Preparing to fly again – guide for GA pilots

With the recent relaxation of lockdown restrictions now allowing recreational flying, many of you may be thinking about getting into the air again.

Of course all pilots regardless of experience will inevitably incur some level of skills fade over time. Even if you flew in the days immediately prior to lockdown you still would have been out of the cockpit for a significant period.

Aware of this, the CAA has issued guidance for general aviation pilots returning to flying. We strongly advise everyone reads this, even if you are not planning to go flying imminently, as it will get you thinking about how you need to prepare to get back behind the controls.

Some of the key points are:

  • Are you fit and well? Don’t even think about going flying if you have Covid-19 symptoms
  • Is your licence and medical current?
  • Remember before carrying passengers currency requirements still apply
  • If you’re an owner make sure your aircraft maintenance and documents are up-to-date
  • Make your self aware of any procedural changes at the airport (eg changes in air traffic provision)
  • Do an extra thorough Check A before flight
  • Make your first flight in a local area in good weather
  • Do a ‘hangar flight’ – give yourself a few minutes in the cockpit to re-familiarise yourself with it
  • Take extra time on your first flight and use checklists

The CAA advise that low-hour pilots, those with low hours on a new type or new flying qualification or those that have not flown for a while should consider getting a check flight with an instructor once restrictions are lifted further and dual-training is possible. At Advance we think this is really important so have taken the decision not to go ahead with self-fly-hire until such a time.

Hopefully, training will be allowed again in the coming weeks and at Advance we’re preparing for this. In the meantime we would strongly recommend reading the CAA guidance now so you can get in the preparation mindset and be ready as soon as we get the green light. Another resource worth looking at is the GASCO presentation on returning to flying.