Hour Building is the idea of broadening your flying experience to build on the skills you learned in your PPL in preparation for Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) course. It’s worth pointing out that if you complete an integrated course, the hours requirements are slightly different. This article is mainly focussed at modular students as much of what I’ll talk about is already built into the integrated course but you may find some elements of the article useful.
There are other requirements too but the main focus of this article is in achieving this requirement. You should have a minimum of 10 hours of PIC (Pilot in Command, i.e. flying without an instructor) time from your PPL so that leaves you with a shortfall of 90 hours to make up. There are a huge amount of options available to achieve this requirement so it’s worth taking a bit of time to figure out how you’d like to do it.
If you have chosen the modular route, there’s a strong chance that the cost of flight training played a factor in your decision. While ‘cheap flying’ probably does not exists, there are places where you can build your hours in a relatively affordable way. First take a look at your local flying club. Flying Clubs generally operate on a non-profit basis giving lower overheads and consequently lower flying rates. They also have usually have very good availability giving you an opportunity to take the aircraft away and build your experience in cross country flying. Take a look at www.funfly.ie as an example.
If the Irish weather is getting you down, you might want to look overseas. Some parts of the world are popular with hour builders such as Florida and discounts are available for booking blocks of hours. Global Flight Training Solutions is one such example in Florida. There are other so it’s worth looking around. Make sure to factor in flights and accommodation when making your decision. If you are going overseas, also take a look into the local licensing requirements. Irish PPLs are ICAO compliant meaning they are recognised in almost every country but there is often some paperwork that must be completed in advance so that your licence can be validated by the relevant local authority.
Don’t Fly Around in Circles!
It sounds obvious but the requirement to have 100 hours PIC is to allow you to build your experience to prepare you for your CPL(A). If you structure your hour building well, this will help when it comes to doing that course. You’ll see the requirements above state that you need to complete a qualifying cross-country of at least 300 nautical miles landing at two other airports. This is similar to the PPL cross-country of 150 nautical miles except this time, you don’t need an instructor to send you. For mine, I flew from Weston to Kerry, Kerry to Waterford and Waterford back to Weston taking in some extra waypoints along the way. Yours can be anywhere in the world! Have a think about what route you will complete early in your hour building, don’t wait until the end. Try to do other cross-country flights to new airfields to build up your experience.
The Last 10 Hours
By now you should have decided where you will complete your CPL(A) training. During the last 10 hours of your hour building, try to get some experience on the type of aircraft you will fly on your CPL(A) course. This will give you a good grounding prior to starting. Even if you can’t get the same aircraft type, go for similarities like engine-type as it will reduce the learning curve when you start the course.
EU safety regulations only permit cost-shared flights by private individuals, if the direct cost (i.e. cost directly incurred in relation to the flight, e.g. fuel, airfield charges, rental fee for an aircraft) are shared between all parties, including the pilot. Cost-shared flights shall not have an element of profit. If a flight is not a cost-shared flight in accordance with EU safety regulations, the flight will be qualified as a commercial flight and commercial air operation rules will apply.
This allows you to share the costs of flying among friends and family. There are cost-sharing platforms such as Wingly that can help you organise such flights. These are well structured and provide some legal protections to pilots. Be aware of more local arrangements that may not have the same level of oversight. Also have a good check of the aircrafts insurance as some policies expressly prohibit cost-sharing flights.
EU Rules allow PPL holders without an instructor rating to conduct Lesson 3 of the LAPL/PPL syllabus which is the introductory flight. This can be a good opportunity to get some free flying while introducing someone new to aviation. There are a strict set of rules in place for such flights and not flying clubs or schools offer this possibility but it’s worth exploring.
If you want to build your experience further but without the extra cost, buddy up with someone else for your hour building. This will give you the opportunity to sit in the right seat while your colleague flies and vice versa. Observing is a great way to learn, especially at the hour building stage and the extra exposure will give you a much better foundation when it comes to starting your CPL.
So there you have it, a few tips and tricks to get the most from your Hour Building.