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View Full Version : HEMS/HAA to Airline ?

09-26-2018, 03:37 AM
I don't know if there are many in this situation, but just throwing it out there. Maybe this thread will just phase out but giving it a try. Are pilots making the transition to the regionals?

09-26-2018, 04:40 AM
Some regionals have mil helo to ATP programs. I think they might only be for military though and not HEMS pilots.

09-26-2018, 04:53 AM
I figured since there are pilots in the community with a few thousand hours and some of them being IFR programs they might be jumping on the bandwagon. Just a thought!

09-26-2018, 05:06 AM
There’s probably not enough people in that industry making the jump for regionals to announce a program. I’m sure you could send a few emails and they’d extend the same program benefits for military rotor transition.

09-26-2018, 05:16 AM
CommutAir, TSA, and GoJet have civilian rotor transition programs. Theyíre not top tier airlines but they do have the programs.

09-26-2018, 05:27 AM
Doing it. I flew Army RW and then HEMS for a few years. Doesn't matter where your hours come from. HEMS, military, utility, etc... I've been flying FW on the side for a while. The transition all depends on you. Study and stay ahead of the lesson plans and you'll be fine.
Just my cent and a half.

Malcolm Tent
09-26-2018, 01:19 PM
Are pilots making the transition to the regionals?

Many HEMS pilots have transitioned but Iím not sure if thatís what youíre asking (because the answer to that question is common knowledge; like have any Syrians moved to Europe).

What exactly is your question?

09-26-2018, 02:30 PM
Many HEMS pilots have transitioned but Iím not sure if thatís what youíre asking (because the answer to that question is common knowledge; like have any Syrians moved to Europe).

What exactly is your question?

I am aware of several military RW pilots making the transition, but the HAA/HEMS pilots making a transition is not well known. I was just curious if people flying in that particular industry are making the jump. I am sure there are some of them that read or have joined APC may want to respond, or not.

Malcolm Tent
09-26-2018, 02:51 PM
So you want to hear from ex HAA pilots who do not have a military background that successfully transitioned from HAA to the Regionals?

09-26-2018, 04:17 PM
Yes (military or no military background) in the HAA community. Those who are actively pursuing the training by building the required hours or those who are just tossing the idea around, or have completed the transition? Any or all of the above!

09-28-2018, 10:41 AM
There are a lot of us here that can help, but specific questions would be better. This is an odd place to publish your autobiography.

09-28-2018, 03:21 PM
I was just curious to hear from those that have made the transition from HEMS lifestyle to Regional life. Being that the HEMS/HAA schedule of a week off every other week and coming home every night if home based compared to the schedule of the regional industry? Any added insight as to the pro 's and con's would be valued as well.

Taco Cat
09-29-2018, 04:33 PM
A good number of rotorheads flying for the Regionals... Many of the RTP programs will help you get your fixed-wing hours and ratings, they are not exclusively military rotor peeps... Magic numbers are 1500 total time, of which 250 PIC Fixed-wing, 50 multi-engine Airplane.
Airline schedule is MUCH more flexible than HEMS!!! Iíve worked week on/week off (7 day shifts, week off, 7 night shifts... rinse repeat) and 3 day, 4 nights (24 hour reset between day and night) which really becomes a 8 on/6 off shift... good thing was you knew your schedule a year out, but problem was getting that 1 weekend off for a buddyís wedding or something popping up last minute...
After year and a half, I was bidding top third in base at my regional, easy to hold 17-18 days off/ month, and weekends off... Quality of life was a 100% improvement over EMS!
Stress factor, no comparison. No scene flights with NVGís to an LZ set up by the local volunteer FD... my hatís off to those folks, but had too many close call with wires that were hard to see because a lit-up unit in the LZ... flying a approach to mins and even a missed approach are all procedural... Airline flying is soooo much more civilized... I donít wash or refuel the airplane.
That being said, I went from a SPIFR HEMS program to a decent Regional with approximately a 50% cut in pay. But, within 3-5 year I can easily be at the same pay or better, looking 10-15 years down the road is easily millions more in earnings potential.
Travel benefits, yeah I like those too!!!

09-30-2018, 01:53 AM
Bingo, the last reply is exactly the type of situation I was referring to. Thank you for sharing your comparable insight.

Taco Cat
09-30-2018, 03:06 PM
Part Deux....
HEMS.... 3 to go 1 to say no. 121, are we legal to go (departure, destination, alternate)??? Flight Attendants have questions, turbulence, time enroute, but so far have not been thrown under the bus like I have been with a high drama EMS med-crew (Earn Money Sleeping).
A typical 4 day trip in the Regional Airline world is a mental health holiday compared to sharing a week in a trailer on hitch in EMS. I worked for the HEMS company flying red, white, and blue 206’s, I had a wicked good time, lucky to call them friends because we worked together for the same employer... Left to fly IFR twins, chasing the equipment and dollars... and drama... Cameras in the cockpit, nurses giving me a weather brief...
When I left HEMS, I got my smile back.
Some Airline crews slam-click... go to their rooms and you’ll ever see them until the next day for the van back to the airport, others you’ll split the cost of an Uber to check out the local floral and fauna... I bid Texas flying in the winter for great TexMex cuisine and Canada/New England in Summer and Fall to practice my high school French and eat seafood...
I enjoy the variety of flying for the airlines, I’ve taken my significant other back to places that I’ve overnighted on trips... Portland, Maine was my first non-revenue trip and we ate lobster every day. Nonreved to Paris and London in June and August... I didn’t need any vacation time off because I could bid enough days off on my schedule...
Half my new hire class has already left the regionals and are making more money at Spirit, JetBlue, or the Majors (military guys doing a touch and go.. ) Captain pay at the regionals is almost par with EMS, but no extra pay for workovers (I could always plan on at lest 3 days/month to cover vacation or recurrent training in EMS) and you’ll be making minimum guarantee (75 hours pay/month) as a reserve captain until you can hold a line...
Landing on a helipad on the top of a hospital (at night with NVG’s) is cool... International non-rev travel in First Class is awesome!
Shoot me a PM if you have any questions, I don’t have a dog in this fight and won’t be at my current regional long enough to collect a bounty for bringing you onboard.

09-30-2018, 05:09 PM
I would like to personally thank you for taking the time out for your thorough reply. I hope others can share their experience and I believe there are those out there other than myself that can learn from yours.

10-02-2018, 09:04 AM
I would like to personally thank you for taking the time out for your thorough reply. I hope others can share their experience and I believe there are those out there other than myself that can learn from yours.

If you have not done so yet, check out the RTAG (Rotary To Airline Group), on Facebook. While most of the members are former military pilots making the transition they also help with civilians. They will also have a website up and running 6 October.

02-26-2019, 09:35 AM
With over 1200 views I believe there are many lurkers out there researching and comparing both careers. Taco Cat has provided the pros and cons of each career. As more and more HAA pilots switch over to 121 FW there should be more first hand information available to all those in the sidelines researching. Are you glad or do you regret the decision? Why? Feel free to share your experiences here because apparently people are reading here.

02-27-2019, 01:54 PM
I flew Army H60s and then EMS in the midwest and along the Rockies. In my personal opinion, compared to flying EMS this job is easy. I donít mean that the job doesnít take focus or that the training wasnít intense, but flying as an airline FO is stupidly easy compared to doing a scene call at 2 am at 10,000 feet in a single pilot helicopter.

No really a Pro or Con:
Schedule: 2-5 days on, 2-4 days off. It all changes from month to month, but gets better as your seniority builds.

Scheduled Flights: No more jumping through your a$$ to make a weather decision, get the entire crew to the aircraft and get off the ground only to be asked by the incident commander, ďwhat took you so long?Ē. You know when youíre taking off, where youíre going to and what youíre doing after that. Obviously there are weather and maintenance delays, but that comes with aviation.
Work Environment (Keep in mind that Iíve only seen one regional):
1. There isnít a lot of hand holding. You are treated like an adult and expected to act like one. Whether it is during training or flying the line you are left largely to yourself to complete your required duties.
2. Except for a preflight (which is really more of a walk around), you work in a temperature controlled cockpit with a door that shuts. No more waiting for the medcrew in a cold, snowy field. No more washing the aircraft. No more refueling.
Travel Benefits: Self explanatoryÖ.
Aircraft: Iím flying in the E175 and I love it. The aircraft is a gem. Powerful, has good legs and the avionics are amazing.

Starting Pay: FO pay was a significant pay cut from what I made as an EMS pilot. The bonus that my company offered did help, but it still took some planning.
Time Away From Family: I put this on here not because I didnít expect it, but because it sucks to be away from the family with any profession. My wife and I made the conscious choice that my time at home would get worse, but that our overall life and lifestyle would improve.
The hat (Yup, Iím digging this far)Ö.I truly think that an airline pilotís hat looks dumb. That being said, I put it on and wear it with a smile.

Hope this helps. Hit me up with questions and Iíll do my best.

03-02-2019, 02:12 AM
Thank you, this is the exact direction of the thread I was looking for. Many here will benefit from sharing all your experiences from both sides.

05-17-2019, 12:01 PM
I wish i had found this thread sooner. I am a former military guy, currently flying HEMS and leaning toward a jump to the regionals. Its just that initial couple of years that are going to be tough. I think the hardest thing to give up is going to be my current schedule. Living local to your base in a HEMS job is pretty great when it comes to time at home with the fam. Also, with a minimal amount of effort and workover, I'll hit in the low to mid 90Ks this year... the pay cut is going to be painful.
All that said, I'm looking mainly as SkyWest. I live in the DFW area, and I think if I could reasonably expect to be a lineholder in domicile within six to eight months and average about 85 hours a month, I might just be able to make it work. Thoughts??

05-17-2019, 01:37 PM
My advice is to keep your expectations low. You never know what kind of training delay, hiring/upgrade slow down or something completely unexpected popping up and slowing you down from holding a line or even a particular base. I expected to be finished with training in six to eight weeks and it took me nearly five months because of scheduled breaks and lack of sim instructors.

And yes, the first year of FO pay takes a lot of preplanning after making EMS dollars.

05-19-2019, 11:06 AM
3 out of 3 (2 close friends and myself) flew mil RW, then HAA/HEMS for a few years and are now flying 121 jets. 2/3 were VFR twin, 1/3 was SPIFR, all good programs. All 3 of us aren't even glancing back at HAA/HEMS, even given the regional pay cut and starting off on reserve. I'll repeat what's already said....not being woke up by the tones at 3am to fly in sketchy weather to land in an even more sketchy zone, refuel, and wash the aircraft etc etc. the 121 world has its own challenges and headaches, but taken as a whole it's a lot better than the HEMS/HAA industry. The potential financial upside doesn't even compare. One of my close medic/nurse crews asked me what it would take to come back ($$$) and my answer made them laugh. I'd have gone back to HEMS for double pay and addition of soft benefits in terms of massaging the 7/7 schedule that's written in stone. A few years into 121 and it's nearly impossible to even dream of going back.

That being said I do miss the camaraderie, close knit "family" atmosphere, and occasionally the great sight seeing done at 1000' agl and 100 knots. (Fortunate enough to be at a great base with crews that really liked each other 85% of the time)....but still wouldn't even glance back. It's been that big of an improvement for me. Most of all my HEMS program let grow an awesome beard and I do miss that. Oh well.