Helicopter Flight Information
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UPDATE: Commercial Helicopter Add-on to Airplane Private? Yes you can!! And you Should!
The ATP and First Class Medicals; Do you need them?
Helicopter Flight Training: There are many flight schools to choose from but you cannot depend on honesty from all of them. Honesty and integrity remain paramount in the operations of those linked here.
Links: To some of the best sites on the web. Make sure you check these out.
Flying: Here you will find general topics concerning day-to-day flying. These pages are updated daily also, so check back often. Also, here you will find information on aviation accidents, the causes, and how to avoid them.
Information: Here you will find advisory circulars that are pertinent to normal operations. Also included is information on the conversion of foreign pilots licenses, as well as the conversion of FAA to JAR licenses. Other miscellaneous information will also be placed here.
Communications: There are so many problems with communications in aviation. Some of it is inadvertent error, and some of it is taught wrong. I will post chapters of this book here from time to time. I was going to post only one chapter per month, deleting the past. I have now decided to post the whole book one chapter at a time including the figures.
Maneuvers: Contained in this text are normal training maneuvers as well as emergency procedures and more.
News: Under news, you will find new information as it becomes available. This could be recommended Helicopter Flight Schools, Jobs, or some of the other news in the industry.
This site is intended to improve awareness, and to spread knowledge to pilots, and even more to unsuspecting students who could end up with a bad instructor or at a pilot-mill-school that does not look out for the long term well being and safety of students which ultimately spreads the disease of bad technique which always results in accidents. This site is here for your benefit, and it is expensive to maintain therefore contributions are encouraged. See: About this site.
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What will Helicopter Flight Training cost? A lot of course, but keep in mind that there are a variety of ways to accomplish your objective. 1: The lump-sum commercial-pilot-package method, you can accomplish your training from 0-time to a paid flight instructor in 3-months at a smaller school, or about a year at one of the larger schools, and at a cost of about $70,000 depending upon the school you choose. There are many alternatives and financing is available. 2: The pay-as-you-go method. This is the way I did my training combining with 3. I flew every Wednesday and Sunday for an average of 1-hour. It was the only way I could afford to do it and it worked. It took me longer than the lump-sum method, but I still achieved my goal from 0-time, start to finish, in 11-months. 3: The combined helicopter/airplane rating method. Most helicopter pilots don't really care about flying airplanes at least in the beginning, I know I didn't, but my instructor talked me into it and I am so glad he did. Flying an airplane is easy for a helicopter pilot so why not? It can shave $10,000 to $30,000 off your total training costs if you do it right.
What is an 'Approved' flight school and what does it mean to the student? There are two types of flight schools in the US which are commonly known as Part 61 and/or Part 141 schools. There is also another worth mentioning (however less known in the US), those conducted under JAR of the JAA. There are also numerous other variations of these schools or the related certificates issued around the world; it really just depends upon where you will be flying. We don't really give a hoot how they do it in the other parts of the world since we are talking about training in the US here which is where the majority of aviation training occurs worldwide.
A Part 61 flight school is one by which training is conducted under and in accordance with part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations also and hereinafter known as FAR. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a part 61 flight school (this is where I trained and had a good experience). A part 61 school is under which almost all single aircraft training is conducted and encompasses the majority of small schools.
A Part 141 flight school is one conducted in accordance with FAR part 141. This is a program where the school operators have demonstrated a certain training program format which has been inspected and approved by the FAA. Training at a part 141 school may be conducted either under part 61 or part 141 however the school must complete a percentage of its students under part 141 with a specified pass rate. Due to the approval process, part 141 schools are approved to shorten their programs as compared to part 61 programs, and many schools use this shortened program as their selling point. An example is, a private pilot rating under part 61 requires 40-hours where under part 141 the same rating only requires 35-hours. Ultimately, this don't mean squat for several reasons. 1: The average student will need 50-55 hours or more to complete the rating regardless of the part trained under. 2: No instructor in his/her right mind would sign-off a student for a helicopter check-ride with 40-hours much less with just 35. 3: No examiner in his right mind is going to sign-off on a pilot with only 35-hours. Most won't sign-off on a student with less than 50-hours. I don't care what kind of lie the school is telling you to get your money. There is absolutely no assurance that you have any protection from rip-offs, or that they are any more likely to occur under a part 141 school verses a part 61 school. In fact some of the biggest student rip-offs of all time have occurred at some of the largest part 141 flight schools.
JAR is the European Joint Aviation Regulations under the authority of the JAA. For students who will eventually fly commercially in Europe, it will be necessary to convert or change to JAR/JAA at some point. The JAA is a consortium of European countries and is a quite uppity organization which ultimately would like to restrict aviation world-wide if it had its way. There is a less restrictive European counterpart known as the CAA and also known as the same in other parts of the world. The basis of difference between the FAR under US law and the JAR/CAA under European law is ultimately that the US and consequently the FAR is based on freedom in the air where European law and consequently the JAR/CAA is based on order in the air. Freedom is a key word here, once you give it up, you never get it back. There is no place on earth where you will enjoy the freedom as we know it here in the US and little by little, it is being chiseled away. Enough said on the JAA/JAR, for those who will need to convert, there are web sites/pages etc., for that purpose.
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This is an article I wrote some time ago to aid students in their decision making process. Select the relative button to jump to a particular position.
Who Can Be A Pilot?
Anyone who is 16 years old or older (some restrictions apply), who can read, speak, write, and understand the English language, and pass the appropriate medical exam, can with the proper training obtain his or her pilots certificate. To old? Not unless you can't pass the medical. There are many active commercial pilots well over 60.
Do you have to take airplane flight training before you can take helicopter flight training?
No, in fact if you want to fly helicopters, then that is what you should do. There is certainly nothing wrong with flying both, and there is a definite advantage to being dual rated. There is however, an advantage to flying helicopters first if you desire to be dual rated, but it is not required. The only advantage is that it is easier to unlearn helicopter habits while learning to fly airplanes than it is to unlearn airplane habits while learning to fly helicopters. Anyone who has one rating can easily add another category to it.
All the money you have, and all you will ever make. Just kidding! Obtaining a pilot certificate is considerably cheaper than most people realize. A private airplane rating will cost $7,000 or more, and a private helicopter rating will cost $15,000 or more. Those prices are assuming an initial rating, and are variable subject to the particular school and student.
It is cheaper by regulation to add a category rating to an existing certificate because of reduced hour requirements, but very few if any can actually accomplish the add-on rating within those reduced hours. However, the realities of it are that if you already hold a private rating in one category, say airplane single engine land, you can add a commercial helicopter rating for about the same cost as an initial helicopter rating ($15,000.00 give or take), and if you hold a private helicopter rating, you might add a commercial airplane rating for about $7,000.00.
A commercial airplane rating (with no prior experience) will cost $30,000, while a commercial helicopter rating (with no prior experience) will cost $40,000. There are ways to minimize those costs, or should I say there are ways to maximize the rating/cost ratio for those pilots wishing to obtain dual, commercial status.
Obviously it is not possible to get paid to be a private pilot, and as a matter of fact it is strictly against the law to accept money for flying at the private level (with certain very specific exceptions). Also, no company is going to hire a commercial pilot with flight experience short of about 1200 hours regardless of category.
There is however, a way for you to receive compensation for flying as a commercial pilot with relatively low hours, and that is for you to become a flight instructor (see outline below). There is a high demand for pilots, and therefore many instructors are constantly moving on to commercial jobs, which creates many CFI jobs in turn. The easiest place to get a CFI job is at the school where you took your training.
Most flight instructors are building time for a commercial job, and there simply is no better way to do it. Aviation is one place where you absolutely must pay your dues; there is no short cut. Donít get me wrong, you will occasionally find the low-life pilot who tried to beat the system, and penciled in a few hours, but sooner or later they will get caught up in their own lies as usual. If you get caught forging anything in aviation, you will pay very dearly. The FAA can take all of your certificates in one single setting, for one dishonest mistake, and they will. They live for it, trust me. If you get caught forging something you can forget about a professional career as a CFI, or a commercial pilot (part 135, 121, etc.); that a mistake that will haunt you forever.
Pilots are expected to be of strong character, and must exhibit extraordinary ethical behavior, especially a CFI. So in short, if you want to get paid to be a pilot, fork over the cash, get your ratings, pay your dues (become a CFI), and enjoy a long career of piloting. Believe me, it is great!!
(Assuming a dual rating is desired)
The most cost effective way to commercial aviation in helicopters is to first obtain your private airplane certificate, and follow that rating with your instrument airplane rating. This will result in $15,000 spent and two ratings accomplished. Don't waste time on your instrument certificate with an inexperienced CFII, and don't waste time with a safety pilot; rather fly the entire required 48 hours with a well qualified instructor and get some value out of your training. Acquiring these two ratings will result in excess of 100 hours total time accumulated. Of that time about 20Ė30 hours will have been dual before you received your initial rating, and the balance of approximately 70 hours or more, will have been solo/PIC, same/same. Understand that solo flight time even though you don't yet hold a rating for that aircraft/category is still PIC time. If it were not, who then, was the PIC? Save money, follow these procedures before taking helicopter flight training.
Now understand this: I said the most (financially) economical way to get your ratings. You see, I am speaking for those financially strapped individuals who really want something, and are not dripping money. If a person is not ready and willing to change their daily habits of existence, and live and breath aviation while drinking water and eating crackers, then you need to go cry to your mama because you are not ready for aviation. If you are not willing to make great personal sacrifice, and if you have great credit and a way to pay, visit Sallie Mae, and then talk to the big flight schools eager to dip deep into your pockets and who don't care how much of your time you waste partying because you are going to have plenty of time to waste while waiting in line to fly anyway.
A commercial helicopter rating requires 150 total flight hours, while a commercial airplane rating requires 250 total flight hours (this makes no sense to me, as helicopter is harder to fly). There are specific hour requirements as stated in the FAR, but those are the basics. The flight time of each category counts toward the other with certain restrictions and/or requirements. It is imperative that a pilot maintains currency in all of the aircraft in which they are rated or else, get current with a qualified instructor before attempting flight after a stale period.
After you have obtained the airplane ratings as stated above, it is time to move into helicopters for a while. Seek out the school of your choice, and try to chose one who offers CFI training and Check rides using their aircraft. If a school does not offer CFI completion, then I strongly encourage you to seek out another school. You will likely get the best treatment at smaller Part 61 operators than at a large Part 141 school, but that choice is yours.
Prepayment and Block Time purchases: You definitely need to plan Block Time purchases in the amount of $5,000 if you can afford it, it makes flight school scheduling easier, and you will get a break on the time rates. Another point of importance here is the fact that if you pull a no-show even once, you are worth neither the time of the school nor the instructor. Show up plenty in advance so that you can have the pre-flight completed by the time slot scheduled.
It is time to obtain your commercial helicopter category add-on to your airplane private pilot certificate. You DO NOT have to add-on the private first; anyone telling you otherwise is lying, or just plain uneducated and wrong; you need to go somewhere else because they are about to cost you significant money. Obtaining your helicopter commercial will cost you about $17,000. That is a reasonable figure, and you should ensure, yourself, that all requirements are met; you do this by reading and knowing the pertinent and relative FAR's. At the completion of this add-on, you should have in the neighborhood of 155 total flight hours or more, with about 105 or more PIC hours.
Here is where the savings really begin to mount... It is now time to complete your helicopter instrument add-on to your pre-existing airplane instrument rating. Now keep in mind that an instrument rating from scratch (no prior instrument rating), requires not less than 48 (including un-hooded time) hours total flight time; however, an add-on only requires an additional 18 (including un-hooded time) hours. That alone is a saving of not less than $8,250 which makes more than half of the previous airplane training absolutely FREE! You have also saved the difference in the cost of the airplane private, and what the helicopter private would have cost which amounts to another $7,500 making both of your airplane ratings FREE! On top of all that, you now have four aircraft ratings in two categories one of which is commercial. You have spent roughly $15,000 for your two airplane ratings, $17,000 for your helicopter commercial, and $5,000 for your helicopter instrument, totaling about $37,000. Had you done helicopter only, you would have spent not less than $43,000 and you still couldn't fly an airplane at all.
The smart thing to do from this point is to continue with your helicopter training, there is no time like the present, and you shouldn't waste a minute of it. You have a total of about 175 hours Total Time (TT), and of that at least 123 is PIC. Your helicopter TT is now not less than 75 hours with about 55 hours PIC.
Logging PIC and SIC time: All solo time is also PIC time, and as such should be counted and included in all rating applications. All time after obtaining the initial rating in a given category is also PIC time even if that time is dual (with a CFI(I)) while training for another advanced rating. Logging SIC time in the training environment is illegal! SIC time can only be logged in an aircraft which requires two pilots by type certificate and requires the appropriate ratings.
Move right on to your helicopter CFI, and CFII do both together, and take the Check rides as close together as possible; it will save you considerable money. The amount of money that you spend on these ratings will be entirely up to you, and the school you are working with. In all fairness, it should take less than 30 hours to accomplish both ratings since the only difference in these and previous check rides is the seat from which you take them. The greatest challenge of all is knowledge, and if you haven't been seriously studying every spare moment from the get go, you will probably fail and you don't deserve the ratings anyway. Follow these procedures and continue saving money on your helicopter flight training.
At the completion of your helicopter CFI rating, your flight school may well employ you immediately especially if you have obtained all ratings with them, and you should seek this out. One of the stories that you are likely to hear is that they can not insure you as a flight instructor unless you have logged at least 200 hours PIC, this may vary from 200-300 depending on the flight school. They use this argument to justify selling you their Career Pilot Packages. This is only partially correct, and any school can help you if they desire. There is a way, and if you want to know that, well that is how I make my money; if I gave up all my secrets for free this web site wouldn't be here for you to learn from.
While you are earning money as a helicopter CFI, you should continue your next 20 hours of training in preparation for your commercial airplane check-ride. This will cost you $2,500. Obviously, now you have sufficient flight time to obtain your Airplane CFI, and it would be a wise investment to do so. You can see that there are endless ratings, and opportunities when it comes to aviation, and you should continue to accumulate every rating that you have an opportunity to get.
More on instrument training: It is required that a pilot receive 15 hours of training in actual instrument conditions, or simulated instrument conditions, and that this pilot then log another 25 hours of simulated instrument time with a qualified safety pilot on board the aircraft. There is significant difference between simulated instrument conditions and actual instrument conditions, therefore it is of my opinion that the student should request of the instructor, that they actually fly in some actual instrument conditions whenever possible. There is no doubt that the instrument rating is one of the hardest to obtain, but also one of the most rewarding ratings. For that reason, I recommend that the student fly the entire 48 hours required with an instructor so that he or she can obtain the most knowledge (I did it, and I am thankful that I did). The cost difference is only about $1,000 for a top-notch instructor, and it is very well worth it. Top
There is nothing wrong with that, it will cost you $38,000 to accumulate up to and including your CFI rating for airplanes, and then you can begin your career of instructing, and build your time and ratings and achieve what ever level of flying that you desire. Follow these procedures and now you can save thousands on your helicopter flight training.
Well that is ok; get your rating, but donít sell yourself short, if you can fly a helicopter, you can fly anything! But what it comes down to is what you want to do. You can start your career with an investment of $65,000.00 accumulating all ratings up to and including your CFII helicopter rating, and you can begin your career.
There is nothing wrong with that, and it will be most enjoyable, and the approximated costs are listed above. Fly with a good safety margin, and maintain a high level of currency. A private only rating in helicopters can be obtained for about $15,000.
I tried in the above statement to present an accurate cost estimate. The fact remains that the individual student will determine the ultimate, and final cost. The costs stated above are the average cost, and I recommend that no student push himself or herself for an early solo or rating, and they should not let a school or instructor push them either.
Be very cautious of a school or instructor that promises you a rating for a low and set cost. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to know the final cost to you; all anyone can do when it comes to flight training is present you with an average or estimated cost.
Many schools advertise a rating for a package price, and sometimes they try very hard to get you through in that time. No school is going to let you fly their aircraft for free, so what that means is that either you will be pushed through before you are ready, or you will be paying extra.
There is no feather for a student who solos early, and furthermore, an early solo is absolutely no indication of which student will make the better pilot. There are 200-hour pilots who fly like they have 2000 hours, and there are 2000-hour pilots who fly like they have 200.
A serious pilot who spends every spare moment at the airport every single day can accomplish each and every rating within 5 weeks or less. You are not to old to become a pilot unless you simply cannot ever pass the necessary medical exam, and they are not that hard to pass. You can learn to be a private pilot with good concentration, in about 6 months, flying 2 times per week. You can become a commercial pilot in less than 2 years flying the same schedule. You can earn your CFI certificate about 60 days later. Donít get me wrong, it takes a lot of studying, and hard work, but with the right motivation, you can do it. It is certainly possible, flying everyday, to earn your certificates in considerably less time.
Obviously a student who flies everyday is going to make the rating faster than a person who flies only 2 hours per week. Ideally in the early stages, a student should fly not more than 3 (helicopter) 5 (airplane) hours per day, and not less than 2 hours per week.
During flight training, you should fly at least 1 hour, at least 2 times per week (2 hours per week). If you can fly only 1 hour per week, that is fine, but the training will take longer, in hours that is. The reason being that if it is to long between flights, some of what is learned is lost, and you have to spend some of each flight refreshing what you had learned the last time.
It is not usually beneficial to fly more than 3-5 hours per day because you will become worn out and congested with information. Some schools insist that their students fly more hours per day, but I personally donít think that is good for the student.
Each time a student flies, there is a period of time after the lesson when that student continues to learn significantly. During this time, the student is digesting the information that he or she took in during the flight.
The length of the lesson can also be variable. For example, a student may have a tense day, and perhaps the lesson should end before an hour. On the other hand, the student may be having a very good day, and the learning may be just beginning to peak in an hour, and it may be beneficial to continue for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Many schools offer a pay as you go program; you donít have to pay everything up front. Not everyone can afford to buy the whole lesson program in one lump. It is better if you can because you will get your rating faster, but hey, it is what it is. You can always purchase block times, and that may reduce the cost somewhat. Block times are when you pay for 5 or 10 hours at one time, and fly them as you go. Also, you can check out financing options available at pilotfinance.com.
Keep in mind that you must purchase certain training materials, and these things will include: study books, a headset, a flight computer, charts, a plotter, etc. You will spend about $200 on supplies for your first rating, and about $100 per rating after that. Also, keep in mind that you will never have to many books to study. The more you read, the better you will do in your flying and your tests.
You are who can become a pilot!
There are four levels of pilot certificates (excluding CFI), Recreational, Private, Commercial, and ATP. Pilot certificates never expire; they are validated by medical certificates, which do expire. You must have both certificates in your possession every time you fly, and you must also have a photo identification.
The recreational certificate requires less training hours by regulation, but in reality, it takes the same number of hours to master the aircraft as it would if you wanted a private pilot certificate. The recreational rating is also considerably more restrictive.
The private pilot certificate allows you complete freedom in aviation with compliance of course to the FARs. With this certificate, you may carry passengers, but not for hire. You absolutely may not be paid for any services with the exception of equally shared expenses. This is the first step in the sequence of certificates in the climb to becoming a professional pilot, and this certificate requires a third class medical certificate.
The commercial pilot certificate requires a second class medical certificate if you will be exercising the privileges of the commercial level, but you need only a third class medical if you not be flying commercially. With the combination of these two certificates, you may now be permitted to fly for hire. There are still restrictions, but they are not restrictions by the certificate. Simply put these restrictions are that (when being compensated for the flight) you may not land at a different point than that which you departed from, and you may not fly more than 25 statute miles from your original departure point unless you are flying under a part 135 (air carrier) certificate.
The ATP pilot certificate requires a first class medical to exercise the privileges at the ATP level, but you need only a second class medical to fly commercially, or third class medical if you not be flying commercially. With this certificate, you are qualified to fly for part 121 air carriers, and any other employer who requires this level of certificate provided that you have the required number of hours (by regulation or employer).
There are three levels of medical certificates; First class, which is required to exercise the privileges of the ATP pilot certificate; second class which is required to exercise the privileges of the commercial pilot certificate; and third class which is required to exercise the privileges of the private pilot certificate.
If you hold a first class medical, and an ATP pilot certificate, you can exercise the privileges of the ATP certificate for six months, and then you must renew the medical to continue ATP privileges. If you choose not to renew after six months, you may continue to exercise the privileges at the commercial level for another six months. After those six months, you can renew or you may continue to exercise the privileges at the private level for another year if you are 40 or older, or another four years if you are under 40.
If you hold a second class medical, and a commercial pilot certificate, you can exercise the privileges of the commercial certificate for one year, and then you must renew the medical to continue at the commercial level. If you choose not to renew, you can exercise the privileges of the private pilot certificate for another year if you are 40 or older, or another four years if you are under 40.
If you hold a private pilot certificate, and a third class medical, you can exercise the privileges of the private pilot certificate as the 40 over and under rule applies (five or two years).
The CFI certificate is only valid when it is accompanied by a commercial or ATP pilot certificate, and does not require a specific medical unless the instructor will be teaching a student who does not hold a rating in the aircraft being flown. This means that a helicopter instructor can instruct a private pilot for the commercial helicopter rating without his or her own valid medical certificate, however this same instructor would need to hold at least a third class medical to instruct a private pilot, or a pilot who is not rated in the aircraft being flown. Note that only a third class medical is necessary when acting as a CFI.
**The check-ride fees of about $500 per rating have not been added in to the above cost estimates.
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