If you're a fixed-wing pilot who's ever dreamed of soaring to new heights in a helicopter, you're not alone. Helicopters are incredibly versatile aircraft that can be used for a wide range of missions, from law enforcement and search and rescue to aerial photography and videography.
But before you can take to the skies in a helicopter, there are a few things you need to do. Converting from fixed-wing to helicopter flying can be a challenging process, but it's also incredibly rewarding.
Commercial Pilot License Add-On
If you already hold a commercial pilot license in a fixed-wing aircraft, you can earn a commercial pilot add-on rating for helicopters. This rating allows you to fly helicopters for hire.
To earn a commercial pilot add-on rating for helicopters, you must:
Hold a commercial pilot license in a fixed-wing aircraft
Have at least 250 hours of total flight time, including at least 100 hours in powered aircraft (e.g., fixed-wing, etc.)
Pass a written exam and practical test
Most commercial pilot add-on rating programs for helicopter pilots take between 50 and 70 hours of flight time to complete. The training typically includes:
Emergency procedures training
Training on the areas of operation listed in FAR 61.127(b)(3)
Instrument flight training
Solo flight training
Once you have completed your training, you will need to pass a checkride with an FAA examiner. The checkride will evaluate your knowledge of helicopter aerodynamics, regulations, and flight planning, as well as your flying skills.
Earning a commercial pilot add-on rating for helicopters can open up many new career opportunities for you. Helicopter pilots are in high demand in a variety of industries, including:
Search and rescue
Aerial photography and videography
Instrument Rating Add-On
If you already hold a commercial pilot license with an instrument rating in a fixed-wing aircraft, you can earn an instrument rating add-on for helicopters. This rating allows you to fly helicopters in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
Converting from fixed-wing to helicopter flying can be a challenging but rewarding experience. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve your goal of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot or instrument-rated helicopter pilot.
Additional tips for fixed-wing pilots
Get as much flight experience as possible. The more flight experience you have, the better prepared you will be for the conversion process.
Study helicopter flight dynamics. This will help you to understand the differences between fixed-wing and helicopter flying.
Get a flight simulator. A flight simulator can be a great way to practice your helicopter flying skills without having to risk your life or your wallet.
Find a mentor. A mentor is a more experienced helicopter pilot who can help you with the conversion process.
With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to becoming a commercial helicopter pilot or instrument-rated helicopter pilot and soaring to new heights!