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Helicopter pilot or A&P first?

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#1 pianomansb



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Posted 16 January 2019 - 10:24

I'm looking to become a helicopter pilot, but I'm also interested in the mechanical side. I've been told it's useful especially for remote employers to have their pilots be A&Ps also, and I think that sounds really fun. At the moment though, I definitely don't have money to try to go through to schools at once. Seems like making money as an A&P is pretty guaranteed, but starting young as a pilot also seems important with lots of hour-building to do. I'm already almost 27. Should I start scraping funds together to pay for flight school now and try to get that going, or would it ok to push it back for 2 or 3 years while I get established as a mechanic?

Side note: I'm primarily interested in aviation maintenance as it relates to piloting helicopters, so I'm mostly interested in helicopter maintenance. Aviation Institute of Maintenance said fixed-wing a&p is 21 months, and for rotorcraft I'd have to go to a different city for 7 months as some kind of add-on certificate. (I'm in the Philadelphia area.) Is the helicopter program pretty different in most schools, or how does that work?

Thanks for any insight!


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#2 avbug


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Posted 16 January 2019 - 23:54

There's no such thing as a fixed wing or rotor rating for an A&P...the A and the P are the ratings (airframe, and powerplant, applied to a mechanic certificate).  


A newly minted A&P isn't worth a lot of money in the field, and frankly you'll make considerably more going to work at a car dealership as a mechanic than you'll make working on airplanes or helicopters.  That said, maintenance certification and experience is valuable as a utility pilot, and I think it's valuable even if you're in a flying job that doesn't make direct use of your A&P.  


Going to school isn't the only way to get an A&P.  30 months of full time experience and you can test it out, too.  (or 18 months of full time experience for either the airframe, or powerplant rating).  


Flying is the expensive part.  You might consider getting flying (as it sounds like your focus of interest), and working on maintenance certification later.  You can also instruct when doing your maintenance training if you work it out properly.

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