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Maintaining currency


Parafiddle
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I'm curious to know how many hours on average helicopter pilots fly per month or per year. I understand that this can vary greatly depending on the type of work you are doing. I posted many of the same questions below to the EMS forum, and it got me thinking about how things are done in other sectors of the helicopter industry.

 

How do you go about staying current and/or proficient. Are you able to take the helicopter to a local airport and practice normal and crosswind landings, auto-rotations, etc.? What about night currency (with and without NVGs (if you have them)), instrument currency, etc. Do you call the dispatch and let them know you are out of service for an hour or two to do this training? Do you have specific requirements for currency that you must meet (X number of hours per month (daytime and nighttime), Y number of take-offs and landings or approaches, Z number of instrument approaces or practice autorotations, etc.).

 

I have seen our local police department helicopter practicing autorotations at the airport when I've been out flying airplanes. Are you allowed to take the A/C out when you as a pilot feel you need some practice or only when you need to to meet currency requirements?

 

I fly with airplanes with a military aero club and have certain currency requirements I have to meet each quarter or I have to go up with an instructor for some recurrency. Obviously, if I feel like I need a little tuning up on something (night landings, for example), I can always just go practice (assuming I am night current). Of course, I am paying for all the time on the Hobbs, so it is a little different. Just wondering how you stay proficient on the many and varied piloting tasks you may encounter in a work environment. Thanks!

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There is generally no problem staying current flying offshore. You fly enough to stay well above the required levels. I once logged 9,000 landings in 6 months. Night is another story, and if you're flying small ships you don't stay night current at all, because you don't fly at night. Medium and heavy pilots have to stay current in both night and IFR operations, and that's usually no problem. The PIC gets a checkride every 6 months, and SICs often do also, especially if they're flying more than one model. Proficiency and legality aren't necessarily the same thing, and staying proficient in instrument and night flight has to be worked at. I used to file IFR every chance I got, and practiced instrument approaches as often as possible. You can't fly under the hood with passengers, but you can do it on empty runs back home. You can also do practice OSAPs pretty often if you want, and it pays big dividends when the weather goes down and you have to do it for real. Flying an instrument approach to minimums (200'/.7mi) is demanding if you haven't done it in a long time. Night proficiency also takes practice. Only the PIC has to be night current, but I wanted my SICs to be current and proficient as well. I've seen highly experienced captains struggle to make night approaches and landings to offshore platforms if they hadn't done it in awhile. It's not that easy to get permission to take a medium out at night for practice, nor easy to get someone to go along with you. The oil companies aren't always happy about having training ships land on their platforms, either. You have to work at it, and get all the practice you can. Many of the major offshore helicopter companies now use simulators, and it may be possible to get some sim time during your off days, depending on the company and the type aircraft.

 

Police and other nonprofit units operate very differently from commercial operations, and operate under different rules. You can't really compare the operations.

Edited by Gomer Pylot
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In the GOM you maintain currency by working. Even the newest spare or pool pilot is going to

get 10 hours a hitch doing a few specials or ferry flights. Part 135 requires an annual

checkride in each type you fly and new pilots have a 6 month check out with an IP.

You are not allowed to just take an aircraft out because you think you need to fly some.

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