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Another one of those Add-On questions

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Hi there,


I am a 9,000 hour fixed wing ATP that wants to get into helicopters more for fun than for work. However, I want to do the commercial add-on just in case.


I currently own a Rotorway 162F that I'm rebuilding and that will probably be my primary rotor flying machine for quite some time, so I don't really need to worry much about renting in the future.


I can pretty much go anywhere in the US for training, so I've been doing a bit of research and checking out schools to see which one might be better for me. I came across one that made me raise my eyebrows a bit. It is a 141 school that has an add-on course. Unfortunately, there is something on their page that has caused a bit of confusion for me....


If you are applying for a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft category and helicopter class rating, you must log at least 115 * hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: *(Part 141 Only)


The part I bolded is what's making me scratch my head. Does this mean I have to have 115 hours total if I do the 141 course?? Or do I need 115 hours of 141 time? As I have zero 141 time, this would be a show stopper for me, but otherwise I like the program so far.


BTW... This is what they list for their program. Am I missing anything???


5 hrs Instrument Flight Instruction $350.00/Hr $1,750.00


25 Hrs. Flight Instruction $300/Hr $7,500.00


20 Hrs Ground Instruction @ $40/Hr=$800.00


Aircraft Rental Agreement@$400.00=$400.00


FAA Examiner's Fee $450.00


TOTAL $10,900.00


(I have no idea why an Aircraft Rental Agreement would cost $400.)

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It's a requirement under their 141 program. If you go part 61 you only have to meet the minimums for helicopter flight time (in the CFR) for the ratings you seek. Whether or not those minimums are are attainable is up to you. Most 141 schools also offer a part 61 program. Ask them about this. It would be obvious why they would try to steer you towards the 141 portion. At that point I would find another school. I've done 141 flight training before and I didn't like it. I took all my checkrides under part 61. Basically, I was ready but the course required more hours. Waste of money. That's just my opinion. It works better for some people.

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I trained a fix wing student and we decided to go private and obtained it at 30 some hours and then completed the commercial with a total of 55 point some hours. (All under part 61). This was in a S300, and in a R22 or rotorway I would suspect slightly above the minimums. At least with the rotorway you don't have the SFARs to deal with.


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While the school may have a Part 141 certificate, they are not required to train every student under Part 141. They may tend to push students toward that by saying the quality of the training is higher. However, in reality it is not. Everyone is tested to the same standard, the Practical Test Standard. The hours may be a little lower under Part 141, but in your case you will very likely take more time than the minimum as you will have to unlearn some of your fixed wing knowledge. Plus if the school has a simulator/FTD you can do your instrument time in that instead


Good luck

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Thanks for the replies!!


I'm going on memory here, so forgive me if I'm wrong...


IIRC, I need 50 hours total for the Part 61 commercial add-on, which includes 35 hours of solo time and 15 hours of dual. If I were to go the R-22 route, I would need a minimum of 20 hours before I can solo. All told, I'm now up to 55 hours. At an average cost of ~$300/hr I'm at $16,500 before I make the minimums. With just the 50 hours, that will still be $15,000. And that doesn't include ground instruction, examiner fees, etc.


With the Part 141 option that I quoted above, the entire course is completed for $10,900, (at ~$300/hour for 30 hours that comes to just $9000). The 30 hours of instruction is in the R-22, so I would meet the SFAR requirement should I ever want to fly one in the future. No solo time is required, so all of the flight time should be well spent (I tend to just go have fun when I solo, rather than do what I'm supposed to).


(I've only compared the minimum hours required for the two just try to keep it somewhat in an apples to apples category.)


The lesser cost and more dual is why I like the 141 option. I understand that I'll likely need more than the minimum instruction in either case. However, I'm guessing the amount of instruction will be the same with either program. Eliminating 35 hours of required solo time can be a big money saver in the end I would think.


BTW, my mental justification for commercial vs private:


The same people advertise a 141 private add-on course for $7,550 (only 20 hours). If I'm going to require extra instuction anyway, I might as well just go for the commercial.

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Look its just a 50 hour add on, you take a commercial fight check, I know I did the same thing. All you need to do is find a flight instructor that will train you in your machine, The Rotor Way. Call the factory out in AZ, They do training. They would know somebody or point you in a good direction. You don't have to drop 15 to 25 K to do it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Look its just a 50 hour add on, you take a commercial fight check, I know I did the same thing. All you need to do is find a flight instructor that will train you in your machine, The Rotor Way. Call the factory out in AZ, They do training. They would know somebody or point you in a good direction. You don't have to drop 15 to 25 K to do it.


All true, but MOST pilots require more than 50 hours to really feel ready for the checkride. So maybe plan for 60 hrs financially, if you feel ready before that, great.

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  • 1 month later...

You didn't really say what your objective was from a financial standpoint.


Most people don't even quote the right regs for the right reasons when adding-on.


Cheapest possible way you can do it will be under Part 61.


Add-on category under 61.63 ( b ) to the Private level under 61.109 ( c ) - now you can read for yourself what that entails, as it subject to debate by people saying you can't when I KNOW people that have actually in reality done it so I will not say a single word more about how little hours you can TECHNICALLY do it in.


Soooo.... after that you will do your Commercial Helicopter under 61.63 ( c ) which says -


( c ) Additional aircraft class rating. A person who applies for an additional class rating on a pilot certificate:

(1) Must have a logbook or training record endorsement from an authorized instructor attesting that the person was found competent in the appropriate aeronautical knowledge areas and proficient in the appropriate areas of operation.

(2) Must pass the practical test.

(3) Need not meet the specified training time requirements prescribed by this part that apply to the pilot certificate for the aircraft class rating sought; unless, the person only holds a lighter-than-air category rating with a balloon class rating and is seeking an airship class rating, then that person must receive the specified training time requirements and possess the appropriate aeronautical experience.


Pertinent information emboldened, it is technically possible to take your Commercial helicopter ride with only an instructor sign-off.


For the record I went PP-ASEL, PP-Rotor/Helo then Comm Helo and started my first Commecial Helicopter job with a ridiculously small amount of Helicopter hours in my logbook. I then added-on CMEL in a Cessna 310 with only 17 hours time in type thanks to 61.63 ( c ).


I do concede however its all who you know and I was quite fortunate to be instructed by one of the best in the business who has signed off enough 8710s to make a stack of paper 3 inches tall.


I wouldn't expect this to be your experience but it certainly is 100% possible.

Edited by Rogue
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  • 1 month later...

You didn't really say what your objective was from a financial standpoint.


Sorry for the late reply (and necroposting!!). I thought this thread was dead and haven't bothered to check in.


As far as financial objectives are concerned, there's not much. At the present time, I'm just looking to fly helos for fun. However, my company also flies helicopters so I asked a while back if they'd take me on as an SIC if I got my commercial ticket. The answer was a strong "maybe." It would depend on the need at the time.


So, with that in writing (email), I decided to go ahead and get my commercial ticket and also get a deduction on taxes (continuing education, improving career prospects, what ever; my CPA signed off on it!). Also, from what I could tell, getting the commercial would cost just as much as a private ticket after all was said and done.


Since I'm doing this for career growth, I do need to get at least a commercial ticket to make it legit. And who knows, maybe I will get to fly helos professionally. Stranger things have happened. I mean, 15 years ago when I was sitting in cubicle living the life of Office Space, I never would have dreamed that I'd actually get paid to fly. How all that came about is a story for another thread though.


I purchased my Rotorway with the intention of getting my commercial ticket with it. It had been neglected and needed some TLC. I intended to do a lot of work on it after I got the ticket, however a problem with the engine while doing pattern work pushed up the timeline for rebuilding my Rotorway. This involved a complete teardown to the frame so I could get it sand blasted and powder coated and then putting it all back together again with a new engine and new wiring. A new paint job as well. This has taken WAY longer than I anticipated due to job requirements, but it's almost done.


All that being said, my goal is to get the commercial ticket somewhat quickly and then get tranistion training with my instructor shortly afterwards.


A few weeks after I made the OP, I called the school and got a sanity check. I told them what I had for instruction already and what I wanted to do. Final answer: looks like I'll be spending a month of my summer vacation getting a helo ticket for around $11k. Assuming some crisis at the company doesn't come up and blow those plans away.

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  • 7 months later...

Well, I got it done. Total time for me was 33.4 hours. I probably could have done it in the minimum time, but I needed to take a three month break just before my Stage I check due to work requirements.


For a person in my situation (has their own helicopter to fly after training and a bunch of fixed wing time), I'd say this is definitely the way to go. I need to go back to work again, but I already have my CFI lined up to help with a few hours of transition training in my Rotorway in February.

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