Helicopter Pilot Careers In Flight Instruction

Most civilian helicopter pilots began their career by becoming a certified flight instructor. Certified flight instructors are the foundation upon which the rest of the helicopter industry is built.

CFI's teach students the required maneuvers and knowledge necessary to pass the various FAA flight and ground tests. A CFI position is usually one of the first positions that a new pilot will obtain and for most is considered a way to build experience and hours.

CFI pay is typically low so when instructors have the required hours, usually 1000, to move on they usually do but there are those instructors who choose to remain a CFI and may eventually buy their own helicopter and open their own flight school. Because most new helicopter pilots become CFIs there are a few things that you should know.

The first is that the overwhelming majority of flight schools use the Robinson R-22 as a training helicopter as opposed to its competitors the Schweizer 300 and the Bell 47.

This in it self is not important but here's the catch. Because of the Robinson’s handling characteristics the FAA has mandated experience requirements for anyone who wants to act as a PIC (pilot in command) of the helicopter. As an instructor you will be PIC.

All of the specifications are outlined under SFAR 73 but in general if you don’t have any experience in Robinson helicopters you’ll need more than a 2 hr. checkout to be able to act as PIC of one. This rule in combination with the percentage of flight schools that use the Robinson for instruction should persuade you
to learn in a Robinson if you plan on instructing afterwards.

The Schweizer 300, Robinson R22, and Bell 47 are very capable helicopters and they can all take you to bigger and better birds but if you learn in the Bell or Schweizer, and want to instruct at a school that flies the R22 you can expect to spend additional cash to satisfy the requirements of SFAR 73.



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helicopter pilot careers guide