Beyond the Uniform: Paramedic to Pilot
How to Check a Helicopter Pilot's Credentials
Helicopter travel can provide a remarkable form of transportation. Helicopter pilots can provide any of a number of services for someone who wishes to hire one. This can range from sightseeing, transport, flying lessons, fire fighting, law enforcement, medical services, offshore support, mapping, photography, or agricultural services. The pilot's capabilities may vary depending on the type of services they provide. Therefore it is important to know how to check a helicopter pilot's credentials when you are looking to secure their service.
Ask to see the pilot's certificate or license.The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has different requirements for each level of certificate. Pilots typically progress from student certificate to private pilot, commercial, and flight instructor.
- A pilot with a Student Pilot's Certificate is someone taking flying lessons. That person must be 16 years old, able to speak English, and has a third class medical certificate. AN FAA medical certificate is needed before the student pilot can solo. However, this student certificate does not allow the pilot to perform the services noted above.
- A pilot with a Private Pilot Helicopter License is able to fly a helicopter anytime and go anywhere and fly with anyone. This pilot cannot be paid for flying the helicopter. However, this means that if you are fortunate enough to know persons with this license then you may be able to go on a sightseeing trip with them. The FAA requires that a pilot have at least 40 hours of flight time and 20 hours of flight training. Your pilot will have successfully completed a written, oral and flight test.
- A pilot with a Commercial Rotorcraft License will have at least 150 hours of flight time and 100 pilot in command time hours flying solo. This certificate lets the pilot fly for compensation or hire. However the individual positions listed above may require additional training specific to that occupation.
- A pilot with a Flight Instructor License (CFI, CFII) is required to have at least 200 hours of flight time.
Ask to see the pilot's FAA medical certificate.In addition to the medical certificate needed for a student pilot, a commercial pilot is required to have a second class medical certificate while airline transport pilots need a first class medical certificate.
Ask the pilot about the hours they have flown.In addition to meeting the necessary hours for the various licenses, most pilots will have between 500 and 1,000 hours of piloting for many introductory jobs.
Ask where the pilot attended flight school.You can then contact the FAA to inquire about the level of service provided by that school.
- You should know that all pilots are required to pass a medical exam by a physician approved by the FAA. The physician tests a pilot for hearing and vision in addition to normal body function. Anything that might cause a pilot to have a lapse in consciousness such as a prior drug abuse history, heart or psychological issues is a concern for the physician.
- Many pilots acquire their instrument rating somewhere between their Private and Commercial licenses. Although an instrument rating is not required for some jobs, it may be for the purpose on which you want to hire a pilot.
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