Category Archives: Flight Training

The Life-Saving Instrument Rating

A helicopter instrument rating, or IFR (instrument flight rules) rating is so much more than an opportunity to qualify for more helicopter jobs or lower insurance premiums. Quite simply, an IFR helicopter rating may very well save your life.

For many years, an IFR rating wasn’t required for pilots who didn’t actually fly under IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) in aircraft equipped to fly in the clouds. But the accident rate due to inadvertent IMC was high. Bad weather conditions would close in on pilots, trapping them with no outside visual clues or skills to safely exit. Many times these situations ended in tragedy.

Soon insurance companies and safety organizations began requiring IFR ratings for pilots, even if they were not flying aircraft equipped to fly in the clouds, in order to help reduce these accidents.

The honest truth is, the training received when working toward an IFR rating teaches you how to navigate by instruments alone, how to read the world of IFR charts, and how to use radio and GPS navigation without outside reference. IFR pilots gain a better three-dimensional understanding of their position and skill in navigating, making them better, and safer, pilots.

Instrument Helicopter Rating

While the cost of an IFR, or instrument rating, is a bit higher per hour due to the more specialized equipment in the aircraft, pilots at the beginning of their training can save thousands of dollars by incorporating their instrument rating into their commercial training.

A commercial helicopter rating from Group 3 Aviation (an FAA Part 141 flight school) requires 115 total hours. Our private pilot certificate requires a minimum of 35 hours. The difference in time between a private and commercial can be used to work toward an instrument rating. The cost difference is minimal compared to returning to school later in your career to pay the full cost of an instrument rating.

IFR Rating Requirements

At Group 3 Aviation, we provide IFR training in our Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter and our Frasca TruFlite Helicopter Flight Training Device. Students are required to receive 35 hours of flight instruction and 30 hours of ground school to receive an IFR rating. We recommend 21 hours in the R44 and 14 hours in the Frasca (which helps reduce the costs compared to receiving all flight instruction in the helicopter). Additionally, your flight instructor will provide you with 30 hours of ground school, assuring you’re familiar and comfortable with the navigating solely by instruments and fully knowledgeable of IFR rules and regulations.

Upon completion of your training, you’ll be recommended for your instrument rating. At that time you will take a written test, followed by an IFR practical test with an FAA-designated examiner who will both quiz you in a ground portion then fly with you to test your skill.

In the end, whether your goal is to fly for a living or simply for pleasure, you’ll not only experience the benefits of being a more marketable pilot and able to fly IFR-rated aircraft in the clouds, you’ll also have the peace of mind that you have the invaluable skill to safely navigate should you ever find yourself in IMC conditions.

Flight Training Considerations – Helicopter Fleet

Learning to fly a helicopter is a rewarding and exciting career or hobby that will serve you your entire life. A lot of research goes into finding the right school for you. One important item to consider when researching flight schools is the helicopter fleet offered for your training.

Helicopter Fleet and Flight Training

When investigating the ideal flight training facility, it’s important to consider your helicopter fleet options. Does the school limit you with only one helicopter make and model? Do you have options to build experience in different engine types, rotor systems and power systems? Are there choices that allow you to choose the aircraft you’re most comfortable flying?

One downfall of many a helicopter training school is the fact that they only teach their students to fly one type of helicopter. Here at Group 3 Aviation, we ensure that students who attend our Los Angeles helicopter school are trained and able to fly a variety of helicopters as this can make a huge difference when it comes to applying for pilot positions.

A Starting Point for Our Students

All students enrolling at our helicopter training school will begin their training in the Schweizer 300CBi helicopter. These two-place flight machines offer excellent handling properties and auto-rotational characteristics making them ideal for beginner students. As a result, many students are able to earn their ratings far quicker than in other helicopter models, saving hundreds of dollars. One of the main features of these helicopters is their safety. Their exceptionally stable rotor system is not prone to dangers posed when learning to fly on two-blade systems and it provides plenty of time for an instructor to correct student errors. Most of our primary student training is undertaken in these helicopters to save students money, build confidence and increase safety.

Upgrading to the Robinson R44 Raven II

This very popular model of helicopter provides the perfect opportunity for students who are ready to transition to something larger and more maneuverable. With a two-blade rotor system and a larger engine, students also receive valuable education and experience with different aircraft. The R44’s four-seat capacity has also made it ideal for our helicopter tours, charter trips and aerial photography trips. The R44 II offers slightly higher speeds of around 135 mph as well as a range of approximately 400 miles. Once a student has mastered the art of flying this model, they are usually able to fly almost any other helicopter, as these are relatively advanced machines.

Enrolling for Our Flight Training Courses

Contrary to popular belief, students who wish to fly helicopters do not need to know how to fly a plane beforehand. We encourage those who wish to enroll in our helicopter flight training program to come in for a low-cost demo flight, where we’ll provide ground and flight training, giving you a taste of being a helicopter pilot as you take the controls. While you’re here, we’ll show you our aircraft and let you see, feel, touch, ask questions about and even fly one to help you determine the best choice for you.

Students who go on to become helicopter pilots usually enjoy an exciting and lucrative career that can last for many years. And of course, it’s just really, really cool!