One of the most common questions I get asked by new or aspirant helicopter Private Pilot students is how long the duration of the course is and how often should they fly? Not to generalize but most helicopter training schools don’t have set dates for courses to start or finish at least for the practical flying phase. The theoretical phase is a different story as most schools prefer to have a group of students together to fill a class for a specific subject.
In most cases my standard answer to this question is that it is totally up to the student to determine how much and how often he or she wants to fly but in order to look at this question more objectively the following are a couple of points to consider:
Flying often and completing the course in the shortest possible time.
– There is an hourly limit as to how much an ab initio student can fly in a day so check up with your countries aviation law.
– Flying regularly can eat into a person’s cash flow but surely a person knows and has made the calculations before hand to determine affordability.
– Flying often keeps the momentum going and shows a person’s commitment.
– Being in the aviation environment often helps developing a culture and keeps a student’s “hands on” which aids in establishing continuity.
– Flying too often can lead to fatigue and burn out but any instructor should be able to see the signs and advise the student accordingly.
– It is not that straight forward to quantify irregular flying but let’s say it is when a student flies one to two hours a week or less.
– Irregular flying can lead to frustration as a student needs time to get his or hers “hand in” in order to attain a certain standard.
– Not flying regularly can be very costly in the sense that certain training sequences have to be repeated in order to attain the desired standard.
– A student that knows that due to whatever reason regular flying is not possible should budget accordingly as invariably the course won’t be completed in the specified time (hourly) limit.
– A person forgets a lot of aspects like procedures and theory if there is no continuity and that once again leads to frustration.
– Finding excuses to cancel flying becomes easier but why does a person want to fly anyway if there is no commitment.
These are just a couple of points to consider but the list is actually more complicated and longer. In my opinion there are two prominent factors that plays a vital role in determining the amount of flying a student actually does and that is finance and work constraints. Obviously I am excluding a youngster that enrolls into a flying school full time as a career move but still finance unless sponsored can be a pain in the butt to that person as well.
I’m a firm believer in the option that if it is within a student’s ability the helicopter private pilot course should be tackled and completed as a once off project with regular flights to be under taken and within a relative short time span, five to seven weeks if not shorter.
(c) Harry Helicopter Training Syllabus 2008