The Private Pilot Certificate (Rotorcraft - Helicopter)

What is a Private Pilot Certificate?

A private pilot certificate (Rotorcraft) allows you to fly a helicopter and carry passengers, although not for compensation or hire. Operating expenses may be shared with other travelers in the helicopter. The certificate (similar to a drivers license) is sent to you by the FAA upon satisfactory completion of your training program, a written test and a flight test. There is no need to obtain a fixed-wing (airplane) rating to become a helicopter pilot.

Medical Certificate

You must undergo a routine medical examination administered by FAA- designated doctors called FAA Medical Examiners.

To obtain a medical certificate, you must be at least 16 years of age and able to read, speak, and understand the English language. To obtain your private pilot certificate, you must be at least 17 years of age.

The medical certificate necessary for the private pilot certificate is called a third class medical. It is valid for 24 months and expires on the last day of the month issued - when another exam is required.

Even if you have a physical handicap, medical certificates can be issued in most cases. Operating limitations may be imposed depending on the nature of the disability.

SKY Helicopters will be happy to supply you with a list of local aviation medical examiners.

The medical certificate will function as your student pilot certificate once it is signed by you, the medical examiner, and your flight instructor.

Written Test

You must pass a written test with a score of 70% or better. The test is administered at local learning centers. (Sylvan Learning Centers®, American Flyers® in the DFW area)

The test consists of 60 multiple-choice questions selected from the FAA Private Pilot Written Exam. The questions are reproduced and answered in the FAA Written Exam Study Guide by Jeppesen.

SKY Helicopters has a library of videotapes and computer-aided tests and simulation to help you prepare for the exam. There is no fee for using the training library.

The following subjects are covered in the written test:

Basic Aerodynamics

AIM and Airport Operations

Pilotage and Aeronautical Charts

Aircraft Systems


Dead Reckoning

Flight Instruments

Weather Reports, Charts

Radio Navigation & Communications

FAR's and the NTSB

Aircraft Performance


Flight Instruction

Your Flight training will consist of at least 40 hours of instruction and solo flight time. The minimum requires 20 hours of flight instruction from a Certified Flight Instructor. This will include 3 hours of cross country flying, 3 hours of night flying, landing at a point other than an airport, and 3 hours of preparation for the private pilot test.

Solo flight requirements are at least 10 hours of flight time including a minimum 3 hours of cross-country flying (defined as flights with landings at least 25 nautical miles from the departure point). Three takeoffs & landings are required at controlled airports, each separated by an en route phase of flight.

Flight Test

You must successfully complete a flight test which will be given as a "final exam" by an FAA inspector or designated examiner. FAA designated examiners are proficient, experienced flight instructors who are authorized by the FAA to conduct flight tests. There is a fee for the flight test.

The FAA has issued Practical Test Standards for the private pilot flight test. Each of the tasks and/or maneuvers is required to be covered/ tested on each flight test.

The FAA publishes the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards for Rotorcraft - Helicopter. 

Listed below are the subject areas discussed in the text:

Preflight Preparation

Ground References

Cross Country Flight Operations

Ground Operations

Airport, Heliport, & Traffic

Flight Maneuvers

Hovering and Maneuvering by

Pattern Operations

Emergency Operations

The hours specified below fulfill and exceed the minimum FAR Part 61 requirements. Most students are not able to learn to fly a helicopter well enough to meet the FAA practical test standards in the minimum times required by the FAA. Our Curriculum listed below represents the "typical" student needs for ground and flight training. Good study habits, personal discipline and aptitude are all necessary ingredients for successful completion of this course.


INITIAL RATING CURRICULUM (Persons with no previous experience)

40 hours dual helicopter flight instruction - Robinson R22 $12,000

5 hours dual simulator instruction $625.00

10 hours solo helicopter flight - Robinson R22  $2,500

52 hours individual ground instruction $2,600

35 additional hours home study recommended

ESTIMATED TOTAL COST  $17,725 (Not including books, examiner fees and aircraft rental for the practical test)

R44 Training is available see below rates

Instruction and Rental Rates


Equipment                                                Advance-Pay Block Rate*                         Pay-As-You-Go                    

R22 Dual Instruction                                    $290.00 / hour                                          $300.00 / hour

R22 Solo                                                   $240.00 / hour                                          $250.00 / hour

R44 Dual Instruction                                   $425.00 / hour                                           $435.00 / hour

R44 Instrument Dual                                   $450.00 / hour                                           $460.00 / hour

FLY-IT® Simulator Dual                               $125.00 / hour                                           $125.00 / hour

Ground Instruction                                      $50.00 / hour                                             $50.00 / hour

Introductory Demo Flight R22                                                                                         $159.00

Introductory Demo Flight R44                                                                                        $209.00

*Pay-In-Advance Block $3000.00

The Robinson Helicopter Company (RHC) Safety Course is mandatory PRIOR to carrying passengers. The RHC Course is offered monthly only at the factory in Torrance, CA. It is a 3 1/2 day course that costs $550.00, and includes dual flight training with RHC Instructors.