Why would you take a specialty training course?
There are three main reasons why one would take a specialty course of training in the helicopter industry. The first is REGULATORY, the second is CAREER POSITIONING and the third is SAFETY
If you are a career helicopter pilot or are working your way in that direction, you may have set your sights on a specific type of helicopter flying. Each type of flying may have specific skill sets required to do a particular job. Let's take a look at several types of specialty training and what specific sectors in the helicopter industry this training may be of benefit.
External Load Training - This may also be called long line or sling load. The most common use of external load skills are used in logging, aerial firefighting, and utility work.
Mountain or High Altitude Flying - The skills learned in this type of training become very valuable to pilots who hope to fly and work in the mountain and/or the high altitude environment. This may include Tours, Logging, Firefighting, Training, and
Night Vision Goggle (NVG) - In the world of civilian helicopters NVG's are becoming common place in the (EMS) Emergency Medical Services sector.
R22 & R44 Timebuilding - If you are considering becoming a career helicopter pilot, then most likely your first job will be as a flight instructor. If you choose to train in the Robinson Helicopter there are Special Federal Aviation Regulations as well as Insurance Company requirements which dictate how much time in these aircraft one must have in order to teach in them. Very often, Pro Pilot Training Programs leave the student short of these requirements and pilots must purchase additional time in order to build their hours to these requirements. There are several companies out there who offer helicopter time building programs at 30% - 50% off typical retail helicopter rates. To learn more about SFAR 73 which governs the Robinson R22 and R44 helicopter CLICK HERE.
Turbine Transition - This is a course of instruction which teaches a pilot how to operate a turbine helicopter and its systems, which can be very different from a piston helicopter. Most first jobs (Flight Instruction) are in piston helicopters. The next progressive step for a new career pilot will be to transition into a turbine helicopter.
Training for Career Positioning - As you can see many sectors of the industry may require (by regulation) a specific amount of flight time or utilize special skills and equipment. It is true that there are several companies may train you in those specific areas such as external load, NVG, or flying turbine helicopters.
Having said that, it is really about being competitive for the job or position that you want. If you are standing in a group of twenty other fairly new pilots, all with similar qualifications, you want to be the one who stands out. You want to be the one who went that extra step to get that specialty training. Take the offshore oil industry for example. They hire hundreds or new pilots every year and train them in turbine helicopters. If you desire to work in this sector and you complete a turbine transition course, you may drastically improve your chances of getting hired over the candidates without the formal training.