Rotor Transition Curriculum: A Closer Look | AeroGuard Flight Training

Rotor Transition Curriculum: A Closer Look

Examining AeroGuard’s Rotor Transition Program curriculum in greater detail.

AeroGuard’s Rotor Transition Program is specifically designed to build on a helicopter pilot’s knowledge and experience, and get them to the commercial airlines as quickly and safely as possible to maximize their career earning potential.

To do this, our curriculum is organized differently than you might find at other flight schools, but in our experience it’s the most reliable way to transition and prepare a student for a career as a commercial, fixed wing pilot.

Rotor Transition Program Overview

AeroGuard’s Rotor Transition Program has been built around taking fully rated helicopter pilots and getting them ready for a career as a fixed wing commercial pilot in approximately 4 months. Through our partnership with SkyWest Airlines, students will actually interview for their First Officer position prior to starting their training, then start at AeroGuard with a conditional job offer in hand and an employment start date deadline to meet!

The program is focused on getting you everything you need to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate in the category and class of Airplane Multi-Engine land, which is as follows:

  • Commercial pilot certificate in airplane multi-engine land with instrument rating
  • 250 total hours of airplane PIC time
  • 50 hours in airplane multi-engine land aircraft of which up to 25 hours can be completed at the airlines

Common Paths for Rotor Transition Training

There are primarily two paths available for rated helicopter pilots to achieve the above ATP minimum requirements.

  • Path 1 is a category conversion straight to Commercial Single Engine Airplane adding instrument rating and commercial multi-engine add-ons.
  • Path 2 is to transition to an airplane private pilot license, add instrument rating and finally a commercial multi-engine certificate.

This second path is the course design of the AeroGuard curriculum.

AeroGuard uses this course design for not only its speed of completion, but also the safety of operations and quality of instruction. Primarily this revolves around how pilot in command (PIC) time is obtained at each stage. In path 1, a student is required to have 50 hours of PIC time in order to obtain their CPL and because they are not currently airplane certified, this means they must complete those 50 hours as solo time. In path 2, solo time is limited to just 10 hours in order to complete the PPL after which the student is airplane certified and is able to log PIC time in every subsequent single engine mission. This allows time with an instructor to be increased resulting in higher quality training and crew resource management is also utilized much like it will be at the commercial airlines. At AeroGuard, we prefer to minimize solo flight time, as not only are two pilots better than one, they are safer, and students are able to maximize their time learning from others.

Rotor Transition Certificates and Ratings

The Rotor Transition Program is built to be finished in approximately 4 months, with 32 days in the private pilot stage, 31 days in the instrument stage and 63 days covering the commercial multi-engine stage and dual crew time building. This timeline can vary depending on factors such as plane maintenance, weather, student performance and others; however, your student experience will be similar to the timeline below.

rotor transition program timeline

Step 1

PPL Conversion

Private Pilot License: The First Certification

For all students, both RTP and those with zero experience, week 1 of the program is dedicated to ground school, where students will learn about weather, aircraft performance, pre-flighting, risk assessment, decision making and more. For experienced RTP pilots they will not only refresh their skills in many of these areas, but also learn about AeroGuard specific operations, procedures and fixed wing checklists.

After a week of ground training, day eight through day 32 of the students’ training focuses on the PPL conversion. In the first week of this Private Pilot course, the focus is on core skills of fixed wing flight including familiarization of the controls, flight instruments, traffic patterns, steep turns, stalls and more.

After the first week of transferring these skills from the rotor wing, you will then practice these skills working with your instructor on Cross Country flights in both day and night conditions.

Into your third week of the Private Pilot Conversion you should now have mastered these basic skills and been signed off for solo flight by your instructor. The next four flights will then be four cross country solo flights, where you will hit the FAA requirements, including 10 hours of total solo time, and all necessary take offs, landings, and night flights.

Finally, it’s time to prepare for a stage check oral and flight to confirm your skills, and then by approximately day 32 after a month in the program you will be a private fixed wing pilot, but more importantly, you are now airplane rated and will be logging PIC time quickly in all your single engine missions!

Step 2

Instrument Rating

Instrument Rating: Building Proficiency

Immediately following your PPL checkride, around day 33 of the Rotor Transition Program, begins instrument training, which lasts for approximately the next month of training.

This stage of training starts with the first two weeks where students will learn to fly using their instruments alone, practicing maneuvers such as constant rate climbs and descents, standard-rate turns, constant angle of bank turns, and more. Students will then move into practicing holding procedures, DME arcs, instrument approach procedures, missed approach procedures, partial panel operations and other instrument maneuvers.

Following this stage of training, students will then complete two additional cross countries with their instructor, where they will also prepare for their stage check and checkride. Following the successful completion of these flights, after approximately 22 days of IR training and around 63 days into their total program, students will then take their IR checkride.

Step 3

Commercial Multi

Commercial Multi-Engine Rating: Bringing it All Together

Last, but not least, having gained their PPL and instrument rating, students will then move into the final stage of training for their commercial multi-engine certificate on approximately day 105 of training. In this stage, students will transition to our Piper Seminole, introducing the multi-engine concepts, but on a similar platform to the Piper Archer that has been used previously.

In the first week of training, students will learn such things as power-on and power-off stalls, slow flight, steep turns, engine failure during different phases of flight, VMC demonstration, drag demonstration, maneuvering with one engine inoperative, instrument approach with both engines operating and much more.

After learning the basics of multi-engine flight, students will then move into cross country flights for their second week of training in both day and night conditions.

Lastly, in their third week of CPLME training, students will meet their final requirements for their checkride, finalizing any maneuvers and gaining 10 hours of PDPIC (Performing Duties of Pilot In Command) time in the multi-engine plane. At approximately day 120, students will then be ready for their last oral stage check, flight stage check, and then their FAA checkride around Day 126.

From fixed wing rookie to career-ready commercial airline pilot in about 4 months, students are ready for their class date with SkyWest Airlines!

Time Building to ATP Requirements

Now that you understand the certifications and ratings earned throughout the RTP program, it’s equally important to understand how you will accomplish your timebuilding.

As covered previously, to be eligible for the commercial airlines and gain their ATP certificate, students will not only need their commercial multi-engine certificate, but also 250 hours of fixed wing PIC time. As soon as pilots earn their PPL, they are then eligible to log PIC time in every single-engine mission they complete. AeroGuard supplies RTP students with timebuilding missions throughout the entirety of their instrument and multi-engine training courses to not only allow them to build the required time quickly and efficiently, but also allow students to use this time for additional instrument practice better preparing them for their checkride.

At AeroGuard, this PIC time is gained while either paired with another RTP student, or with an Instructor Pilot (IP). The time build missions are conducted during the day and during nighttime, based on crew resource management. If there are two students, one of them will wear a view limiting device and fly using their instrument skills and the other one will take on the safety pilot role so that they are both able to log PIC on the flight. Students will then switch places halfway through the mission to gain equal experience.

During this phase of training, students will fly A LOT, racking up over 200 hours of PIC time in 7 to 8 hour blocks.

Success in the Rotor Transition Program

AeroGuard’s Rotor Transition Program is geared to help students begin a successful career with the airlines. Throughout the program, you will gain the knowledge and skill necessary to transition to fixed wing, completing the PPL, IR and CPLME ratings with implementation of building and stage checks to ensure you’re prepared.

At AeroGuard, we provide students with the resources they need for their own mastery of the knowledge imparted throughout the program. Students have unlimited access to the flight simulators, back seat other students’ flights, ability to audit Part 141 ground schools when available and academic workshops they can attend for their learning. It’s essential to use these resources throughout the Rotor Transition Program for success given its fast pace.

Though the Rotor Transition Program is built on a 4-month track, you will complete the program with the progression of your own skills. This timeline can also vary depending on other factors, such as plane maintenance and weather.

To learn more about the Rotor Transition Program, please fill out the form below to be connected with an Enrollment Advisor.

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