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Can you add on a private airplane rating to commercial helicopter rating?

Asked by: 14913 views Commercial Pilot, FAA Regulations, Helicopter, Private Pilot

I have a friend that has a commercial helicopter certificate w/ instrument rating that wants to learn to get a private pilot certificate for airplane SEL. What is the best way to do this?

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7 Answers

  1. Jon on Apr 29, 2011

    To answer your title question, yes, he can add a private ASEL to a commercial helicopter license. There seems to be some debate on the interpretation of 61.109 (http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div8&view=text&node=14:, but the way I read it, your friend will need 30 hours in an airplane to get a private ASEL – 20 hours of dual and 10 hours of solo.  He won’t have to take another written (http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div8&view=text&node=14:

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  2. Micah on Apr 29, 2011

    I admit, somewhat embarrassedly, that I don’t know whether you can add a Private ASEL to a Commercial RH. You can add the Commercial ASEL, and that is pretty straightforward as long as you have the experience required by 61.F (61.121ff) and use the add-on table in the PTS as a guide. I’m not sure if you can add the Private ASEL to a Commercial certificate (since it does not appear to be an add-on as described in 61.63, “and who wants to add a category rating to that certificate…”) so it seems that your friend might be required to complete all requirements if he/she takes this route.
    I found this link: http://samdawsoncfi.com/privatepilotaddon.html that seems to address your question. Your friend might want to contact Sam Dawson directly since he appears to have experience with this type of training. 
    (By the way, that link appears to suggest that my concern is unjustified)

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  3. Nathan Parker on Apr 29, 2011

    You really mean adding an airplane single engine land rating at the Private pilot level for someone that has a Commercial certificate with a helicopter rating.
    Many people have some ratings at a lower certificate level than others, although it’s usually because one is upgraded and the others not.  Still, I think it’s common for ATPs who got their ratings through military experience not to have a SEL rating and to come back later and have it added on at the Private or Commercial level. 
    The applicable regulation is 61.63(b), Additional aircraft category rating.

    I would contact an experienced DPE and make sure he’s comfortable with the process. The only area of ambiguity is whether the pilot implicitly has a Private certificate to add on a new category rating.  In general, anyone with a particular certificate is assumed to have the privileges associated with lower certificates.  It’s best to ensure that the local FSDO agrees with that before getting started.

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  4. Micah on Apr 29, 2011

    Indeed, usually this moves in the other direction and you retain class privileges from a lower grade of certificate when you replace your certificate. I don’t mean to suggest that it can’t be done (although my words above can easily be read to mean that) but just that the regulations don’t read that way. If it simply read “or higher” in the table on the PTS or if 61.63 suggested that you can add “lesser” privileges then this would be an easy yes…
    There may be an FAA letter floating around that explains this, but I’m not familiar with any. As Nathan suggested, I think you should look for a DPE or instructor with experience specific to this.

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  5. Wes Beard on Apr 29, 2011

    I think you can argue that a commercial pilot is really a private pilot certificate with the compensation limitation removed.  Reading 61.113 (private limitations) exclusively deals with prohibiting a private pilot from accepting compensation except for well defined situations.  The commercial pilot has that limitation removed on their certificate as long as they comply with Part 119.
    Your friend will have to comply with the aeronautical experience and area of operations in the regulations for the private ASEL.  Namely needing 40hrs of Total Time which he already has.  20hrs of dual instruction in ASEL aircraft and 10hrs of solo time.  It is quite feasible that he can get his ASEL private add-on with 30hrs in the aircraft.

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  6. Matthew Waugh on May 03, 2011

    I disagree with the “a commercial pilot is really a private pilot certificate with the compensation limitation removed”. Your certificate is what it says it is on the front (and in this case it’ll say commercial). On the back it’ll put limitations on the certificate, and so there will be something about Private pilot privileges in ASEL.
    I’d also agree with the advice to find a (preferably the) DPE who does this kind of thing (or is willing to do the research). In the end, when the student presents themselves for the test the DPE has to accept their experience as meeting the requirements, so defining that hurdle beforehand so then you can train to jump it is the best solution.

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  7. tim on Aug 18, 2012

    Note that you WILL have to take a knowledge test since the applicant is applying for a certificate category that IS NOT at the same pilot level as the one currently held.. I.e. Commercial vs Private. So, a written is required.

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