ATP License:

A Comprehensive Guide
The Helicopter Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license is the pinnacle of a helicopter pilot's certification journey. It certifies pilots to serve as the Pilot-in-Command for airlines and top-tier aviation operators. Here’s a thorough breakdown of the process, requirements, and course content.

Сourse Program

  • Minimum Requirements
  • Course Content
  • How to Obtain the
    Helicopter ATP License
  • ATP Pilots with an Airplane Rating:
    Adding a Helicopter Rating
  • The ATP Helicopter Checkride

Minimum Requirements

Before you can embark on the ATP course, it’s crucial to meet these prerequisites:

  • Age: Candidates must be at least 23 years old;
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the Administrator may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s pilot certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft;
  • Be of good moral character;
  • Meet at least one of the following requirements:
    • Holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating issued under this part;
    • Meet the military experience requirements under § 61.73 of this part to qualify for a commercial pilot certificate, and an instrument rating if the person is a rated military pilot or former rated military pilot of an Armed Force of the United States; or
    • Holds either a foreign airline transport pilot license with instrument privileges, or a foreign commercial pilot license with an instrument rating, that — Was issued by a contracting State to the Convention on International Civil Aviation;
Contains no geographical limitations.

To be eligible for the ATP certificate with a rotorcraft category and helicopter class rating, an applicant must meet the following flight time prerequisites:

  • Total Time: A minimum of 1,200 hours of total time as a pilot.
  • Cross-Country Time: At least 500 hours of cross-country flight time.
  • Night Flight Time:
    A total of 100 hours, with:
    • At least 15 hours in helicopters.
  • Helicopter Fligxht Time:
    200 hours of flight time in helicopters, which includes:
    • At least 75 hours as a pilot in command, or as second in command performing the duties of a pilot in command under the supervision of a pilot in command, or any combination thereof.
  • Instrument Flight Time:
    • At least 50 hours obtained in flight.
    • At least 25 hours in helicopters as a pilot in command, or as second in command performing the duties of a pilot in command under the supervision of a pilot in command, or any combination thereof.

Course Content

The training for the Helicopter ATP license is rigorous, ensuring that pilots are equipped with advanced knowledge and skills.

  • Ground School:
    • Helicopter Aerodynamics: Deep dive into the principles that make helicopter flight possible.
    • Flight Systems: Understand advanced systems present in modern helicopters.
    • FAA Regulations: A thorough overview of relevant FAA rules and regulations.
    • Advanced Navigation Techniques: Focus on instrument navigation, GPS systems, and long-distance helicopter travel.
    • Emergency Procedures: Equip pilots with knowledge to handle critical in-flight emergencies.
  • Flight Training:
    • General Operations
    • Emergency Operations
    • Instrument Procedures
    • Cross-Country Flights
    • Night Operations

You can expect approximately 7-10 hours of flight training in a Robinson R44 helicopter if you are familiar with the R44. If you are not familiar with the R44 and have no previous experience, you may require additional hours.

How to Obtain the Helicopter ATP License

After fulfilling prerequisites and covering course content, the process to the license is as follows:

  • Select an Appropriate Training Provider: ATP.Academy offers an in-house Helicopter ATP program, utilizing the state-of-the-art Robinson R44 helicopter and highly professional instructors who have provided over 1,000 hours of training
  • Complete the Training: Successfully finish both ground school and flight training sessions.
  • Pass the FAA Written Examination: A computer-based test to assess theoretical knowledge.
  • Schedule and Pass the Checkride: The final evaluation, comprising an oral exam and flight test with an FAA-designated examiner.
  • License Issuance: Upon checkride success, the FAA will grant the Helicopter ATP license.

ATP Pilots with an Airplane Rating: Adding a Helicopter Rating

For pilots who already possess an ATP certificate with an airplane category and are looking to add a rotorcraft category and helicopter class, the requirements under Part 61.165(a) are:

  • Eligibility: Meet the eligibility requirements of § 61.153.
  • Knowledge Test: Pass a knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas of § 61.155(c).
  • Requirements: Comply with the requirements in § 61.157(b), if appropriate.
  • Aeronautical Experience: Meet the applicable aeronautical experience requirements of § 61.161.
  • Practical Test: Pass the practical test on the areas of operation of § 61.157(e)(4).

The ATP Helicopter Checkride

The ATP Helicopter Checkride, often referred to as the practical test, is a comprehensive evaluation that consists of two segments: the oral examination and the flight test. The applicant’s knowledge and skills are thoroughly assessed against the ATP Practical test standards for Helicopter:

Oral Examination: This section tests the applicant’s aeronautical knowledge. Topics covered may include:

  • Aircraft systems and limitations.
  • Weather interpretation and decision-making.
  • FAA regulations relevant to ATP operations.
  • Operational procedures and best practices.
  • Scenario-based questions on flight planning and decision-making.

Flight Test: The flight portion of the checkride evaluates practical proficiency in various areas:

  • Preflight Preparation: Including aircraft inspection, weight and balance calculations, and performance charts.
  • Preflight Procedures: Cockpit management, aircraft systems checks, and weather assessment.
  • Takeoffs and Landings: Demonstrating proficiency in normal, crosswind, short field, and confined area takeoffs and landings.
  • In-flight Maneuvers: Including steep turns, power failure procedures, and autorotation.
  • Emergency Operations: Handling of system failures, emergency descents, and simulated engine failures.
  • Instrument Procedures: Including instrument approaches, holding procedures, and partial-panel flying.
  • Post-flight Procedures: Including debrief, securing the aircraft, and post-flight checks.

Throughout the flight test, the examiner will be observing the applicant’s airmanship, situational awareness, decision-making skills, and adherence to ATP standards. Critical to passing is not just the physical handling of the aircraft, but also the ability to make sound decisions, especially when faced with unexpected challenges or emergency scenarios.


Achieving the Helicopter ATP license signifies reaching the apex of helicopter piloting proficiency. The rigorous training and stringent requirements ensure that ATP-certified pilots uphold the highest standards of flight safety and excellence. ATP.Academy stands out as the ideal place to attain this prestigious license. Our exclusive focus on ATP-level licensing and training ensures that students receive specialized and dedicated instruction, preparing them to excel in the most advanced piloting environments.

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