What is an instrument rating and why do I need it?
Now that you have your private rating, the next stop on the road to becoming a professional helicopter pilot is receiving your instrument rating. An instrument rating allows you to fly an appropriately equipped and approved helicopter without external visual reference to the ground. In other words, you, as a pilot, would be rated to fly through the clouds in “Instrument Meteorological Conditions” (IMC) under “Instrument Flight Rules” (IFR).
During your instrument training you will achieve a greater understanding of the aircraft and gain a deeper knowledge of how the instruments within the helicopter operate. Why do you need this? There are several reasons why it is prudent to get an instrument rating after your receiving your private. If you are on the road to becoming a professional pilot, it would be the most efficient use of your hours. Once you receive your Private License, you will need between 90-110 hours of flight to receive your Commercial License. You don’t need 90-100 hours of flight time to prepare for your Commercial so it is prudent to fulfill some of these hour requirements by training for your instrument rating.
A great reason to get your instrument rating is statistically, it will make you a better, safer pilot. A danger all pilots may encounter is to inadvertently fly into to the clouds and become disoriented. This disorientation is much less likely to have an adverse effect on those who have an instrument rating.
This statistical advantage instrument rated pilots have over non-instrument pilots is not over looked by the insurance companies. This brings up another good reason to get your instrument rating – employability. The helicopter industry is one governed by the insurance companies. More often than not, it is the insurance companies who establish the minimum hour requirements for employment as a commercial pilot. These insurance companies also give sizable discounts to those companies who’s pilots are instrument rated which is why it is crucial to get an instrument rating if you want to be a professional helicopter pilot.
You can start working on your Instrument rating as soon as you finish your private pilot license. During your instrument training you are required complete at least 40 hours of simulated instrument flight time and 50 hours of cross country time.