Getting a Pilot’s Licence
Before you can fly a helicopter you would have to have as a minimum a Personal Pilot’s Licence (Helicopter), PPL(H). In the UK this requires a minimum of 45 flying hrs of which at least 10 must be solo.
As it stands at the moment, an owner would be expected to learn on a basic helicopter at a CAA approved flying school. However, the Autocopter represents an exciting and very different way ahead. Horizon will work with authorities such as the CAA to devise a suitable course taking full advantage of the Autocopter’s unique super-safe and automated characteristics and the access to realistic simulators. Through this, we hope that the minimum hours may be reduced.
A newly qualified Autocopter pilot will, we believe, be far safer under all circumstances, than his equivalent flying one of today’s conventional, relatively high-risk aircraft. The reasons for this are that the Autocopter has three engines, thus the need to practice a fully power-off autorotation is possibly unnecessary. The autorotational landing is one of the most difficult manoeuvres to conduct safely. But on the Autocopter, even if two engines fail, the aircraft can continue in autogyro mode to a suitable small airfield and complete a run-on landing on a short runway. The aircraft also has unique terrain and obstacle avoidance systems protecting the aircraft and pilot. These unique qualities will be explored with the CAA in seeking the most flexible and realistic certification and pilot qualification.
Finally, it will have a powerful health and usage monitoring system on board that will tell you early on (i.e. many hours before) when something is going wrong with any of the primary structural, mechanical or electric systems.
HUM systems can give warnings to pilots in flight. For a long time, many helicopter types have shown gearbox ‘chip detector’ warnings to pilots via a red light in the cockpit. Today, modern HUM systems can implement a wide range of detection and diagnostic functions for rotor systems, engines, transmissions, actuators and, nowadays, electric drives. It’s therefore important that the training of a pilot to fly a helicopter should include instruction on how to handle HUM warnings, whether they be given in the cockpit or post-flight by the aircraft’s ground station. In a sense, this is little different to what is offered today on most automobiles, but here with a greater importance to safety.