I've been looking online for the different ratings and classes of helicopters but I can't find much.

For example in fixed wing aircraft you have retractable gear, constant speed propeller, IFR, multi-engine, tricycle gear, etc.

I am curious to know what the helicopter equivalents are. What does a basic helicopter rating allow you to fly? What comes after that?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I attempted to make the title of your question more clear, but if I misunderstood your intent, please feel free to revert it. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Feb 10 '16 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveV. no problem, thanks for the clarification! $\endgroup$ Feb 10 '16 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking in the context of FAA regulations? $\endgroup$
    – J Walters
    Feb 10 '16 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters an FAA regulation would be great if you have one $\endgroup$ Feb 10 '16 at 14:57

I can't see a connection between "classes" of helicopters and ratings.

You also don't specify which jurisdiction so I will answer for the UK CAA which I know.

To fly any helicopter under VFR needs nothing more than your license, gained on any type, and a type rating for the specific aircraft.

For example, I gained my license on the R22. I am therefore also type rated on it. The second aircraft I learned to fly was the B206 which is jet powered. I didn't need anything extra than the appropriate type rating.

I can fly any helicopter for which I am rated under VFR. If I had an IFR certification, I could fly any helicopter I am rated for under VFR, and any IFR certified helicopter for which I am rated under IFR.

"Difference training" is simply part of the the type rating. For example, if I ever learned to fly a craft with a retractable undercarriage, I would be rated to fly that type, but not another type with retractable gear.

What does differ is the type of license, e.g. CPL or ATP. I would need that license in order to carry passengers for hire and to conduct other commercial operations, but I still need a type rating on whatever helicopter I use to carry those passengers.

Put it this way, the day after I gained my license, I could climb into any helicopter and act as pilot under training.

Hope that's all clear!


Note: This answer is given for

Short Answer:

Rotorcraft is an aircraft category; helicopter and gyrocopter are classes of the rotorcraft category.

Longer Answer:

14 CFR 1.1 defines aircraft Categories and Classes for airman certification, and gives examples of each. In these definitions helicopter is included under classes; rotorcraft is included under categories.

14 CFR 1.1, Category:


(1) As used with respect to the certification, ratings, privileges, and limitations of airmen, means a broad classification of aircraft. Examples include: airplane; rotorcraft; glider; and lighter-than-air;

14 CFR 1.1, Class:


(1) As used with respect to the certification, ratings, privileges, and limitations of airmen, means a classification of aircraft within a category having similar operating characteristics. Examples include: single engine; multiengine; land; water; gyroplane; helicopter; airship; and free balloon;

Elsewhere in chapter 14 of the CFR, helicopter is given as a class of the rotorcraft category, for example in §61.161

§61.161 Aeronautical experience: Rotorcraft category and helicopter class rating.

(a) A person who is applying for an airline transport pilot certificate with a rotorcraft category and helicopter class rating, must have at least 1,200 hours of total time as a pilot that includes at least:

Therefore, we see that helicopter is a class and will not have any sub–classes. Helicopter and gyrocopter are the classes of the rotorcraft category.


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