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Touchdown autorotations removed from helicopter CFI testTouchdown autorotations removed from helicopter CFI test

FAA drops touchdown autorotations from helicopter CFI practical test.

The FAA is no longer requiring most applicants for a flight instructor certificate in the rotorcraft category, helicopter class, to demonstrate a straight-in or 180-degree autorotation to touchdown on the practical test, citing safety.

Instead, the designated examiner may accept a logbook endorsement by a current and appropriately rated certificated flight instructor who provided the training, according to the revised practical test standards that incorporates the change as of March 22.

“An examiner may accept, at his or her discretion, a logbook endorsement in lieu of demonstrating these tasks during the practical test. This logbook endorsement must be given by a current flight instructor with a rotorcraft category and helicopter class rating on his or her flight instructor certificate that provided the training and can attest to the applicant’s competence in these tasks,” it says.

The examiner retains the option of requiring the demonstration (see Area of Operation X, Performance Maneuvers) even if the applicant possesses the required endorsement.

An exception to an examiner having discretion to accept a logbook endorsement occurs in the case of an applicant who has failed a previous test “for deficiencies in instructional knowledge pertaining to the elements, common errors, performance, and correction of common errors related to straight-in and 180 degree autorotation,” the revised PTS says.

Eliminating the demonstration of the autorotations in most cases reflects the FAA’s concern about accidents that have resulted from performances of touchdown autorotations during practical tests. 

Although examiners are able to evaluate a demonstration of touchdown autorotations, not all are proficient in the maneuver, particularly in the helicopter being used for the test. Therefore flight instructors, as the individuals most proficient in performing the autorotations, are allowed to certify an applicant’s instructional knowledge and proficiency in the maneuver.

The policy change resembles the spin endorsement for airplane and glider instructors: To be eligible for a flight instructor certificate with an airplane or glider rating, an applicant is required to receive a logbook endorsement from a CFI indicating that the applicant is competent and proficient in stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery procedures. The endorsement is in lieu of a spin demonstration on the practical test.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Helicopter, Advocacy, Pilot Training and Certification

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