Limitations of Helicopter Training Within 14 CFR Part 147

Celeste Torrez, Brian Kozak


According to the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aircraft registration database, 10,500 of the 210,000 general aviation aircraft are helicopters (FAA, 2018).  While making up only 5% of aircraft, helicopter are found in niche markets that are highly specialized such as aerial tourism, news reporting, rescue operations, and medical transport.  In order to maintain airworthiness, these aircraft are inspected and maintained by Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics. Due to an increasing number of retirements, there is a need to train new mechanics.  In order to earn an A&P certificate, a student must undergo 1,900 hour of training. The current curriculum used to train prospective mechanics is monitored and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration under 14 CFR Part 147-Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools.  However, within Part 147, helicopter training is only taught at a level 1 which requires only lecture instruction with no hands-on requirements. Furthermore, of the 1,900 hours of training required, only 1 hour is required for helicopter specific training. This lack of training creates a possible gap in knowledge. When the maintenance on helicopters is performed to subpar levels there are catastrophic results.  To demonstrate this, case studies of three specific accidents were used. All three accidents were caused by improper helicopter maintenance and resulted in fatalities. Major helicopter companies have attempted to mitigate this gap by creating additional training for A&P technicians after graduation from a Part 147 school. However, this additional training is costly and requires more time investment from students before they can enter the workforce.

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