Advice for transitioning from CPl(H) to turboprop or jet?

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I'm 50 y/o with ~1700hr in my R44 (125hr/yr with night, mountain, int'l, but little
commercial) and intend to continue operating the aircraft indefinitely. I am a helicopter
snob and view fixed wing as pointless for anything less than 500nm, perhaps because I
am fortunate enough to have the R44 based at our home. I have 1.0hr fixed wing time
and aspire to also own/operate a citation 501. The best excuse I can come up with is
monthly business trips to California which takes a full day in the 44 at 900nm cross
border (fun yes, but I generally only indulge once/yr). Is it crazy for me to aim for a C500
vs lowering my sights to a TBM? If so what is the safe path for me get from here to
there while minimizing the "non-productive" time-building hours? Thank you.

-- Shawn Abbott, October 22, 2016


Flying the helicopter is all about attitude control and not putting in crazy big control inputs. During airline training we were told that helicopter pilots actually do great in learning to deal with the beast that is the CRJ.

If you're not going to get slow-and-simple single-pilot jet like the Cessna Mustang or Phenom 100, you'll want to fly as a two-pilot crew for at least a few years. In that case you can buy the jet tomorrow, go to FlightSafety on Monday, and start operating!

So instead of building up through a range of aircraft types, build up from two-pilot to single-pilot. I'm not sure how easy it is to get basic add-on ratings at FlightSafety in a sim but maybe you can do it! Otherwise go to a flight school and hammer out the add-on Private and IFR ratings in whatever trainers they have. That shouldn't take more than two weeks. Then it is time for the type rating. I would recommend the Phenom 100 if you can afford it and if it turns out that it can do the 900 nm trip with real-world winds and your required payload. It isn't great for short runways, there were some ugly initial problems, and the payload/range numbers promised were met only if you consider required equipment such as a weather radar to be "optional".

-- Philip Greenspun, October 22, 2016

Depending on where or if you stop for customs, the jet may not be getting you much. Based on what I am hearing, I would say Phil is aiming you in the right direction. Consider the aspects of ownership and using the plane. At some point, many pilots buy more plane than they need, and then enjoy it less while wasting time and money.

-- Eric Warren, October 23, 2016