Piloting different types of aircraft all over the world can be exciting and allow for resume growth. However, when pilots get to a certain road block, it can get quite confusing. Converting a CAA helicopter commercial license to an FAA license; counting PIC hours/landings in your previous country for use in the US; converting a foreign fixed wing license to a FAA license in order to complete a helicopter add-on; etc.
The country where a pilot does a lot of his flight training or flight time building may count PIC hours differently. Said pilot may have done a thousand hours in the military but never received a license. A pilot has one all of his existing flight time in a turbine aircraft but wants to save money and get his license in a Robinson Helicopter. All of these factors determine how to become a US pilot and how much flight time you’ll need to get there.
Generally – if you hold a license in a certain country, you can request a meeting with the FAA to hold a Private Pilot restricted based on a foreign license. To remove the restrictions, you will need to take a checkride with a DPE. At this point, you achieve the next rating/license based off of your flight time, passing the FAA written for each license/rating and passing the checkride for it.
Gleim has a very helpful conversion post that lays out for each license you’re trying to convert to.
Gleim step by step instructions on License Conversion
The FAA website has a very detailed procedure WITH links to forms and branches that you will most likely need to use and contact to get the conversions completed.
FAA Website – Airman’s Certificates > Conversions
If you are still confused, you can contact our flight school and we will assess your flight time and get you on the right path.