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Military to Civilian - What Logbook?

Posted 2 years 337 days ago ago by Admin

Are you a military helicopter pilot that didn’t keep your own logbook? Perhaps you thought it was sufficient to let the military track your flight time? You are now in the position of having to translate your military flight time into civilian flight time. Translating flight time is an unavoidable task, because most military pilots did not maintain a logbook. Though this is a very time-consuming task, it is not insurmountable. Most military pilots will need to translate their military time properly into a civilian logbook, as most employers will require a logbook in order to hire you. 

Conversion Factors Do Not Exist that magically calculate your military time to civilian flight time. Conversion factors may be used by some airlines, but not by the helicopter industry. The FAA does not publish any guidelines to convert military flight time into civilian flight time.  Civilian pilots are responsible for maintaining their own logbook, and military pilots should follow suit.

From Day 1 Military Pilots Should Keep an FAA-Compliant Logbook. Track military flight time as if it were civilian flight time, to include taxi time. If you fail to do this, you will need your military records to recreate your logbook to the best of your ability. It is necessary to go line-by-line through each of your flights and track every detail possible (reference FAR 61.51 Pilot Logbooks). 

Civilians Have a Different Definition of Flight Time, which is legally interpreted to include taxi time and delays for the purpose of flight. For instance, from the moment a wheeled helicopter pulls forward under its own power for the purpose of flight - flight time begins. Prior to takeoff, a wheeled helicopter taxiing into the wind for a power check, meets this definition. Delays preparatory for flight, in which the pilot is required to remain onboard, is Flight Time. *

Logging PIC is Completely Different in the Civilian World. The thing to always keep in mind is that the FAA treats "acting as pilot in command" and "logging pilot in command time" under FAR 61.51 as completely different concepts. In short, FAR Part 61.51 allows Pilots to log PIC time:

  1. As the sole manipulator of the controls for which the pilot is rated.
  2. As sole occupant, or when acting as PIC of a mandated multi-pilot aircraft.
  3. When performing duties of PIC when rated and holding at least an FAA Commercial under the supervision of a qualified PIC (as in a PIC training program), or as an instructor when giving instruction.

Digital logbooks are perfect, but remember you need to print, bind and bring it to job interviews. Get started by trying a free online logbook like “My Flightbook,” or an Excel version that you can easily customize, such as “Easy Pilot Logbook.”

Pay attention to job advertisements! Employers may require specific hours in certain categories - so customize your logbook and track everything the job advertisements are seeking, i.e. Cross Country, Night Unaided (separated from NVG), Overwater, Mountainous, and Actual Instrument Time. Have everything totaled up, and listed on your resume – make it easy for them to hire you!

Translating those hours may make all the difference in obtaining a great job in the civilian helicopter industry. 

*Reference FAA Legal interpretations 2004, Randall C. Kania, and 2016, James W. Johnson.

About the author: Stacy Sheard’s career began as a U.S. Army Huey and Black Hawk pilot until leaving the military to pursue a commercial flying career. She has civil experience in charter, tour, ENG, EMS, corporate aviation, and as a Sikorsky production test pilot.  She is currently a corporate pilot with EJM flying the AW139. She is an HAI board member.