A question came in via email from a pilot who holds an ATP-MEL, with commercial privileges ASEL. He is adding a rotorcraft-helicopter rating to his certificate at the private level.
His question - To complete the solo cross country requirements, does my CFI have to endorse the planning for my solo cross country as is required for an initial student pilot?
A reasonable question, but the answer is no. He is not a student pilot so no cross country planning review with the instructor, or associated endorsement, is required.
The only endorsement he needs to solo a helicopter, required by 61.31(d)(2), is number A.72 in this advisory circular - https://www.faa.gov/documentlibrary/media/advisory_circular/ac_61-65h.pdf
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@Daddis At AOPA
You do know that an instructor can (and should) place limitations on the 61.31(d)(2) endorsement. At least an expiration date. The instructor can place weather and wind limitations on the endorsement, the same as he could on a 61.87 or 61.93 endorsement for a student. He could also place a limitation on the endorsement requiring that the trainee has the instructor review his cross country planning prior to any flight.
If the trainee is flying a flight school helicopter, control of the situation is easy. If the trainee owns his own helicopter, control becomes more problematic and a review might become more advisable.