Hello, all. I’m at work on an overnight, and don’t have my FAR/AIM with me, so I was hoping I could ask a couple questions. I have a multi ATP with commercial SEL privileges. I’d like to add a seaplane rating. 99.5% of the schools I’ve seen online offer a ASES Commercial course. Here‘s where it’s going to get sticky. I realize it’s pretty much a useless rating, but I’d like to get a single engine ATP as well. I know I can just take something simple like a 172 and knock out the ASEL ATP, but one of the seaplane schools told me I’ll also need 50 hours of seaplane PIC to take the ASES ATP practical test. Is that correct?
Any time someone tells you something like that, ask them to show you the regulation to back it up.
The requirements to add a class rating to an ATP are found in 61.165(e). There is no requirement in that reg for 50 hours of seaplane PIC. It refers to 61.153 and there is no such requirement there either. It also refers to 61.157(b), which deals with type ratings. Again, this doesn't apply. Last, it does say that you need to meet the aeronautical experience requirements of Subpart G (deals with ATP certificates). 61.159(a)(3) requires 50 hours of flight time in class. No mention of PIC time. You could count all training time in the 50 hour requirement.
Also, for the practical test, you need to do the whole test. See the task table in the ACS. This means you need to do all the approaches, circle to land and land from a circling approach. The examiner may be able to allow you to do the circling approach and do a miss from just above the runway.
I've got a Commercial ASES. It isn't useless. It allowed me to conduct seaplane practical tests while I was employed by the FAA. It is also a lot of fun. If all you are after is a single engine ATP and don't really have the desire to fly seaplanes, just do the ASEL. If you just want to dabble in seaplanes, do the Commercial. The class add-on practical for the Commercial is able to be abbreviated to just the pertinent tasks.
“50 hours of flight time in the class of airplane for the rating sought. A maximum of 25 hours of training in a full flight simulator representing the class of airplane for the rating sought may be credited toward the flight time requirement of this paragraph if the training was accomplished as part of an approved training course in parts 121, 135, 141, or 142 of this chapter. A flight training device or aviation training device may not be used to satisfy this requirement.”
This requirement does not speak to it needing to be PIC time. So at the very most you would need 50 hours of flight time in a ASES to meet this requirement.
You are going to have a really tough time finding anyone who will rent you a seaplane and an even tougher time getting insurance. If you do get insurance, the cost is astronomical. I have a Commercial ASES. All of my seaplane time other than the flight test is with an instructor. I was PIC for most of it but the individuals and companies that owned the seaplanes insisted on it. They would not rent solo - maybe due to insurance requirements. I think the most useful aspect of a Commercial (or ATP) ASES or AMES is for hauling freight and passengers in Alaska or if you own a seaplane and want to get a FAA letter of authorization to do 91.147 air tours or a Part 135 on-demand certificate in Alaska, Maine, Minnesota or Washington. I got offered a job flying cargo in Eniak AK flying Helio Couriers on straight floats. I didn't take it because I would have had to move there. I have a lot of fun flying seaplanes but since I don't own one it only happens every few years when I do currency training.