General Questions

How many hours does it take to get my helicopter pilot licence?

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) require a minimum of 45 hours of total flight time in a helicopter, including at least 10 hours solo flying. The average student will take 50-60 hours to pass their PPL H. You will then need a minimum of 155 hours (via hour building) before being able to take the CPL H or ATPL commercial licences. Expect to fly up to 200 hours during your helicopter pilot training to pass your commercial  pilot licences. 

How long does it take to complete the helicopter licences?

This really depends on your budget, schedule and determination. You can learn to fly full or part time but aim for at least 2 - 3 lessons a week otherwise more hours may be required in the long run. Some students have passed their CPL H licences in less than two years.

Can you learn to fly helicopters in the winter? - UK

You most certainly can. In some aircraft with lower flying condition limits, lessons may be cancelled more often during the winter months but generally speaking, helicopter pilot training can continue.

How much does a helicopter pilot licence cost?

As with flight hours, this figure can vary dramatically but for the private helicopter pilot training, (PPL H) you should budget for £20,000, allowing for £35,000 during your hour building and approximately £15,000  for you ATPL and Commercial Pilots Licence if you wish to train to become a professional helicopter pilot. (All figures including VAT). 

Is flying a helicopter dangerous?

A properly trained pilot with good judgement and airmanship should be able to fly a helicopter with no problem at all. If you have a mechanical failure or encounter bad weather then you can land a helicopter almost anywhere. You will practise this when you learn to fly. Most helicopter accidents are due to human error where the pilot has decided to fly too low or continue flying in adverse weather conditions. 

Can you land a helicopter anywhere?

Yes - as long as the landing area is not restricted and you have the land owners permission. In case of an emergency you are allowed to land anywhere that is deemed safe to do so. You will learn all about this during your helicopter pilot training.

How many exams do you need to sit?

One of the most frequently asked questions - The Private Pilot Licence requires you to sit 9 multiple choice exams as part of your helicopter pilot training. As you learn to fly, you will also have to take 1 radio licence and a practical flying exam. To complete the Commercial Pilot Licence you will need to sit 13 exams, 1 practical test and only 1 extra written exam to obtain your ATPL. 

What does a helicopter pilot earn? UK

A helicopter pilot salary varies on experience (hours/ratings) and the sector being flown in (VIP/EMS/Oil & Gas). The UK average is around £50,000 p/a but can be as little as £25,000 p/a or as high as £100,000 p/a. Pilot salaries can be higher in other parts of the world and in the UK can help offset the cost of your helicopter pilot training.  

Is it difficult to fly a helicopter?

Initially, learning to control a helicopter is harder than flying fixed wing aircraft. Once you learn to fly one and you have completed enough hours the control becomes instinctive, just like riding a bike or driving a car. 

What about Brexit?

Frequently Asked Questions about Brexit and the aviation industry? - It's best to keep on eye on this one via the EASA Brexit page or CAA Brexit page

Will pilots ever be replaced?

There is no doubt that one day pilots will be replaced with autonomous UAV's and drones. Flying taxis are now a thing. However it will still take many years for society and legislation to change in order for pilots to be considered obsolete. Commercial airliners have been capable of autonomous flight since the 70's but still require a pilot 5 decades later. The future of transportation is vertical so helicopter pilot training could be an excellent career path.

How many hours will I need to be an employable helicopter pilot?

This figure varies depending on demand, experience or even luck. Some students are hired straight after their helicopter pilot training due to demand, being recommended, or simply by getting talking to someone at a party. As a general rule of thumb, many of the top organisations will look for 1000 - 1500 hours flight time, yet many have been offered pilot jobs on far far less. 

Does the helicopter pilot shortage exist?

The helicopter industry has always experienced peaks and troughs and it would appear that in 2019/2020 a trough is beginning to form. With an estimate of around 1000 helicopter pilots in the UK, the civil helicopter sector will be looking to employ more pilots and may even require less flight time.