Helicopter Pilot Careers

How to become a Helicopter Pilot

What does a Helicopter Pilot do?

Helicopter pilots fly single or multi-engined helicopters for a range of business, emergency and leisure purposes.

They are responsible for the safety of the helicopter and any passengers or cargo, and may work alone or as part of a team of captain and co-pilot on larger helicopters.

Before the flight pilots will: check weather conditions and any airspace restrictions on their planned route; file flight plans; calculate fuel requirements and maximum load; and check equipment and instruments. They will then request clearance to take off from air traffic control.

During the flight pilots use a range of equipment to navigate, control height and speed and communicate with air traffic control. After landing they will complete all necessary post-flight paperwork, including a duty hours log.

What's the working environment like working as a Helicopter Pilot?

Hours vary between days, nights and weekends, with some short, overnight periods away from home.

Pilots spend long hours sitting, often in cramped, noisy conditions. Offshore pilots must wear bulky survival suits.

There are strict regulations governing maximum flying hours.

What does it take to become a Helicopter Pilot?

To be a helicopter pilot, you should:

  • be able to accept total responsibility for the machine and any passengers
  • have good judgement and an even temperament
  • have good concentration and attention to detail
  • be able to remain calm in a crisis and act decisively
  • have good communication skills, both written and spoken
  • be able to co-operate with others and work well in a team.

Helicopter Pilot Career Opportunities

Most pilots join helicopter companies as co-pilots. Promotion to captain may only come if the pilot is prepared to wait or to move. Demand for pilots can fluctuate from year to year.

It is possible to become a helicopter pilot in the armed forces.

Senior pilots often combine flying with ground duties - spending some time on administration, recruitment or training. Some pilots manage to start their own businesses - usually air taxi, recreational flying or freight services. A few fly corporate aircraft or become flying instructors.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Helicopter Pilot that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Helicopter Advisory Board (BHAB)
Graham Suite, West Entrance
Fairoaks Airport
GU24 8HX
Tel: 01276 856100

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
Personnel Licensing Department
Aviation House
Gatwick Airport South
West Sussex

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