Helicopter pilots fly single or multi-engined helicopters
for a range of business, emergency and leisure
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.
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.
To be a helicopter pilot, you should:
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.
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