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Helicopter Pilot Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Helicopter Pilot. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Helicopter Pilot
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Helicopter Pilot Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Pilots may be employed by companies to fly executives or components around the country. Other pilots may operate charter services. Offshore flying tends to be re-supplying and ferrying employees between home base and oil or gas rigs.

On reporting for flight duty they read and check all the relevant information on expected weather conditions, airspace restrictions, etc. They calculate fuel requirements and maximum load. On board they check instruments and request clearance from air traffic control before take-off.They perform all necessary navigation and communication with air traffic control. On landing, they shut down the engines and complete all necessary post-flight paperwork. Some helicopters are flown by single pilots - larger ones by two (a captain and co-pilot), working together on the flight deck.

Hours and Environment:

Actual flying time without a rest is limited to 30 hours (in a seven-day period) or 60 hours in any 28-day period. Hours vary: days, nights and weekends - whenever they are needed to fly - with some short, overnight periods away from home. Pilots spend long hours sitting, often in cramped, noisy conditions. Offshore pilots must wear cumbersome survival suits.

Skills and Interests:

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 pilots are licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The CAA decided to implement the Joint Airworthiness Requirements (JAR-FCL2) relating to helicopter training and licensing in 2000, which has resulted in significant changes in helicopter pilot training and licensing.

Commercial helicopter pilots require a Commercial Pilot Licence (Helicopter) CPL(H) or the more advanced Airline Transport Pilot (Helicopter) Licence ATPL(H).

Entry onto the CPL(H) course requires five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3), including English and mathematics or physics. All candidates must pass an aptitude tests.

There are no upper age limits to obtaining the licences above, however, applicants must meet the stringent medical requirements of the CAA.


The JAR-FCL CPL(H) may be obtained either by completing an integrated course approved by the CAA or by gaining a Private Pilot Licence (Helicopter) and then completing a modular course of additional training approved by the CAA.

The integrated course is a full-time course of ground and flying training run by a Flying Training Organisation approved by the CAA. The aim of the course is to train pilots to the level of proficiency they need to get a CPL(H), but not the Instrument Rating or any further specialisation (for example, aerial work activities). It consists of a minimum of 135 hours flying training and 550 hours of theoretical knowledge instruction.

The modular route aims to train those who already hold a Private Pilot Licence (Helicopter) PPL(H) to the level they need to obtain a CPL(H). This course is designed for those who want to stagger their training by doing approved modules over a period of time. The course consists of a minimum of 30 hours of flying training and 500 hours of theoretical knowledge.

The ATPL(H) integrated course aims to train pilots to the level of proficiency they need to operate as co-pilot on multi-pilot, multi-engine helicopters in commercial air transport, and to get the CPL(H)/IR (Instrumental Rating), but not any further specialisation. The course consists of a minimum of 195 hours flying training and 750 hours of theoretical knowledge instruction. The course also includes training in multi-crew operation of multi-pilot helicopters.

An applicant for a JAR-FCL CPL(H) must hold a valid JAR-FCL Class 1 Medical Certificate issued by the CAA. Applicants should ensure that they meet this stringent medical standard before starting on a course of training.


Most pilots join helicopter companies as co-pilots. Promotion to captain may only come if the pilot is prepared to wait or to move.

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.

Annual Income:

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

There is no set income for helicopter pilots and it is usually determined by type of work undertaken.

Helicopter pilots involved in crop spraying may earn around £20,000. Helicopter pilots who captain passenger-carrying craft may earn between £45,000 and £60,000.

Helicopter pilots may be paid allowances for overnight stays and visits to inhospitable areas.

Further information:

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

Oxford Aviation Services Ltd (OATS)
Oxford Air Training School
Kidlington Airport
Tel: 01865 844253

Other Useful Helicopter Pilot Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Helicopter Pilot job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Helicopter Pilot Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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