Kind Reader, have you ever dreamed of flying high in the sky, enjoying stunning views and being paid to do it? As a commercial helicopter pilot, this can be your reality. Being a commercial helicopter pilot requires a love for aviation, excellent piloting skills, extensive training, and a desire to work in a dynamic and exciting field. A commercial helicopter pilot is responsible for transporting various individuals and cargo to different destinations, such as business executives, medical patients, and tourists. If you are up for a challenge and enjoy the thrill of adventure, becoming a commercial helicopter pilot may be the right career choice for you.
What is a Commercial Helicopter Pilot?
A commercial helicopter pilot is a highly trained professional who operates a helicopter for a variety of different purposes, such as transportation, sightseeing, search and rescue, and more. They are responsible for ensuring the safety of their passengers and crew, as well as the safe operation of the helicopter itself. Commercial helicopter pilots typically work for commercial airlines, helicopter tour companies, emergency response organizations, government agencies, and other organizations that require the use of helicopters.
The Role of a Commercial Helicopter Pilot
Commercial helicopter pilots are responsible for a variety of different tasks and duties, depending on the specific industry they work in and the type of helicopter they operate. Some common responsibilities of commercial helicopter pilots include:
|No||Commercial Helicopter Pilot Responsibilities|
|1||Inspecting and maintaining the helicopter before and after each flight|
|2||Communicating with air traffic control and other pilots|
|3||Planning flight routes and making adjustments as necessary|
|4||Ensuring the safety of passengers and crew at all times|
|5||Responding to emergencies and mitigating any risks or dangers|
|6||Managing fuel consumption and other operational factors|
|7||Maintaining accurate records of each flight and any incidents or observations|
The Qualifications Required to Become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot
Before becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, there are certain qualifications and requirements that must be met. These will vary depending on the specific country and region, as well as the type of helicopter being operated and the industry the pilot is working in. Some common qualifications required for commercial helicopter pilots include:
|No||Qualifications Required for Commercial Helicopter Pilot|
|1||A commercial helicopter pilot license|
|2||Minimum flight hours and experience requirements|
|3||Passing medical exams and fitness tests|
|4||Completion of a helicopter pilot training program|
|5||Passing written and practical exams|
|6||Appropriate certifications and endorsements for specific types of helicopter and operations|
Requirements to become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot
Becoming a commercial helicopter pilot requires meeting several requirements before you can take command of a helicopter. Here are the general requirements:
The minimum age to become a helicopter pilot is 17 years old, which is the same with airplane pilots. However, to get a Commercial Pilot Certificate, you must be 18 years old or older.
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum education requirements for becoming a helicopter pilot. It is preferable to have subjects in physics, mathematics and technical drawing as they will greatly benefit you in understanding the systems of aviation.
Flight training and hours
Helicopter flight training must be completed at an FAA-approved helicopter training school, center, or academy. One must also attend ground school courses and pass an FAA written exam. A commercial helicopter pilot must have minimum flight hours of between 150 to 200 hours depending on the type of training school attended. Some schools provide a fast-track course that covers the required time in a shorter period of time than most courses.
A medical exam is a requirement as safety is the number one priority in aviation. An FAA-approved aviation medical examiner must conduct the examination. Exam requirement frequency is based on the class of medical certificate obtained. Classes range from first class (most stringent) to third class (least stringent).
How to become a Helicopter Instructor
Becoming a helicopter flight instructor is a huge step in a helicopter pilot’s career. It enables a pilot to share his/her knowledge and skills with students who are interested in this thrilling career. Here are the steps to become a helicopter instructor:
Private Pilot License (PPL) Requirements
Flight training and instruction will begin by earning a Private Pilot Certificate. This certificate is the foundation of all types of pilot licenses and is the first step towards becoming a helicopter instructor. It requires at least 40 hours of flight time, including 20 hours of flight instruction and 10 hours of solo flying.
Once a PPL has been obtained, the next step is to become certified with an Instrument Rating, meaning that a pilot has demonstrated competence in certain types of instrumental flying techniques. Helicopter pilots can only instruct students if they hold an FAA-certified Instrument Rating.
Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
A Commercial Pilot License is required to become a helicopter instructor. This license provides additional flight experience and training necessary to become an FAA-certified instructor. Requirements include a minimum of 150 flight hours as pilot in command, and 50 hours of cross-country flight experience.
Flight Instructor Certificate (CFI)
Once a pilot has obtained his/her Commercial Pilot License, they are eligible to work towards a Flight Instructor Certificate. The FAA mandates that a flight instructor candidate hold a minimum of 200 flight hours as pilot in command, including at least 100 flight hours in helicopter. A flight instructor candidate also needs to hold an FAA-approved Ground Instructor Certificate to be eligible for the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating.
|1||The minimum age to become a commercial helicopter pilot is 18 years old.|
|2||A commercial helicopter pilot must possess a valid FAA commercial pilot certificate with a helicopter rating.|
|3||Commercial helicopter pilots must pass a medical exam and meet specific vision and hearing requirements.|
|4||Pilots are required to have a minimum of 1500 hours of flight experience and 200 hours of cross-country flight time to become a commercial helicopter pilot.|
|5||Commercial helicopter pilots must pass an FAA written knowledge test and practical flight exam.|
|6||Once licensed, commercial helicopter pilots can work in various industries, including law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue, and tourism.|
Training Requirements for Commercial Helicopter Pilot
In order to become a commercial helicopter pilot, one must possess a commercial pilot license for helicopters. This requires a total of 150 hours of flight experience, which includes a minimum of 100 hours as a pilot in command, 50 of which must be cross-country flights. One must also have a private helicopter license which requires 40 hours of flight experience, to gain admission to a commercial pilot training course.
Commercial Helicopter Training Course
Once you have the prerequisite hours of flying the next step is to enroll in a commercial helicopter training course. There is a range of commercial helicopter training courses available worldwide that usually last about 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the training organization. The courses involved in the training program include:
- Helicopter Navigation and Instruments
- Advanced Aerodynamics and Aircraft Design
- Helicopter Operating Procedures
- Radio Communications for Helicopters
- Helicopter Safety Management
Cost of Training
The cost of training for a commercial helicopter pilot varies depending on the school and the geographical location of the training. On average, it costs about $80,000 to $100,000 to complete a helicopter pilot course and obtain a commercial pilot’s license.
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Salary
The salary of a commercial helicopter pilot varies based on the experience and the type of job they do. The average salary of a commercial helicopter pilot is around $73,000 per year.
Factors affecting the salary of a commercial helicopter pilot
Several factors impact the salary of a commercial helicopter pilot, including:
- Experience: Experienced pilots are paid more than inexperienced pilots.
- Employer: Salary varies based on the type of employer a pilot works for.
- Type of job: The type of job a pilot does affects the salary. For example, a pilot surveying power lines may earn less than a pilot transporting high-profile clients.
- Location: Location plays an important role in determining the salary of a helicopter pilot. The cost of living in the area may affect the salary.
Expected salary for different jobs
The following are the average salaries of a few different types of helicopter pilot jobs:
|No||Type of Job||Average Salary|
|1||Tourism Pilot||$23,000 – $36,500|
|2||Agricultural Pilot||$50,000 – $60,000|
|3||News Pilot||$60,000 – $100,000 (depending on experience)|
|4||EMS Pilot||$75,000 – $90,000|
It’s important to note that a career in helicopter piloting requires a significant investment of money and time before you can expect to earn a commercial pilot’s salary.
Qualifications Required to Become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot
To become a commercial helicopter pilot, there are certain qualifications and requirements that one must meet. These qualifications include:
One must be at least 18 years old to be able to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot.
Candidates should have completed higher secondary education, i.e., 10+2 or equivalent to be eligible for a commercial helicopter pilot’s license.
Helicopter pilots have to maintain high degrees of physical fitness. They must pass a medical examination by a certified aviation medical examiner
Training and Flying Hours
To qualify for a commercial helicopter pilot’s license, the candidate must complete formal ground school or home-study course training. After completing ground school, the candidate must also pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Pilot Written Test.
The FAA requires a commercial helicopter pilot to have a minimum of 150 flight hours. These 150 flight hours must consist of certain types of flight time:
- 100 hours must be as a pilot-in-command (PIC).
- 50 hours if cross-country flight time.
- 10 hours of night-time flight time.
- 5 hours of instrument training.
Additional certifications required for a commercial helicopter pilot include:
- A commercial pilot certificate with a Helicopter rating issued by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
- Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).
- Certified Flight Instructor- Instrument (CFII).
- Certified Flight Instructor-Multi-engine (CFIM).
One of the benefits of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot is that it’s a profession that comes with a great deal of responsibility, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Pay Scale
As with most jobs, the salary of commercial helicopter pilots varies depending on several factors. One of the biggest factors that determine salary is the type of helicopter being flown. For example, flying a larger helicopter with more passenger capacity often pays more than smaller ones. Other factors that come into play with commercial helicopter pilot pay include years of experience, type of employer, and location of the job.
Helicopter Pilot Salary by Experience
Experience is a significant factor in determining a commercial helicopter pilot’s salary. New pilots will generally start at a lower salary than more experienced pilots. A pilot with less than a year of experience can expect to make around 37,000 to 80,000 dollars per annum, while the salary of a pilot with 1-4 years of experience can range from 60,000 to 120,000 dollars. Those with 5-9 years of experience can earn up to 150,000 dollars, and pilots who have been working for ten years or more can earn 200,000 to 250,000 dollars annually.
Helicopter Pilot Salary by Location
The location of the job is another key factor in determining the salary of a commercial helicopter pilot. As you might expect, pilots working in major cities or urban areas will generally make more than pilots in rural areas. However, the cost of living in this location can also influence how much pilots make. In general, the states that offer the highest salaries to helicopter pilots are California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida.
Salary and Job Outlook for Commercial Helicopter Pilots
Commercial helicopter pilots are usually employed in industries such as tourism, transportation, oil and gas, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and aerial photography.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for helicopter pilots, including commercial pilots, was $79,870 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $161,070. The pay scale varies depending on the type of industry the pilot is working in, the geographical location, and the experience and qualifications of the pilot.
Job Outlook and Growth
The job outlook for commercial helicopter pilots is positive, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a growth rate of 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. The increase in demand for air ambulance services, search and rescue missions, and transportation of corporate VIPs is driving the growth of this industry.
Industry-wise Pay Scale
|No||Industry||Annual Mean Wage|
|2||Oil and Gas Extraction||$91,630|
|3||Support Activities for Mining||$85,820|
|4||Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation||$70,560|
|5||Other Support Services||$80,180|
Note: The above figures are sourced from US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Salary
One of the key factors that attract individuals to pursue a career as a commercial helicopter pilot is the salary. The pay scale varies depending on various factors such as the work experience, skill, and type of industry. According to the data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for commercial helicopter pilots in the United States as of May 2020 was $97,230 per year. However, the salary can range from $38,520 per year (lowest 10%) to $164,210 per year (highest 10%).
The Factors that Affect Commercial Helicopter Pilot Salary
The salary of a commercial helicopter pilot depends on several factors. Here are some of the factors that affect commercial helicopter pilot salary:
- Experience: Just like any other job, work experience matters in the field of commercial helicopter pilot. The more experience a pilot has, the higher the salary they can expect.
- Industry: Commercial helicopter pilots can work in various industries such as air ambulance, tourism, firefighting, and others. The salary of a pilot can vary depending on the industry they work in.
- Region: The demand for commercial helicopter pilots may vary in different regions. The salary of a commercial helicopter pilot can also depend on the region they work in.
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Job Opportunities
The demand for commercial helicopter pilots in the aviation industry is expected to grow in the coming years. According to the BLS, the job outlook for commercial pilots is projected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029, slightly faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for helicopter pilots is expected to grow because of the increasing use of helicopters in the emergency medical services (EMS) and air ambulances, as well as in the oil and gas exploration industry.
Types of Industries that Employ Commercial Helicopter Pilots
Here are some of the industries that employ commercial helicopter pilots:
|1||Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Air Ambulance|
|2||Oil and Gas Exploration Industry|
|4||Law Enforcement and Border Patrol|
These industries offer various job opportunities to commercial helicopter pilots. An individual can apply for the role of Chief Helicopter Pilot, Tour Pilot, Charter Pilot, EMS Pilot, or other roles depending on their interest and experience.
Commercial Helicopter Pilot FAQ
If you have questions or concerns about becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, weâ€™ve got you covered. Check out our frequently asked questions below.
1. What are the requirements to become a commercial helicopter pilot?
Youâ€™ll need to be at least 18 years old, fluent in English, hold a Private Pilot License with a helicopter rating, pass an FAA medical exam, and have completed a minimum of 150 hours of flight time.
2. How long does it take to become a commercial helicopter pilot?
It can vary, but on average it takes about 18 months to 2 years to become a commercial helicopter pilot.
3. How much does it cost to become a commercial helicopter pilot?
The cost can range anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 depending on the flight school and location of training.
4. What type of jobs can I get as a commercial helicopter pilot?
You can work in various industries such as tourism, emergency medical services, law enforcement, utility work such as power line inspections, and offshore oil and gas operations among others.
5. Is the job of a commercial helicopter pilot stressful?
It can be, as flying in different types of weather, managing passengers or cargo, and ensuring safety can put pressure on the pilot. However, a good training, experience, and following proper procedures can help alleviate stress.
6. How long are the work hours for a commercial helicopter pilot?
It varies, but pilots can fly up to 14 hours per day and up to 7 days a week. Rest periods are required by law, however.
7. Is it hard to find a job as a commercial helicopter pilot?
It can be competitive, but there is a growing demand for helicopter pilots in different industries, and networking through professional associations can help you make valuable connections.
8. Can I fly passengers immediately after getting my commercial pilotâ€™s license?
No, youâ€™ll need to have a minimum of 500 hours of flight time to fly passengers.
9. How often do I need to renew my certification?
Youâ€™ll need to renew your certification every two years by completing a minimum of 16 hours of flight experience and passing an exam.
10. Can I transfer my pilotâ€™s license to other countries?
Youâ€™ll need to check with the aviation authority of the country you want to fly in. Many countries have agreements with the FAA that allow for license transfers, but additional testing or training may be required.
11. What is the average starting salary for commercial helicopter pilots?
It varies depending on the industry and location, but it can range from $35,000 to $60,000 USD per year.
12. Is the cost of flight training tax-deductible?
It depends on your situation. Consult with a tax professional for specific guidance.
13. What is the overall job outlook for commercial helicopter pilots?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for helicopter pilots is expected to increase by 4% between 2019-2029 which is about average for all occupations.
14. What are some of the challenges of being a commercial helicopter pilot?
The job requires a significant investment in training and can be physically and mentally demanding. Flying in different weather conditions, dealing with mechanical issues, and managing stress are also factors to consider.
15. How can I prepare for my commercial helicopter pilot training?
Itâ€™s best to work on building a strong foundation in theoretical and practical knowledge of flying, such as navigation, aircraft systems, and flight planning. Developing good communication, decision-making, and situational awareness skills are also essential.
Learn about the requirements and training process to become a commercial helicopter pilot, which involves obtaining a pilot’s license and accumulating flight hours.
Thank You for Flying with Me, Kind Reader!
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the life of a commercial helicopter pilot. As you can see, it can be a thrilling and rewarding career, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there. If you’re interested in pursuing this path, start by researching flight schools and the requirements for becoming a licensed commercial pilot. And if you’re ever in need of helicopter transport, remember to call on us! Thanks again for reading, and please come back soon for more exciting aviation articles. Happy flying!