Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I go straight
into flying helicopters or do I have to fly airplanes first?
A: Absolutely! This is a common misconception
that a person has to start flying airplanes. In fact, if you are working
towards a career as a Professional Helicopter Pilot, it would be more
beneficial to fly only helicopters until you get your first job.
Q: Why is an Instrument Rating so important?
A: Right now, it is virtually impossible
to be eligible for any helicopter flying job outside of primary flight
instruction unless you are Instrument rated. Even in the area of flight
instruction, which is typically a civilian starting point, the CFI with
an Instrument rating or the CFII always has the competitive edge and
will get job preference. The bottom line is that an Instrument rated
pilot is a safer pilot. The insurance companies know it, the employers
know it, and the FAA Statistics prove it. But remember, obtaining your
Instrument rating is rewarding, fun and really not that difficult.
Q: Who is eligible to get an FAA Pilot Certificate?
A: Currently a candidate must be able
to read, speak and understand English. Additionally a candidate must
be able to posses an FAA Medical Certificate and meet the following age
PPL age 17
CPL age 18
ATP age 23
is right now a good time to get into the
Helicopter Pilot Profession?
On the supply side there is a trend occurring
that is beginning to create a shortage of helicopter pilots. There
are many factors that are influencing that trend. One of the factors
is that over the last decade the rate at which new pilots are being
trained has been steadily decreasing. At the same time the largest
population of experienced helicopter pilots (Vietnam era pilots),
are now beginning to reach retirement age and are leaving faster
than they can be replaced. Additionally the Military, which has
long been a source of pilots, has gotten smaller and are working
hard to retain their helicopter pilots.
On the demand side, in the civilian helicopter market there has been steady
growth in the sector of Public Service (EMS, Law Enforcement, Firefighting),
and with the new security issues relating to travel, there will most likely
be new growth potential in the lucrative Corporate helicopter market. Of course
the Oil Exploration market which has long been one of the largest employers
of helicopter pilots will continue to do so. With our current Administration
and the instability in the Middle East where the oil supplies are located,
we will most likely see continued growth in this industry as we look towards
more domestic oil supply.
Oddly enough the Flight Training Industry, which is traditionally a starting
point for most new civilian helicopter pilots, is poised for serious growth
which will further improve your chances of entering this exciting career. As
insurance rates continue to rise, one of the areas which will become the focal
point for rate reduction will be in the area of training. There will be a day
when an instrument rating will be mandatory for all Commercial Helicopter Pilots.
Couple that with the amount of pilots that will need to be trained to keep
pace with attrition and the mantra for the future will be "training, training,
As far as pay is concerned, salaries are one the rise and the next decade is
looking much better than the last. A shortage of pilots coupled with increased
demand will keep salaries on the rise. Additionally, there is a movement to
Unionize pilots across several markets and large operators which will also
continue to drive up the value of compensation packages. Depending on the size
of the aircraft and the mission, annual salaries currently range from $28k
to $120k USD. So to summarize, the future for Professional Helicopter Pilots
has never looked better.