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 requirements:

  • PPL age 17 

  • CPL age 18 

  • ATP age 23

Why 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, 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.

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