As with fixed wing aircraft, in order to fly a helicopter you will need to start off by obtaining your private pilot license. You will receive a rating to fly rotor wing aircraft (helicopters) which can be obtained without ever flying a fixed wing aircraft.
Depending on your aviation goals, where you go from there is up to you. If you’re content to use your license for private purposes, go out and enjoy it but if you’re looking for an exciting and varied career, getting your commercial helicopter license will be your next step.
Following this, you can work towards either your Certified Flight Instructor License (helicopter/rotorcraft) and then an Airline Transport Pilot (helicopter/rotorcraft).
There is some cost and effort required to get your helicopter license, so we recommend the first step you take is to organize an introductory helicopter lesson or trial flight. You can do this at any helicopter flight training school.
Helicopter License – Private Pilot License Requirements (FAA Part 61)
As the holder of a private helicopter license you are entitled to carry passengers and their baggage so long as you are not receiving any kind of remuneration for the flight (ie. the flight is not for commercial hire – a commercial helicopter license is required for this purpose).
You must meet the following general requirements:
• You must be at least 16 years old to become a student pilot and do any solo flights.
• Before you can take the check ride you must be at least 17 years old.
• Your skills in English comprehension reading and writing and speaking must be satisfactory.
• You must pass a medical exam administered by an FAA flight surgeon and hold an FAA medical certificate before your first solo flight.
• You must have logged at least 40 hours of flight time and completed the aeronautical requirements detailed below.
• You must have successfully completed the ground instruction component taught by a ground or certified flight instructor.
• You must score at least 90% or better on the written FAA private pilot helicopter knowledge test (you are not required to take the written exam if you already hold a private pilot license for fixed wing aircraft).
• You must pass your check ride. This consists of an oral and practical flight test and is administered by an FAA designated examiner.
Required aeronautical experience. You will have completed at least 40 hours in helicopters. Included in this time will be solo and dual flight instruction time:
• 30 hours dual flight instruction with a Certified Flight Instructor. This will include the following:
• 20 hours of dual flying prior to solo
• Dual cross-country flight training (minimum three hours)
• Three hours of dual instruction at night. This will include at least 10 take-offs and landings at the airport and one cross-country flight no less than 50 nautical miles.
• With the 60 days preceding your check ride you must have received a
Helicopter License Cost – Private
Aviation publications and the Internet are rife with advertizements for flight training schools offering reduced prices for the completion of your final helicopter test ride. As always, there is a catch. Most of those offering the lowest prices base the cost for obtaining your private helicopter license on the published FAA minimums. So what’s the difference between these advertisements and flight schools advertising higher costs? The truth is very few students ever complete their PPL within the minimum time is mandated by the FAA.
More reputable flight training schools based the estimated costs on the national average time taken to complete the private pilot license.
Below is a breakdown of the realistic and approximate costs however you should talk directly to your flight training school for accurate pricing:
|55 hr R22 dual||$17,600|
|10 hr R22 solo||$2,00|
|40 hr ground, books||$3,720|
Commercial Helicopter License Requirements (FAA Part 61)
Helicopter License Cost – Commercial
As mentioned above, advertized costs vary depending on whether they are based on unrealistic FAA minimum hours or the national average for students to complete their license. Below are realistic costs for a commercial helicopter license based on the national average for time taken to reach competency for the check ride test.
|45 hours instrument R44||$22,455|
|50 hours R22||$16,500|
|50 hours ground school||$3,500|
Instrument Instructor Rating
|10 hours Instrument R44 dual||$5,000|
|20 hours ground school||$1,370|
|FAA Exam Fee||$500|
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of completing your private license as well when calculating the total costs involved with a commercial helicopter license. See table below for total costs:
Overall Total for Commercial Helicopter License All Ratings
|Total Average Cost||$75,185|
Certified Flight Instructor Requirements (CFI)
Once you have your commercial helicopter license, becoming a certified flight instructor in rotor-craft is a great way to advance your career.
Many helicopter pilots choose this option as it’s a way of building your logged hours required for further advancement in the profession and getting paid for it. Aside from this, becoming an instructor is a rewarding and challenging career option in itself. You are responsible for developing a high level of competency within your student and also responsible for the safety of them and the aircraft.
The Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) license unlike other FAA licenses must be renewed every two years in order that your licence remains valid and you may continue working as a flight instructor.
Requirements/Eligibility for CFI License
• You must have turned 18 years old.
• You must be proficient in your ability to understand you must be proficient in your ability to speak and understand read and write English.
• You must hold a valid Commercial rotorcraft or helicopter license or a ATP rotorcraft helicopter license.
• You must hold an instrument rating for helicopters/rotorcraft.
• You must score a passing mark in the written knowledge test for CFI helicopter.
• You must complete and pass the Fundamentals of Instruction written knowledge test.
• You Must Complete and Pass a Practical and Oral Test (Check Ride)
Aeronautical Experience Requirements (CFI)
• You must have at least 15 hours logged in as pilot in command and helicopter and receive tuition in the areas of instructing. These are listed in part 61.185 and 61.187.
Get Paid While You Learn How to Become a Helicopter Pilot
For some people a career in the military is a great way to get your pilot license and learn how to fly a helicopter. The Air Force Pilot Training Program and the Navy equivalent are both excellent means to get your helicopter license and get paid at the same time.
Angelina Jolie buys Brad Pitt helicopter flying lessons. Jolie forked over almost 1.6 million on a helicopter and flying lessons for fiance Brad Pitt to get his helicopter license….
Bell Helicopters http://www.bellhelicopter.com/
Sikorsky Helicopters http://www.sikorsky.com/Index
Robinson Helicopters http://www.robinsonheli.com/
Helicopters Magazine http://www.helicoptersmagazine.com/