License To Thrill: Which Type Of Helicopter Pilot License Is Right For You?


Becoming any sort of licensed pilot is a noteworthy endeavour, but learning to safely fly a helicopter is particularly challenging, and particularly rewarding should you succeed. However, whether you intend to become a commercial pilot or simply fly helicopters for pleasure, you will need to ensure that the license you train for is the one you will require once you obtain it. 

This means choosing the type of license you will attempt to obtain well in advance of starting your training course. The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority recognises three distinct types of helicopter pilot license, each with its own restrictions and limitations, so it is important to ensure that you choose the right training for your ultimate piloting ambitions before you invest in a course.

Student pilot license (SPL)

This type of license does not actually qualify you to fly a helicopter -- instead, it is achieved after completing the requisite amount of flight training and theory tests and enables you to legally fly a helicopter under supervision to accumulate the amount of flight hours you require for your chosen license. Consequently, obtaining your SPL is a necessary prerequisite to getting fully certified as a helicopter pilot. Training at an accredited helicopter training facility that offers both theory and practical training is by far the most effective way to obtain your SPL.

To obtain an SPL, you will have to undergo a medical examination to obtain an Aviation Medical Certificate. Depending on your eyesight, overall health and other factors, you may be presented with a Class 1 or Class 2 certificate (if you pass at all); these classes will become important when it comes to deciding which helicopter license you wish to obtain.

Commercial helicopter pilot license (CPL(H))

These licenses are aimed at the aspiring professional helicopter pilot and involve the most stringent tests and requirements. At least 125 hours of flight time are required to obtain this license. You will also have to perform a 'live' flight demonstration and demonstrate your skills to the satisfaction of an independent adjudicator and take a theory test designed to test your knowledge of both aeronautics and meteorology

Once you have obtained a CPL(H), you are a fully licensed, professional helicopter pilot, eligible to take on paid work and transport passengers for a fee. These licenses are therefore your end goal if you intend to go into helicopter piloting as a career, and the high demand for commercial helicopter pilots (as well as the salaries they are paid) makes training for one of these licenses well worth the investment.

Be aware, however, that these licenses do not automatically qualify you for flying helicopters under certain unusual circumstances i.e., at night or while operating an aerial winch. Separate endorsements allowing you to fly under these conditions are generally offered by most reputable helicopter training services.

Private helicopter pilot license (PPL(H))

The ideal license for the aspiring recreational pilot, holding a PPL(H) entitles you to fly a helicopter unsupervised for your own pleasure. This means you cannot take on passengers for payment (although transporting passengers for free is entirely legal), and a PPL(H) will not allow you to take on commercial helicopter flying jobs, such as flying helicopters for aerial tour companies.

As a trade-off for these limitations, the requirements necessary to obtain a private license are significantly lower than those needed to get a commercial license. Just 50 hours of recorded flight time are required to apply for a PPL(H), compared to 125+ for a commercial license. You will also only need a Class 2 Aviation Medical Certificate, which has less stringent requirements than the Class 1 required for commercial licenses. You will still have to take a theory test and perform a flight demonstration, however.

As such, these licenses are generally much cheaper and easier to obtain than commercial licenses. If you have no intention of flying a helicopter in a professional capacity, these courses represent excellent value for money and give you a solid foundation of knowledge and experience if you wish to upgrade to a commercial license later. 


19 December 2017

Transportation Tips for Pet Owners: Getting Around With Dogs

Hi, my name is Lisa, and I have travelled by sea, rail and road. That in itself isn't unusual, but my travelling companion is – my dog. I have learned through my experiences everything you need to know about transporting a dog (or another animal). Want to learn how to calm your dog on the road? Want to learn how to convince a ticket agent to sell your pup a pass? Want to learn other tricks regarding transporting dogs and pets? Then, you have come to the right place. I love to write, but I love to help people and animals even more so I hope you find these posts useful.