Helicopter Pilot

Job Description:

Helicopter pilots fly single- and multi-engined helicopters for business, leisure or emergency services.

Job Category:
Automotive & Aviation

What you will do:

Your main responsibilities before a flight would include:

  • checking weather conditions and airspace restrictions along your planned route
  • filing flight plans with authorities
  • working out fuel requirements and maximum load
  • checking the helicopter’s equipment and instruments
  • carrying out safety checks
    gaining clearance from air traffic control

During the flight, you’ll use instruments to navigate, control height and speed, and communicate with air traffic controllers.

After landing, you’d complete paperwork before preparing for the next flight. This will include a duty hours log.

You may work alone or as a captain and co-pilot team on a larger helicopter.


You’ll need:

  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
  • knowledge of geography
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • adaptability skills
  • leadership skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Helicopter Pilot, you won’t necessarily need specific subjects, but you will need a strong educational foundation and the ability to meet certain prerequisites. Here are some relevant subjects and skills that can be beneficial for aspiring helicopter pilots:

  1. Mathematics: Strong math skills are important for understanding navigation, flight planning, and performing various calculations related to flying.
  2. Physics: A basic understanding of physics can help you comprehend the principles of flight and aircraft dynamics.
  3. Science: Subjects like biology and chemistry may also be useful for understanding aircraft systems and safety procedures.
  4. English Language: Effective communication skills, including written and verbal communication, are crucial for radio communication and understanding aviation regulations.
  5. Information Technology (IT): Proficiency in using computers and flight planning software can be helpful for navigation and route planning.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations

You could do a university degree in air transport or aviation, which includes helicopter pilot training with an approved flight training organisation.

Other Routes
You can apply to join a course with a flight training organisation to get your Commercial Pilot Licence CPL(H). You’ll need the CPL(H) to fly helicopters commercially.

To get onto a training course, you’ll usually need:

  • to have completed English, maths, and science at senior school
  • to pass skills tests and a thorough medical assessment
  • a minimum of 155 hours’ flying time

The number of flying hours needed may be lower for trained aeroplane pilots.

As a first step, you could train for a Private Pilot’s Licence PPL(H) which allows you to fly for personal use and build up your flying hours. The flight training school would assess your skills, and could ask you to take some pre-course training to prove that you have the level of ability and skills needed for commercial training.

Training is expensive and you’ll usually have to fund it yourself.

You could also join the Army, Navy or Air Force as a trainee pilot.

If you’re thinking of a career as a helicopter pilot, it’s strongly recommended that you consider taking a pilot Aptitude Assessment before you start training.

You could also take a trial lesson with a flight school to make sure this is the right career for you.

Working Hours and Environment:

Your typical working hours could be variable.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could combine flying with ground duties, recruitment or training.

You could also start your own business providing recreational flights or freight services, or become a flying instructor.