Helicopter Pilot

Transport and Travel

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Commercial helicopter pilots work in a variety of industries, carrying passengers and cargo from one location to another. Pilots might transport accident victims to medical facilities, rescue victims of natural disasters, move emergency food and medical supplies or carry emergency workers to disaster sites. Commercial helicopter pilots might perform services such as aerial photography, passenger tours or traffic information relay. Some helicopter pilots work privately for individual employers, while others offer flight services to a variety of customers. FutureGrowthModerate

A helicopter pilot will generally choose either a military flying or civil flying career. If you are considering a military flying career you should contact your local defence force recruiting agency to seek advice. To qualify for work in Australia as a helicopter pilot you will need to be granted a student pilot licence issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) after which you can begin training on helicopters  specifically. Once you gain a student pilot licence you will need to complete required flying time, theoretical examinations and flight testing before applying for your commercial helicopters pilot licence.

If you are considering becoming a helicopter pilot you may want to try a Trial Instructional Flight (TIF) which will help you decide if you are suited to a career as a helicopter pilot and want to continue flying training. To become a commercial helicopter pilot you will need to undertake a medical examination by an approved examiner. A class 2 medical certificate is required before you can obtain a student pilot licence. As a helicopter pilot you would usually fly single or multi-engine helicopters.

Responsibilities will include operating the controls, monitoring the instruments and systems, checking weather conditions, flight plans, calculating fuel requirements and inspecting and carrying out safety checks on helicopter equipment.

ANZSCO description: Flies helicopters to transport passengers, mail or freight, or provide agricultural, aviation or aerial surveillance services. Registration or licensing is required.

Specialisations: Flight instructor, Aerial photography, Law enforcement, Search and rescue, Fire fighting, Charters and tours, Agriculture support, Oil platform transportation, Off shore oil rig support; Air Force.

Ambulance Helicopter
(Source: Australian Aviation)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A helicopter pilot needs

  • good general health,

  • good eyesight and hearing

  • good communication skills

  • good coordination skills

  • to take responsibility for the safety of passengers and crew

  • good concentration skills

  • an ability to be calm under stress and act decisively

  • sound judgement

  • to be at least 16 years to obtain a student licence

  • to be at least 18 to obtain a commercial helicopter pilot licence

  • to meet relevant requirements issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

Duties and Tasks

Commercial helicopter pilots inspect aircraft, controls, systems and instruments before beginning a flight. Pre-flight checks also include consulting with weather forecasts and dispatchers, which provides the information necessary to create a flight plan.

The flight plan determines the safest and most efficient route. Pilots operate the controls and monitor the instruments and systems, such as fuel consumption, to ensure the helicopter is functioning properly throughout a flight.

Working Conditions

Helicopter pilots can expect to work in a variety of weather conditions, climates and security conditions. There are rules regarding flying hours. Conditions in the helicopter can be cramped and noisy.

In Australia, there is diverse range of career opportunities for qualified helicopter pilots, including:

  • Aerial stock mustering

  • Aerial photography and filming

  • Scenic joyflights / tourism industry

  • Flight instruction

  • Bushfire fighting

  • Powerline surveys

  • Marine pilot transfers

  • Helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR)

  • Police Air Work

  • Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS)

  • Corporate flights / general charter service

  • Agricultural crop spraying and livestock herding

  • Media, news and traffic reporting

  • Offshore (oil industry) services

Tools and technologies

​As a helicopter pilot you will generally fly single or multi-engine helicopters. You will use a range of instruments to navigate and control the helicopter and will be required to use communication equipment with air traffic services.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a helicopter pilot, you will require a Commercial Pilot’s License (Helicopter).

You can access helicopter flight training at private flying schools across the state. To improve your theoretical knowledge, vocational education and training qualifications in aviation, aeronautics and aviation studies are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also study and train to become a helicopter pilot with the Australian Defence Force.

​It is recommended that you also undertake an aircrew medical assessment to ensure that you qualify for licence issue.

Opportunities for employment can include: scenic flying, flight instructor, aerial photography, off shore services, coastal surveillance, emergency services – search and rescue, police, bushfires.

Did You Know?

Mustering

(Source: Australian Helicopter Pilot School)

Read the heroic story of Rob Cook, a livestock farmer who had a devastating accident in a helicopter.

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