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Helicopter Pilot License

Helicopter Private Licence

There are a number of steps that must be undertaken to obtain your helicopter pilot’s licence, regardless of the country you are living in. This section will set out those that are common to all helicopter pilot training programs. These programs will enable you to get your 'basic helicopter licence', better known as the Private Pilot Licence for Helicopters (PPL-H). You can find details of training centres here.

With the PPL-H, you are restricted to non-commercial flying activities only, so if you are planning to start commercial helicopter flying services, you must obtain an additional, appropriate licence. There are licences for commercial use, transportation, and flying by instrument ('night flying'). Finally, there is the phenomenon of the type ratings, which mean that, unlike with a licence to drive a car, you cannot fly every type of helicopter with just one licence. Instead, a brief training program must be undertaken for every type of helicopter, and if you pass, you get your type rating for that particular aircraft.

Note that the structure of helicopter training programs and their licensing systems are identical to those of fixed wing aircrafts. However, helicopter training is more expensive because helicopters are more expensive to use and purchase.

Basic training modules

The helicopter training modules which must be followed to get your Private Pilot Licence are:

Sikorsky helicopter, S61N

Note that these modules are the same for fixed wing pilots. The only difference is in the module on helicopter theory and principles of flight, which is very different to the one taken for fixed wing aircraft.

You can take each module’s exam individually, and it is possible to study the modules without being under the supervision of a flight school. Contrary to a common misperception, a special knowledge of mathematics is not required.

Also check the section on helicopter flight simulation.

Kinds of licenses

Type ratings

When you have a Pilot’s Licence for flying helicopters, you can only fly the type of helicopter that was used in your training program. If you want to change to a different craft, you must go through a type rating program, which will familiarise you with this type of helicopter before you are allowed to fly it.

Differences between Countries around the World

The legislation relating to airman certification is regulated by national authorities, and is therefore country dependant. However, there are many similarities, due to efforts that have been made to harmonize them (e.g. the FAA and EASA regularly communicate with each other).

EU flag Europe
USA flag United States of America

The Pilot's handbook

Everything you will ever need to know about navigation, air laws, weather, airspace classes, radio communication, FAA rules, airport operations, and much more is concisely set out in this handbook. The text is well illustrated, with over 250 charts, graphs and illustrations, making this bestseller essential reading.

Do I Like Helicopter Flying?

If you are asking yourself this question, then this is your book. It describes what a helicopter pilot's job is like, and it is also a very informative text about helicopter flying, emergency procedures, and helicopter flight principles. However, the real strength of this work is that it really does give you a feeling of what it is like to fly helicopters So, if you are still looking for the answer to the question posed above then get this book.

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