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What does a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Do?

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.

The work of a helicopter pilot can be varied, challenging and interesting. If you have a good hand-to-eye coordination, communication skills, and the ability to work well under pressure, this career could be for you.

  • Research: Conduct research on relevant information such as weather conditions, airspace restrictions, and destination landing facilities to ensure a safe and efficient flight.

  • Flight Planning: File the flight plan, having checked for altitude, weather conditions, and any airspace restrictions.

  • Fuel and Load Calculations: Calculate the fuel requirements and maximum loads based on the aircraft's capabilities and the intended flight path.

  • Pre-flight Checks: Conduct pre-flight checks to ensure that all instruments and equipment on board are functioning correctly before takeoff.

  • Communication: Communicate with air traffic control to request clearance to take-off, coordinate flight plans, and provide updates during the flight.

  • In-Flight Control: Control the direction, speed, and altitude of the aircraft while in flight to ensure a safe and efficient flight.

  • Navigation: Navigate during the flight, using maps, GPS, and other equipment to ensure the aircraft stays on course.

  • Passenger Safety: Take responsibility for the safety of any passengers on board, ensuring they are briefed on safety procedures and the use of emergency equipment.

  • Post-flight Paperwork: Complete any necessary post-flight paperwork, including flight logs and maintenance reports.

What Qualifications & Skills Do I Need to Become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot?

In order to become a commercial helicopter pilot you must gain a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (Helicopter) (CPL(H)). This is the standard professional licence.

Subsequently, you can go on to acquire a Airline Transport Pilot (Helicopter) Licence (ATPL(H)). An ATPL is used for commercial helicopter operations, including working for airlines, cargo companies, and other commercial helicopter operations. It is the highest level of certification for helicopter pilots, requiring significant training and experience to achieve. With an ATPL(H) license, pilots can operate helicopters with multiple engines, fly in all weather conditions, and operate under instrument flight rules, making them highly valuable in commercial aviation.