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Helicopter pilot

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Summary of occupation

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

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Salary details

On average, helicopter pilots, classified under air transport professionals, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week, ($78 000 and $103 999 per year) depending on their level of experience, geographical location, and employer. As a helicopter pilot develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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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.

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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.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Related links

Related videos

Helicopter Pilot Video Helicopter Pilot Occupation

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

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