What they do
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.
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.
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a helicopter pilot, you need to hold a commercial pilot license (Helicopter).
You can access helicopter flight training at private flying schools across Western Australia. A commercial pilot licence course will take approximately 150 hours over 12 months full time to complete.
Entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in aviation.
The Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Helicopter) is offered at TAFE colleges in Western Australia. To find a registered provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website and the My Skills website.
Edith Cowan University offers a three-year Bachelor of Aviation. This is the only undergraduate degree in Western Australia specialising in aviation. Contact the university for more information.
You can also study and train to become a helicopter pilot with the Australian Defence Force.
You will need to obtain a CASA Class 1 medical certificate to complete the commercial pilot licence flight test.
Required registration and licensing
To become a helicopter pilot in Western Australia, you will need to hold a commercial pilot license (helicopter) from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).