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How Long It Takes to Get a Helicopter Licence?

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Obtaining a helicopter licence can be an exciting and rewarding venture. Whether you are an aviation enthusiast or an aspiring pilot, this article delves into the process of acquiring a helicopter licence and provides insight into the duration it typically takes. From training requirements to experience accumulation, read on to gain clarity on the timeline involved in obtaining a helicopter licence.

Ground school training

Potential pilots must undergo ground school training before stepping into a helicopter. This initial phase covers essential theoretical knowledge that forms the foundation for safe and competent flying. Ground school training is completed in traditional classroom settings and on online platforms designed specifically for aviation education. The duration of the ground helicopter training school greatly varies depending on factors such as individual progress and the chosen programme format. On average, students spend approximately four to six weeks studying the necessary conceptual topics, ranging from aerodynamics and aircraft systems to navigation procedures.

Flight training

Once the ground school has been successfully completed, prospective pilots move on to tje actual flight training. Flight training constitutes hands-on experience operating helicopters under certified flight instructors’ guidance (CFIs). It encompasses various maneuvers to master take-offs, landings, aerial maneuvers, emergency procedures, and navigation techniques.

The length of flight training significantly depends on several variables like frequency of lessons, availability of CFIs, climate conditions affecting flying days, and personal skills progressions, among others. Typically, flight training spans anywhere between three to six months. However, it is important to note that this is just an estimate based on average completion times. Some individuals may complete their flight training in less time, while others may require additional hours before reaching proficiency.

Hours accumulation and solo flights

To become a certified helicopter pilot alone isn’t enough; accumulating sufficient solo hours is paramount in gaining mastery over flying skills. These solo flights are crucial in refining individual pilot capabilities as they manoeuvre helicopters independently without the instructor’s immediate presence. The requirement for solo flight hours varies depending on the type of helicopter licence being pursued. For example, for a private helicopter license, a minimum of 10 hours of solo flight time is typically stipulated, whereas, for a commercial license, this requirement increases, mandating at least 100 hours of solo flight experience before obtaining certification.

Medical examinations and written tests

During the licensing process, aspiring helicopter pilots must also complete medical examinations to ensure they meet the necessary health requirements to fly safely. These examinations assess visual acuity, hearing ability, and general physical fitness.

In addition to medical evaluations, written tests play an essential role in acquiring a helicopter license. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administers these exams covering subjects such as air law, meteorology, aerodynamics, human performance factors, and navigation. Thorough preparation followed by a good performance is necessary to complete these tests successfully.

Checkride: practical examination

The pinnacle of the licensing journey is the practical examination known as the “checkride”. This evaluation encompasses both oral questioning and an actual flight test conducted by FAA-approved examiners. They cover various aspects of helicopter knowledge and skills required for safe operation. The duration of checkrides fundamentally depends on several factors like complexity and completion efficiency of required maneuvers during the oral portion. It can range anywhere between four to eight hours on average.


Becoming a certified helicopter pilot requires strong dedication and commitment. From ground school training to gaining experience through flight hours accumulation and completing exams, each step contributes towards proficiency development. Although the duration may vary from individual to individual, based on personal circumstances, achieving a private or commercial helicopter license typically takes several months of dedicated effort.

By embarking upon this exciting journey with patience and determination, one can join the ranks of highly skilled pilots conducting aerial operations or simply enjoy leisurely flights through breathtaking landscapes. So, if becoming a licensed helicopter pilot is your ambition or dream, seize the opportunity, embark on this fascinating flight path, and experience the world from a different perspective.

Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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