What does a helicopter pilot do?
Helicopter pilots are specially trained aircraft pilots that specialize in flying helicopters. They typically complete short trips at low altitudes for a variety of purposes. They determine routes, speed, and take off and landing times for flights. They must be constantly aware of dangerous obstacles such as buildings, trees, and power lines. Helicopter pilots complete a variety of duties depending on their employers. Some complete aerial photography tasks and others transport passengers for medical reasons. Some assist in law enforcement tasks and others help with geological surveys. Helicopter pilots are responsible for performing routine maintenance and tracking and recording their flight hours.
What kind of training does a helicopter pilot need?
Helicopter pilots must typically complete formal training from Federal Aviation Administration accredited helicopter flight schools. Many helicopter pilots have completed military training. Most employers require at least 1,000 flight hours. Majority of employers also require helicopter pilots to present their complete family medical history and pass the FAA medical examination. Most helicopter pilots gain their Private Helicopter License by passing a written, oral, and flight examination. Many also gain the Commercial Rotorcraft License from the FAA to become a professional helicopter pilot. This license enables helicopter pilots to take paying passengers. Many helicopters earn their Certified Flight Instructor credentials to remain competitive in the field.
What are the prospects for a career as a helicopter pilot?
Employment of helicopter pilots is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increased need for short trips by aircraft will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to good especially for helicopter pilots with advanced training and extensive experience. Many job openings will result from the need to replace helicopter pilots that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do helicopter pilots make?
As of December 2009, the middle 50% of helicopter pilots earn annual salaries between $69,450 and $105,776. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $126,160 (2).
A career as a helicopter pilot is a great choice for people with a strong interest in the safe and effective operation of helicopters. Helicopter pilots must have a solid understanding of the operation of a variety of helicopters and the FAA regulations. Good vision, physical stamina, detail orientation, constant awareness, critical thinking, and self-confidence are essential characteristics. Helicopter pilots must be quick on their feet and have the ability to make effective decisions in stressful situations. They must always follow the proper safety procedures and precautions to ensure the safety of all people aboard the aircraft.