Helicopter Pilot as a career is gaining ground at very fast pace sheding its recreational activity image of the past. In fact it is being considered as one of the most remarkable forms of transportation now a day. Owning to very limited option, mostly in the defense organization, it was not as attractive an option in recent past. But scenario has completely changed in last couple of decade with the emergence of different types of jobs requiring the use of a Helicopter thereby creating a lot of options for the professionals with Helicopter flying license.
Besides getting jobs as a helicopter pilot in the field of fire fighting, offshore support, law enforcement, agriculture, pipeline and utility support, executive transport, sightseeing, fishing, emergency medical services, search and rescue, logging, cargo lift, news media, photography, aerial surveying, forestry, game control, traffic reporting they make their career as Helicopter flight instructor and test pilots in various flying institutes.
To become a Helicopter Pilot the aspiring candidate has to be really dedicated, hardworking and determined. The job of a Helicopter pilot demands intensive training with loads of added responsibility to complete the assigned task in unfavorable conditions. For this one should have disciplined, full of patience, responsible, committed and self-confident. The job requires a lot of hard work, stamina, alertness of mind, and adaptability to follow difficult time schedules.
To discharge his duties efficiently and effectively he requires special training and knowledge in the area like air navigation, interpretation of meteorological reports, operations of sophisticated electronic and mechanical controls, leading the Helicopter in adverse circumstances like climatic and other emergency situations.
Eligibility to become a Helicopter Pilot
For Private Helicopter Pilot's License (PHPL):
Not less than 17 years on the date of application for DGCA license. Allowing for the course duration, the student may not be less than 16 1/2 years on the date of joining the course.
Candidate should have passed Class 10 or its equivalent from any recognized Board.
Medically fit class II as certified by a DGCA empanelled doctor or Medical Establishment for issue of Student Pilot License, FRTOL(R) and PHPL license. For Commercial Helicopter Pilot'sLicense (CHPL):
Not less than 18 years on the date of application to the DGCA for licence after completion of flying training. Allowing for the course duration, the student may not be less than 17 years on the date of joining the course.
Aspiring candidate should have passed in Class 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics or its equivalent from any recognised Board / University.
Class II medical fitness as certified by a DGCA empanelled doctor or Medical Establishment is adequate for issue of Student Pilot's Licence and to commence flying training, he/She should preferably obtain class I medical status prior to commencement of flying training or soon thereafter to avoid becoming ineligible for issue of CHPL Licence should he/she be declared UNFIT Class I during the middle of his/her flying training resulting in wastage of flying fee paid.
How to become a Helicopter Pilot
There are two different way to get a Helicopter pilot license and pursue it as a career.
The first way is to join Defense Services i.e. Army (flying branch), Navy (flying branch) or Indian Air force and opt for Helicopter flying services.
To join Defense service one has to clear either NDA (after +2) exam or CDS exam (after Graduation)
In this way aspiring Helicopter Pilot can fulfill their wish of flying this rotator wing machine without paying huge amount of learning fees from his own pocket and simultaneously serve the country of his origin.
But the aspiring candidate should be clear that he has to work in the Defense force after getting the training for a specified period of time as mentioned in the bond at the time of joining the force.
The other option to aspiring Helicopter pilots is to join some flying club/institute and get the required minimum hours training to be eligible for Helicopter Pilot’s license.
As a first step the aspiring candidates have to get admission into a DGCA approved Helicopter flying institutes. The admitted candidates are subject to Aircraft Act 1934, Rules 1937, DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements and HAL Security / Admin regulations, procedures and norms.
To start with the candidates will put to ground training. Candidates for PHPL and CHPL will be put through 100 hours of ground training to make them eligible to appear for student pilot license viva test to be held at the academy.
Thereafter CHPL students will undergo further 250 hours of ground training to be eligible to appear for examinations in Air Regulations, Air Navigation, Aviation Meteorology, and Technical (aircraft and engines) subjects as per the syllabus prescribed by the DGCA.
The Academy will coach the students on these subjects. Passing of the ground subjects is necessary before he/she qualifies for issue of Pilot’s Licence by the DGCA besides completion of 150 hrs of flying training.
All students will be issued Fight Radio telephony Licence Restricted (FRTOL (R)) after they qualify for SPL. The test will be conducted at the academy but the licence will be issued by the DGCA after due scrutiny.
CHPL Students will thereafter need to qualify in Radio Telephony Restricted to Aviation RTR (A) test conducted by the Wireless Planning Cell (WPC) under Ministry of Communications, at different centers in the country every alternate month of the year. On passing this test called a Certificate of Proficiency in RTR (A), issued by the WPC, the DGCA issues FRTO license
After getting the necessary ground training the candidates are subjected to flying training required for getting the PHPL and CHPL. This includes requirements(for PHPL) of not less than 10 hrs of flying to be eligible to appear for DGCA conducted ground subjects examinations and there after further 30 hours of flying as per the prescribed syllabus.
A CHPL student must complete 25 hours of flying to be eligible to appear for all the ground subjects examination conducted by DGCA and thereafter further 125 hrs of flight time as per the syllabus laid down.
However a holder of CPL or higher license (ATPL) with minimum of 500 hrs of flight time as Pilot in Command (PIC) on Aeroplanes, will need 30 hrs of flight time on helicopter to qualify for Commercial Helicopter Pilot License. A CPL with minimum of 300 hrs of flight time Aeroplane shall require to complete a minimum of 20 hrs of flight time on helicopter to qualify for Private PHPL.
Note:- On an average it takes nearly 20 to 24 months to get the Helicopter Pilot training for Commercial Helicopter Pilot’s Licence (CHPL) and 8 to 10 months for Private Helicopter Pilot’s Licence (PHPL).
Fee Structure and other Expenses till getting a Commercial Helicopter pilot License.
Fee for pilot training Rs.30,000 per hours up to Rs.65,000 depending upon the type of Helicopter one is training in.
Fee for Proficiency Check/ Skill Test Rs.30,000 per hours up to Rs.70,000 depending upon the course..
One time Registration Fee for Pilot’s Training Course Rs.20,000
Training Kit , onetime payment of Rs.7500
Library Fee , onetime payment of Rs.5000
For a Commercial Helicopter Pilot License the estimated cost could go up to Rs.13 lakh (Rs.1.3 million).
Helicopter Pilot Career Prospects
Helicopter pilot can get job in the field of fire fighting, offshore support, law enforcement, agriculture, pipeline and utility support, executive transport, sightseeing, fishing, emergency medical services, search and rescue, logging, cargo lift, news media, photography, aerial surveying, forestry, game control, traffic reporting besides making their carrer as Helicopter flight instructor and test pilots in various flying institutes.
Helicopter Pilot Salary
Helicopter pilots can earn from Rs.40,000 to Rs.1,50,000 per month, depending on the company /organization and one's flying experience in various Private and Government owned aviation companies. Helicopter pilots in Government sector also get attractive remuneration and incentives including contributory provident fund, gratuity, medical facilities and free/concessional air passage etc. They are also provided with a range of benefits and allowances in addition to housing facilities, medical expenses and out-station allowances etc.