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Australian flight training requirements for helicopters

The Australian Helicopter Pilot Licensing System

 Competency is measured through theory and practical examinations to determine the level of a person's skill and knowledge following training and the accumulation of experience (ie. hours) as well as medical examinations to assess a person's fitness to hold the licence.

After the licence has been issued, pilots can then acquire endorsements and ratings which add additional privileges to the licence.

  • Endorsement: Indicates that the licensed pilot has gained the hands on, manipulative skills and experience in a particular aircraft type or class of aircraft. In qualifying for the licence, the pilot will obtain at least one aircraft endorsement. Aircraft endorsements are also valid for life. However, the onus is on the holder to ensure he or she has completed refresher training on the aircraft if he or she has not flown that type for some time.
  • Rating: A qualification that extends the privileges of the licence enabling the holder to engage in various operational activities following further training and testing; ie. ratings can be obtained for flying at night or solely by reference to the aircraft's instrument panel, to teach others to fly or to spray chemicals, seeds or fertilisers for agricultural purposes. Some ratings are valid while the licence is valid, other are subject to periodic flight checks.

Once issued, a flight crew licence is valid for life, however, the holder is required to undergo regular currency and medical checks.

The frequency and degree of these tests depend upon the nature of the operations being conducted, the more complex the operation the more exacting the checks.

Types Of Licences

The type of training you undertake really depends on what you intend to do on completion of your licence. If you are going to make a career out of flying helicopters then the commercial licence is for you.

If on the other hand you are going to fly as a hobby, for personal use or perhaps a station helicopter, then the private licence may be the way for you to go. We can discuss this with you and advise you before you start training.

Although there are no educational prerequisites you must meet some criteria set by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA):

For a flight crew licence you must:

  • Possess knowledge of the English language that is sufficient to enable you to exercise safely the authority given by the licence.
  • Meet the required qualifications.

A student pilot licence is a permit to learn to fly. Student pilots can fly 'solo' but are restricted to their local training area; flights must also be authorised by their instructor. After they have completed further training and examination including a general flying progress test, student pilots may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers, but not for hire or reward. The area restriction still applies as does requirement for flights to be authorised. For a student pilot licence you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Be able to speak, read and understand the English language.

A private helicopter pilot licence entitles pilots to fly themselves or passengers anywhere in Australia for recreational purposes and do not have to obtain prior authorisation from their instructor. Private pilots may share operating expenses of the aircraft with their passengers. For a private helicopter pilot licence you must:

  • Pass a Class 2 aviation medical examination by an approved doctor.
  • Meet the flight crew requirements.
  • Be at least 17 years of age.
  • Be able to speak, read and understand the English language.
  • Hold or be qualified to hold a flight radiotelephone operator licence.
  • Pass the private pilot helicopter examination or the commercial pilot helicopter examinations.
  • Meet the standards set out in the private helicopter pilots syllabus.
  • Meet the aeronautical experience requirements.
  • Click here for our private helicopter licence course details.

With a commercial helicopter pilot licence you may fly for hire or reward. Commercial pilots are authorised to fly single pilot aircraft as pilot in command while the aircraft if engaged in any operation, fly multi-pilot aircraft as pilot in command but for private or aerial work operations only, or co-pilot of an aircraft engaged in any operation For a commercial helicopter pilot license you must:

  • Pass a Class 1 aviation medical examination by an approved doctor.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Possess knowledge of the English language that is sufficient to enable you to exercise safely the authority given by the licence.
  • Hold or be qualified to hold a flight radiotelephone operator licence.
  • Pass all 7 commercial helicopter flight theory examinations.
  • Meet the requirements set out in the commercial helicopter syllabus.
  • Meet the aeronautical experience requirements.

Do I Have To Do My Aeroplane Licence First?

No. It is a common myth that a fixed wing licence is required prior to commencing your helicopter training.

Medical Examinations

Although a medical certificate is not required for issue of a licence, it is required before you undertake a flight test or are permitted to use the licence. You must have regular medical examinations to keep your medical certificate current. Flight crew medical examinations are conducted by doctors approved by CASA. These doctors are known as Designated Aviation Medical Examiners or DAMEs.

The medical requirements are divided into:

  • Class 1: For commercial, air transport and flight engineer licences and the medical examination is primarily physical in nature.
  • Class 2: For all private pilot and student licences. A Class 1 examination involve an ECG, an audiogram, a blood lipids test and a specialist eye examination in addition to the general physical examination.

Initial medicals vary in cost from $200 to $500 depending on where they are conducted, and your general medical condition. Private pilots are required to have medical examinations every four years and commercial pilots every twelve months, becoming more frequent and more exacting as you get older.