How Much Does Helicopter Pilot Training Cost?
$150 – $200 per hour
The average cost of helicopter flying lessons ranges from $150 to $200 per hour. If you want to get your helicopter pilot license, you can expect a price between $10,000 to $15,000, on average. Get free estimates from helicopter flying instructors near you today.
Helicopter Pilot Training Cost
Helicopter pilot training costs around $200 per hour for flight time with an instructor, and from $150 to $175 per hour for solo-flying time. Training on the ground is usually in the range of $30 to $40 per hour. The total national average price to get your private helicopter pilot license is about $10,000 to $15,000 overall. These numbers will fluctuate depending upon where you are, which flight school you attend, your ability, and the helicopter model that you train with.
|National Average Cost||$13,075|
|Average Range||$10,000 to $15,000|
Table Of Contents
How to Become a Helicopter Pilot
Getting your helicopter pilot license opens up many new job opportunities. You can start your own business for tourists and aerial photographers with a private rotorcraft license. You can also work in commercially for an emergency-rescue service or other well-established companies in aviation. Overall, the experience of flying a helicopter is exciting and rewarding.
Helicopter Pilot License Requirments
Like most aviation-related licenses, you will need to work hard and fulfill specific requirements to earn the privilege of flying your own helicopter.
According to current Federal Aviation Agency Regulations, you must:
- Be 17 years old or older
- Have full proficiency in English
- Earn endorsement from an official flight instructor before you can take the written-knowledge test
- Pass the written-knowledge exam
- Receive approval from a flight instructor certifying that they gave you all the required training you need before you can take the final practical test, also known as the "check ride."
- Satisfy the required amount of flying time and training conditions to prove that you have enough aeronautical experience
- Pass the final check-ride exam
- Receive medical clearance so that you may hold a valid student-pilot certificate
- Satisfy all the latest Federal Aviation Regulations for helicopter operations
Helicopter Pilot License Cost
First of all, there is not one license you can get to certify you to fly all kinds of helicopters in all types of situations. There are several license levels, and each one has a different set of minimum flight-time requirements. You must satisfy the FAA guidelines of 40 hours of flight time, which includes 20 hours of dual instruction, plus 10 hours of solo-flight time to earn your private license. However, you may need more flight time depending on your skill level.
Getting your private pilot certificate is the first step to take before you can earn any other certifications. Below is a price guide of training costs per level:
|Estimate Price for Pilot License||Price|
|Private Pilot Certificate||$13,760|
|Certified Flight Instructor||$8,805|
|Certified Flight Instructor Instrument||$10,580|
Commercial Helicopter License Cost
After you get your private helicopter pilot license, then you need to spend an additional $18,000 to $20,000 to earn the training and hours required for a commercial license. You also need 150 total flight hours at least with a minimum of 100 hours being the "pilot in command," also known as "PIC" hours.
The good news is that you can earn PIC hours in various ways. Your time spent flying solo while you're earning your private license can contribute toward these hours. Any time after you get your private license when you are flying a helicopter counts too, even if you are receiving a flight lesson while flying the aircraft. Those of you who got a fixed-wing pilot license first automatically get bonus credit toward earning their helicopter-license rating.
Certified Flight Instructor Rating
In terms of getting a job with your helicopter license, it's a great idea to get your flight-instructor rating. You only need about 200 hours of solo-flight experience to become a certified flight instructor. Most other high-paying helicopter-pilot jobs generally require between 500 to 1000 hours of solo-flight experience. Your time spent training others to fly allows you to receive a paycheck while also earning hours toward a better helicopter-pilot job.
It also helps to increase your skill set while also building up your hours by getting your instrument rating. It's an additional expense, but you save time. That's because the hours you spend in your instrument-training courses can also count toward getting either your private or commercial pilot license. Plus, this extra training makes it easier to get a job later after you become a certified flight-instrument instructor, or "CFII."
Helicopter Lessons Cost
Flight time with an instructor will cost about $200 per hour, while solo-flying time cost between $150 to $175 per hour. Ground training will usually cost in the range of $30 to $40 per hour. Remember that you need both ground training and flight training to earn your helicopter pilot license.
Be sure to ask your prospective school about the different prices of both of these lessons to understand the total cost. You can inquire at various flight schools to see if they offer training through flight simulators too. Some of the latest simulators use such advanced technology and graphics that they can provide a highly accurate training experience. In some cases, you may be able to count the hours you spend in a simulator toward your required PIC hours.
Another important point is that earning your helicopter pilot license will always be more expensive than earning a fixed-wing license. That's because helicopters have a more complex mechanical structure that requires diligent maintenance. Overall, helicopters are more expensive to operate and insure than airplanes.
Helicopter Flight School Cost
Remember that how much you spent on helicopter lessons will depend on your location, how fast you learn and what kind of curriculum you select. For example, the highly rated Helicopter Academy has schools all over America, with the majority of them on the East Coast and in Florida. They charge $300 hourly for your initial dual-instruction lessons. Then after you earn your private license, the rate drops to $250 hourly. Many students earn their private-pilot certificate in 35 hours.
You can check this list of FAA helicopter-flight schools to see which ones are closest to you.
Don't rush into a decision about which flight school to attend. Take the time to interview potential instructors. Ask them questions about their safety record, their maintenance schedules, how they manage their pilots and what kind of training schedules they offer. Check their certifications and reviews. Especially important, do reach out to the FAA about the schools you're most interested in because the FAA is the organization responsible for setting the guidelines for every institution of aviation education.
Flight Training School Loans
Depending on which flight school you go to, you may have access to special lending programs for financial assistance. However, you may want to compare their interest rates to the rates of a personal loan from your bank because flight-school loans can be a bit more pricey. One potential loan program worth investigating is the career-training loan from SLM Financial Corp.
Helicopter Flight Training School Scholarships
For scholarships, you can search the regularly updated list from Independent Helicopters of scholarship programs explicitly designed to help you pay for training to get a helicopter pilot license. You can also get financial aid to get a commercial helicopter pilot license after you have your private license. Just apply for the FAA Commercial Helicopter Pilot Scholarship that offers about $50,000 for additional training. Finally, the Federal Aviation Administration does keep a list of general aviation-education scholarships. Some of them may be applied toward getting a helicopter license, so you should contact the program sponsors for further details.
Some specialized non-profit organizations also offer helicopter-pilot scholarships. For example, The International Female Helicopter Pilot's Association known as the "Whirly-Girls" provides scholarships to its members in various different categories. Some scholarships help women upgrade to a commercial license after they've received their private helicopter pilots license. Other scholarships help women get their first license as a helicopter pilot.
Types Of Helicopter Pilot Schools
Another way to save money is by selecting a flight school that offers accelerated-training programs to get a certificate in less time. You'll generally find two types of flight schools. They operate either under the approval of either Part 61 or Part 141 FAA regulations. The advantage of Part-141-regulated institutions is that they offer full-time training in a structured setting. That means they often have curriculums for qualified students to receive a certificate in fewer hours. Part 61-regulated schools may require you to invest more training hours. However, they are flexible and meant more for part-time students.
One last alternative to get full financial assistance for a helicopter pilot license is by joining the military. If you qualify and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary, then you pay for your full education and experience through your service.
The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association based in Garden Grove, California is a group of volunteers in aviation. They advocate for helicopter-safety awareness and the rights of pilots within their communities.
When joining, you can choose from four different levels of membership:
- Regular pilots: $45
- Associate Members: $45
- Student Pilots: $25
- Corporate Members: $275
PHPA offers special flight-training seminars connecting local pilots to the law-enforcement public sector and community leaders. It's an excellent opportunity to develop your flying skills and network with others in aviation. They offer updated information about things like flying requirements near emergency incidents.
The Mission of PHPA is promoting the safety and education of all pilots. They've created a forum to resolve issues between pilots and law enforcement in the private and public sectors.
Anyone interested in flying helicopters can join PHPA, even student pilots. By joining PHPA, you're adding your voice to the thousands of helicopter pilots making a difference for each other.
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