FAQ

We get asked a lot of questions about helicopter pilot training so have listed the most common of them here to assist you. However, everyone is different with varying personal circumstances so please do not hesitate to contact us is you would like more specific information.

Can anybody become a helicopter pilot?

Yes, you have to be 17 years old and able to read, speak and understand English. Whilst anyone can learn to fly a helicopter, good hand/eye coordination, good study habits and discipline will make the process much more enjoyable.

Why should I train in Hamilton, New Zealand?

The cost of training in New Zealand is still less than most other countries. The weather patterns in the central North Island region mean you are able to fly all year round. Hamilton is centrally located and has excellent infrastructure links to many of the popular NZ tourist destinations. The city also boasts a University and Institute of Technology, so it has a young, vibrant feel with numerous nightspots, excellent restaurants, and great sporting facilities. Finally, our operating base is less than a minute’s flying to controlled airspace with an international airport for specific training – Crew Training Centre is based in Hamilton and trains pilots for many of the UK based airlines.

If the engine quits, can a helicopter glide like an airplane?

Yes, most definitely. A helicopter “glides” with power off using a technique called an “autorotation”. As the helicopter descends, the air moving up through the rotor blades causes them to turn, providing lift, which allows the helicopter to come down at a constant rate. This, along with a technique as you approach the ground, enables the pilot to land the helicopter safely. Part of the training involves learning to perform this technique. However, real engine failures in properly maintained helicopters are very rare.

Do I have to be an airplane pilot before I can learn to fly helicopters?

No, definitely not. There are many helicopter pilots who have never touched the controls of an airplane and have no interest in learning to fly them. In many ways, it is easier to learn to fly a helicopter if you have never touched the controls of an airplane, and therefore have no preconceived idea of what control inputs are used to pilot airplanes.

Can I rent a helicopter to fly after I get my licence?

Yes. Once qualified and you have had your licence issued, we will gladly rent our helicopters out to you for private use.

How quickly can I get my licence?

Depending on time and commitment, obtaining your licence can be done in a few months or spread over a couple of years. Once we know your personal circumstances, we can agree to a timeframe to meet your needs.

What kind of flying missions do helicopter pilots perform?

Helicopters are able to manoeuvre and out-perform any other aircraft or vehicle. This makes helicopters an ideal choice for leisure and business pursuits, and emergency operations. Jobs for pilots include instructing, sightseeing tours, business transportation, aerial photography, fish spotting, offshore oil rig transportation, law enforcement, search and rescue, fire fighting, military operations, traffic reporting, and crop spraying.

Is a helicopter easier to fly than an airplane?

No, just different. Initially, it’s more difficult to learn to control a helicopter. Helicopters are less stable (but not less safe) than airplanes. But once you learn to master the controls of the helicopter, it becomes instinctive. Then, like riding a bicycle, you can control the helicopter using motor skills that become intuitive.

Is flying a helicopter dangerous?

No, not if you are a properly trained pilot and exercise good judgment. If you encounter bad weather, or have a mechanical problem, you can land a helicopter safely almost anywhere within a minute or two. Almost all helicopter accidents are caused by poor pilot judgment: flying too low and hitting wires (or other obstacles) or continuing to fly in bad weather or limited visibility (like fog). Such accidents are totally avoidable by flying prudently and exercising sound, mature judgment.

How about medical requirements?

You have to pass a physical examination administered by a doctor who is CAA certified to undertake the examination – we can provide you with a list of the certified examiners.

Are there any theory exams?

Yes, there are six PPL exams to pass: Flight Radio, Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Human Factors and General Aircraft Technical Knowledge. The exams are multiple choice, approximately 20 – 25 questions and about one hour long. The CPL exams cover basically the same subjects but are more in-depth. Before you undertake certain parts of the syllabus requirements (navigation training for example) you have to pass all the theory relevant to the level of award.

Can I train all year round?

Yes, but there are some days when flying a helicopter would be fool hardy. The famous Waikato Fog during winter mornings would be a good example when flying would not be recommended. Only high winds, storms or Fog will ground us however.

When do I get to fly the helicopter by myself?

Generally, students will fly their first solo around the 20 hour mark. It is a big step to do your first solo, so we will make sure that you are absolutely ready for it.

When can I begin to fly?

Immediately, however you will need to obtain your medical certificate and pass your flight radio exam before you can fly a helicopter solo.

If I have a physical disability, is there any provision for obtaining a medical certificate?

Yes, medical certificates can be issued in many cases where physical disabilities are involved. Depending upon the certificate held and the nature of the disability, operating limitations may be imposed. If you have any questions, contact a CAA certified examiner prior to beginning flight training.

How many hours of training does it take to get my helicopter licence?

For the PPL, the CAA rules require you to do a minimum of 50 hours basic training, of which 15 hours must be solo. For the CPL, the requirement is at least 150 hours flying, which includes, mountain, under slung loads and confined area operations.


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