How Long Does It Take to Get a Helicopter License?

how long to get helicopter pilot license

Learning to fly a helicopter is an exciting and rewarding experience. Not only can flying a helicopter be incredibly liberating, but it also opens up a whole world of career possibilities for you. However, before you can start your journey to becoming a helicopter pilot, you must first acquire a helicopter license.

So, how long does it take to get a helicopter license? Here’s everything you need to know about the process:

Different Types of Helicopter Licenses

Getting a helicopter license is not as complicated as you might think, but there are some criteria that you must meet first. For one, you must be at least 17 years of age before you start training.

You must also undergo a medical examination to confirm that you are fit enough to fly. Apart from passing a written and practical exam, you must also complete a certain number of flight hours, depending on the license type you are trying to obtain.

These different types of helicopter licenses include:

Private Helicopter Pilot License

The most common type of license, a private license, is ideal for those planning to fly as a hobby or to cross an item off their bucket lists. This license will allow you to fly for recreational purposes and takes the least amount of time to obtain.

Commercial Helicopter Pilot License

If you’re looking to make money from flying, however, you’ll need a commercial helicopter pilot license. This is slightly harder to obtain and may take longer than a private license. At the same time, this license allows you to pursue careers in related fields, such as personal transport for companies or in the tourist sector.

types of helicopter pilot license

How Long to Get a Private Pilot License?

Obtaining a private helicopter license is easy enough, provided you’re willing to devote the time and finances to fulfill the requirements. Usually, private pilots are mandated to complete a total flight time of 40 hours before being granted a license. This includes 20 hours with a certified instructor and 10 hours of solo training. 

Most students, however, take 50 to 80 flying hours in order to gain more experience and hone their skills. They must also go through a number of additional requirements, such as learning hovering maneuvers, takeoffs, landings, and performance maneuvers, which can be tough to learn in a short amount of time.

As for how long it’ll take to obtain, that depends entirely on your availability.

Full-time Training

If you enroll in a full-time training program with instructors always on hand, then it’s possible to finish your flight training in a little over a month. However, due to weather and scheduling, a more realistic timeframe for earning your private helicopter license is between 2 and 4 months. 

Part-time Training

If you don’t have much time to spare and would rather train part-time, getting your license will obviously take a few extra months. Provided you fly every weekend, for instance, you could do up to six hours of training every week.

Along with your study routine and your instructor’s availability, this could take anywhere from 4 to 6 months.

private helicopter pilot training

How Long Does It Take to Get a Helicopter Commercial Pilot License?

The rules for commercial pilot licenses are slightly different. For one, the minimum age goes up a year (18 years old). Another thing to consider is you need to complete way more hours of training before you obtain this type of license. However, it makes sense that you’d need to meet higher safety standards to fly helicopters commercially.

To get a commercial pilot license, you must first own a private license, have at least 150 hours of logged flight time, complete a certain number of flight hours at night, and have successfully conducted cross-country flights. There are also practical, written, and oral tests. So, a commercial license will naturally take a lot longer to obtain.

Full-time Training 

If you’re willing to attend flight school full-time, you can complete your training much faster. It could take as little as six months, provided you’re available three days a week for theoretical instruction, while the remainder of your time will go toward practical flight training.

In most cases, however, it could take up to 8 months, considering that instructor availability and weather conditions significantly affect how often you can fly.

Part-time Training

It’s also possible to obtain a commercial pilot license through part-time training. Provided you’re able to fly a helicopter at least a few days each week, it could take a year to 18 months to complete your training.

When applying for a commercial helicopter license, you should ideally aim for at least one lesson a week to avoid lengthy recap sessions.

commercial helicopter pilot training

How To Find the Right Flight School

Now that you’ve decided to obtain a helicopter license, it’s time to find a school that fits your needs best. This is an important step in the process because instructor experience and the availability of helicopters are huge factors that determine how quickly you can obtain a license and the quality of your training.

To find the right helicopter school, it’s important to conduct extensive research into different schools and what they offer. Do they have valuable part-time courses, for instance? Or are they affordable? 

It’s also essential to look into the reputation of the flight school as some are obviously more experienced than others. Reach out to former students and look up their websites so you can choose the best school for your needs.

finding the right helicopter flight training

Ready to Start Your Training?

Now that you know how long it takes to get a helicopter license, all that’s left is for you to take the plunge and start training! At Helicopter Pro, we provide the best quality helicopter training courses that are designed to help you gain your license as quickly and safely as possible. Our experts have years of experience and are dedicated to helping you reach your flying goals.

Contact us today to learn more about our courses and to start your journey toward becoming a helicopter pilot. We’ll be more than happy to provide you with additional information and answer any questions you may have.

Mark Montgomery

Mark Montgomery

Mark is the Owner and Instructor at Helicopter Pro. He is an FAA Certificated Instructor in both Helicopters and Airplanes and has thousands of Pilot-in-Command flying hours. If you want to become a helicopter pro, he can help you accomplish your goals.