Helicopter Pilot License Requirements

Pilots must meet rigorous requirements for a helicopter license.

Helicopter flight training can last four months to a year and can cost more than $15,000. Once the prerequisites are complete and the check ride is passed, a new helicopter pilot can enjoy the privileges of a Private Pilot Certificate.

Age Requirements

You have to be at least 17 years old to apply for a Private Pilot Certificate, Rotorcraft Category. You can start training and get a student license after your 16th birthday.

Medical Requirement

All private pilots must pass the medical examination required to hold a third-class medical certificate. The requirements include at least 20/40 vision in both eyes and “the ability to perceive those colors necessary for the safe performance of airman duties.”

Language Requirement

English is the language of aviation, whether flying in the United States or somewhere else in the world. The ability to read, speak, write and understand English is required to hold a private helicopter license.

Written Test

Before a student pilot may take the practical test, he or she must first pass a “knowledge test.” The exam is a multiple choice test that covers regulations, navigation and other aeronautical subjects.

Flight Experience

Students take flight training from an authorized flight instructor. Once the instructor is satisfied that the student has met the proficiency requirements, has 40 hours in helicopters, the day and night cross country requirements, and 10 hours of solo time in the helicopter, the instructor endorses the student’s logbook allowing her to take the practical test with the FAA.

Practical Test

The practical test (check ride) includes an oral evaluation where the student demonstrates his or her aeronautical knowledge. A successful oral is followed by a flight test. Students must complete the practical test within 60 days of the instructor’s endorsement and within two years of passing the written test.

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