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How long does it take to get a PPL(H) helicopter licence?

How long does it take to get a pplh licence

Thinking of booking helicopter lessons? A common question we get asked but it doesn’t take as long as you might think.

Many people assume it will take a long time and years of lessons to become a helicopter pilot. That’s if they even dare to believe that they can make it. There is a perception that flying helicopters is not for most people but that is simply not the case.

In terms of flight time, you need a minimum of 45 hours; which must include 10 hours of solo flying, to get your PPL(H). 

If you have already learned to fly fixed wing aircraft or have previous flying experience, perhaps from a trial flight, you will have an advantage. How quickly you progress will depend on your own aptitude and how fast you master new skills throughout your helicopter lessons. 

There is no set time over which you must do the course as long as you complete it. Therefore we can tailor a course from a full time (3-4 days a week) or spread it over several years if you so desire. However, most people tend to suffer from lack of continuity if they try to spread the course over too long a period.


How much do helicopter lessons cost? 

How much doe helicopter lessons cost?

Some people may be able to do the course with the fewest amount of helicopter lessons to meet the CAA’s 45 hours minimum requirement, however the real figure for how many hours it will take varies from person to person.

If you have previous experience or a natural aptitude then you may not need more than 45 hours, however if you require more lessons to master some of the technical skills and feel confident in your capabilities, the figure could rise to 65 or even 100+ hours. 

Because of this reasons it’s hard to give each individual a fixed cost. For example if you have a friend that passed their driving test first time after just 10 lessons but it took you 30+ lessons you will both be fully licenced, safe drivers, however your friend will have taken fewer lessons and paid less than you to get there. 

Our lessons start from £336/hr (at our gold rate) which would put you at £15,120 for 45 hours. We offer an Introductory PPL(H) Course at a discounted rate in order to start you off from £1,650.

Hummingbird Helicopters does not charge any membership fees or extra charges ever but you may need to factor in the costs for your PPL skills test fee taken at the end of your course which is payable directly to the examiner, CAA license application fee and charge for your medical examination.


What do I need to do to get a PPL(H) helicopter licence? 

The Private Pilot’s Licence (Helicopter) has a clear structure with 30 flying exercises to learn, practice and perfect. You will need to complete a minimum of 45 hours for the PPL(H), plus 9 multiple choice written exams, a skills test and an oral radio test.

Here’s a full look at the course contents for our PPL(H):

  • Minimum 45 hours flight training including 10 hours solo 
  • Solo 100nm Qualifying Cross Country with landings at 2 other airports 
  • Skill test with CAA flight examiner 
  • 9 multiple choice examinations 
  • Practical Radio Telephony examination 
  • Ground school as required (recommend at least one hour per exam) 

The commercial Pilot Licence (Helicopters) is your first step towards working as a helicopter pilot. An CPL(H) can open up amazing career opportunities and ways of earning money. It is one of the most highly regarded qualifications worldwide, and as a commercial pilot there is no limit to the number of industries and sectors you could enter, including tourism, charter, offshore oil and gas, helicopter emergency services (HEMS), Police, and so much more.


What are the entry requirements for a PPL(H) helicopter licence? 

What are the entry requirements for a PPL(H) helicopter licence?

Helicopter flying is a skill that most people can achieve to a safe standard after sufficient practice.

You do not need any previous flight experience or knowledge about air navigation to begin helicopter lessons as you can start from scratch and still train towards getting your PPL(H).

The medical requirement for the PPL(H) is a Class 2 medical which will be issued by an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner). We will put you in touch with an AME and it is a routine procedure and doesn’t stop most people from becoming a helicopter pilot. You can find out more about our medical requirements on our Medical Fitness page.

The minimum age requirement for a holder of a PPL(H) is 17. You can start flying a helicopter even earlier though which is how some manage to pass with the 45 hour minimum flight time. You can start logging hours from age 14, however you can not fly solo until age 16. This means that early starters who make it a fun out-of-school activity will have a huge advantage when it comes to passing their PPL(H) and indeed many people have gotten theirs before their driver’s licence.


Where can I take PPL(H) helicopter lessons? 

Where can I take PPL(H) helicopter lessons?

Flying a helicopter is quite simply the most exhilarating and rewarding experience you could ever wish to accomplish in your lifetime.

One thing you may wish to consider when choosing a helicopter school is the huge advantage training at an international airport (as opposed to a ‘grass strip’ airfield) is. The interaction with Air Traffic Control that you will experience right from the start makes a huge difference to the confidence and progress of our students.

Hummingbird Helicopters is based at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport which is an international airport, meaning that you will be immersed in the world of commercial aviation and give you the confidence to fly at any airport worldwide.

We are a CAA approved helicopter training facility.

If you would like more information on becoming a pilot, you can request a callback. One of us here at Hummingbird will get back to you straight away.