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How Do I Become a Helicopter Flight Instructor?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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The requirements to become a helicopter flight instructor can differ from one country to another, though they are typically similar to the commercial pilot's license requirements. Those requirements are usually to be 18 years old, or older, obtain a certain number of flight hours, and pass a medical examination. After you have fulfilled those requirements, you need to apply for and pass the tests needed for a commercial helicopter pilot's license. You may need to obtain more flight hours before you can become a helicopter flight instructor, though in some jurisdictions, you will simply need to complete another examination and then pass both oral and practical tests.

Helicopter flight instructors are responsible for training new pilots, and are required to hold commercial certificates or licenses, since they receive monetary compensation for their service. This is not a career that a lot of people aim for when they begin training as pilots, but it can serve as an excellent stepping stone to future pilot jobs, as well as a means of earning additional income. Many commercial helicopter pilot jobs require hundreds, or even thousands, of hours of flying time, and the typical commercial pilot graduates training with only 150-250 hours, depending on the regulations in his country. If you become a helicopter flight instructor, you will essentially be paid to obtain the necessary flight hours needed to apply for other types of pilot jobs.

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The first step to become a helicopter flight instructor is to earn a helicopter pilot's license or certificate. This typically involves classroom instruction, flight time both with and without an instructor, and examinations. After you have earned a pilot's license or certificate, the next step is to obtain a commercial license. One of the requirements for any pilot license is to pass a physical, and to obtain a medical certificate. In the United States, these certificates are issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Citizens of the United Kingdom, and other European nations, need a Joint Aviation Requirements (JAR) medical certificate, and most other countries have similar authorities that oversee aviation licensing programs.

After you have obtained your commercial pilot's license or certificate, you will typically have already met all of the requirements to become a helicopter flight instructor. In the United States, commercial pilot's certificates and flight instructor certificates have the same flight hour requirements. There is an additional examination, however, that is meant to determine whether you are familiar with the instruction process, so you will have to take courses, or study independently, to prepare for that. You will typically also need to pass an oral exam and a flight test as a condition for earning a flight instructor certificate.

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