Gaining your Helicopter PPL is a fantastic achievement and, although challenging at times, a rewarding experience that gives you the freedom to take to the skies.
The PPL(H) is the foundation for all your future flying, whether that be recreational, private ownership or commercial purposes. It is the basic qualification that all helicopter pilots achieve first and it opens up the world of helicopter flying to you. The PPL(H) is a qualification recognised in most countries throughout the world and allows you to take anyone flying with you as long as you are not getting paid for it.
Training begins ensuring you can safely perform all the basic flight manoeuvres and procedures. You will learn and practice take offs, landings, circuits, and radio work whilst building your confidence to your first solo flight. Between solo flights you will fly with your instructor who will introduce you to the advanced manoeuvres and the principles of cross-country navigation. In the final stages your instructor assists in refining your skills in preparation for the practical examination.
There is no maximum age, but you must be 14 before being able to officially log any flying experience for obtaining a licence. You must be 16 before going solo and 17 before you can apply for your licence. If you are under 14 you are still able to fly with an instructor but the hours cannot be logged.
If you have not had a go at flying before, then we recommend having a trial lesson to see if learning to fly is something you would love to do. Please click the link below for more information on trial lessons.
Requirements and Course Duration
A minimum of 45 hours of flying training must be completed. For holders of a PPL(A) this is reduced to a minimum of 36 hours. Most students will complete their training in approximately 60 hours. At least 10 hours must be flown solo.
You do not need a medical to begin your flight training. Your instructor will advise you when you need to get a medical - however before flying solo, you must possess a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Class II medical certificate. Provided you are in good health, this should be nothing for you to worry about and a Class II medical can be obtained locally from an Authorised Medical Examiner (AME), including with TBS Medical at Elstree Aviation Centre.
If you intend to make a career from helicopter flying, it may be advisable to obtain a (slightly more restrictive) Class I medical at this stage as this would be required for a commercial pilot.
Written Examinations & Subjects
There are 9 written ground examinations with multiple choice answers, and one radio practical exam. You must pass Aviation Law before flying solo and Navigation and Meteorology before the qualifying solo cross-country flight. We therefore recommend you study for the ground exams in conjunction with your flying training. Extra ground school on any subject is available from our instructors; this is optional and must be booked and paid for in addition to your PPL course.
These exams can be passed with self-study and assistance from your flying instructor. GCSEs or A-Levels are not a requirement for the course, however a basic understanding of maths and physics is advisable. The subjects are:
Principles of Flight
Human Performance & Limitations
Flight Performance & Planning
Practical Examination (Licence Skill Test)
Upon completion of your flying you will take a Skill Test. Your flying at this stage will be to a standard to enable you to demonstrate to the examiner that you can fly safely and competently. The Skill Test consists of flying the manoeuvres and demonstrating the techniques that you have learnt throughout the PPL(H) course. VVB Aviation have 2 commercial pilots & flight instructors who are also CAA approved examiners that can conduct Skill Tests.
Once you have achieved your licence you will need to fly just two hours per aircraft type, which includes a brief test, per year in order stay current.
Which aircraft should I do my PPL(H) in? The Cabri G2 and Robinson R44 are the two main aircraft we use for flight training. Both have different advantages, such as the Cabri having digital cockpit display screens, or the R44 having hydraulically boosted controls. It is up to you which aircraft you fly in, and we would recommend having a look and taking a trial lesson in both to see which you prefer.
How often should I fly? How frequently you choose to have your lessons is up to you, but experience tells us that continuity tends to help with progression.
The choice of whether the course is conducted on a full or part-time basis is yours. - A part-time course could, due to the lack of continuity, result in you needing more flying hours before your flight test. If you choose a full-time course then for instance a PPL could be completed in approximately three to four weeks, weather permitting. We find that a mixture of the two, involving an intensive week or two within a part-time course, often works well.
Lesson periods - Lessons are normally scheduled in two hour slots, which include the flight, pre and post flight briefings and start-up and shut-down procedures. VVB Aviation is open 7 days a week, so if the working week is not suitable, the weekend could be.
All flying is subject to current conditions - If it is unsuitable, we will contact you immediately to re-schedule your flight. We would ask that you please let us know at least 48 hours in advance if you need to cancel an appointment to avoid being charged a fee.
Additional Equipment - All of the necessary books, maps and equipment that are required for the ground school and navigation exercises can be purchased from Pooley’s at Elstree Aerodrome.
All flying is subject to current conditions - if it is unsuitable, we will contact you immediately and re-schedule your flight.
Commercial Pilot Licence
If you are looking to make a career out of flying, then once you have completed your PPL the next step is to work towards the CPL(H).
Please click the link below for more information on becoming a commercial pilot.