On one day alone, August 4, 2015, at one airport, New Jersey’s Newark, four different commercial airliners on approach for landing reported seeing drones near or in their flight path.
According to the FAA, pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, from a total of 238 sightings in all of 2014, to more than 650 by August 9 of this year.
Among those dodging hobbyist drones are pilots of commercial airliners, fire fighters and air ambulance pilots. The safety implications of these unmanned drones – being flown by anyone with a few hundred bucks to purchase one –is very concerning for all of those involved in aviation safety. Do we need to include drone evasion in commercial pilot training? Will helicopter flight training have to include drone identification?
For now, the government is focused on trying to control the behavior of drone pilots – albeit unsuccessfully to date. While the FAA guidelines, or rules, for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are clear, they are in fact not law (the FAA can’t make laws).
- A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.
- The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.
- A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.
- A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.
- Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.
- Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).
The public is becoming increasingly aware of the implications of these seemingly innocuous encounters – like when western fire fighting aircraft were forced to ground activities this summer over safety concerns of the drones in their space. It appears lives literally are on the line.
Drones have been spotted at altitudes as high as 10,000 feet and at airports throughout the country including, Newark, JFK, Denver International, Fort Lauderdale, Allegheny County, Dane County, Burbank, Greenville-Spartanburg International and Dallas Love Field to name a few.
Will public pressure – hopefully before a drone-caused air tragedy occurs – lead to more regulation of drone pilots? Or will we force pilot training institutes to start including drone awareness training for their commercial pilots – the ones responsible for the safety of hundreds of air passengers?
At this point, the answers are not clear. And as drones become less expensive and more ubiquitous, this challenge will only increase.
Safety of the passengers must remain the paramount objective of commercial pilots. It appears many drone pilots are not deterred by the guidelines law, so in the name of safety, commercial and private pilot training may be a logical response.
Helicopter pilot training schools offer a world of opportunities!
If you’re looking for an exciting career full of change and possibility, and you possess operations and critical thinking skills, you might want to consider helicopter pilot training. There are dozens of possible occupations for helicopter pilots, including sightseeing tours, television news, highway patrol, rescue, aerial photography and advertising, fire fighting, medical transport and more - basically anything that requires taking off and landing in small spaces. You could even end up working as the chauffeur for a tech billionaire!
And as so many 1970s-era helicopter pilots are now looking at retirement, combined with the increasingly global society we live in, the demand for new helicopter pilots is high, creating even more opportunities for new pilots.
Helicopter pilot students must be at least 16 years of age and be able to pass a first class medical exam. To get started, you’ll first need to investigate helicopter pilot training schools to find the one that’s right for you. There are hundreds of pilot training schools across the United States, so it’s a matter of finding one that’s close to you geographically, but that also covers the skills you’ll need for your chosen profession.
Flying lessons are typically conducted in dual controlled aircraft, until the flight instructor deems the helicopter pilot student safe to fly solo. The student will then have to complete both written and flight examinations under the guidance of an FAA inspector. Once these exams are passed, the student will be allowed to fly with passengers, but not for hire. A private pilot can then learn additional skills and pass additional exams to earn the right to fly commercially. The more education and experience you get, the more flight opportunities you’ll have.
If you’re interested in earning a degree, you can look at career colleges that partner with helicopter pilot training schools. For example, Charter College, based in Oxnard, Calif., is partnering with flight training schools across the country to offer the Associate of Applied Science in Aviation: Rotor and/or Fixed Wing. The flight schools offer ground school and general flight instruction, while Charter College provides students with the aviation and general education courses to prepare them to earn their FAA licenses and seek entry-level employment as commercial pilots or flight instructors. The program takes 70 weeks to complete and includes 210 flight hours for the helicopter pilot program. Another advantage to going the career college route is that their financial aid teams can help you ascertain what federal student loans you might be eligible for and then help you get it.
If you think you might be interested in becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, visit a flight school near you and take an introductory class. After all, the sky’s the limit!
Ready for something really different? Consider a career as a commercial pilot. Enroll in a flight training school and you could embark on a thrilling career. How? Show up at a flight training center in your region and take the first step.
Whether you’re just beginning the process of developing a professional career or are looking to reinvent your life, flight training school could be an interesting option. Pilots are in demand throughout the U.S. and the world, so by showing up at a flight training center you will not only kick start an exciting new phase of your life, you’ll be helping to alleviate a global pilot shortage and have a job waiting.
So what’s involved in aviation education? Commercial pilots have more stringent requirement than private pilots, so we’ll look specifically at education for commercial fixed wing pilots, those who go onto become commercial airline pilots.
Airlines require pilots to have a minimum of an associate’s degree, and often a bachelor’s degree, and to have attended a Part 141 flight school (schools with programs approved and monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration). Earning an aviation degree can take anywhere from a year and a half for an associate’s to four years for a bachelor’s. That education will include a minimum of 250 flight hours, or in flight training.
Pilots need a lot of training to be ready to take to the skies. Aviation courses typically include Commercial Aviation, Navigation, Aerodynamics, Meteorology, Safety, Law, Aircraft System and Components, Physiology and Crew Resource Management. These courses are in addition to their hands-on in-flight training.
Ready for a change? A career as a commercial pilot could certainly get things moving in a new direction for you.
If you’ve ever dreamt about being a helicopter pilot, training at an FAA-approved flight school can make your dream come true. Conveniently, Washington has several great helicopter pilot training schools.
Helicopter Pilot: A Dream Job
The role of a helicopter pilot comes in many shapes and sizes. From the intensity of a search and rescue or firefighter helicopter pilot to the more leisurely pace of a sightseeing tour or aerial photography helicopter pilot, a career as a commercial pilot is becoming a reality for many, thanks to increasingly abundant training schools. The surge in helicopter flight training in Washington and other northwestern states is a two-part answer to growing demand. Part one is the demand for all types of commercial pilots, which is projected to increase by 10% in Washington State through 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ONetOnline.org. Part two is the fact that more people are actually chasing the dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.
Do You Have What It Takes?
To become a full-fledged helicopter pilot, certain prerequisites must be met in order to enroll in helicopter pilot training programs in Washington and elsewhere. The basics include being at least 16 years of age (although many helicopter pilot training schools have a minimum age requirement of 18);having a high school diploma or equivalent; obtaining an FAA Class I medical certificate; passing a background check; and being able to read, write, speak and understand English.
Beyond the basics, there are some skill sets that commercial pilots should simply have by nature. They include strong communication skills, observational skills, problem solving skills and a quick reaction time. Sound familiar? Then you may be closer to living the dream than you imagined.
Flight Schools That Soar
So what should you look for in a helicopter pilot training school? There are a few key factors. First, find out if the school is FAA Part 141 approved. Next, find out the average experience of the flight instructors. And lastly, be sure to ask what the pass/fail ratio is for any helicopter flight school you consider. These three factors will give you a good idea of the caliber of flight training you’ll receive.
The Realities of Helicopter Flight Schools
One thing that aspiring helicopter pilots might not know is that there’s more to helicopter flight training school than just learning to physically operate a helicopter. Many flight training programs include a number of related subjects including meteorology, safety, law, physiology and aerodynamics.
Another little-known fact is that while helicopter pilot training may be expensive, there are resources available to get on the flight path to your dream job. Financial aid packages and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Those with VA education benefits may be able to cover a portion of tuition costs, as well. Accredited aviation programs, like Charter College Aviation, can offer qualified student pilots Title IV Financial Aid in the forms of Federal Student Loans and Pell Grants. These resources, along with the surge in helicopter flight schools in Washington and other northwestern states are helping make careers as a commercial pilot a reality.
Aviation career opportunities can be found through aviation education in Nevada, Texas and other parts of the country.
As Confucius shared, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” For people who love to travel, now is the perfect time to follow that advice by diving in to aviation education in Nevada or Texas to get the necessary education and skills to become an airplane or helicopter pilot.
Industry leaders have looked in to their crystal balls (along with their extensive research) to predict a continued strong demand for aviation professionals — from airplane and helicopter pilots to aviation maintenance technicians. Airlines around the world are already expanding fleets and schedules, and they need the manpower to go along with the mechanical expansion. According to information provided in Boeing’s Long-Term Market report, between 2015 and 2034, the world's aviation system will require:
· 558,000 new commercial airline pilots
· 609,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians
Now is the time for people looking for new exciting careers that will potentially allow them to travel all over the world to consider aviation education in Nevada, Texas, California and other states.
The key is to look for flight training schools that offer well-rounded educational opportunities, offering students the knowledge, technical skills and practical training necessary to earn their FAA licenses. As Helicopter Association International President Matt Zucccaro shares, “Flight training comes in all forms and shapes, but no matter the level — basic, advanced, simulator, recurrent, mission-specific, or military — the one element critical to a high-quality training program is an instructor who, along with flight skills, teaches and practices safety and professionalism.”
A few Nevada aviation education programs include: Carson Aviation Academy (fixed wing) and Reno Tahoe Helicopter in Northern Nevada and Elite Flight Training & Management (fixed wing and helicopter) in Las Vegas. There are dozens of flight schools in Texas, including Marcair Aviation (fixed wing) located at the Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke and Veracity Aviation (helicopter) based in Seguin, Texas with a satellite office at the Georgetown Municipal Airport.
In addition to flight hours, it’s important for future airline and helicopter pilots to understand the basics of aviation, aerodynamics, meteorology, safety, flight law, aircraft systems and components, physiology and crew resource management.
After earning an FAA license, potential jobs could include flying for private or commercial airlines, conducting helicopter tours, agricultural flying, fire fighting, search & rescue, news broadcasting, law enforcement, aerial photography and much more.
Upon completion of the right flight training program and earning an FAA license, the sky is the limit. Literally.
What job can a commercial helicopter pilot do?
Helicopter pilot careers appear to be pretty thrilling. Medical evacuation, fire fighting, law enforcement, mountain search and rescue, and border control are some of the high intensity, high reward careers available to trained commercial pilots. Aerial photography, advertising, sightseeing tours, geological survey, fish and game census, highway patrol, and carrying workers and supplies to and form offshore oil rigs are some other heli pilot careers.
What do helicopter pilots earn?
According to salary.com, median salary for a helicopter pilot is $86,627, with the top 10% earning $133,998
How to become a helicopter pilot
If you want to fly as a commercial pilot, versus a private pilot, you will need to enroll in an FAA certified flight school, earn a series of certifications and complete a certain number of flight hours – typically 210.
Helicopter training programs can be found everywhere. In mild, sunny climates like those in Nevada, Arizona and California, Pilot Training programs have proliferated. But even rainy and extreme weather prone areas like Washington and Texas have seen helicopter pilot training schools that are thriving. Programs tend to concentrate in or near larger population centers, so you may need to extend your search if you live in a small community. Some aspiring pilots will transplant for the duration of their training program to one of the sunnier locations in order to maximize their good weather flying time and complete their program faster.
Programs vary in length, but a full time student could complete the required curriculum and flight hours in a year and half to two years.
The cost of Flight School
Flying a helicopter for a living is not for everyone. It can be an exciting, adrenaline-inducing adventure, but it does require an investment. The training and flight school hours required to earn a commercial helicopter pilot license can run $75,000-$85,000.
For those with VA education benefits, the majority of tuition costs may be covered. For others, financial aid packages and scholarships are available. Flight schools with Department of Education accreditation, like Charter College Aviation, can offer qualified student pilots Title IV Financial Aid in the forms of Federal Student Loans and Pell Grants. These resources can significantly affect both the out-of-pocket cost to the student and provide options for long-term loans.