Pay for helicopter pilots varies depending on skills, experience and their employer.
Entry-level helicopter pilots earn about $41,000 a year (based on a 40-hour week), though many only work part time when first starting so may earn less than this.
Helicopter pilots with three to five years' experience can expect to earn between $45,000 and $80,000.
Senior helicopter pilots may earn $100,000 to $180,000 or more.
Source : Aviation New Zealand and Wellington Helicopters, 2018.
This information is a guide only. )
What you will do
Helicopter pilots may do some or all of the following :
prepare or check flight plans
do preflight checks, including checking weather conditions, equipment and the helicopter
calculate the amount of fuel needed for flights, and refuel and load the helicopter accordingly
brief passengers on flight and safety details
control the helicopter on the ground and in the air
write reports and keep a flight log.
Specialised helicopter pilots may do some of the following :
provide commentary to tourists during scenic flights
apply fertiliser or other agricultural chemicals
communicate with other emergency services (such as hospitals or search and rescue services)
round up sheep, horses, cattle or other groups of animals
navigate the helicopter in dangerous conditions such as smoke
carry large buckets or tanks of water to put out fires.
Skills and knowledge
Helicopter pilots need to have :
excellent flying skills
knowledge of flight theory and flight planning
skill in interpreting flight plans, weather and navigation data
understanding of civil aviation laws
knowledge of helicopter mechanics.
Helicopter pilots :
may work regular business hours, or weekends, or do on-call work
work in conditions that are often noisy, and can be rough or uncomfortable in bad weather
may travel nationally or internationally for work.
To become a helicopter pilot you need to have a Commercial Pilot Licence Helicopter (CPL-H).
Training to become a helicopter pilot can be done through private flight schools or with the NZ Air Force and Navy.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a helicopter pilot, but NCEA Level 3 English, maths, physics and computing are useful.
Helicopter pilots must be :
calm, confident and alert
able to work well under pressure
able to work independently
good at following procedures and paying attention to detail.
Useful experience for helicopter pilots includes :
experience in the industry you want to fly in for example, if you want to work as a rescue helicopter pilot, experience as a medic is useful
customer service roles
engineering or mechanical work.
Helicopter pilots need to have good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), and good reflexes and co-ordination.
They must also have a good level of fitness and health. They need to pass a medical exam every year.