How to become a medical helicopter pilot?
Helicopter pilots go through intense training.
Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
Hospital helicopter pilots respond to medical emergencies, transporting patients who are in critical condition to hospitals where they can receive the medical care they need. The job of an emergency medical services pilot is one associated with high prestige; however, you must be a highly experienced pilot to qualify. Although you need not necessarily have a college degree to become a professional helicopter pilot, the job requires a license, specialized training, and a specified number of hours of flight time.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires that you pass both a written and oral exam with flight check in order to get your helicopter pilot’s license. To prepare for these tests, you must attend helicopter ground school and helicopter flight school. Attending a flight school that is FAA certified prepares you to take the licensing exams. While home study courses also prepare you to take the written exam, an FAA Part 141 certified flight school requires that students complete a formal ground school program that includes classroom instruction. On average, a helicopter ground school program takes 12 to 15 weeks to complete. Although there are schools that offer degree programs, traditional programs concentrate on hands-on training and building the flight hours needed for a license.
To be a hospital helicopter pilot, you must first earn a private pilot license. In addition to logging the required number of flight hours and passing the FAA examinations, you will need a class III medical clearance. Receiving the medical certificate qualifies you to fly. Once you earn a private pilot license, you must go on to earn a commercial pilot license, which requires more flight hours. After you gain experience as a helicopter pilot, earning an airline transport pilot license allows you to fly large transport helicopters, but only highly skilled pilots qualify.
Before you can get a private pilot license, you must log a minimum of 40 hours on a helicopter. Flight hours will include time with your flying instructor and by yourself. Students generally log between 60 and 75 hours of flight time. You must put in a minimum of 250 flight hours to earn your commercial pilot license. However, that's only the beginning. Hospital helicopter transport services typically require pilots to have 2, 000 hours or more of flight experience. Employers also require that emergency medical services helicopter pilots obtain an instrument rating while in training to earn a commercial pilot license. Additionally, EMS pilots must have experience flying helicopters with turbine engines.
Commercial Helicopter Pilots
As a commercial helicopter pilot, you can be paid for the services you perform. A commercial license allows you to transport passengers, although there are restrictions on how many passengers you can carry and the type of helicopters you're allowed to fly. While not all medical emergency helicopter pilots are employed by the hospitals that use their services, a certain numberare. Along with their pilot license, hospital helicopter pilots also need instrument certification in order to fly in adverse weather conditions during the day or at night.