How Long Does It Take To Become A Helicopter Pilot In New Zealand?

How Long Does It Take To Become A Helicopter Pilot In New Zealand?

So you want to become a helicopter pilot? Great choice! Helicopters are incredibly versatile aircraft and can be used for various purposes, from tourist flights and search and rescue operations to transporting goods and even flying people to oil rigs. 

But before starting your helicopter pilot career, you need to know how long it takes to become one in New Zealand. 

In this article, we’ll look at the different steps involved in becoming a helicopter pilot and give you an idea of how long each one will take. 

So read on if you’re keen to find out more.

Is operating a helicopter risky?

No, not if you’re an intelligent decision-maker and a well-trained pilot. If you run into bad weather or have a mechanical issue, you can safely land a helicopter almost anywhere in minutes. Poor pilot judgment causes most helicopter accidents, such as flying too low and hitting wires (or other objects) or continuing to fly in bad weather or with limited visibility (like fog). Such accidents can be prevented if pilots fly cautiously and make wise, responsible decisions.

What are some experiences that helicopter pilots would find useful?

– Professional flying experience, such as working as a medic in a rescue helicopter.

– Previous aviation experience

– Customer service role

– Engineering or mechanical work

What qualifications are needed to fly a chopper in New Zealand?

To be a helicopter pilot in New Zealand, you must fulfill a few prerequisites. 

Required Age: 

Applicants need to be at least 18 years old to be considered for enrollment in this course.

Medical exam:

All pilots are subject to a rigorous medical examination. The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (NZCAA) has permitted specific New Zealand physicians to administer the Class 1 Pilot Medical Examination necessary for a commercial license. Before starting their program, students must obtain a Class 1 medical certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Educational prerequisites:

Candidates must have earned 12 credits in an English and math-intensive subject at National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 to be considered. A better choice is physics. Trade Certificate at Level 4, or an equivalent qualification such as a bachelor’s degree, will be considered.

Applicants who lack the necessary NCEA credits must pass any three Private Pilot Licence (PPL) theory exams to be accepted.

You must have a strong command of the English language to adhere to CAA standards and maintain aviation safety. You have to speak English (talk, read, and write). If English is your second language, you must have an IELTS score of 5.5 or higher.

ADAPT Assessment:

The online ADAPT pilot pre-screening test is a requirement for all candidates, and they must pass it with an “average” or higher score.

Fit and Proper Person Examinations:

To receive a pilot’s license, applicants must satisfy certain “Fit and Proper” requirements, according to the NZCAA. This is speaking of the person’s standing as a responsible citizen. Candidates will be required to submit the following paperwork in addition to being interviewed:

  • A written character reference as well as two references
  • A copy of your criminal history from the Justice Ministry.
  • A copy of the Traffic Offence History Report from the Land Transport Agency

How long does it take in New Zealand to qualify as a helicopter pilot?


Depending on your time and effort, getting your license may take a few months or years. An NZ Diploma in Aviation will require the completion of a 68-week course.


You must complete a minimum of 50 hours of basic instruction, 15 of which must be solo, according to CAA standards. For the CPL, at least 150 hours of flight time must include mountain, underslung load, and confined area operations.


Flight Radio, Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Human Factors, and General Aircraft Technical Knowledge are the six PPL tests that must be passed. The exams are multiple-choice with a one-hour time limit and typically 20–25 questions. The PPL tests and CPL exams both cover the same material. They are more thorough, though. Before starting a particular part of the course, you must pass all theories relevant to the award level (for example, navigation instruction).

How does the training procedure work?

Even with year-round training, there are some days when operating a helicopter can be dangerous. Thick fog and strong winds are a good example of when flying is not advised. Only storms, heavy winds, or thick fog keep us on the ground.

You can take your first solo flight after 20 hours. Because performing your first solo is such an important step, your instructor will ensure you are ready for it. You can begin flying immediately, but before soloing a helicopter, you must obtain your medical certificate and pass your flight radio exam.

Christchurch Helicopters offers a Diploma in Aviation.

Christchurch Helicopters is your best bet for obtaining a Diploma in Aviation. We’ve been training pilots since 2001, and our philosophy has always been to provide the best possible flight training in a safe and welcoming environment.

Why choose Christchurch Helicopters?

  • We go above and beyond at Christchurch Helicopters to produce graduates who achieve great things. Our training programme is unapologetically career-focused, whether your end goal is to work as a tourism operator, firefighter, coast guard, police helicopter, agricultural worker, film crew, or private tour. We collaborate with you on a Career Pathway Plan, preparing you to be employable anywhere in the world.


  • Our helicopter course is a Level 5 qualification that lasts 68 weeks (plus holidays). The diploma includes obtaining your PPL and CPL licenses and a variety of additional training modules that develop skills and career pathways.


  • Christchurch Helicopters is a Private Training Establishment (PTE) approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to deliver the NZ Diploma in Aviation. The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has also authorized us, allowing a limited number of students to access student loan funding and allowances for the Diploma programme.


  • Christchurch Helicopters is NZ Civil Aviation Authority (NZCAA) certified under Part 135 (Commercial Air Transport Operations), Part 137 (Agricultural Operations), and Part 141 (General Aviation Operations) (Check & Training).


Becoming a helicopter pilot is no easy feat, but it can be an achievable goal with the proper training and support. Christchurch Helicopters has been providing top-quality Helicopter Pilot Training in NZ for many years, so we know what it takes to make you a safe and successful chopper pilot.

If you have any questions about our courses or want more information on how to get started, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re happy to help!