Private Pilots Licence
The Helicopter Private Pilots Licence otherwise know as the PPL (H) is the basic licence that
allows a person to fly helicopters for his or her own pleasure without receiving pay or reward.
It is also the first step to becoming a commercial helicopter pilot if it is your long term goal to
have a career in aviation. We have compiled these notes to give you some informal
guidance about the PPL (H).
The PPL course is set out by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) as a minimum training course
to which all training schools must adhere. This is now becoming the same licence throughout
Europe so you may use it equally in other countries. The requirements are:
Minimum age of 17 to log hours
45 hours flight instruction of which :-
o 10 must be solo
o 5 must be instrument flying
o a navigation of 100 nautical miles
with two landings
7 written examinations, all multiple
A class 2 medical
A flight test with a CAA examiner
We’ll go into more detail and break the list up but basically what we are trying to achieve in the
course is that you will receive training and help to enable you to pass all the exams and tests to
gain your licence, and provide you with the basic skills and knowledge to allow you to develop
as a safe and competent helicopter pilot. We’re not looking in the PPL to make you the best
pilot in the world but to make you safe for your follow on-flying.
Learning to fly helicopters will be one of the most rewarding and satisfying things you do. It
will become addictive, rewarding, challenging and fun. It is not difficult, but it does take some
getting used to, as you will be learning a new skill like learning to ride a bike. You will probably
feel frustrated at some point in the course. At other times you will be on cloud nine with what
you have achieved. You will almost certainly enjoy the flying most, but do not neglect the
ground school which is there to give you essential knowledge.
Consider the PPL(H) licence as the starting point of your flying - the best pilots continue to
learn throughout their flying career.
The CAA specifies what must be included in a course of training and the standards which must
be achieved to gain your licence. There are two main parts:
The Flying Training Course
The Ground School
Our lessons are normally offered in two hour sessions,
which includes one hour of flying and one hour pre- and
post - flight briefing. The aim of the pre-flight briefing is to
ensure that you know in detail the flying exercise before it
is flown so that there is a greater understanding of the
flight to be conducted. The post-flight briefing gives you
the opportunity to discuss in detail with your instructor the
exercises you have just performed and are very
important. Many schools will just fly a student as this is
the income part of the lesson but equally important is the
ground work before and after. At Phoenix we try to
arrange for you to train with one instructor and will not
change that unless agreed with you or you don’t mind
training with others. This is to ensure continuity of your
training. All our instructors are closely supervised by our
Chief Flight Instructor (CFI) and we have produced what
we hope will be one of the best PPL training syllabuses
available. This way you form a bond with your instructor
and you tend to progress through the course in a more
We have also produced a unique training plan based on our experience, with lesson hand outs
prior to your lesson which build to cover most aspects of your flying and hopefully will give you
a thorough knowledge and understanding of your course. These are available free from our
web site in the student area. The student area of our web site is designed to give you all the
information you need. We are trying to make it as interactive as possible with weather and
information for your flying. We are hoping in late 2010 to introduce an on line booking system
too. The lessons are downloadable as PDFs or available from your instructor. At Phoenix we
divide your training into three parts with stage checks at the end of each section. The checks
are to ensure that you have received a high quality of training by your instructor and are
conducted by our CFI.
The Civil Aviation Authority stipulates that the flying training course must include at least 45
hours of flying training, all of which is supervised by a helicopter flying instructor. Of the total
hours, at least:
25 must be dual instruction given by a helicopter flying instructor
10 hours must be supervised solo flying (pilot in command).
5 hours instrument flying
All the above have to be completed on one aircraft type. This does allow the option to do a
few hours on a different type. This is at your discretion and can be discussed with your
instructor. The 45 hours have been divided into 26 air exercises which are listed further on.
Of the solo time, there must be at least 5 hours cross-country, including a cross country flight
where you land at 2 separate airfields with the whole trip being at least 100 nautical miles.
Most people take more than the basic 45 hours to complete their course and although most
do, it is not a good idea to set this as a target as you then tend to feel you are getting behind.
You will progress best if you can fly regularly, particularly at certain stages in the course. At
Phoenix we have divided your training into 3 stages. First is the basic, where you will learn to
fly the aircraft. In this part of the course you learn to control the helicopter in forward flight, the
turn, the climb, descents, the hover and most importantly to take off and land. You will also
learn to fly the helicopter without engine power, known as Autorotation. As important as these
flying skills are you will also gain experience in making radio calls and the way that aircraft fly
in and around an airfield. At the end of this stage a check is carried out on your ability and
progress by our CFI and then you will do your first solo - a big milestone in your training.
From here we will revise on skills learned and continue to the second stage, the more
advanced exercises and navigation. Navigation is better done as intensively as possible as
this ends in your Cross County Qualifier. In this section you will also accredit most of your solo
The final section or stage three will build
on your skills and we will teach you to
carry out advanced techniques such as
those which you would need to land safely
in areas which are confined and in
circumstances where you have limited
power available. Autorotation skills will
develop so that you can safely land the
helicopter if an engine were to fail. A very
large part of your training is devoted to
safety and hopefully when complete we
shall have instilled not only the skills but
also the knowledge to keep you safe and
continue your flying in a manner to give
you both maximum enjoyment and safety.
Once all the ground exams and flying are completed you will take a Flight Test with a qualified
examiner. The test has five sections but is divided into two main halves; navigation and skill or
air exercises. In the test the examiner will look to see that you demonstrate that you can fly
competently and safely. He doesn’t expect you to be the best pilot in the world, just a safe
one. You will then be rated to fly the machine type you took your test on and can enjoy all the
aspects of helicopter flying. It is easy to rent aircraft as most schools including ourselves offer
what is called self fly hire. Your licence is valid in any country in Europe that is in JAA, The
Joint Aviation Authority.
The PPL Air Exercise Syllabus
1. Familiarisation with the helicopter.
2. Preparation for flight - starting and stopping the engine and rotor.
3. Air experience - an introduction to helicopter flight.
4. Effects of controls - what the controls do in forward flight.
5. Altitude and power changes - power, altitude and thus speed change.
6. Level flight, climbing, descending and turning.
7. Basic Autorotation - "gliding" a helicopter.
9. Take off and landing.
10. Transitions - leaving the hover to achieve forward flight and returning to the hover from
11. Circuits - an exercise to practice accuracy within a circuit at an aerodrome.
12. First solo - the first of 10 hours pilot in command.
13. Sideways and backward manoeuvres.
14. Turns on the spot - turning through 360 degrees in the hover.
15. Vortex ring - the nearest event to a stall in a helicopter.
16. Engine off landing - how to "glide" a helicopter and land safely without the engine
17. Advanced Autorotation - "advanced gliding".
18. Forced landings - an autorotation to a selected landing area.
19. Steep turns - turning the aircraft at more extreme angles of bank than normal.
20. Transitions from the hover to the hover at low altitude.
21. Quick stops - coming to the hover rapidly but safely from cruise speed at low altitude.
22. Pilot navigation - navigating a helicopter away from an aerodrome including all radio
instruction for complying with Air Traffic Control.
23. Advanced take-offs, landings and transitions.
24. Advanced take-offs and landings on sloping ground.
25. Limited power operations - operating a helicopter with limited power.
26. Confined area - how to approach, enter, manoeuvre and depart from confined area safely,
i.e. a clearing, small field or helicopter landings site.
Many of these exercises can be downloaded from our web site in the student area. Other
more complicated exercises will be covered in a full pre flight briefing.
You will need to learn some technicalities of helicopter flying in order to be a safe and competent
pilot. The CAA also require that the following topics be studied and an exam to be taken in each
Human Performance and Limitations.
Aircraft (General and Type)
This is not as daunting as it may sound as really aviation is one subject simply divided into several
topics. The exams are multiple choice so they give you the questions and 4 answers to choose
from. The pass mark is 75% and the papers are done in-house and will be given to you by your
instructor when you are ready. You may attempt each subject 3 times with a fourth go at the CAA
but to be honest if you are having difficulty your instructor should pick up on this and give
additional ground studies to you. It is important to maintain a momentum with these as you may
not do a flight test unless they are all complete and you may find yourself in a situation where you
are ready to take the test and held back. For PPL we tend to tackle the subjects one at a time
moving onto the next once one is done. You must have passed Air Law before going solo and
should have passed both Meteorology and Navigation before your Cross Country qualifier. In
most cases the subjects are directly relevant to your flying so most students find them of interest.
In addition you will take a Radio Telephony Practical test which gives you a licence entitling you to
talk on the aviation air waves to Air Traffic Control Services.
Don’t be too put off by the learning. Remember this is going to become your hobby and we will
help you through a programme of guided study recommending which books to buy and discuss the
topics with you. The syllabus is generally fairly straightforward.
You must have a medical certificate before you undertake your first solo flight. It is recommended
that you get the certificate very early in the course, or preferably before you start the course. The
certificate must be a CAA Class 2 for PPL and a class 1 for CPL. If you intend to go to full CPL we
recommend you get a Class 1 as you don’t want to spend money only to find later you are colour
blind in one spectrum. The medical is similar to a life insurance medical. They are really only
interested in anything that may incapacitate you suddenly affecting your ability to fly. The
certificate is obtained from specially appointed Aviation Medical Examiners - they are located
throughout the country and we can give you the addresses of air medical examiners convenient to
your area or if you look up the web link below you should find one close to you. You will need to
be subsequently re-examined at intervals determined by your age.
This is available as a quick link in our student section of our web site
Phoenix Helicopter Academy is a relatively new contender recently set up at Goodwood.
Although the school is new the instructors are not. The company is owned and run by instructors
who between us have been in the industry for a long time and have taken the best of our
experiences to approach training in a new way. Unlike many training environments, Phoenix is a
dedicated training facility and not just an add-on to a commercial operation. Our instructors are
very experienced and dedicated to instructing. We try to instil a very personal service where our
students are not treated as a number but on a more personal basis. Flying helicopters either for
a hobby or as a career is one of the best things you can do and we believe the training you
receive should be of the highest quality and something you will remember forever.
Although we are a small company, this gives us the ability
to treat you individually. We are attempting to operate
more as a club than a school in the sense that once
students qualify it doesn’t end there, with trips, meetings
and events planned. All student lessons are based on a
two hour slot with an hours flying. Although the school
income is only generated from the flying hours it is crucial
that students get the benefit of a full lesson. In my time I
have seen too many students from other schools with
close to 100 hours and still have a poor understanding of
the basics as they have never been taught correctly. As
an Instructor I am proud to say that I have a 100% first
time pass rate and I have never had a student leave me to
finish at a different school.
We also try to arrange activities for you after you have
passed in order that you keep enjoying your flying. This
picture is of a R44 on its return trip to Goodwood from
France. Below is the London Heli Lanes, again easily
reached from Goodwood.
Other activities revolve around the club including barbeques and events where you can meet
other students and pilots and bond and make good friends. We also have a face book group
where students and pilots can exchange stories and experiences. Take the time to have a look
though our web site in the student area, and feel free to come down to see us for a coffee and a
chat. Deciding on a school or helicopters as a career is a big step.
If you are interested in becoming a commercial pilot then this is your best first step. Completely
free seminars with like minded people where we simply give you the facts in helping you make up
your mind. The seminar is normally a half day event with a power point presentation and
hopefully we will be able to cover all of your questions. Please register your interest by
contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org as there are limited places available. See our
news section on our web site for the next seminar date.
Well what you can say about petrol-head heaven? Goodwood is one of those nostalgic places
deliberately set back in time. Its buildings and grounds are very highly maintained to give you a
1930’s feel and return you to that period of art deco. It does however have modern track days
and is well known for the Festival of Speed, Revival and Breakfast Clubs where owners show off
their prestigious cars to the public and enthusiasts alike. The aerodrome itself is a grass strip
aerodrome with a racing circuit around the outside. It is a wonderful training environment for
helicopters with large hover training areas, no fees for helicopter circuits and in uncontrolled
airspace so you are training the minute you get in the air. What’s more, there are small landing
fees, only one per lesson. You will be training in the beautiful south coast with no restriction on
airspace. Because of its location we don’t tend to have the poor weather that other fields can get
although it can be windy as we are close to the sea and relatively flat. Take a look in our link
section to see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
Take five minutes to see what Goodwood has to offer
Race Track http://www.goodwood.co.uk/site/content/Motorsport.aspx
On this sheet you will find a selection of the questions that we are often asked about our services
and courses and the appropriate answers. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is any
further information you require.
Q. Do I need an aeroplane licence or any previous experience?
A. No, you need no previous experience before starting your helicopter course. However if you do
hold a current fixed wing licence the minimum hours requirement for the course is reduced from 45
hours to 40 hours flying.
Q. Will I automatically get my licence after 45 hours flying training?
A. No, 45 hours is the minimum requirement as laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority for a person
to hold a Private Pilots Licence. It can sometimes take people a few more hours to meet the
standard required by your examiner. It is not in the interest of safety for a flying school to
guarantee a student a pass in a certain amount of hours. At Phoenix we treat safety with
paramount importance and therefore our students will only pass a test when their flying is up to a
suitably high standard.
Q. How long does the course take?
A. There is no set time over which you must do the course as long as you complete it, therefore we
can tailor a course from a full time (3-4 days a week) up to spreading it over 2-4 years if you so
desire. However, please bear in mind people tend to suffer from lack of continuity if they try to
spread the course out over a long period.
Q. How old do I have to be?
A. The minimum age requirement for a holder of a PPL(H) is 17. If someone younger than 17 wished
to start and learn, this is no problem but he/she would not be able to fly solo or pass his/her test
until their 17th birthday.
Q. Do I automatically get a licence when I have completed the course?
A. No, just as when you learn to drive you will take a test at the end of the course.
Q. Where do I go to take my test?
A. At Phoenix we have on call examiners and can take you right from scratch through to passing your
Private Pilots Licence.
Q. What are the medical requirements?
A. You may start the course without holding a medical certificate but before you fly solo you must
pass a C.A.A. Class 3 medical which must be conducted by a C.A.A. approved doctor. We have a
list of the approved doctors and can steer you towards the nearest. The medical is not as stringent
as many insurance check-ups but pays close attention to heart, blood pressure, hearing, eyesight
Please note colour blindness does not necessarily preclude you from holding a medical
Q. Can I get a job as a pilot when I have my PPL (H)?
A. The holder of a PRIVATE Pilots Licence is entitled to fly a helicopter for his/her own private use
with family/friends etc or on his/her own business trips. In order for you to work as a pilot and
receive revenue for your services you must become a commercial pilot or instructor.
Q. How long is a licence valid for?
A. A PPL (H) is valid for 5 years and is renewed automatically as long as you remain current.
Q. If I learn on the R22 and wish to fly a different sort of helicopter what must I do?
A. You must do a 5 hour conversion onto each particular type you require to add to your licence after
having initially passed the flight test.
Q. When I have my licence do I have to buy a helicopter?
A. You can self-fly hire one of our aircraft for your own use when you have your licence.
Q. Where can I take a helicopter and can I land it anywhere?
A. You can take the helicopter almost anywhere you wish and land at any civil airfield subject to its
terms and conditions. More importantly you can land in anybody’s field or private site, e.g. hotel,
restaurant, golf course etc, provided you have the owner’s permission and you do not violate any
Air Traffic Rules whilst doing so (you will be taught the rules on the course).
Our experienced staff will be pleased to assist with site selection and the relevant permissions.
Q. Your price list quotes by the hour, what does this mean?
A. You only pay for the hours you fly. If you hire a helicopter for the day you will only pay for the time
it flies, subject to a minimum of 1 hour. When you are learning you will spend a considerable
amount of time on the ground being briefed by your instructor, this time is not chargeable.
Q. Is a helicopter safe?
A. Yes, air travel generally is statistically far safer than road travel. In the hands of a sensible and
well-trained pilot, the helicopter is an excellent form of transport, which can be safely landed in the
rare event of an engine failure. Many people think that if the engine fails in a helicopter the
situation is dire, this is not the case. During your course your instructor will demonstrate and
subsequently teach you how to land the helicopter safely without the engine running.
Q. Can anybody fly a helicopter?
A. Helicopter flying is a skill that most people can achieve to a satisfactory level after sufficient
practice. There will always be certain people who find controlling a helicopter a little too difficult
but generally 99% of people who start the course do complete it to a safe standard.
Q. What prior knowledge of the helicopter, navigation, air law etc do I need?
A. None as long as you are willing to learn and have a good degree of common sense we will teach
you all you need to know.
Q. Why should I learn to fly a helicopter with Phoenix?
A. We have extremely experienced and dedicated instructors who are passionate about helicopters.
Our main business is helicopter training. The business is owned and run by instructors who put
students first. We only survive by making you happy, are not too large to ignore the individual
needs of our students but experienced enough to provide a frist class package to suit each
person’s own particular requirements.
Q. If I am training at another school and want to move to Phoenix, can I do that or do I have to
A. No its easy. Simply contact us and we will arrange for you to do an assessment flight with one of
our instructors and then sit down with you and see what you need to do to finish. All the hours you
have done will count. If you’re happy with us we will contact your old school for your notes.
With the exception of your medical you can come to us and complete the course from start to
finish without having to look elsewhere for examiners. We are a self-contained operation with
numerous aircraft available with on-site maintenance; therefore the chance of a helicopter not
being available is minimal.
Phoenix Helicopter Academy
We are Here
Once entering Goodwood Aerodrome/Racing circuit go directly ahead. You will see a
tunnel. Go straight through and after the tunnel follow the road round to the left. About
200 yards on the right hand side you will see us. We are the last building before the aero
Club. For your Sat Nav our postcode is PO18 0PH