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Starting Your Own Helicopter Business

helicopte1Starting your own helicopter business is a serious decision because of the costs involved. To this, there are different options to look into, including sightseeing and charter business. Another idea is to work with a government agency to fly employees to different locations for environmental preservation projects, surveys, and forestry research. Showcasing beautiful scenery, attractions, or holidays is yet another option for your helicopter business.


There are two ways to go about this – you can either apply for financing or lease the machine. There are additional costs to cover, including marketing, office space and equipment, fuel, and insurance. To start a helicopter business, you will need a helicopter policy and business liability insurance. Check with an aviation insurer and commercial insurance agent for these. Then you will also need certificates such as the commercial pilot aviation certificate. If you plan to apply for financing, this is the time to think of a good business plan to prove your case. You may want to include cost estimates, factors that affect the operating costs, and cost categories and characteristics. Other costs to include in a detailed business plan can be spare inventory amortization, unscheduled repairs reserve, unscheduled reserve for line replaceable units, and overhaul reserve. Maintenance costs also include materials, parts, line maintenance labor, and oil and fuel costs which are associated with the proper operation of the helicopter engine. Keep in mind that there are variable costs which depend on level of activity. Fuel consumption and costs are two examples. Finally, it is a good idea to include a list of operating cost categories such as major component overhauls, service life-limited items, engine restoration, inspections, mission and optional equipment, air worthiness directives, and sources of cost estimates, among others. Sources of estimates can be industry periodicals, independent sources publishing cost estimates, manufacturers’ estimates, and operators’ cost history.


Staring your own helicopter business can be a costly endeavor and depends on factors such as existing balances, payment history, business credit score, and others (read more). If you have stellar credit and are a regular customer at your local credit union or bank, then you have a good chance of being approved for an unsecured loan. Creditworthy customers are regarded as low-risk and are offered more financing options. The good thing about unsecured loans is that this is a low-risk option for borrowers (read more). You are not required to offer a valuable item as a guarantee of on-time repayment. A second option is to apply for a secured loan or line of credit and offer business collateral. This can be inventory, vehicle, equipment, or anything else of value, depending on the loan amount. Secured financing is also a good alternative for borrowers with less than perfect credit and allows them to boost their rating with timely payments. Other options include peer to peer networks, angel investors, and government-sponsored loans with affordable rates (read more).

Once you find sources of financing, think of aircraft selection, airport location, and other details around your helicopter business.

How to Become a Helicopter Pilot in Canada

If you wish to become a helicopter pilot in Canada, there are three options to consider – commercial, private, and recreational pilot permit.

Steps to Follow

helicopterThe first step is to visit a certified aviation medical examiner and obtain an aviation medical certificate. The next step is to sign up for a flight school and choose the type of permit you wish to obtain. Fill out an application form, complete the required training, and apply for a license. If you choose to apply for a private helicopter pilot’s license, then you will be permitted to carry passengers onboard for personal use only. With a commercial helicopter pilot’s license, on the other hand, you are allowed to carry equipment and passengers and can work for hire. In terms of time schedule, this also depends on the type of license. There is a part-time option, but it takes longer to complete. You will need about 20 weeks or 5 months to obtain a commercial license and about 10 to 12 weeks for a private license. A number of courses are offered by different private flight schools (read more), among which standard first aid, CPR, winter survival training, bush training, and commercial helicopter training. Other courses include slinging or external load training, vertical reference training, as well as recruitment and advanced training. Many flight schools also offer courses such as night ratings, instructor ratings, conversions to helicopter license from airplane license, and private and commercial helicopter training courses (read more). Some courses are available during the winter season only. There are conversion requirements as well, depending on the type of license you hold. If you have a private license for example, you will need 40 hours of ground-school classes and 10 to 12 flying hours or dual flight instruction. Conversion takes about 3 to 4 weeks to complete, followed by a written exam and flight test. Private conversions require that applicants make 6 landings and take-offs and sit a P-Star exam. This will take you just one day.

Cost and Other Factors to Bear in Mind

There is a non-refundable deposit of $500, and costs vary from one flight school to another. Becoming a helicopter pilot can be very expensive, depending on the license. For a commercial license, for example, 45 flight hours can cost you over $20,000. All course programs include expenses such as insurance coverage, fuel, instructor fees, and ground school. Additional fees and expenses include fees for the commercial written and flight test, language proficiency test, and books and supplies (ground school kit). Books and supplies are offered upon acceptance. Keep in mind that students are also financially responsible for extra training and courses, if required. In addition to cost, there are other factors to consider, including reputation of the flight school of choice, entry requirements, quality of training offered, location of your flight school, and the types of helicopters and equipment in use.