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Private Pilots Licence PPL(H)




The aim of the PPL (H) course is to train the student pilot to fly effectively and safely under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).


The minimum age for the holder of a Private Pilot license is 17 years old, however from 14 years old hours flown can be logged and counted as training. Sixteen is the minimum age to fly solo.

The minimum training requirement for a person with no other aviation experience to gain a PPL (H) is 45 hours. This must include at least:

25 hours minimum dual instruction
10 hours minimum supervised solo flight (of which 5 hours must be solo cross country)
1 solo qualifying cross country flight of a distance of 100 nautical miles with 3 full stop landings at different aerodromes.

However, it’s important to realise that this is the minimum amount of training required by the regulations. To gain your license you must pass a test with an examiner, most people require more than 45 hours training to reach the standard required to pass the test with an ‘average’ student requiring around 60hrs. Please bear this in mind when considering your training budget.


The course is divided into thirty exercises which comprehensively cover all aspects of helicopter flight, initially each builds on the last giving the student a firm foundation on which to progress to their first solo flight and on to the more advanced exercises.

Exercise 1a: Familiarisation with the helicopter
Exercise 1b: Emergency procedures
Exercise 2: Preparation for and action after flight
Exercise 3: Air experience
Exercise 4: Effects of controls
Exercise 5: Power and attitude changes
Exercise 6: Straight and level
Exercise 7: Climbing
Exercise 8: Descending
Exercise 9: Turning
Exercise 10: Basic autorotation
Exercise 11a: Hovering
Exercise 11b: Hover taxiing and spot turns
Exercise 11c: Hovering and taxiing emergencies
Exercise 12: Take-off and landing
Exercise 13: Transitions from hover to climb and approach to hover
Exercise 14a: Circuit, approach and landing
Exercise 14b: Steep and limited power approaches and landings
Exercise 14c: Emergency procedures
Exercise 15: FIRST SOLO
Exercise 16: Sideways and backwards hover manoeuvring
Exercise 17: Spot turns
Exercise 18: Hover OGE and vortex ring
Exercise 19: Simulated EOL
Exercise 20: Advanced autorotation
Exercise 21: Practice forced landings
Exercise 22: Steep turns
Exercise 23: Transitions
Exercise 24: Quick stops
Exercise 25a: Navigation
Exercise 25b: Navigation problems at low heights and in reduced visibility
Exercise 25c: Radio navigation
Exercise 26: Advanced take-off, landings and transitions
Exercise 27: Sloping ground
Exercise 28: Limited power
Exercise 29: Confined areas
Exercise 30: Basic instrument flight

Each exercise is taught as a flight lesson, with exercises repeated, revised or combined to suit the individual student. Helicentre produces a student study guide which details the teaching objectives of each exercise individually and allows the student to prepare and revise at home to gain the greatest benefit from their training sorties.

One of the most momentous days for every student is their first solo flight, and when you and your instructor feel you are ready your instructor will allow you to ‘go solo’, then help you celebrate with some complimentary champagne! After your first solo you will be provided further opportunities to fly solo, building the 10 solo hours you require. Initially close to the airfield and then further away as you grow in confidence and ability until you are able to undertake your ‘Qualifying Cross-Country (QXC)’ flight detailed in the requirements and fulfil another major milestone in your training.


In time, when you have fulfilled all the requirements and reached the required standard, you will be ready for your skills test. This is the final assessment of competence for the issue of the Private Pilots License, it can be a nerve racking day but our experienced instructors will not put you forward for the test until they know you are good enough to pass. Helicentre has a CAA Flight Examiner on staff which allows us to conduct many of the Skills Tests in house.


Air Law
Human Performance

The above two must be passed before you can go solo.

Communications (there is also a Communications practical test for the issue of a Flight Radiotelephony Operators License)

The remaining five are specific to helicopters.

Principles of Flight
Operational Procedures
Flight Performance and Planning
Aircraft General Knowledge

Most people pass the exams on a self study basis however tuition is available here at the Helicentre where our instructors can focus your learning or help you with difficult topics. Many students find this very beneficial and it can greatly reduce the time it takes to pass the exams as it’s a shame to be ready to go solo but have to wait because you haven’t passed Air Law!

The Exams themselves are pretty straightforward being between 12 -16 questions and 20-50 minutes long, so you won’t have to sweat for hours with pencil in hand! You can sit the exams here at the Helicentre and leave with your mark on the same day. Don’t be put off by the study, it can seem a little overwhelming at first but each subject on its own is a manageable chunk and can be further divided into smaller topics to help you get to grips with the material. Our instructors are always ready with help and advice. There is no complicated mathematics and no qualifications such as GCSE’s are required for the course. All equipment you need such as books, charts, rulers and flight computers are available to buy here at the Helicentre.


Ground study books and equipment along with exams can represent a significant cost over and above the flight training which many flight schools don’t mention and many people don’t realise, however it all adds up to the ‘bottom line’ price of your license. For a limited time we currently have a fantastic offer available to help you with your ground study.

Buy a ten hour block of flight training and not only will you receive the standard £10 per hour discount on your flight hours (worth £120 after VAT) but we’ll give you two free ground exam sittings (worth £72) and two free textbooks from our standard list (worth up to £50). Buying 5 ten hour blocks of training, enough to get you through the minimum training plus the skills test with a bit left over, this means you won’t need to buy any ground exams (excluding Communications practical) and have a sitting in reserve. And you won’t need to buy any of the necessary textbooks. We’ll even throw in a Pooley’s Flight Guide! All of this adds up to a fantastic saving of £1000 (or £20/hr) on the cost of the license!


All Private Pilot’s must hold a class two medical certificate issued by an Authorised Medical Examiner (AME). You don’t need a medical to start training but you must have one to fly solo. Helicentre has the details of many AME’s across the North West and North Wales so we can put you in touch with a doctor near you. The exam is basically a simple health check with a test of your eyes and ears, you don’t need to have perfect eyesight or be super fit. Minor medical conditions and disabilities are often not a problem, however, its best seek advice and get your medical certificate before you commit to many hours of flight training and we encourage people to get their medical as soon as possible. More information is available from the CAA website or by calling their medical department.


Once you have your license the world is your oyster! You can start to explore the local area and fly further afield as you grow in confidence. You don’t have to fly alone, if you would like an instructor to accompany you on your trips for help and advice they would be happy to ride along. We have a large database of helicopter friendly locations around the North West for you to explore and if you wish to really broaden your horizons we can arrange group trips to Europe and further afield. Recent trips have been to France, Spain and even Morocco! You could also add a new Type Rating to your license to fly a larger helicopter such as the R44, the brand new R66 or the fantastic EC120. We can also provide night rating courses and training for the London Heli Routes, great ways to test and improve your airmanship!

The PPL is the first step toward gaining the Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL). You will need 150 hours in helicopters to begin the CPL course, the trips and training mentioned above are great ways to build those hours. You will also need to enrol on a Theoretical Knowledge course to pass the 14 CPL exams in order to begin the flight training, these courses are generally distance learning and are available from several providers. The volume of material and level of learning is significantly above the level of the PPL so you should anticipate 6 months to a year to complete the whole course. Helicentre can provide tuition to help you along and prepare you for your exams. Please contact us if you would like more info and advice about commercial training and helicopter careers.