Pilot Shortage: The Helicopter Industry

As the world slowly falls into the “Pilot Shortage” the unspoken rotorwing world also seeing a shortage of pilots.
Within the U.S. We have 15,000 helicopter pilots according to Robbie Paul, assistant chief flight instructor at Southern Utah State University in Cedar City, Utah.

Paul has told the magazine company “Flying” that there is a greater need for helicopter pilots then fixed wing pilots.
“We’re going to be about 7,500 pilots short over the next 18 years and in an industry that only has about 15,000 active pilots, that represents a huge, huge shortage.” Paul said. SUU is having problem training pilots. ““It’s easier to grow the fixed wing flight training side because people know there’s a shortage there, but there hasn’t been much talk about the helicopter side. A recent HAI study delves into the specifics of the actual helicopter pilot shortage that should prove eye opening to perspective rotary pilots.”
When it comes to jobs, Paul said, “We’re trying to get pilots into the emergency medical service (EMS) world by working with AirMethods the largest EMS operator. We’ve been working on getting the hour requirement down for that first job, but it still takes about 1,000 total time to make that leap to the first helicopter flying job.”

While training and cost of it on the fixed wing side is expensive, on the helicopter side it’s much more worse, including larger helicopters.

SUU operates a fleet of Robinsons as well as two Bell Long Rangers. To help shave some of the financial burden from students, he said “what we need are more scholarships. Here at EAA we just announced an agreement with Whirly Girls, a group that’s been around for 63 years promoting women flying helicopters and SUU to provide three $20,000 scholarships to come learn to fly helicopters.”

Paul added that, “Some big helicopter companies have reduced their flight time requirements considerably due to the shortage. Pilots also don’t need an ATP to fly helicopters commercially like they do on the Part 121 airline side of the industry.”



I suppose it makes sense, probably similar reasons driving them… 🤷🏻‍♂️

Could you explain what yea mean? lol

Its a great time to be getting an A&P haha

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Yes, we see it at my work we’re always looking for A&Ps willing to travel and be in the field for weeks at a time.

Well the industry’s seem similar enough that if there are reasons to not be a fixed wing pilot some (or all) would apply to rotary, but I could be wrong I have not read this in death yet…

The biggest thing we’re seeing is the Vietnam/Desert Storm pilots retiring. With all the old school pilots all leaving the spots open. And not everyone wanting to join the Military just to expensive to work for your rotor stuff lol Unlike Fixed wing lol

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Oh, so I was wrong…

Typical… 😂

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Like some have said, if you wanna be a Pilot (airliner or heli) the time to do so is now. Air Choice One, a Airline based near where I live, Is actually recruiting some pilots with only 250 hours, and I’ve heard of some people getting in with 225! Great topic once again!

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In the Fixed wing world, a ton of 135 operations do that. Ravn Alaska does that and hired my friend at 150 hours TT.

Helicopter industry everyone starts off flying the Robbie, to even fly the R22/R44 series you are required to do special training and then more after to fly passengers. That makes cost so expensive. To fly passengers on a 135 cert in the helicopter world you need 500TT no matter where you go.

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Wow really? I’ve heard of some airlines dropping them low, but not that low!

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Yep lol he’s being forced to upgrade from the 1900 to the 207 now lol they’re always hiring

The pilot shortage will allow young pilots to get hired quicker, gain seniority faster, and get paid (a lot) more. So being a pilot will become more enticing I think and hopefully we’ll see more pilots.

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Hopefully, if the industry starts dropping it’s TT, personally I think a 1,000hrs TT is crazy specially as a first job. While there are a very few options to avoid starting off as a CFI and just going to build your hours.

(And get a cheaper helicopter to train pilots, stupid Robbies (I love my Robbie))


We also talk about special training to fly helicopters - This is the training video on Special Federal Air regulation 73, which was pushed by Robinson Helicopter Company. Every Robbie pilot is required to have this SFAR 73 training

The 250 and 225 is very rare. While it does happen, it only does when they have had a hard time holding on to FOs. People usually leave the min they have 1000 tt or 1500. To get hired there you would need a min of 500tt. Unless you come from SIU program. I only know one person who got in with 252 hrs with a fresh commercial from SIU .

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I would love to fly a rotary craft, sadly it’s too expensive unless you go the military route. And as mentioned before to fly heli require a totally different skill set than a fixed wing.


It’s worth it! I know some companies will pay for a rotor rating I know of a few places doing it

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