Gaining your helicopter PPL is an incredibly rewarding experience which gives you the freedom to take to the skies!

How far can a helicopter fly in the UK

The PPL(H) is the foundation for all your future flying, whether that be recreational, private ownership or commercial purposes. It is the basic qualification that all helicopter pilots achieve first and it opens up the world of helicopter flying to you. The PPL(H) is a qualification recognised in most countries throughout the world and allows you to take anyone flying with you as long as you are not getting paid for it.

Once qualified, you will be more than welcome to self-fly hire our aircraft to enjoy exciting days out with your family, friends and fellow pilots!


Training begins ensuring you can safely perform all the basic flight manoeuvres and procedures. You will learn and practice take offs, landings, circuits, and radio work whilst building your confidence to your first solo flight. Between solo flights you will fly with your instructor who will introduce you to the advanced manoeuvres and the principles of cross-country navigation – flying from one airfield to another. You will conduct some solo cross country navigation exercises and then in the final stages your instructor assists in refining your skills in preparation for the practical examination.

There is no minimum or maximum age, but you must be 16 before going solo and 17 before you can apply for your licence.


We can currently provide PPL(H) training using the Robinson R44, Cabri G2 and Robinson R22. Once you have qualified, we can provide additional type rating training to expand the types that you can fly – such as learning to fly the Robinson R66 or MD520.

Requirements and Course Information

A minimum of 45 hours of flying training must be completed, however most students will complete their training in approximately 60 hours. At least 10 hours must be flown solo. The 45 hour requirement is reduced for holders of a PPL(A) to a minimum of 39 hours.

Written Exams
There are 9 written ground examinations with multiple choice answers, and one radio practical exam. You must pass Aviation Law before flying solo and Navigation and Meteorology before the qualifying solo cross-country flight. We therefore recommend you study for the ground exams in conjunction with your flying training. Extra ground school on any subject is available from our instructors; this is optional and must be booked and paid for in addition to your PPL course.

These exams can be passed with self-study and assistance from your flying instructor. GCSEs or A-Levels are not a requirement for the course, however a basic understanding of maths and physics is advisable. The subjects are:

  • Air Law
  • Human Performance
  • Meteorology
  • Communications
  • Principles of Flight
  • Operational Procedures
  • Flight Performance & Planning
  • Aircraft General Knowledge
  • Navigation

Medical Information
You do not need a medical to begin your flight training. Your instructor will advise you when you need to get a medical – however before flying solo, you must possess a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Class II medical certificate. Provided you are in good health, this should be nothing for you to worry about and a Class II medical can be obtained locally from an Authorised Medical Examiner (AME).

If you intend to make a career from helicopter flying, it may be advisable to obtain a slightly more restrictive Class I medical at this stage as it would be required for becoming a commercial pilot.

Licence Skill Test
Upon completion of your flying you will take a Skill Test, usually with one of our in-house examiners. Your flying at this stage will be to a standard to enable you to demonstrate to the examiner that you can fly safely and competently. The Skill Test consists of flying the manoeuvres and demonstrating the techniques that you have learnt throughout the PPL(H) course.

Once you have achieved your licence you will need to fly just two hours per aircraft type, which includes a brief test, per year in order stay current.

Common Questions

Which aircraft should I do my PPL(H) in?
The Cabri G2, R44 & R22 are the three main aircraft we use for initial (ab-initio) flight training. All have different advantages, such as the Cabri G2 being very cost effective and robust, or the R44 having more superior performance. It is up to you which aircraft you fly in, and we would recommend having a look at all three or taking a trial lesson to see which you prefer.

How often should I fly?
How frequently you choose to have your lessons is up to you, but experience tells us that continuity tends to help with progression.

The choice of whether the course is conducted on a full or part-time basis is yours – a part-time course could, due to the lack of continuity, result in you needing more flying hours before your flight test. If you choose a full-time course then for instance a PPL could be completed in approximately 4 to 6 weeks, weather permitting. We find that a mixture of the two, involving an intensive week or two within a part-time course, often works well.

How do lessons work?
Lessons are normally scheduled in two hour slots, which include the flight, pre and post flight briefings and start-up and shut-down procedures. ICE Helicopters is open 7 days a week, so if the working week is not suitable for you, the weekend could be.

What else is needed?
All of the necessary books, maps and equipment that are required for the ground school and navigation exercises can be purchased from Pooley’s at Elstree Aerodrome, but don’t worry about those until you’ve got a few hours under your belt.

What about the weather?
All flying is subject to current conditions – if it’s unsuitable, we will contact you immediately to re-schedule your flight. We would ask that you please let us know at least 48 hours in advance if you need to cancel an appointment to avoid being charged a fee.

How much will it cost?
The total cost of training will depend on which aircraft type you conduct your flight training on, and in how many hours you complete the course. The CAA legal minimum course time is 45 flight training hours., however most people tend to take 60 – 70 hours.

Where can I land using my PPL?
The beauty of a helicopter is being able to land in places which other aircraft aren’t able to get to, such as hotels and restaurants (most do not have runways!). With a PPL(H), you can land anywhere that you have landowners’ permission for as long as it complies with various aviation law regulations that you are taught throughout your training.