Private Pilot Licence

Private Pilot Licence (PPL)

This is a brief guide to getting your helicopter Private Pilot Licence (PPL) in New Zealand.

Trial flight

The first thing to do is to arrange a trial instructional flight.  You will receive a safety and pre-flight brief, then 20-30 minutes of flying instruction in which you will do the majority of the flying.  This will help you decide if you really do want to learn to fly a helicopter, and will help us to assess your learning style and learning potential.


Before you get too far into learning how to fly, you need to undertake a Class 2 medical with a Designated Medical Examiner.  You cannot fly solo until you have done this. 
You can find details of all medical examiners on the CAA website.

Flying lessons

You will receive lessons in the many and varied facets of helicopter flight, each one preceded by a pre-flight briefing and followed by an after-flight de-briefing. 

The hours that you are required to fly as an absolute minimum are:
  • 50 hours total, including:
  • 20 hours dual (flying with a flying instructor),
  • 15 hours solo (flying by yourself),
  • 5 hours of mountain flying training,
  • 10 hours of cross-country navigation,
  • 5 hours of advanced dual instruction
Flying lessons
This is not a comprehensive breakdown, only a very brief outline.  Note that most students will take more hours than the minimum to achieve the required standards prior to flying solo and prior to sitting their flight test.

Theory and examinations

Civil aviation rules require you to pass six examinations: Air Law; Air Navigation and Flight Planning; Meteorology; Aircraft Technical Knowledge; Human Factors; and Flight Radiotelephony.  You need to start studying for these early in the process, and we can help you with lessons, tutoring, and study guides for this.

You have to pass these exams before you fly any solo cross-country flights, so it is best to start these early in the learning process. They can be studied for one at a time or all at once.  Don't worry, they are not too difficult!

Navigation planning items

You will need a few maps and some navigation planning equipment when you start your cross-country navigation phase:
  • Visual Navigation Charts 'B' and 'C' series (2 charts);
  • Navigation computer;
  • Navigation ruler;
  • Navigation protractor.


There are a number of books and other items that you will need to help you with your study, and for your flying.  A recommended initial list is:
  • CAA Pilot Logbook;
  • Aeronautical Information Publication Volume 4;
  • PPL study guides 1-5 (by the Aviation Theory Centre NZ Ltd);
  • Aviation Medicine and other Human Factors (R. Ewing);
  • Principles of Helicopter Flight (W.Wagtendonk);
Most pilots gather a more substantial personal library over time, but these will get you started.


The prices noted here are not formal quotes, only a guide to let you know how much getting your PPL(H) is likely to cost. If you are comparing costs elsewhere, make sure they include all of the costs, not just the minimum flying hours! 
  • Flying: plan on $515.00 per hour plus GST, and plan on 65 hours;
  • Class 2 Medical: talk to a medical examiner, but around $600.00;
  • Medical processing fee (CAA Fee): $313.00;
  • Books: the list above is about $650.00;
  • Navigation charts and equipment: $130.00;
  • Exams: 6 theory exams at $87.00 each;
  • Flight test: around $500.00 plus the flight time.
So our recommendation, as a minimum budget, is to allow $36,190, plus GST. It is important to note that the actual cost will vary considerably depending on student progress and actual hours taken to achieve the required standards.  

Feel free to call us to discuss any of this in more detail.
Helicopter training by ice aviation

Looking to obtain your helicopter pilots licence? Talk to the team at Ice Aviation New Plymouth today 021 966254

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