FAQ

These questions should help when making a decision for helicopter flight training.
(click on questions to reveal answers)

  • Rotorworks uses the the 2 seat Robinson R22 and the 4 seat Robinson R44 piston powered helicopters. These types of helicopters are used operationally and are quite often the types of helicopter that a pilot new to the helicopter industry will get there first job flying. Rotorworks Inc. has access to the Bell 206 and AStar turbine powered helicopters for further flight training and helicopter type endorsements.

  • The Whitecourt area is similar to the areas that pilots new to the helicopter industry start flying in. The Whitecourt area is well forested and has a rolling terrain with a vertical height of 2000 feet. The Whitecourt Airport is 2500 feet above sea level. The weather has a good variety for winter and hot weather training. Whitecourt has oilfield and logging industry in the vicinity and these are two areas that the helicopter supports.

  • Rotorworks Inc. is recognized by Alberta Advanced Education as a Private Vocational School and by Human Resourses Development Canada (HRDC) as an Educational Institution. Student Loans, Grants and other bursuries are available to the students that qualify for them. Alberta Students can check on-line through alis.alberta.ca

    Student funding has also been obtained through Employment Insurance, HRDC and WCB for re-training. These are less available than student loans, however they are an option for some people. A majority of students have used their savings from working as well as other funding to obtain their helicopter pilot licence. The bank that you have been dealing with for your other financial needs is also a good option if you are looking in other areas for funding.
Part Time Work during the course  
  • Students at Rotorworks has found part time work in Whitecourt while they have taken the course. There is quite a lot of part time work available in the support of Whitecourt's busy oilfield and logging industries. Most part time work is in the retail businesses that support the main industry. Rotorworks students have worked; afternoons, evenings and weekends while they study.
Is part time helicopter training available?
  • Yes,  part time training is available for those that need a differnent schedule  for this.  We will work with your commitments and schedule for your flight and ground training. The best results for this type of training is a similar amount of time spent training to the amount of time away when this is possible.

    Part time training requirements should be discussed with Rotorworks to work out the most advantageous times for both of us.

  • English language capability, basic math and an Aviation Medical are requirements for training at Rotorworks. You will be able to do the Aviation Medical in the first couple weeks of the course if it is not done before. You will need the medical before you do any solo flying in the helicopter. You must be 14 years of age to hold a Student Pilot Permit for our course. Age requirements for licencing are: Private - 17; Commercial - 18. 

  • Rotorworks starts their main training courses at the beginning of September after the long weekend and in February - April every year. The February - April start date is flexible because some students are working in the oilfield and are not able to take the course until spring break-up. Flexible start dates and training schedules are available through the year.

  • The full time Commercial Helicopter Pilot Course will take 4 - 5 months. The full time Private Helicopter Pilot Course will take 3 - 4 months. If the course is done part time the course will take more time and this will depend on the students schedule.

  • Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence: 100 hours of helicopter flight training, 80 hours of ground school, pass the Transport Canada Written Exam and the Transport Canada Flight Test. The student must be 18 years of age before licencing, however the student can start their training before this. 
    Private Helicopter Pilot Licence: 45 hours of helicopter flight training, 40 hours of ground school, pass the Tranport Canada Written Exam and the Transport Canada Flight Test. The student must be 17 years of age upon licencing. Ground School is ongoing and the student will get much more than the minimum requirements for the licence. There is ground school every day with lessons, assignments and reading.

  • Rotorworks has student housing in Whitecourt with a newly built, furnished house of 5 bedroooms. Students can also find accommodation in boarding houses, apartments or hotels/motels in the Whitecourt area. Whitecourt is well set up for accommodation for the logging and oilfield industries.

  • A job in the helicopter industry requires that a pilot visit the helicopter companies and talk to the person that does the hiring. People tend to hire the pilots they know, and you will need to keep visiting the people you are interested in working with. They are quite busy and meet a lot of people so regular contact will help. Learn about their operation and what they do so they understand that you are interested in working with them. Your helicopter licence opens the door for the interview, but what the helicopter company is looking for is usually your hands on skills and someone they can work with. Your work references on your resume are very important and you may consider attaching them.

  • There is no best age. It will depend on the needs of the helicopter company. If the helicopter company works in support of the oilfield, a background in the oilfield industy would be helpful. The helicopter industry has hired pilots from 18 years of age up to 50 years of age. The helicopter companies look for and individual who has maturity, people skills, mechanical ability and are trainable.

  • Necessary positions with helicopter companies include ground support for their helicopter operations. Some pilots will start in these positions and when the company is able, they will start you flying, doing some training on their equipment, doing some light work and ferrying their aircraft from one site to another.

    Some companies need pilots to start flying right away and the helicopter company will give training and procedures for the company and customers. Other areas where pilots have been employed are working as spray crew for helicopter spray programs, usually for the forest industry and as co-pilots on some of the heli-logging operations. These are just some of the more common areas that pilots find work in the helicopter industry. 

  • No, however this will depend on the helicopter companies that you are looking at getting hired on with. If they need you to have the turbine endorsement they may be able to help you with it. Most of the graduates of Rotorworks Inc. get their first flying job on the Robinson R22 or the R44 and then transition onto the turbine helicopter later with the company they are working with.

  • Initially the helicopter pilot will make $30,000.00 - $40,000.00/year. As the pilot's experience increases their salary will increase as their skills permit them to do more jobs for the company that they works with. Below is an approximation of the salary increase for experience. Most companies will base their salaries on the amount of flight time that a pilot has, however the following will give you and idea. Flight Experience: 3-5 years: approximately $50,000.00/year. 5-7 years: approximately $50-65,000.00/year 7-10 years: approximately $65-75,000.00/year 10+ years: approximately $75,000.00/year. The above will depend on the company, full time, part time and the type of work that you are doing. If you specialize and are flying the larger helicopter your salary can exceed $100,000.00/year. If you start as a pilot/operator in the oilfield then your starting salary will be higher than that of the pilot above. Your schedule will also be more fixed and you will be working in remote areas and travelling back and forth from the work site to home at the end of your week or 2 week long shift.

  • Helicopters work in remote areas of the provinces and northern territories of Canada. Most pilots will work the majority of their time away from home in the beginning of their career. Once a pilot has some experience, they can then often get a base to work out of and be home for more of the time. There is work for helicopters around cities, which can involve the Air Ambulance, Police, Traffic Control, Commuters as well as government and corporate helicopters. The pilots that fly these helicopters are usually more experienced and have been in the helicopter industry for some time.