COVID-19's Impact on Helicopter Pilot Careers

Any professional helicopter pilot will tell you that versatility is a big part of the appeal of helicopter flight. Versatility applies not only to the aircraft’s unique flight capabilities -- with its incredible maneuverability and its ability to take off and land nearly anywhere – but also to its career paths, from tourism to emergency response to forestry.

That versatility is also the main reason the industry is projecting a fast recovery from the effects of COVID-19 and a strong hiring market available to new pilots. A recent statement on COVID impacts from Helicopter Association International (HAI) president James Viola noted, “The versatility of rotorcraft makes them adaptable to a wide variety of missions — something well understood by those operators who build competencies in a variety of missions. In the long run, it’s this versatility that will help the rotorcraft industry to rebound.”

At HAA’s helicopter school, Hillsboro Heli Academy, we also understand the importance of this idea of building competency in a variety of missions, and you’ll see that reflected in a training program that emphasizes wide-ranging skills, as well as our specialty course offerings in areas like mountain flying and external loads.

Helicopter pilots with diverse EASA and FAA helicopter training as well as advanced ATP helicopter training have great career opportunities in a dynamic industry, because they can explore new avenues of growth as they emerge. For instance, while COVID has driven a temporary downturn in tourism flights, helicopter emergency management services (HEMS) and firefighting sectors have grown during this same period.

But of course, this is a flight training school blog, so naturally we’re going to tell you that the outlook for helicopter careers is strong, right? Don’t take our word for it – do your own research, looking at independent surveys and market analysis with a long-term view. You will see, for instance, in a recent study by industry analyst Research and Markets on the impact of COVID-19 predicted an 11.7% compound annual growth rate in the sales of helicopters over the next five years. That’s a great indication of where helicopter careers are headed.

Your independent research will also reinforce the importance of versatility, as brand-new helicopter career paths emerge and others, like off-shore exploration, experience explosive growth. If a career filled with variety, thrills, and better views than any corner office sounds like something you might consider, get in touch with us.