How Many Helicopters in the World?

Rows of Schweizer Helicopters

How Many Aircraft in the World?

I am sure you have all wondered at some time or another how many helicopters are in the world today. Well, I did a little research and this is what I came up with.

Type of AircraftNumber
Active General Aviation Aircraft360,000
Passenger (Commercial) Aircraft17,770
Military Aircraft89,129
Civil Helicopters26,500
Military Helicopters29,700

General aviation (GA) is defined as all aviation other than scheduled commercial airlines and military aviation.

The 360,000 General Aviation Aircraft includes fixed wing, rotary and private business jets. General Aviation Statistical Databook & Industry Outlook. 209,000 of these aircraft are based in the USA (2012 data).

In 2012 there were 10,055 General Aviation helicopters in the USA and approximately 15,000 rotary pilots.

According to, in 2001; of the 26,500 Civil helicopters, distribution is as follows:

  • 46.1% in North America
  • 18.2% in Europe
  • 12.7% in former Soviet Union
  • 12.3% in Asia/Pacific region
  • 7.2% in South America
  • 3.4% in Middle East
  • 0.1% in Africa

Of the 29,700 Military Helicopters, distribution is as follows:

  • 33.5% in North America
  • 21.1% in Europe
  • 16.6% in former Soviet Union
  • 13.6% in Asia/Pacific region
  • 6.3% in the Middle East
  • 4.5% in Africa
  • 4.4% in South America?

Boeing forecasts there will be demand for more than 35,000 new planes worth $4.8tn (£3.1tn) over the next 20 years, with airlines keen to replace fuel-hungry older models to cope with high oil prices.

According to Flight International’s 2003 Military Aircraft Census, there are an estimated 89,129 military aircraft worldwide.

These figures were very difficult to find and it must be remembered that the numbers are changing constantly.

For those of us who have the opportunity to fly helicopters, it is obvious that we are the privileged few. There are over 7 billion people on our planet today but there are only 56,200 helicopters.

Please let me know if you have any further information and as usual, feel free to leave any comments – good or bad.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

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Passing the EASA Flight Test and EASA Oral Test

EASA Skill Test Book CoverThe EASA Skill Test

When a PPL student finishes their training the instructor has to prepare them for the EASA PPL skill test. The skill test involves a flight test and an oral test. As a student, you must pass both of these.

The oral test is normally completed before the flight test and is part of the flight test process. Any students that fail the oral test will not be permitted to take the flight test and the test will be deemed as a ‘FAIL.’

The oral test can take anywhere from one to two hours to complete. The examiner is not going to try and trick you with nasty, tricky questions. He/she is only trying to determine if you have the minimum amount of knowledge to fly safely. This knowledge will have been taught as part of the training syllabus.

Under exam pressure, students often forget things that they have learned in the past. An examiner will appreciate that you are under a lot of stress and will take this into account. You are not expected to know all the answers but the examiner will try to help you to recall the information or at the very least, expect you to know where to find the information relating to any questions asked.

On satisfactory completion of the oral test, the flight test can commence. You will be given time to plan a route provided by the examiner. You will be expected to fly the route and also perform an en route diversion. Also during the flight, the examiner will ask you to perform standard and emergency flight manoeuvres.

On completion of the flight test, the examiner will normally not inform you if you have passed until after the debrief. It is possible to have a partial pass, in which case a retest of the failed flight test items is required. We will discuss this in more detail later.

With all of the above in mind, I have written a book that is aimed at making the EASA skill test easier to pass. The book goes through the psychology of the test and things that you can do to relieve the stress of the test. It also gives a detailed description of what you should have covered in the PPL syllabus and what exactly you will be required to do during the flight test.

The book is aimed at PPL students for helicopters, aeroplanes and airships. There are over 350 sample oral questions for each of these categories but the air law is slightly different and is tailored to the Irish pilot so a few of the air law questions may not apply in other European countries. With 170 pages of information relating to the skill test, this book is the ideal preparation for the skill test.

The book can be purchased on Amazon (UK) by: click here

The book can be purchased on Amazon (USA) by: click here

The book can be purchased on CreateSpace by: click here

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How to Convert an Expired JAR Licence to an EASA Licence

JAR to EASA Licence Conversion

EASA Licence Conversion

Now that the EASA regulations have been fully implemented, I am getting enquiries from worried pilots who have let both their helicopter type rating and their licence expire. The old JAR licence needed to be renewed every 5 years. The new EASA Licence (more correctly referred to as a PART-FCL licence) has no expiry date.

The literature relating to renewing an expired licence is difficult to find in the Part-FCL document but after trawling through the relevant documents and with some help from Simon White in the IAA, I was able to get the correct information.

First of all, there is no need to panic or worry if your old JAR licence has expired. It is a relatively simple process to renew it. Anyone wishing to renew an expired JAR license to EASA license should ensure that they do the following (this applies to PPL(H) only – I have not researched the CPL(H) yet):

  • Have a current Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificate
  • Have passed the English Language Proficiency (ELP) test and reached a level of at least level 4.
  • Complete the requirements to renew any helicopter type rating (a licence cannot be issued without a type rating). Refer to my previous post “Renewing an Expired EASA Type Rating
  • In Ireland – complete the application form
  • Pass the oral and flight skill test

On successful completion of the above, the Authority (IAA in Ireland) will issue an EASA Licence.

Note that there is no longer a requirement for a Type Rating written exam. The examiner will test applicants verbally before the flight test. You will still be required to have the necessary technical knowledge before the examiner will issue a pass.


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Passing the Oral Test for the PPL

PPL Oral Test

I have been getting requests from many people looking for advice on what kind of questions come up during the oral test for the PPL. Examiners are required to test a student’s knowledge and for many, this can be the most stressful part of the testing process.

As part of the flight test, the examiner is required to orally test the student. The examiner will ask many questions on many different subjects to find out if the student has any glaringly obvious gaps in their knowledge. EASA PPL Requirements can be found here.

Request For Information From My Readers

I am in the process of gathering up information to make the oral test easier for students. This will apply to pilots who are being tested anywhere in the world. In order to help me obtain a database of the kinds of questions that an examiner might ask, I am asking you to send me any details you can remember about your oral test. If you can remember the questions that you were asked (especially the questions that you found difficult to answer) then these questions will help to make it easier for new students undergoing testing.

By using the “CONTACT” button to the right of the screen, you can leave me a message or just write in the questions that you were asked. I get many visitors to this site from the USA and Europe. I would like you all to think of the questions that you were asked and send them through to me. Send me any material relating to the PPL for Fixed Wing, Rotary, Balloon, Glider, Microlight and anything else that you can think of (as long as it relates to the PPL).

This knowledge will be useful to everyone and if I get enough data, I will make a separate post that will make the questions available to everyone.

Many Thanks


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Convert FAA License to European Part-FCL License



This post applies to anyone who has an ICAO helicopter license with a minimum of 100 hours flight time as a pilot. If you need to convert the ICAO licence to an EASA Part-FCL PPL license, this post will explain what is required. The new European license is commonly called an EASA licence but this is incorrect – its correct name is a ‘Part-FCL’ licence.

FAA pilot licenses are in use all over the world today. Air laws and air space vary from country to country, therefore many countries require conversion of licenses to make sure pilots are familiar and comply with local laws, procedures, airspace, etc. Many countries with high demand for pilots accept FAA licenses without any need for conversion.

If you are planning on flying in European airspace, you will be required to convert your FAA pilot license to an EASA (Part-FCL) pilot license. EASA stands for European Aviation Safety Agency, and is the centrepiece of the European Union’s strategy for aviation safety.

First of all, if you do not have at least 100 hours as a pilot in helicopters, it is going to be very expensive to convert and you will have to do a lot more flying. If you have 100 hours as a pilot then the following conversion process applies. All of this information is available in EASA document ‘Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011‘. Annex I of this document is known as Part-FCL and deals with everything in relation to Flight Crew Licensing.

The requirements for converting an ICAO PPL(H), CPL(H) or ATPL(H) to a Part-FCL PPL(H) are as follows:

  • Have completed at least 100 hours of flight time as a pilot.
  • Apply to the Competent Authority of the State/Country in which you wish to train.
  • Pass an English Language Proficiency (ELP) oral examination (there are no exceptions to this).
  • Hold either a class 1 or a class 2 medical certificate.
  • Complete a type rating on the helicopter you are going to be tested on. Normally, the type rating course will be of 5 hours duration.
  • Pass the Air Law and Human Performance written examinations (multiple choice).
  • Fly as required by a training organisation assessment to meet the standards for the skills test. (The amount of flying will depend on the applicants experience, aptitude and recency
  • Pass the PPL(H) Skill Test.

On completion of the above, you will be issued with a Part-FCL licence.


The requirements for converting an ICAO CPL(H) or ATPL(H) to a Part-FCL CPL(H) are as follows:

  • Apply to the Competent Authority of the State/Country in which you wish to train.
  • Have completed 155 hours flight time as a pilot in helicopters, including 50 hours as PIC of which 10 hours shall be cross-country (105 hours as pilot in helicopters if holder of a CPL(A), 135 hours as pilot in helicopters if holder of a PPL(A).
  • If not already holding a night qualification or rating, have completed 5 hours night flight time.
  • Pass all of the Theoretical Knowledge exams for either the CPL(H) or ATPL(H). These exams are explained in greater detail at
  • Flight training as required by the Head of Training of the training organisation. This will require an assessment flight before training commences.
  • Pass an English Language Proficiency (ELP) oral examination (there are no exceptions to this).
  • Hold a class 1 medical certificate.
  • Pass the CPL(H) Skill Test

Remember that all of the training (both flight and theoretical knowledge training) must be completed at an Approved Training Organisation (ATO). The Competent Authority in the country that you intend to train should have a list of all ATOs.

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