How to Progress Your Career

Updated on 24th September, 2016

Helicopter Preflight


Almost invariably I get asked the same questions on every course that I teach. When I run a commercial course, the CPL students will at some stage, almost always ask me “What do I have to do to get ahead in the helicopter industry?” or words to that effect.

In my opinion this is an easy question to answer and actually pretty easy to achieve if you are prepared to work hard.

What You Need to Do

So what do you need to do to progress your career as a helicopter pilot?

Well you actually do not have to do very much. You only need to do what you were trained to do. I will provide a list below of what I think is important. I would expect all helicopter pilots to be able to do the following.

  • Never be late.
  • Arrive early enough to work so that you are not rushing to get your preflight tasks completed.
  • If you perform the daily preflight checks, make sure that you take your time and do them properly.
  • Take your time when completing paperwork – accuracy is important.
  • Keep up to date with changes in legislation or operations etc.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Fly accurately and to the best of your ability.
  • Offer your assistance to anyone who needs it.
  • If you have nothing to do, look for small jobs that you may be able to do.
  • If you have a problem, try to think of a solution before running off to report it.
  • Think about the “What if” scenarios. Have a “Plan B”
  • If you make a mistake, put your hand up and accept responsibility.

The list is not conclusive and I am sure there are plenty of other items that could be added to it. But if you can manage to consistently do the things on the list, then that is all you need to do. Without doing anything else you will get noticed. People appreciate hard work. You will get noticed for being consistent and for being a hard worker. All employers love hard workers.

Putting it into Practice

I tell my students that they should be striving to achieve everything on the list but that they can do more. They should aim to be the best pilots that they can possibly be. Perfection is unobtainable but that is what you should strive for. You should aim to be better than all of the other employees in the company.

Being better does not mean only flying better. Of course the flying skills are important but there is so much more to it than that. Your expert knowledge will also set you apart. It never ceases to amaze me how many CPL pilots coming through to do the Flight Instructor (FI) course, who have big gaps in their theoretical knowledge. Gaps in subjects like Air Law, Meteorology and Principle of Flight are common because they have not looked at a book since they obtained their CPL.

If you want to be different, refresh your knowledge. Become an expert in your field. Let people come to you for the answers because they know that you have the knowledge. You have the answers. Of course you will never be capable of knowing it all. No one can achieve that. But you can know more than anyone else if you put your mind to it.


Therefore what you need to do to progress in the helicopter industry is be the best pilot that you can be. Learn as much as you can about technical matters, relevant legislation, meteorology etc. And generally work as hard as you can and help out as much as you can – all while being a nice person to work with.

Do not try to step on other peoples shoulders to make it up the ladder. This will come back to haunt you in years to come. Just by keeping your head down and helping others while doing your job to the best of your ability is guaranteed to get you noticed by the right people.

Let me know if you think this was useful by leaving a comment below. Thank you.

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