How many helicopter operators (all types - travel, recreation, air medical, etc) are there in Australia?

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How many helicopter operators (all types - travel, recreation, air medical, etc) are there in Australia?

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is held responsible for annual reporting of the overview of safety to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Parliament of Australia. There are 4,375 current helicopter pilot licenses in Australia. The numbers were broken down by 811 in air transport, 2,033 in commercial, 1,510 in private, and 21 in recreational.

The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) is the agency that promotes the Australian helicopter industry to the government. The goals are to ensure a viable, safe, and efficient industry for the best experience possible by the customer. An "Aircraft Register" on the CASA website shows a total of 2202 helicopters registered in Australia."


Military operations began the use of helicopters in 1947, just two years after the end of World War II. Civilian use of helicopters started in 1956. There were many limitations in the past, regarding flying in daylight. Today, helicopter types are increasingly more complex which has empowered the industry to take on 24-hour operations, greater distances, and in all kinds of weather. The news routinely broadcasts spectacular rescue operations originating in Australia.

License types

The leading Australian helicopter pilot school in the country is "Australian Helicopter Pilot School" which began training in 1976. They have seven Grade 1 instructors with 33,000 flight time hours. The licenses that pilots can earn are defined as follows:

Commercial Helicopter Pilot License (CPL(H)) and Private Helicopter Pilot License (PPL(H)) are the two types of licenses available in Australia. It is differentiated by flying for leisure or professionally.

The CPL(H) license qualifies you to work anywhere in Australia as a professional helicopter pilot. For leisure flying, the PPL(H) license is necessary to fly helicopters for fun. Professional careers for helicopter pilots are addressed below.

Helicopter pilot careers

Careers that are rewarding and successful in the aviation industry are available to pilots who have received their CPL(H) licenses. The diverse range of opportunities are listed below:
• "Aerial stock mustering
• Aerial photography and filming
• Scenic joy flights/tourism industry
• Flight instruction
• Bush firefighting
Powerline surveys
• Marine pilot transfers
• Helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR)
• Police Air Work
• Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS)
• Corporate flights / general charter service
• Agricultural crop spraying and livestock herding
• Media, news and traffic reporting
• Offshore (oil industry) services."

The salary pay scale for helicopter pilot overview shows that the range begins at $32,067 and can go up to $104,802. Median salary set at $51,123 with bonuses that are typical are $5,087 on top of the salary. Experience influences the pay amounts for pilots. Pilots with less than 20 years' experience are the norm in Australia.


In 2015, the Australian Government Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reported that one-quarter of all general aviation (GA) accidents for ten years involved helicopters. There were 31 fatalities in 28 aircraft and 32 severe injuries in another 28. Only, 20% of fatal accidents were due to a lack of control.

Commercial air transport had 19 fatalities, and 17 of them chartered. Recreational flying (non-VH) experienced a tenfold increase in reporting safety incidents to the ATSB.

There following accounted for the 15,324 aircraft recorded by the ATSB in 2015 (This was the most recent publishing)

1. "Fixed-wing aircraft accounted for 83% of all aircraft s. There were 11,492 powered fixed-wing airplanes.

2. There were 273 motorized and 996 (non powered gliders).

3. Rotary-wing aircraft accounted for 14% (2,164 aircraft)."

4. Medical transport helicopter numbers not found in Australia.

Australian jet air ambulance fleet uses "twin-engine visual flight rules (IFR) helicopters (+/- rescue hoists) that can be positioned anywhere in Australia". Cert 3 level rescue crew training ensures our highly trained search and rescue (SAR) medical crew integrated with rotary wing aircraft. Their medical systems are compatible with both land and air based ambulance services.


There were 4,375 active helicopter operator licenses in 2017 and 2,202 helicopters registered in Australia as of 2017. There were 811 pilot licenses found for air transport, 2,033 in commercial, 1,510 in private use, and 21 for recreational use. Medical transport helicopter numbers not found in Australia.

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