- Study Mode: Full time
- Location: High Wycombe
- Duration: Three Years
- Start Date: September 2022
Do you want to become a commercial helicopter pilot? We can help you achieve your dream. This unique programme gives you the opportunity to obtain a university degree and a frozen Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) (H) in just three years of full-time study - and at a lower cost than doing them separately.
You’ll work with our UK-leading partner Heli Air towards your ATPL and we will help prepare you for a career in the exciting world of rotary wing aviation.
We understand that when it comes to deciding where you’d like to study, there are a lot of things to consider. Come along to our Open Day and discover why BNU could be the place for you. You can find out more about your course, meet the course team, and get all your questions answered.
For everything you need to know about applying, check out our Application Guide. You can find useful information for each stage of your application journey – from before you even apply to what to do if you receive an offer, and everything in between.
Why study this subject?
Flying a helicopter is an exciting experience. You can also turn your passion into your career. It can also lead to range of career options in business, leisure or emergency services. You could also choose to start your own business providing freight services or recreational flights. You may also choose to become a flying instructor. By combining a degree with helicopter pilot training, it can open up even more opportunities for you.
Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?
On our BSc (Hons) Air Transport with Helicopter Pilot Training degree, you’ll work with one of our UK-leading training partners towards your PPL or ATPL. Focused modules and study will develop your skills and prepare you for a successful career in rotary wing aviation.
We have been a leader in aviation degrees and pilot training for two decades, and you will be taught by academics and instructors who have experience of working in the aviation industry.
We have a strong focus on employability, and our professional connections and training partners give you the chance to fully immerse yourself in the industry.
We work with Heli Air Ltd , who operates one of the most modern and reliable fleets of training aircraft in the world.
The fleet includes the world's first Glass Cockpit Robinson R22, which features some systems similar to those found in modern large commercial helicopter flight decks, including EPIS, AHRS and GNSS instruments.
On successful completion of this course, and following completion of your external flight training, you will obtain a recognised UK Honours degree and qualify for a ‘frozen’ Airline Transport Pilot Licence. Once you have completed the required professional experiences, the frozen prefix will be dropped.
Bucks aviation students enjoy free membership of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the UK professional association dedicated to the aerospace and aviation industry. As a member, you will be able to participate in a number of exciting industry events, including conferences, guest talks, student competitions, and networking opportunities.
You can also be able to join the highly active Students’ Union Aviation Society. You’ll get to meet even more people who are passionate about the industry and guest speakers. The Society organises trips to places of interest, events and conferences to help you stand out when you graduate.
Top 5 tips
Before making an application, we recommend you consider the following:
- There are additional costs involved with this course, in addition to the University’s tuition fees. The University does not offer any loans as we are not a financial institution. Students often get funding from Private bank loans as well as student finance to pay for the tuition fees. Seek professional financial help to understand what it means for you.
- Talk to, and visit, the flight schools you are considering for most up-to-date pricing. We have included approximate costs for guidance on our approved training organisation factsheet.
- Make sure you understand the differences between a UK CAA Licence and an EASA Licence; your chosen flight school will be able to offer some guidance on this. You can find the contact details for our approved training organisations on our factsheet.
- Understand the UK CAA/EASA Class 1 (Commercial Pilots) or Class 2 (Private Pilots) medical requirements, and check that you can successfully hold such licenses, before committing to the flight training.
- Come along to an open day, talk to our current students and staff, and get all your questions answered.
What facilities can I use?
We’ve invested in a range of state-of-the-art facilities across our campuses to support your learning.
Our library is the perfect place to find the resources you need and a quiet place to study, filled with four floors of books, journals, computer suites and study rooms. Or, if you’d rather work off campus, e-Journals and resources are only a few clicks away using our Virtual Learning Environment.
What will I study?
During this course you’ll study key modules in instruments, radio navigation, meteorology and operational procedures. You’ll also cover broader areas of air transportation such as aviation finance and economics, airport operations and airline management.
You’ll develop skills in leadership, adaptability and self-reliance. You’ll also study operational and sustainable management, strategic concepts and theories.
Our practical training partner Heli Air Ltd offers modular training, including the ATPL (H)/IR ground school, turbine ratings, twin turbine ratings and the flight instructor rating. Courses can be completed in 14 months, giving you the CPL(H) qualification. Additional fees are paid by module.
How will I be taught and assessed?
We look at trends in the industry to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date and regularly update our courses to reflect the most recent changes within the air transport industry.
You will benefit from the team’s connections and valuable networking opportunities. Industry-leading professionals often deliver talks and presentations, providing valuable insight into the profession.
BNU is a Placements Plus university. So, whatever degree you do, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of industry-relevant opportunities on offer, to help you get into your chosen field.
We’ll also prepare you for work beforehand, with special skills for work training, further boosting your CV, and building skills employers will value. In recognition of the value we place on these skills we have incorporated this experience into your study time.
Placements Plus is all about helping you get some valuable experience under your belt while you’re a student, to increase your choices later, and help you get the graduate-level job you want.
Flying and Theory
You will begin your Private Pilot Licence training. This will consist of a minimum of 45 hours flight training and also study for the PPL ground exams.
Ground exams common subjects
- 010 Air Law - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 040 Human Performance - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 050 Meteorology - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 060 Navigation - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- 090 Communications - Aeroplane and Helicopter
- Exams specific to aircraft category (ie. they are different for helicopter or aeroplane PPL)
- 020 Aircraft General Knowledge - Aeroplane OR Helicopter
- 030 Flight Performance and Planning - Aeroplane OR Helicopter
- 070 Operational Procedures - Aeroplane OR Helicopter
- 081 Principles of Flight - Aeroplane only
- 082 Principles of Flight - Helicopter only
These exams are taken through the CAA e-exam system. You will need to purchase a set of AFE PPL Theory books or similar. We use AFE PPL for our Theory.
You will need several additional personal items, which may include kneeboard, headset, facemask and some schools require uniform to be worn.
During this semester, you will be moving forward more quickly with your flight training. The PPL is just the beginning and, once you have completed this licence, you should consider further ratings. Some students may begin their PPL flying in Semester 2.
During the summer you can accelerate your training by completing the hours building required to undertake further ratings. You may wish to complete your Night Rating. Multi-Engine Rating and/or IR(R) during this time. Some of our students will complete hours building abroad, in California, France, Cyprus, Florida, Poland etc.
September to March/June
You will begin this year with an ATPL theory course. Courses last between six and nine months and can be taken full-time at a school or by distance learning with on-site top-up.
Information on where you can sit the exams are provided on the CAA website.
There are 13 exams, which are:
- 010 Air Law
- 021 Aircraft General Knowledge – Airframe and Systems, Electrics, Power Plant and Emergency Equipment
- 022 Instrumentation
- 031 Mass & Balance
- 032 Performance – Aeroplanes
- 033 Flight Planning and Monitoring
- 040 Human Performance and Limitations
- 050 Meteorology
- 061 General Navigation
- 062 Radio Navigation
- 070 Operational Procedures
- 081 Principles of Flight – Aeroplanes
- 090 Communications
And for Helicopter ATPL:
- 034 Performance (Helicopter)
- 040 Human Performance and Limitations
- 082 Principles of Flight (Helicopter)
It is an intensive course, with a lot of material that will be new to you. It builds on the PPL theory and introduces many new topics. We recommend to all of our students that you ‘ring-fence’ this time as you will become completely absorbed by the studying during this period.
Some of our students do continue flying during this period and we recommend building your hours at weekends – it can be a fun way to relax after the stresses of the ATPL ground school week!
ATPL courses are usually split into 3 modules, with exams at the end of each module. Resits can be taken as needed.
We recommend planning for additional flying straight after your ATPL theory course. From the time our ATPL course ends, you will be able to complete further hours, multi-engine rating, IR, CPL, depending on where you are at with your training. We do not expect you to complete all of these in one summer!
Many ATPL theory courses start in the autumn and continue through to the summer. The exams must be completed in order for you to progress. Do allow time for exams and resits.
ATPL Ground School Options
In this year students will take up a place on an ATPL theory course. The course is either full-time attendance, or distance learning, often with some attendance weeks required. The courses last between 6- and 9-months full time and there are 13 exams to complete. You will have a personal tutor who will monitor your progress and work with you to deal with any issues at your flight school.
Please note that you cannot commence your ATPL theory course until your PPL is complete.
We have a number of schools who we are working with, however if you have another school you prefer, please talk to the Course Leader about this. Schools may change from time to time.
Choice of schools for hours building/additional ratings
In this year, students will choose which flight school to complete their hours building and/or additional ratings at. You will have a personal tutor and you will also have a Lecturer who will monitor your progress and work with you to deal with any issues at your flight school and give guidance on getting your licence.
All modules / flight training must be successfully passed before your degree may be issued.
What are the course entry requirements?
A typical offer will require a UCAS tariff score of: 104 - 128
You also need at least two A-levels and a GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4.
Mature students with non-standard qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.
All students will require at a minimum a Class II Medical in order to undertake their PPL solo, those students wishing to undertake Commercial training will need to gain a Class I Medical prior to enrolling with their selected ATO. Further information on the requirements of Class I and II Medicals, including approved AME's, can be found on the CAA website.
For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.
This module map provides a list of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.
Year 1 Modules
Developments of the Air Transport Sector
Professional Skills and Development
Air Transport - Security and Safety
Management, Leadership and Change
Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Practical Training (H)
Private Pilot Licence (PPLH) Theory
Structure of the Air Transport Industry
Airline Crisis and Continuity Management
Year 2 Modules
Aircraft General Knowledge
Aircraft Performance and Planning
Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) (optional)
Human Performance and Limitations
Principles of Flight: Aeroplanes
Year 3 Modules
Aviation Finance and Economics
Aviation in the Global Context
Business and Enterprise (optional)
Human Factors as a Fundamental Concept in Aviation Safety
Research Project (optional)
How much does it cost
UK students receiving student loan via Student Finance, Academic Year 2021-2022
- Year 1: £9,250
- Year 2: £9,250 (bursary of £7,250)
- Year 3: £9,250
International, Academic Year 2021-2022
- Year 1: £13,750
- Year 2: £13,750
- Year 3: £2,000
Tuition fees breakdown
What are my career prospects?
Throughout your time with us we’ll support you on the route to your chosen career. We’ll help you to develop crucial skills, encouraging you to become enterprising, employable and good leaders. We also help you find employment after graduation. Have a look at our Careers and Employability pages to find out more.
Having finished this programme of study and all the associated air-training modules, you’ll be the proud owner of a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence and a frozen ATPL(H). You’ll be fully qualified to find employment as a helicopter pilot and once you meet the relevant professional experience criteria, the ‘frozen’ prefix will be dropped.
You’ll also have developed a wider understanding of the airline business and be able to pursue a variety of different careers within the aviation industry.
Graduates can also choose to stay at Bucks and study for a postgraduate course, such as our MSc Aviation Security, MSc International Aviation Regulation and Law, MSc Aviation Operations and Management, MSc International Aviation Regulation and Law or MSc Aviation Organisational Resilience.