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Come fly with me

Most people dream about being able to fly, but only a lucky few turn that dream into reality. Find out what it's like to study aviation and become a helicopter pilot with TAFE Queensland. 

By TAFE Queensland

Townsville Helicopters partnership

TAFE Queensland has partnered with Townsville Helicopters to deliver the Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Helicopter) (AVI50315 | 092398M). Successful completion of the six-month program will qualify you to work as a commercial helicopter pilot.

Townsville Helicopters is a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) authorised pilot training facility, so you can be confident you're receiving the highest standard of aviation training. As the first civilian helicopter training facility in Townsville, their teachers have a wealth of experience in commercial helicopter operations and are passionate about sharing their knowledge with you. 

Why study in Townsville 

While it may not seem like an obvious choice, Townsville is the perfect training ground for budding helicopter pilots. Training is delivered at the Townsville Airport with theory training and exams held onsite in a self-contained hanger. With the tarmac directly outside the hanger doors, taking off for your flight training couldn't be easier. 

Townsville Airport is less congested than capital city airports making it even easier to get the required 109 flight hours under your belt. Townsville also gives you the chance to gain valuable experience operating in both Class C and Class G airspace — otherwise known as controlled and non-controlled airspace.

There are also a number of micro training areas nearby including open space, confined areas, city scapes, rural areas, mountains, valleys, coastlines, open water, saltpans and coastal swamps. All of this terrain is located just five to 10 minutes from the tarmac, meaning no lengthy transit times for you.

As an added bonus, Townsville experiences an average of 320 sunshine days a year, so your training is rarely impacted by bad weather.

What you'll study

The great thing about studying aviation at TAFE Queensland is that you don't need any prior flight experience or logged hours in order to enrol in the diploma program. But you won't have to wait long to get started — students usually take to the skies with an instructor within the first two weeks of their studies. And as your skills progress, you will be flying solo before you know it. 

You'll learn from highly-experienced flight instructors in a small group setting of no more than 15 students, giving you plenty of one-on-one time with your trainers. Plus, to fast-track your studies the hanger is open every day with aircraft and instructors available seven days a week.

In our comprehensive aviation program you'll have the opportunity to communicate with air traffic control and fly in the same zone as general, emergency and defence aircraft. You may also be involved in commercial aviation operations to increase your industry exposure. Finally, in order to gain a greater understanding of the logistics surrounding slinging operations and loading and unloading passengers, you may be invited to gain hands-on ground crew experience.

Job outlook

Flying comes with a strong sense of freedom and adventure, offering you a unique perspective not many people get to see. As such, helicopter pilots enjoy a high rate of job satisfaction. The job outlook for qualified helicopter pilots is strong, with graduates going on to become flight instructors or flying in operations such as scenic flights, mustering, and general charter - just to name a few.


Our helicopter pilot course offers you the opportunity to train in a range of aircraft types including a Robinson R22, Robinson R44, and a turbine-powered helicopter. As part of your studies you can gain experience in two separate helicopters, allowing you to fly more than one type of aircraft and making you highly desirable to future employers.

Robinson 22

The Robinson 22 is a well-rounded flight training machine with a piston engine and two-seat capacity. The R22 is used extensively in Australia for mustering activities. 


This is a versatile piston engine aircraft with a four-seat capacity. The R44s are typically used by charter operators to transport passengers and are also used for aerial slinging and surveying. Graduates who are qualified to fly an R44 are in high demand across Australia and the world.


The AS350 Eurocopter, commonly referred to as a 'squirrel', is a turbine-powered helicopter with a six-seat capacity. It is considered a high-end, luxury aircraft and has strong airwork capability. It is used by niche markets and the private sector for power line stringing, fire bombing, medical responses, charter work, and tourism purposes. Experienced helicopter pilots seek training in the squirrel to upskill and increase their employment opportunities.  

If you want a career where you can soar, then get in touch today and see where TAFE can take you. 

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