Emergency Services

The emergency services routinely utilise aircraft for their operations. Police helicopters (NPAS), the Air Ambulance and aerial firefighting aircraft to name a few.

Airborne services allow for a quick and effective response to a range of emergencies, with the ability to reach remote areas and combine resources efficiently. Many emergency service operations such as the Air Ambulance rely on charitable donations to maintain their service to the public.

Where do these emergency services operate from?

Airborne emergency services operate from a wide range of locations in countries all over the world. A base is required for the aircraft and crew, and this can be anywhere from a privately owned aerodrome to larger airports.

Helicopters can operate from significantly smaller areas than their fixed-wing counterparts and are therefore often the superior choice for rescue operations. Fixed-wing aircraft are often used in firefighting scenarios as they have greater capability for carrying extinguishing agents, such as vast volumes of water.

The usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) such as drones in emergency service settings is likely to become of greater benefit as new and improved technology emerges.

How can you get involved?

The common types of aircraft used in emergency service operations are helicopters, so gaining your private helicopter licence – PPL (H) – would likely be the first sensible step, followed by the commercial helicopter licence – CPL (H).

Similarly, should the emergency work be utilising a fixed-wing aircraft a full commercial licence – CPL (A) – would need to be obtained prior to applying for the job. Ground crew and operations personnel are also required to keep these services running – plus aircraft engineers and admin roles.

See more on the CAA web site about helicopter licences and aeroplane licences.

How can you progress in this career?

There are many different types of aircraft used in airborne emergency service operations so a pilot could gain ‘ratings’ on a wide variety, gaining invaluable experience operating in complex environments. It might also be possible to transfer to work overseas.

Good to know…

  • Prince William worked as an air ambulance pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) between March 2015 and July 2017, where he flew Helicopter Emergency Medical Service missions.
  • Common types of helicopters used in emergency service missions are the MD902 helicopter and the Leonardo AW169 helicopter.