Offshore Helicopter Pilot Life

"Pilot Maddy shares the scoop on life as an offshore NHV helicopter pilot operating to oil rigs in the treacherous North Sea!"
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Offshore helicopter pilot Maddy Collins has been generous enough to give us an insight into her exciting daily life operating around oil rigs in the North Sea with NHV helicopters. It’s an absolute privilege to get behind the scenes access like this, so thank you for sharing Maddy!

Company, Position & Base?

AW139 Co-Pilot / FDM Gate Keeper at NHV’s Norwich base.

Can you summarise your job role as an offshore helicopter pilot?

 We operate daily flights to Oil & Gas platforms within the Southern North Sea, delivering offshore workers to and from their place of work.

 

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Example of a typical “day in the life” of an offshore helicopter pilot?

As a crew, we arrive at least 1 hour before our departure time, receiving weathers for both onshore and offshore, NOTAMS and payloads from the operations team. This then needs to be checked against our fuel requirements, making sure we will have sufficient fuel for the planned route, to be able to take the requested payloads. Once this is confirmed, fuel is ordered and we get our immersion suits and life jackets on and head out the aircraft. Following a walk around check by the pilot flying, we get the aircraft started, whilst completing preflight checks, passengers board rotors running. We then head out on the

planned route, speaking with ATC and also the offshore platforms on separate frequencies, for updates on weathers and any changes we need to be notified of. We typically have anything from 1 – 4 flights per day, averaging around 1hr15 minutes per flight, but all dependant on the area we are travelling to.

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Why did you choose this helicopter pilot job & what path did you take to get here?

Whilst completing my Multi-Engine Instrument Rating, I applied for as many jobs within the rotary world as I could, making contact with numerous organisations to get my CV out there. I was put in contact with NHV helicopters via my LinkedIn profile, interviewed and then 2 weeks later, started my first day with the company! I think the offshore industry is a great environment for low hour pilots like myself, having the opportunity to learn within a multi-crew environment, dealing with the challenges of offshore flying, North Sea weather and it is also a great way to build hours quickly.

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Maddy completing her instrument rating in an A109

2 favourite aspects of the offshore helicopter pilot job?

  • The people I work with, make an already great job, even better!
  • Having a cockpit for an office view each day.


Maddys office view

Most memorable day on the job as an offshore helicopter pilot?

Completing my initial offshore deck training, having never even seen an oil rig before, this was a surreal moment.

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Offshore Deck Landing

If you could go back to the start of your career as a helicopter pilot and do anything differently, what would it be and why?

Take every opportunity to meet people within the aviation industry, joining communities such as the BWPA and Elevate Her, to gain as much knowledge as you can from other people’s experiences and advice.

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Maddy gaining her CPL


Most commonly asked flying question you get at a party? What’s your answer?

My friends like to tell anyone that we meet that I am a pilot, most people think they are joking as I look so young 🤣

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AW139 Simulator


Would you recommend your career path to budding or current helicopter pilots right now? Any advice for them?

Yes definitely! The offshore industry is a great place for pilots to learn and gain valuable experience.


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Winter flight during PPL training


Rough flying hours per month with NHV helicopters

Around 40 hours. We usually average 500 hours per year.


What do you want your life to look like in 5 years time?

I hope to be within a command role, helping other pilots that are in the same position that I was when I first began my commercial flying career, joining NHV 2 years ago.

What does a “bad day at work” look like for you

A day sat waiting for weather to clear!

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What impact does the job have on your mental or physical health? 

Sometimes following a challenging, busy day at work, it is quite common for tiredness to takeover. Rest is very important. We are lucky to have strict ‘Flight Time / Duty Limitations’ that aim to reduce the effects of fatigue on crews.

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It’s extremely kind of Maddy to take the time to answer our questions, & for her transparency about her work & life. Thank you Maddy and we’re looking forward to hearing how your next few years as an offshore helicopter pilot pan out!

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To follow Maddys journey, check out her awesome instagram channel!

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