Are you in the market for a corporate helicopter, private helicopter, the cheapest helicopter price, or luxury helicopter? Then you’ll want to know “How much does a helicopter cost?” In this article, we’ll answer the question, “How much does a helicopter cost?” in terms of price and upkeep. Next, we’ll touch on how to finance a helicopter and four examples of private helicopter costs. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions and provide concluding remarks about the cost of owning a helicopter. So How Much Does A Helicopter Cost To Run?
How Much Does a Helicopter Cost?
There is no doubt about it: Helicopters are a convenient form of point-to-point transportation. Naturally, a private helicopter ride is much faster than driving, especially between cities and airports. Furthermore, when you choose a luxury helicopter as your personal or business helicopter, you travel in style. Surprisingly, private helicopter cost profiles can start quite low – below $2 million even. However, a luxury helicopter’s price can quickly ascend to tens of millions. Read on to learn more about business helicopter price points and all-in private helicopter costs.
Questions to Ask
To know how much to budget for the initial purchase of a helicopter, you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much helicopter do I need?
Most helicopters have either one or two engines. Logically, two-engine helicopters are bigger, with more generous cabins, better performance, and superior weather capabilities. If traveling recreationally with family and friends, a single-engine helicopter can suffice. A twin-engine model might make a better choice for a business helicopter. Twin-engine helicopters are larger and faster, with substantially more passenger and cargo space and Instrument Flight Rules capability.
2. What are the particulars to research?
The primary considerations include:
- Model year
- Optional equipment
- Total flying time
- Maintenance status
Of course, when it comes to price, a new model will cost more than the same model used. Furthermore, the overall condition of a used helicopter will greatly impact the price. Specifically, you need to know whether it needs repairs, updates, and cosmetic treatments. When examining a used helicopter, make sure to always review the damage and repair history report. Also, find out if the used helicopter is in active use or sitting in mothballs. Additionally, identify which engine and airframe service centers will maintain your unit.
Making Equitable Comparisons
While price is important, it’s equally important to make equitable comparisons among different models. Clearly, price can be misleading if you don’t understand the condition and configuration of each purchase candidate. Seemingly, you’ll need an analytical methodology to help you compare business helicopters and their components. This includes reviewing a pre-owned unit’s full maintenance tracking report, not just the summary. Use a spreadsheet to calculate each model’s required maintenance, including conducting full inspections, and replacing components. Alternatively, use one of the available direct maintenance cost software programs that support your analytical methodology. And of course, you can always hire a pro!
If you’re interested, here’s a simple but helpful guide to helicopter inspections, as well as a sample inspection checklist for rotary-wing aircraft.
Helicopter Purchase Price and Upfront Costs
The price of helicopters can range from under $1 million to more than $50 million. Your bid should take into account the results of your analysis, including:
- Assessment of installed equipment and component values
- New or replacement component costs
- Cost of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO)
- Cost of refurbishing, reconfiguring, and relocating the helicopter
- Third-party valuation assessments and comparisons
- Subjective feelings about each candidate helicopter
Of course, you might want to customize and upgrade your luxury helicopter, whether a single-engine or a multi-engine. But it’s essential that you bring the condition of a used helicopter up to date with modern components/systems.
Helicopter Purchase Agreement (HPA)
Normally, you negotiate a favorable helicopter price with the seller and sign a detailed HPA, which might run 50+ pages. If you’re interested, here is a simple sample aircraft purchase agreement. For example, your initial costs can include:
- Retaining a purchasing agent
- Professional HPA negotiation support from a sales broker and/or aviation attorney
- Pre-purchase physical inspection and review of records, documents, and logbooks. Must include an engine borescope inspection.
- Repairing, refurbishing, reconfiguring, and upgrading the unit, including the cost of optional add-on equipment
- Flight tests
- Purchase price
- Professional helicopter relocation
- Registration, licenses, permits, and insurance
- Prepaid hangar/storage arrangements
- Pre-paid service and maintenance contracts
- If necessary, establishing a contract with a pilot or pilot service. Alternatively, a larger company might hire a pilot as an employee
- Closing costs, including down payment, origination fees, broker’s fees, title search, escrow service, legal fees, taxes, and other costs
Obviously, for a new unit, many of these costs will be either unneeded or wrapped into the purchase price. However, you should figure separate costs when purchasing a used helicopter. The HPA and closing documents will enumerate some of these costs. Other costs involve separate agreements with third-parties.
Cost to Operate a Helicopter
In order to fully understand “How much does a helicopter cost?”, you need to know the on-going costs of owning a helicopter. For example, these costs include:
Pilot costs if you don’t act as the pilot yourself
Routine maintenance and repair costs, including replacement parts. This also includes responses to airworthiness directives, service bulletins, and service letters.
Fuel and oil
Ongoing insurance costs
Ongoing hangar/storage costs
Periodic updates and upgrades
Some of these costs vary by the number of service miles you log. Others are fixed costs even if you seldom use the aircraft.
Annual Cost of Owning a Helicopter
In addition to the ongoing costs of using and maintaining your helicopter, you must also budget debt service costs. For a helicopter mortgage, look for a term of up to 10 years along with an interest rate in the range of 5% to 7% depending on your credit score of course. You can also arrange a sale leaseback if you desire to lease a helicopter as opposed to owning a helicopter. That completes our general breakdown of “How much does a helicopter cost?”. Read on for information concerning helicopter financing and specific examples for “How much does a helicopter cost?”.
Financing for a Luxury Helicopter
Assets America® is proud to offer helicopter financing for units costing $10 million and more. We can offer a simple mortgage or any other arrangement you require. We also provide refinancing, including sale leasebacks and mezzanine loans. Without a doubt, our network of private lenders and banks will provide you with competitive terms quickly and efficiently. Frankly, when you finance with us, the typical delays that many banks impose upon applicants can be a thing of the past.
How Much Does A Helicopter Cost To Run
Cost of Owning a Hermès EC135
Airbus produces the EC135 helicopter, available as the Hermes EC135, EC135 T3 and EC135 T2e. The first unit went into operation in 1996, and approximately 1,200 units currently fly. Typically, EC135 buyers include airborne law enforcement, executives, charter services, search and rescue operations, offshore operators, and EMS. The EC135 is a twin-engine unit with a starting list price of approximately $4.2 million, before upgrades and add-ons that is. The maximum range is 342 nautical miles, and it can reach a speed of 155 knots. The EC135 weighs in at 3,208 pounds empty and 6,415 pounds fully loaded. In addition, it can accommodate up to seven passengers plus a pilot. Finally, the typical delivery time for a new EC135 is only three to five days.
Cost of Owning a Eurocopter Mercedes-Benz EC145
This twin-engine midsize helicopter is a French import selling for $5.5 million. It also packs 738 horsepower capable of a top speed of 133 knots and a range of 367 nautical miles. The EC145 can operate at a ceiling of 17,200 feet with a 1,600 feet/minute rate of climb. It tips the scales at 3,951 pounds and can lift off at up to 7,903 pounds. This multi-purpose copter can seat 11 and features advanced avionics, electrical systems, and cockpit designs. It is the quietest helicopter in its class with a roomy cabin, easy loading capability, and a flat floor. Furthermore, the EC145 offers many options, including a rescue hoist, emergency floats, cargo hook and SX16 searchlight.
Cost of Owning a Sikorsky S-76D
The venerable Sikorsky S-76 comes in the D variation with two Pratt & Whitney engines packing 1,050 hp. Additionally, it features a Thales Topdeck avionics suite, active vibration control and composite rotors. This helicopter ranges in price from $9.1 to $15 million for this model, capable of 155 knots at 15,000 feet. It has a travel range of 441 nautical miles and can seat 12. The 205-cubic-foot cabin measures 7.91 x 6.33 x 4.43 feet, with an exterior length of 52.49 feet.
Video: Sikorsky S-76D Luxurious Helicopter For Business Travels
Cost of Owning an AgustaWestland AW101 VVIP
This luxury helicopter features ample space and an upscale cabin, exactly as you would expect for a price of $21 million per helicopter! It also has a range of 810 nautical miles at 150 knots, powered by twin turbine engines. Specifically, the craft is approximately 75 long, 22 feet wide, with a maximum gross weight is 34,390 pounds. The glass cockpit features NVG-compatible avionics. The service ceiling on this unit is 15,000 feet. The AW101 operates in both military and civilian arenas, including the armed forces of the UK, Italy, and Denmark. As a business helicopter, it is an upscale transporter of up to 25 VIPs and passengers, plus two-to-four crew. Finally, the AW101 can stay aloft for up to 6 hours, 50 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a helicopter cost to fly in per hour?
On average, you can expect to pay $150 to $200 per hour to take flying lessons in a helicopter. However, a police helicopter costs on average about $400/hour to fly. Naturally, larger choppers cost more to fly.
What are some pros and cons of owning a corporate helicopter?
The biggest pro of owning a corporate helicopter is convenience. In other words, you can go where you want with minimal notice. However, you face a high private helicopter cost to own one and it may not be cost-effective.
Is it better to lease or own a luxury helicopter?
The answer depends entirely upon how frequently you use the helicopter. If you need one occasionally, then it’s far cheaper and easier to charter a helicopter or use a scheduled service. Owning a luxury helicopter makes sense if you’re very wealthy and if you live far off the beaten path.
What is a sale leaseback?
A sale leaseback is an arrangement where you sell an asset and then lease it back from the buyer. You can refinance a helicopter by executing a sale leaseback transaction. Importantly, this type of transaction can remove the helicopter from your balance sheet and give you up to 100% financing. You should check with your CPA for further verification.
Helicopter Loans and Lending
Helicopters are useful in many situations. A helicopter price is lower than that of a corporate jet, and in many ways the chopper is more versatile. If you are interested in owning a helicopter with a value of $10 million or greater, then please contact us at Assets America®. We can also arrange a sale leaseback if you prefer to lease your aircraft/helicopter.
What is the most dangerous helicopter?
According to various sources, some of the world’s best, and most dangerous, attack helicopters include, but are not limited to:
- The Russian Ka-52 “Alligator”
- The American AH-64 “Apache”
- The Russian Mi-28N “Havoc”
- The European Eurocopter (Airbus) Tiger
- The Chinese CAIC Z-10
- The Italian/Turkish TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK
- The Russian Mi-24 Hind
- The American AH-1Z Viper
What is the newest attack helicopter?
We’ll talk more about the “Defiant” a little later in this article, so for now, we’ll focus on the “RAIDER”.
Touted as a “next-generation light tactical prototype helicopter”, the RAIDER has been designed to carry up to six personnel, and carries a range of external weapons that will “redefine helicopter flight during the 21st century”.
This chopper is based on the Sikorsky’s Collier Award-winning X2 Technology, and features advances in fly-by-wire, flight controls, vehicle management systems, and systems integration.
Such innovations enable the “RAIDER” to operate at high speeds and also maintain low-speed handling qualities and maneuverability of conventional single main rotor helicopters. The prototype has been clocked at 222 knots (407 km/h) and can operate at a ceiling of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).
Designed to meet and exceed the requirements of the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), the “RAIDER” could potentially be applied to U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps missions.
According to Lockheed Martin, “the X2 Technology at the heart of the Raider helicopter is scalable to a variety of military missions including light assault, light attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue, and unmanned applications.”
What are some of the most interesting helicopters?
And so, without further ado, here are some of the most interesting helicopters ever designed. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is one of a kind
One of the most iconic helicopters of all time is the Boeing CH-47 Chinook. First flown in 1961, this tandem rotor helicopter is a true workhorse of the skies.
Designed as a heavy-lifter chopper, each of its 60-foot (18.3 m) rotor blades rotate in opposite directions, providing counter-acting torque and eliminating the need for a tail rotor.
The Chinook is specially designed to be able to independently adjust each rotor to enable it to adapt to the weight of different cargos. She was a development of the older Model 107 (CH-46) and saw service in Vietnam transporting troops, heavy artillery, and other supplies where needed.
Since then, this helicopter has proved to be an invaluable asset to many militaries around the world. She also happens to hold the record as the third-fastest chopper around — the lastest CH-47F can reach a top speed of just over 195 mph (315 km per hour).
2. The Sikorsky H-60 “Black Hawk” Helicopter is an icon of American airpower
First flown in 1974, the Sikorsky H-60 “Black Hawk” is another iconic helicopter. It also happens to be a pretty mean looking machine. Named after a Native American warrior, it officially entered service in 1979 as the U.S. Army’s latest assault/utility chopper.
Since then, more than 4,000 units have been produced and they operate for various armed forces around the world including Japan, Turkey, Israel, and Columbia, to name but a few. The helicopter became world-famous after the 2001 blockbuster film “Black Hawk Down”.
3. The Russian Mil Mi-24 “Hind” is possibly one of the best military helicopters ever built
Built during the Soviet-era, the Mil Mi-24 “Hind” is one of the coolest-looking helicopters ever built. She was designed to meet the Soviet requirement for a heavily armed and armored transporter helicopter and has become one of the most iconic choppers of all time.
The “Hind” first flew in 1969 and entered service in 1972. It went on to serve in various combat arenas over the following decades. The Mil Mi-24 is powered by 2 Isotov TV3-117 series turbine engines, each pumping out an incredible 2,200 hp.
Her armaments can vary, but typically a “Hind” is equipped with a four-barreled 12.7mm Yakushev-Borzov Yak-B gatling gun improved through the installation of a 30mm GSh-30K twin-barrel, fixed cannon. Depending on mission needs, she can be fitted with a 23mm GSh-23L cannon in a powered turret. She can also be armed with machine gun pods, anti-tank missiles, and rocket pods.
4. The Bell 222A was the helicopter used in Airwolf
The Bell 222A might seem like an odd choice, given some of the earlier listings, but bear with us. For any American child of the 1980s, the Bell 222A is probably one of the most recognizable helicopters of all for one reason — It was the helicopter used in the highly-popular series Airwolf.
It is sleek, dare we say sexy, and really is a lovely-looking helicopter. Designed for civilian use, the Bell 222A is powered by 2 Honeywell LTS-1010-650 engines. This helicopter has a range of 230 nautical miles (425 km) and a service ceiling of 12,800 feet (3,900 mt). It can carry a crew of 2 and has seating occupancy for up to 5 passengers.
5. The Soviet V-12 is often cited as the biggest helicopter to ever have been built
The Soviet-era Mil V-12 (Mi-12) is probably the world’s biggest-ever helicopter. Known to NATO as “Homer”, this helicopter was designed, among other things, to transport ICBMs.
Unfortunately for the V-12, by the time it was ready for service, its main purpose was redundant and it never went into production. The idea behind this monster-chopper was to transport missiles in secret to remote bases wherever and whenever needed.
She first flew in 1968, and was longer than a Boeing 737 and could carry more people. It could also carry somewhere in the region of 88,000 pounds (almost 40,000 kg) of cargo.
As US satellites become more advanced, and ICBMs became lighter, the Soviets found it more cost-effective to transport them by truck instead.
6. The Focke-Wulf FW-61 was the world’s first
First taking to the air in 1936, the Focke-Wulf FW-61 is generally regarded as the world’s first-ever helicopter. Designs for it began in the early 1930s and were inspired by autogyros developed by the British company Cierva Autogiro.
A working model was produced in the mid-1930s, exploring the use of twin-rotors with articulated rotor blades. Each rotor had three blades that employed cyclic pitch — a key feature of helicopter control.
Two full-scale prototypes were built and showcased but the vehicle never went into production. No known originals exist today, but a replica can be found on display a the Hubschraubermuseum in Bückeburg, Germany.
7. The Bell 47 was the first helicopter certified for civilian use
First taking to the air in 1945, the Bell 47 was the first helicopter ever certified for use by civilians. The chopper became a workhorse of the Korean war and beyond, and was made famous by the T.V. series M.A.S.H.
Based on the design for the earlier Bell Model 30, the Bell 47 was first approved for civil use by the CAA in 1946. It was powered by a single Lycoming six-cylinder piston engine, and 18 variants of the helicopter were designed and built over the years.
Today, thousands of them are still airworthy.
8. The Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne could have been an excellent helicopter
Another fascinating helicopter is the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne. Widely considered to have been a masterful piece of helicopter design, it never actually saw combat.
A revolutionary attack helicopter, it was once thought that it would revolutionize warfare forever. Sadly that was never to be.
She was developed to meet the United States Army’s desire for an advanced helicopter and was born out of a ten-year contract for Lockheed to prototype choppers. It made its first flight in 1967 and proved to have impressive performance and power. It had a top speed of somewhere in the region of just over 244 mph (394 km/h) and could be armed with an XM-140 30 mm cannon, various anti-tank missiles, and missile pods.
A fatal crash, technical issues, excessive weight, and cost overruns, as well as a change in military planning, eventually led to the program being canceled.
9. The Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant is another very fast helicopter
On the cards to replace the aging UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, the SB-1 Defiant is one hell of a helicopter. Currently in its prototype stage, the SB-1 Defiant recently hit a major speed milestone by reaching 236 mph (380 km/h).
A compound coaxial helicopter, this impressive speed was made using only 50% of the chopper’s potential power. In the following months, it is hoped to really push the helicopter to its limits.
Its manufacturers are confident it should be able to reach a speed of 290 mph (466km/h). This is well above the U.S. Army’s cruise speed requirements for its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. The Defiant is currently in competition with Bell’s new V-2380 Valor advanced tiltrotor, which has reached eye-watering speeds of 345 mph (555 km/h).
10. The first jet-powered helicopter was the Aerospatiale SA-313 Alouette II
Taking its first flight in 1955, the Aerospatiale SA-313 is a very interesting helicopter indeed. Developed by the then French state-owned Sud Aviation, various rotary designs were trialed before settling on the design used in the SA-313.
Although a very capable and fast helicopter, Sud Aviation decided to include a single shaft turbine from another design, the X.301G. This resulted in the Alouette II becoming the world’s first production jet-powered helicopter.
Adding to this interesting design choice, the helicopter immediately began setting records. It managed to reach an altitude of 26,392 feet (8 km) in June of 1956, when it was used to perform a mountain rescue in the Alps.
The helicopter would go on to serve in many armed forces around the world, and more than 1,500 were built. It also became the first helicopter to be equipped with anti-tank munitions.
11. The Bell AH-1 Cobra was the world’s first dedicated attack helicopter
Nothing symbolizes pure aggression more than this, first-ever dedicated attack helicopter. The Bell AH-1 Cobra first flew in 1965 and would set the standard for all attack helicopters that would follow.
It was born out of the U.S. Army’s desire for a heavily armored and fast helicopter as part of its Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFS). With its narrow forward fuselage, stub wings, and fighter jet-like stepped-up tandem seating, it was like nothing ever seen before.
Quite a few of its components were borrowed from the UH-1 Huey, like its main rotor, engine, and tail boom. The “Cobra” would first see action in the 1968 Tet offensive, where it performed perfectly.
The AH-1 is still in service for the U.S. Marine Corps today along with its younger sibling the Viper.
12. Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8 is the first fully autonomous helicopter
The Northrop Grumman MQ-8 first flew in 2002, and it is the first autonomous helicopter deployed en masse. First used aboard the US Navy frigate, McInerney, the MQ-8 is an autonomous, unmanned, rotary-wing scout aircraft.
Arising from the need to replace the aging RQ-2 Pioneer fixed-wing UAV, the Navy required similar capabilities in a larger, unmanned, vertical takeoff launch and recovery scout. The Navy chose Northrop Grumman’s design, as it met the Navy’s need for range, endurance, and payload (125 NM/3 hours/200 lbs).
The MQ-8, also known as the Fire Scout/Sea Scout, has seen action in Afghanistan and Africa, and been launched from Frigates, Littoral Combat Ships, and Coast Guard cutters. A single Fire Scout set a world record in 2012 when it provided intelligence, surveillance, recon (ISR) coverage for 24-hours over the course of ten flights.
13. The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”) is one of the most iconic of all time
First flying in 1956, the Bell UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”) is probably one of the world’s best-known helicopters. Cementing its place in history during the Vietnam war, when people think of helicopters, the “Huey” is probably the first to spring to mind.
It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 16,000 military (UH-1Y) and civilian (Bell 412) craft have been built to date, and it is still in production.
Initially called the Bell 204, this two-blade main rotor, single shaft turbine-powered helicopter was designed to meet the Army’s need for a medical evacuation/instrument trainer/general utility helicopter.
While officially called the “Iroquois”, the moniker “Huey” came from its early HU-1 designation. Throughout its history, the “Huey” has seen action in many parts of the world, performing firefighting missions, humanitarian aid efforts, research operations, and search and rescue duties.
14. The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is awesome
First flying in the late-1980s and entering service in 2007, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is another very interesting helicopter. Combining the vertical lift capabilities of a helicopter, with the fast-cruise forward flight efficiencies of a fixed-wing turboprop aircraft, the V-22 Osprey officially went into development in the mid-1980s.
By 1989, six prototypes had been built, but the program had a serious setback in the early-1990s when the fourth prototype crashed. The Osprey was approved for full production in 2005, and by 2012, between 24 to 48 were being built each year.
The V-22 has greater speed, range, and lift capability over more conventional helicopters, and can operate easily from ships. This craft is very versatile and carries troops, supplies, weapons, and vehicles wherever they are needed.
It comes armed with 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine guns and can have a 7.62 mm minigun mounted on its ramp. Plans are in place to put a Gatling gun in the nose of future models, as well as, adding the capacity to carry air-to-ground missile launchers.
The Osprey has seen action all over the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also regularly used for humanitarian missions and has been used in Haiti and Nepal.
15. The Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe is a very funny looking helicopter
Another interesting, but perhaps lesser-known helicopter is the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe. Also known as the Skycrane or flying insect, the CH-54 was a heavy load cargo carrier.
First entering service in 1962, its unusual design made it a very versatile helicopter that had various uses, including recovery, rescue, infantry transport, medical supply, and even armored transport operations.
Powered by a pair of Pratt and Whitney T73-P-700 turboshaft engines, the helicopter also came with a crane in the center of its fuselage. The helicopter cut its teeth in the Vietnam war and was widely considered one of the safest to fly.
It was capable of transporting heavy ground vehicles, as well as containers, and parts for engineering projects like bridges and fortifications with its maximum payload of 12 tonnes. The Skycrane was officially retired from military service in 1991, but continues to be used for government and civilian operations.