While most people are used to cars and other road vehicles, helicopters are mostly known to be exclusive to the rich and famous only. It is because they can be expensive, and only millionaires or government agencies can afford to buy and fly them.
But several models are cheaper, making them available even for those with a limited budget. While the average helicopter comes with a price of $1,500,000, some of them are selling for as little as $50,000.
The huge price difference in helicopters makes at least one model available for every budget. Their cost will increase as they grow in size and feature more options. Regardless of which option you’re going for, we will discuss 6 costs of buying and owning a personal helicopter.
The biggest hidden costs of buying and owning a personal helicopter are crew salaries and insurance. Other hidden costs are represented by fuel and miscellaneous fees, such as hangar and airport landing fees.
In this article, we’ll also talk about the following topics:
- How much does a personal helicopter cost to buy?
- 6 costs of owning a helicopter
- Cheap, small private helicopter price list
- Where to find used small, cheap, or luxurious helicopters for sale
- Cost of renting a helicopter
How much does a personal helicopter cost to buy?
Whether you are in Florida or California, there is a helicopter for sale in every state in the country. You can find lots of models with a wide price range. The most expensive ones can reach up to $27,000,000, whereas a single blade can cost as much as $30,000.
The aviation industry has strict safety standards for commercial airliners and personal helicopters. Every component is made with high-quality materials. These parts are calibrated and tested for optimal operation and maximum safety.
Because these parts undergo extensive testing, their price increases significantly. The final price can easily reach 7 figures when added together to build the aircraft itself. For the same capacity, helicopters are often more expensive than airplanes.
On average, you should expect to pay $1,500,000 to purchase a helicopter. Depending on your own needs, this price might significantly increase or reduce down to 5 figures.
Further down, we’ll look at the 6 costs of owning a helicopter:
- The model
- The fuel
- Miscellaneous fees
6 costs of owning a helicopter
While they come with a significant price tag, the investment into such an aircraft does not stop once you purchase it. Over time, you will need to allocate a part of your budget towards the maintenance and repair of your new purchase. Let’s take a look at the 6 costs of owning a helicopter.
Because you are the helicopter owner, you are responsible for everything that happens to your property. Getting insurance that will cover the immense costs associated with repairs and medical care is essential.
Generally, standard insurance prices range between 1 and 2 million dollars. For a small helicopter, you can expect to pay between $80 to $120. This insurance will cover any third-party injuries or property damage.
- Helicopter model
The price of a helicopter depends on several factors such as your needs or whether you want to buy them new or used. The R-22 model we discussed above sells for $250,000, but you can always find second-hand ones going for $100,000.
The Airbus H155 is an option for those who value luxury the most. They are used for transporting VIPs and can carry up to 13 passengers. However, the price of a new H155 is $10,000,000, but you can always find used ones for $4,000,000.
Because they are complex machines made with high-quality materials, helicopters can be expensive to manufacture and design. That is why the price for these aircraft is also higher, but it is something worth paying for.
The type of fuel the helicopter takes and the size of its tank are some of the factors that determine how much you will spend on the fuel. Helicopters can either be turbine-powered or piston-powered. They both run on different fuels and will have different prices.
A small aircraft will use between 6 to 16 gallons of fuel per hour. Larger and heavier models will consume above 20 gallons of fuel in an hour. While these are minimum values, remember that heavy helicopters can sometimes use hundreds of gallons of fuel in an hour.
- Maintenance & Repair
While owning a car will cost you only $0.09/mile for maintenance, helicopters get a lot more expensive. While your vehicle can be taken to the nearest auto repair shop for an inspection and quick repair, helicopters are heavy-duty and need special maintenance.
The engine and the rotor systems are complex and require strict inspection at specific intervals. Therefore, unexpected maintenance and parts replacement costs can contribute to the cost of owning a helicopter. In general, you should expect to pay several thousand dollars a year.
- Miscellaneous fees
You should consider additional costs, including the registration fee or the safety management costs. Remember that you have to store your helicopter somewhere, and the driveway of your house might not be the best idea.
You will have to pay hangar fees and airport landing fees, which differ from airport to airport. Your pilot might also request specific navigation and communication hardware or even software subscriptions that will increase your monthly cost.
- Crew salary
If you have a license and you will fly the aircraft yourself, then this cost does not apply to you. But for those that are not able to operate an aircraft, hiring a pilot and crew is necessary. A pilot receives approximately $94,000 a year, but this pay can depend on several factors.
Private companies transporting business executives or celebrities will have to pay more for their crew. This cost is significantly reduced if you run small operations such as helicopter tours.
Cheap, small private helicopter price list
While they are more expensive than some private jets, helicopters can also be cheap. If you are wondering about the cheapest helicopters on the market, we have you covered with the best models we could find.
Brantly B-2 – $100,000
This model might not be as performant and complex as those you might be used to, but it will still get the job done. The main advantage of this aircraft is its price, which can be considered quite cheap compared to other models.
The US Army wanted a new light helicopter in 1946, so they developed the Brantly B-2. Lower specs are used, and there are 330 models produced since 1958.
HeliWhale Afalina – $120,000
It is new and modern as production started recently in 2016. Many people believe this private aircraft is the world’s cheapest, as it is easy to maintain and operate. This company created this 2-seater with a special design which quickly appealed to the public.
Over time, they grew in popularity, and more and more orders came in. People were ordering the Afalina for under $120,000, which is quite a favorable deal for the value. With a range of 470 miles, this 2-person helicopter can reach speeds up to 120 mph.
- Capacity: 2.
- Crew: 1.
- Empty weight: 595 lb
- Height: 9 ft 2 in
- Length: 23 ft 7 in
- Max takeoff weight: 1,102 lb
- Propellers: 6-bladed composite.
Robinson R22 – $328,000
The R22 was developed decades ago when the TV became popular. News crews worldwide demanded a low-cost helicopter they could use for filming. Still, they didn’t find any since there were almost no civilian-owned models since all of them were for military use.
Robinson paid attention to this demand and designed a small civilian helicopter with the ability to carry two people and several cameras in different positions. The R22 came out with better specifications than its competitors while selling at a lower price.
|Cruise speed||96 kn||110 mph||178 km/h|
|Disk loading||2.61 lb/sq ft||12.7 kg/m2|
|Never exceed speed||102 kn||117 mph||189 km/h|
|Range||209 nmi||241 mi||387 km|
|Rate of climb||1,200 ft/min||6.1 m/s|
|Service ceiling||14,000 ft||4,300 m|
Guimbal Cabri G2 – $350,000
Guimbal G2 is the perfect general aviation helicopter for training, which is why it is also among the smallest ones in the world. The small size does not represent its performance as well, as there is one of the most powerful piston engines fitted on this aircraft.
Lighter materials were used instead of cheaper and heavier ones. It ensures high performance for the G2 which can cruise at a top speed of 104 mph. With a range of 430 miles, this is the perfect choice for short trips in your area.
|Name||Guimbal Cabri G2|
|Engine||Lycoming O 360 J2A|
|High||2.50 m (2.37 m above rotor head)|
|Length (hull)||6.31 m|
|Length (overall)||8,05 m|
|Main rotor diameter||7.20 m|
|Main rotor speed||515 – 540 rpm|
|Tail rotor diameter||0.60 m|
|Take-off power||145 HP|
|Track width||1,60 m|
Enstrom F-28 – $360,000
The F-28 is mostly used as a general aviation helicopter or helicopter trainer. It is suitable for beginners, as it was one of the first models produced after they stopped being exclusive to the military.
While manufacturers started designing complex aircraft, Enstrom took the opportunity to design ultralight models that sell at an affordable price. Over time, the F-28 grew in popularity. More people placed orders for their first personal helicopter.
- Capacity: two passengers.
- Crew: one.
- Empty weight: 1,570 lb
- Height: 9 ft 0 in
- Length: 29 ft 3 in
- Max takeoff weight: 2,600 lb
Where to find used small, cheap, or luxurious helicopters for sale
Suppose you are a buyer and want to purchase small, cheap, or luxurious helicopters. In that case, you should go to AvBuyer. It is a global online marketplace.
Here you can buy and sell various aircraft, as this company offers a wide range of categories. These categories include private jets, helicopters, and even light aircraft.
They cover large regions across the world. They operate on all continents except Antarctica, so you can use their services whether you are in Asia or North America. Flying is possible worldwide nowadays, so global operation is a minimum standard. We are no longer bound by the limits of our environment.
This platform is designed to give you an easy-to-use service. The attractive interface will make browsing enjoyable for hours. The aircraft are grouped into categories that you can manually sort. This way, you can shop by region or by a specific model.
Besides being a marketplace, the company also offers hubs focused on engine maintenance and many other services. Users can benefit from a feature that analyses the difference between aircraft. It makes it easier for you to compare two different models.
With this feature, you can easily identify which one is the most suited for you. On their marketplace, you will find a wide range of products, and you are welcome regardless of how big or small your budget is.
Here are some other places to look for helicopters:
What’s your favorite platform to use?
Cost of renting a helicopter
While military Sikorsky or Apache helicopters might be out of your reach, you can still rent civilian helicopters, whether 2-seaters or 4-seaters. Purchasing one will make you its owner for as long as you want, giving you the freedom to fly whenever you need.
But renting a helicopter can be cheaper. Companies that offer these services are usually charging by the hour. When you are privately renting one, the operator will specify the conditions to you as these companies have their own rules.
The main factor that decides the rental cost is whether the aircraft has one or two engines. If you want to rent one to practice flying or take a scenic tour, a single-engine one is perfect and reduces the rental cost.
You should also consider the wet and dry rates. When the fuel cost is included in the hourly charge, this is considered a wet rate. But if the charter will offer their services at a dry rate, be advised that you will have to pay for the fuel separately.
|New York City||HeliFlite||(973) 273-7572|
|New York City||Liberty Helicopters||(212) 786-5751|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles Helicopters||(877) 335-7038|
|Los Angeles||Star Helicopters||(310) 355-1959|
|Las Vegas||Grand Canyon Helicopters||(702) 835-8477|
|Miami||Heli Air Miami||(786) 527-5674|
|San Francisco||San Francisco Helicopters||(650) 635-4500|
|Chicago||Heli Chicago||(847) 602-1888|
|Atlanta||Atlanta Helicopter Tours||(404) 500-6468|
|Dallas||Epic Helicopters||(214) 296-2289|
|Denver||Denver Helicopter Charters||(800) 615-9754|
The average operation cost for a little bird helicopter with a pilot included is approximately $300. The hourly rate can significantly increase for larger models with more passengers.
Most of the time, private jets are much cheaper to buy and operate than helicopters. It is because planes are produced in larger quantities and are more economical than helicopters. Still, the ownership cost might increase depending on the purpose.
As we mentioned above, the average price of a used helicopter is around $1,500,000. It can vary, as some ultralight used models can sell for $50,000. However, their condition is questionable. You should always remember to value safety and optimal conditions.
They are complex and require special parts that are not commonly found on the market. These parts also have a limited lifetime, so their value increases if they are in good condition. All of these parts are added together to form the helicopter, and the final price is justified.
One of the most expensive models is the Airbus H160 which starts at around $14,000,000. You can purchase this model both for business and private use. They are highly customizable, so you can create the ideal configuration when you place the order.
This aircraft can accommodate up to 10 passengers, which makes it ideal for small groups and special events. Additionally, they can be used for private tours and scenic flights above landmarks and famous areas.
The cheapest helicopter ever built is the Helicycle which sells for around $67,000. But this is a single-seater aircraft powered by a gas turbine. If you are looking for more than one seat, the cheapest 2-seater starts at around $180,000.
Suppose you want to accommodate your family and fly privately over short areas. In that case, the Robinson R44 Raven II is the best option which comes out of the factory at a price of $500,000. If you don’t mind getting a used one, you can find the same model selling for a lower price.