If you’re wondering how much a helicopter costs, it can vary from $250,000 to $30,000,000 for civil helicopters, all the way up to over $100 million for military helicopters.
An example of an inexpensive civil helicopter would be the Robinson R-22, and the very luxurious Airbus H-225 Super Puma would be on the other end of the scale, costing 30 million dollars.
Not only are helicopters expensive to purchase, but they also need to be maintained, insured, stored, possibly financed, and hiring pilot and crew doesn’t come cheap either.
Table of Contents
- 1 Price List of the Most Popular Helicopter Models
- 2 A Breakdown of the Costs of Owning a Helicopter
- 3 Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Helicopter
- 4 Where to Buy a Helicopter
- 5 Buying a New vs. Used Helicopter
Price List of the Most Popular Helicopter Models
The Bell 407 is a 4-blade, single-engine civilian helicopter that’s mostly used for rescue and utility services.
There are many variants and sub-variants of this chopper, but the base model has an up-front price tag of $2.7 million.
The EC135 is a 4-blade, twin-engine helicopter that was developed by Airbus.
It’s primarily used by European countries.
The EC 135 is used mostly for civilian roles like evacuating people from emergency situations, but it can also be used for military purposes.
The Eurocopter EC135 has a price tag of $3 million.
The AgustaWestland is a twin-engine lightweight helicopter that has 8 seats for passengers.
Built by the Italian manufacturer Leonardo S.p.A, it was designed as a multi-purpose aircraft, although nowadays, it’s mostly used for civilian purposes.
The cost of an AgustaWestland AW109 is $9 million.
A Breakdown of the Costs of Owning a Helicopter
The cost of owning a helicopter doesn’t just include the cost of purchasing the helicopter itself.
There are also maintenance, insurance and other expenses to consider.
Fuel & Oil
The amount of fuel a helicopter consumes depends on its size and type, with larger and more complex helicopters naturally requiring more fuel and costing more to refuel.
There are two kinds of helicopter fuel: aviation gasoline(100LL Avgas ) and aviation turbine fuel. (Avtur or ATF).
Piston-powered helicopters use aviation gasoline, while turbine-powered helicopters use aviation turbine fuel. Aviation turbine fuel is the less expensive of the two.
The average helicopter costs between $50 to $200 per flight hour to fuel.
Maintenance and Inspections
Helicopter maintenance is a very specialized profession, so it costs more than plane maintenance.
Legally, a helicopter owner is obligated to have vital components like the engine and rotor system inspected after specific intervals.
These maintenance costs can run up to several thousands of dollars each year.
Since helicopter ownership is so rare and there’s a general lack of market competition, helicopter insurance can be expensive.
A $1-$2 million general liability policy for a small helicopter that covers third-party personal injuries and property damages costs between $80 to $120 per month.
You may also have to take out additional insurances like Hull insurance or Passenger insurance.
There are specialized aviation loan companies that provide financing for helicopter purchases.
Loan terms depend on numerous factors like the helicopter’s model, type, intended use and the credit history of the intended owner.
Assuming an individual has the ideal eligibility criteria, they will receive an interest rate between 4 and 10 per cent, and they would be expected to pay back this loan in 10 years.
Helicopters are stored in hangars, heliports or helistops.
Helicopter hangar construction is expensive, and most places require you to check local building codes for clearance before you’re allowed to build one.
A helicopter hangar can cost upwards of $200,000 depending on the helicopter’s size and other requirements.
Pilot and Crew Salary (If Applicable)
Helicopters are more difficult to fly when compared to planes, and there are fewer fully-licensed helicopter pilots compared to plane pilots around the world, too.
The average helicopter pilot has a salary of $94,000.
Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Helicopter
A helicopter can be rented on a per-hour basis.
The rate will depend on where you’re flying in, the origin point of your flight, the type of helicopter you’re using, among other things.
On average, it can cost $350 to rent a small helicopter, but a larger one can cost $5,000 per flight hour.
Renting a helicopter instead of buying one is a good choice if you don’t intend to fly regularly.
Renting would also save you from paying helicopter maintenance costs.
Buying is usually more preferable if you intend to use the helicopter regularly.
Where to Buy a Helicopter
Helicopters can be purchased from individual brokers, online marketplaces, and if you represent a large organization, you can contact a helicopter manufacturer and place an order with them directly.
Online marketplaces are popular these days for buying and selling helicopters, but the traditional way is through brokers.
Brokers note your requirements and contact relevant individuals and organizations to acquire an appropriate helicopter for you.
Brokers also help helicopter owners with the legal aspects of purchasing a chopper.
Depending on how you place your order, there is typically an entire legal process you have to go through, including verifying your proof of sale before you acquire the chopper.
Buying a New vs. Used Helicopter
Older model helicopters are much cheaper in up-front costs, but they are also harder to maintain due to difficulties in acquiring their parts.
Older helicopters have more depreciation than newer ones, so the wear and tear they’ve suffered causes their maintenance costs to rise, which lowers their up-front price.
The better condition a helicopter is in, the higher it costs.
- Total flying time
Since the more time a helicopter has flown, the more damage and depreciation it is likely to have suffered. Helicopters with higher flying hours are cheaper than those with fewer.
The fewer incidents a helicopter has suffered while flying, and the better its documentation is preserved, the higher its price will be.
- Maintenance status
The better maintained a helicopter is, the more it will cost up-front.
Less well-maintained choppers cost less up-front, but they incur higher maintenance costs in the long-run, so it’s not advisable to purchase a less well-maintained helicopter since its long-term costs are more likely to be higher.
The more modern a helicopter’s equipment is, and if it has luxury features, the more expensive it’ll be. Helicopters with luxury interiors are highly sought after, which raises their price tag considerably.
Overall, owning a helicopter isn’t cheap. Not only are choppers expensive to purchase, but they also have relatively high maintenance costs.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.