– Buying a Helicopter –
Buying an Helicopter: There are many benefits of owning an helicopter, including getting to work on time when living 100 miles (ca. 161 km) away from your office.
How Much Is a Helicopter?
1. Robinson R-22
2. Robinson R-44 Raven I
3. Robinson R-44 Raven II
4. Bell B206 JetRanger
4. Eurocopter EC120 Colibri Hummingbird
1. Robinson R-22
Considered by many to be one of the world’s most economical helicopters, the R-22 carries a base list price of about $250,000 brand new. There are also plenty of excellent deals to be found on good-quality used R-22s, usually starting from around $100,000–$150,000.
Due to the R-22’s cheap operating costs, it is often used as a training helicopter. This lightweight two-seater has very low inertia which allows it to be extremely responsive to flight control inputs.
In short, it is fun to fly. However, the R-22 is not very forgiving of pilot error or sluggishness and as such is not recommended for beginners or those without much flying experience.
Price: Approx. $250,000
2–3. Robinson R-44 Raven I & II
The Robinson R-44 Raven line is a very popular choice among flying experts. Many argue it is the world’s best model for personal ownership regardless of price. It has four seats and comes in two models, the Raven I and the Raven II.
The Raven models are heavier than the R-22, which allows them to fly through wind gusts and turbulent air more solidly.
They are also much safer to fly as “training helicopters” because they allow pilots several additional seconds to activate autorotation, a feature used to land during an engine failure.
- Raven I: Approx. $340,000
- Raven II: Approx. $415,000
Bell’s B206 JetRanger can seat five people including the pilot but comes at more than twice the cost of Robinson’s Raven I.
4. Bell B206 JetRanger
The five-seater Bell B206 JetRanger is another very popular helicopter, both with military personnel and civilians. It has a two-blade main rotor and a two-blade tail rotor.
This model and all of its variants are what have kept Bell Helicopters on par with the Robinson line in terms of popularity. It costs considerably more than the R-44 but is also a little larger.
Price: Approx. $700,000
5. Eurocopter EC120 Colibri Hummingbird
The Eurocopter EC120 is a very quiet and comfortable helicopter, but it does come with a high price tag that reflects its advantageous features.
Considering it has five seats and a single-engine rotor, it is a relatively light helicopter. It is also equipped with numerous crash-resistant technology systems involving both the seats and the fuel system.
Price: Approx. $1,700,000
What to Consider Before Buying a Helicopter
1. Will You Be the Pilot?
The majority of helicopter owners are pilots so they can fly themselves. Private pilots and those who own a helicopter and fly themselves prefer hands-on, less bulky designs.
Bigger helicopters are usually reserved for professional pilots while the owners sit in the back. The big shots use this as their executive means of transport. Midrange helicopters have administrative abilities too but are fun to handle.
If planning to become a pilot, next choose a flying school. Lots of flying schools will issue Private Pilot Licenses PPLs(H). Ask friends with helicopters to recommend a good flying school.
It helps if the flying school is local to you as you need a minimum of 45 hours of training over 12 months.
Training costs vary from school to school but expect it to cost around $26,200 (around £20,000). This covers your tests, exams, flying hours, medicals, equipment, and airfield fees. After qualifying, you need an annual review to renew your license.
You can opt to expand your qualification to include formation flying and night flying. The choice is yours.
2. Predetermine Your Budget
Design, capacity, and the manufacturer determine a helicopter’s price. Set your budget right from the start. It helps narrow your search.
Just like cars, you will have a range of options. While helicopters are expensive, some are cheaper than a Lamborghini. The Robinson R44, the world’s most famous helicopter, costs only $350,000 (around £313,500) and half that second-hand.
When setting your budget, add maintenance costs too. Some helicopters cost more to maintain than others. Lower-priced helicopters can cost more in maintenance over the long run. You should also consider the cost of insurance, capital investment, and depreciation.
3. How Far Will You Travel?
Aircraft manufacturers offer similar models with a small tweak in design and performance. Cheaper helicopters are smaller. And this limits the number of people it can carry, fuel capacity, and distance it can travel.
So, you need to decide how many people need to travel in your helicopter regularly. Also, look at the distance it can travel before needing to refuel. The H125 is a midrange helicopter that guarantees 300 to 350 miles (ca. 563 km) or 2½ hours without refueling.
4. Other Considerations
The Airbus H160 is a new sleek design marketed to business and private customers, while the H125 has strong competition from the Bell 407.
The cabin is separate from the cockpit and is luxurious. It has two seats facing each other and is a great option if you have a pilot. In contrast, an Airbus is a better option for you as the pilot as there is no separation from your passengers.
The choice of the interior should reflect the helicopter’s purpose. Some people ignore carpets as it is a lot of work to keep clean. Leather seats are an attractive option as seats with twin leather stitching which is currently in vogue.
Landing Space is Limited
Landing spaces in London are limited due to their tight restrictions on noise control, which limits helicopter paths. Battersea Heliport is the best place to land and continue your journey using other means. Places you can land outside London include Elstree, Denham, Biggin Hill, and Northolt.
Grab a helicopter landing guide to find somewhere to land in London. It has a list of landing sites around the UK and their phone numbers. This allows you to request landing permission before leaving for your destination. They may let you land for free or for a small fee (around $50).
Use a third-party escrow service like Escrow.com. It protects buyers involved in high-value transactions such as buying a private helicopter. No money changes hands between the two parties until you both meet all terms and conditions of the sale.
Escrow.com removes the risk and benefits both the buyer and seller. You get your helicopter and release payment to the seller once you check it out.
Terms You Should Know
There are terms you should know if you intend to own a helicopter:
- VFR (Visual Flying Rules) means you have to keep sight of the ground.
- IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) means you can fly above or in the clouds.
- A two-seat piston engine VFR is a basic helicopter.
- ILS (Instrument Landing System) is what you dial into to get to the ground.
- You use a noise-canceling headset for communication.
- Autopilot allows you to control the aircraft without moving the controls and is not available in all helicopter
If you are interested in buying your own helicopter, then you’re probably looking at a price tag of anywhere from $250,000–$1,700,000. Obviously, there are numerous factors to consider (training costs, operational costs, storage costs, etc.) and I hope this article was able to guide you.
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