How Much Does a Helicopter Cost?

Article Summary:

A typical private helicopter can cost anywhere from $250,000 for a small used helicopter to upwards of $9 million for Airbus helicopters. On average, a buyer can spend $1.971 million on a helicopter. This does not include the exorbitant amount of money needed for annual maintenance costs and fuel.

There is something innately awesome about riding in a helicopter. If you are a corporate executive, you might even consider getting a company helicopter to use for yourself and your colleagues. But is this doable? How much is a helicopter, anyway?

Believe it or not, a helicopter costs far more than a typical small airplane. If you want to buy a chopper, you should expect to pay a very high upfront price and an expensive long-term operating cost bill. So let’s take a deeper look into the actual costs of helicopter ownership.

How much does a helicopter cost upfront?

Helicopters are painfully expensive, even for the upper class. If you want to buy a helicopter, then you will have to spend at least $250,000, and that’s for a lower-end model. As of 2022, the average cost of a helicopter sits at around $1.971 million.

If you are a helicopter enthusiast who can afford to splurge for more expensive helicopters, you can easily find models that exceed $10 million. Military helicopters cost a fortune, even if they are pretty old and no longer used by the armed forces.

Here’s a table showing the broad range of prices that different models of helicopters can go for:

Helicopter ModelPrice
Robinson R22$250,000
Robinson R44 Raven I$340,000
Robinson R44 Raven II$415,000
Bell B206 JetRanger$700,000
Eurocopter EC120 Colibri (“Hummingbird”)$1,700,000
AgustaWestland AW109$9,000,000

Pro Tip

When shopping for a helicopter, make sure that you read up on the features each helicopter model offers. For example, some are good “training helicopter” models, while other more advanced models are best owned by expert flyers.

Can you finance a helicopter?

A helicopter costs more than most laypeople make in a lifetime, so it’s clear that financing is a highly appealing option for helicopter buyers. If you want to buy a new helicopter, then you might be able to get financing for it in the form of a loan.

There are specialized lenders who are willing to help helicopter enthusiasts make their dream of owning a helicopter come true. However, a borrower will need to pay a high down payment upfront, so it’s not exactly a purchase the average person can afford.

Pro Tip

A typical interest rate for a helicopter loan is between 4% and 10%. Considering that the average buyer can shell out millions of dollars for a single helicopter, this interest can add up very quickly. If you’re serious about buying a helicopter, make sure you can make all your payments on time before you apply for a loan.

What other expenses should a helicopter owner expect?

After buying the helicopter itself, there are four other major costs that come with helicopter ownership, all of which can be rather exorbitant. These are the biggest expenses you need to plan for before owning a helicopter:

How much does helicopter insurance cost?

Much like with car insurance or plane insurance, you can’t fly a helicopter without helicopter insurance. You should have $1 million to $2 million in coverage, but surprisingly, this will be one of the more reasonable costs of helicopter ownership. It’s possible to get helicopter insurance for as little as $120 per month.

How much does a helicopter hangar cost?

When you’re not soaring through the sky in it, you will need to have a place to keep your helicopter grounded. This means that you will need to pay for space in a helicopter hangar, or in some cases, purchase land and build a custom hangar yourself.

Building your own hangar can cost $200,000 or more, but if you are lucky enough to have a private aviation club near you, you may be able to rent hangar space for $200 to $500 a month. Helicopters often need more space than airplanes, so expect to pay more for hangar space than you would for a plane.

Pro Tip

In some parts of the United States, hangar space can be one of the more expensive fixed costs of owning a chopper. Therefore, it may make sense to split the costs of owning a helicopter with a friend.

How much should you set aside for helicopter fuel?

Flying is never cheap, especially if you’re flying in a helicopter. You should expect your fuel costs to average about $200 per hour of flight. That means if you want to fly even for only three hours per month, you will need to set aside $600 for the fuel.

Your fuel system will determine how cost-effective your helicopter is in terms of fuel efficiency. To cut costs, it makes sense to look for a model that is more affordable to operate.

Pro Tip

Single-engine helicopters cost less to fuel than helicopters with multiple engines. The bigger the helicopter is, the more it will cost to keep in the sky.

How much does a helicopter cost to maintain?

Helicopter maintenance costs a lot of money, as does the right to pilot your helicopter. In addition, you will need to obtain a pilot’s license before you can fly — a cost that includes flight school, licensing costs, and an annual inspection — and that price alone can set you back more than $10,000.

On top of the cost of a pilot’s license, mechanical maintenance on your helicopter can easily cost an additional $2,000 or more per year.

Why are helicopters so expensive?

Believe it or not, the high cost of owning a helicopter has to do with the high standards to which helicopter parts must be built. Due to the intricate way helicopters are designed, helicopter prices reflect the high-end equipment needed to build and maintain them.

Also, because of the way they fly, helicopters have a higher risk of crashing than a typical jet or commercial aircraft. If a helicopter’s rotor or engine fails, it can’t really glide to safety the way a plane could. Because of this risk, the cost of owning a helicopter also reflects its relatively high insurance premiums.

Does it make sense to buy a helicopter?

While it may make sense for you to invest in some form of private aviation, it’s hard to justify buying a helicopter. Most of the time, the cost of owning a helicopter is far higher than the cost of renting a helicopter.

Moreover, the flight range of a typical helicopter isn’t as far as the flight range of a typical airplane. That means you can’t exactly take a cross-country trip in a helicopter. So unless you have a ridiculous amount of disposable income and plan to make a living by giving helicopter tours of New York City, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy a chopper.

FAQ

Is it cheaper to own a plane or a helicopter?

Owning a private plane is far more affordable than owning a private helicopter. For the price of a standard helicopter, you could buy a luxury plane that you could fly farther and would cost you less to maintain in the long run.

Are helicopters expensive to own?

Yes, all helicopters are expensive. Even an “affordable” helicopter can cost more than a multi-engine aircraft. If you want to add special features to your copter, the costs can quickly rise to more than what you would pay for an upscale private jet.

Which is safer to fly: a helicopter or an airplane?

Because of the difficulty of operating a helicopter, most buyers in the market for a private aircraft would be better off purchasing an airplane. Owning a helicopter is a lot riskier than owning a private jet, as statistically, helicopter flights are more likely to end in a crash.

How much is an affordable helicopter?

The term “affordable helicopter” is a bit of a misnomer since economical helicopters don’t really exist. The only type of helicopter you can find on the market is an expensive helicopter, as they are all expensive compared to planes.

That said, the most affordable helicopters on the market start at $250,000 for a single-engine model. These models handle well in the air, but they also tend to be older and will only seat a single person while offering minimal safety features.

What is the most expensive helicopter on the market?

Generally, the most expensive helicopters in the aviation industry are made by Airbus. As for the most expensive helicopter you can purchase, that title goes to the Airbus H225 Super Puma.

A new Airbus Super Puma will come with a ridiculously high price tag of about $27 million. For that price, you’ll get a helicopter that is great for both search-and-rescue operations and for luxury flights.

Key Takeaways

  • The average cost of a helicopter is about $1.97 million, though you can buy a lower-end helicopter for as little as $250,000.
  • The monthly expenses for a helicopter will usually set you back thousands of dollars. Fuel alone will cost you around $200 per hour of flight.
  • Helicopters are expensive because they come with a lot of risks and require a high level of workmanship. It is cheaper to own a private jet than it is to own a private helicopter.
  • It is possible to obtain financing for a helicopter, but a loan will come with a high interest rate, which can easily push the cost out of your price range if you are not careful.
  • Helicopter costs vary widely based on a number of factors, so make sure to do your due diligence when searching for a new helicopter to buy.

Maybe you’re not interested in flying a helicopter, but you still want to know how to travel in style. Luckily, SuperMoney has guides to help you save money on your travel plans. Learn everything you need to know about buying tickets with a debit card, or check out our guide on the cheapest days to fly.

View Article Sources
  1. Why Are Helicopters So Expensive? – Aero Corner
  2. How Much Does a Helicopter License Cost? – HowMuchIsIt.org
  3. Helicopter Flight Costs 2021–2022 – Middle Georgia State University
  4. Helicopters for Sale – Global Air