The Big Question: How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Helicopter?

By Andrew Myers

September 3, 2020 Appraisals

So you're looking to buy a helicopter. You must be wondering - Can I afford to purchase one?

Well, that's not an easy question to answer. For starters, what type of helicopter are you looking to purchase? Are you familiar with the insurance costs and maintenance expenses associated with helicopter ownership? Helicopters can be bought at almost any budget.

So should we leave it at that or take it a step further? In this article, we will cover what it costs to buy a helicopter.

So keep reading to learn more.

Purchase Price & Upfront Expenses

You can easily buy a helicopter under 1 Million, and many are available under $500,000. For most first-time helicopter purchasers, Robinson will probably be a great manufacturer to research, but keep in mind that Turbine powered aircraft are easily within range as well. MOdels like older Bell 407's can now be obtained for much less than even a couple years ago. In general, your candidates should take these factors in (after review):

  1. Cost of replacement components
  2. Installed equipment/component value
  3. Cost of maintenance & repair
  4. Cost of overhaul
  5. Manufacture support
  6. Third-party assessment
  7. Ease of maintenance resources local to you

Helicopters are complex machines with numerous components requiring overhaul at different life limits. These can be a calendar or hourly inspections. Aircraft with consumed parts will be worth much less than an older plane with recent overhauls. In other words, don't fall in love with the paint job, but the maintenance status.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy A Helicopter? Operation Costs.

So if you thought that would cover the scope of "How much does it cost to buy a helicopter?" you were mistaken.

To truly understand the entirety of helicopter costs, you need to figure out the operative costs as well. For instance, they might cover, but are not limited to:

  1. Fuel & oil
  2. Insurance costs
  3. Hangar & storage costs
  4. Routine maintenance
  5. Replacement parts
  6. Airworthiness directives
  7. Service bulletins

Some of these are small expenses, but they do add up when you start to increase your utilization. Others are simple fixed costs associated with helicopter usage. If there is one question you need to answer before getting your hopes up, it is the cost of insurance. Expect these fees to be substantially higher than a fixed-wing aircraft. In many cases, insurance premiums are so high that you will have to consider your options for travel carefully.

Are You the Pilot Or the Passenger?

One of the most important considerations to make is whether or not you will fly the helicopter your self. Private pilots who prefer hands-on experience will often purchase smaller, entry-level aircraft usually powered by piston engines. These are more affordable to operate and maintain.

Large helicopters are reserved for specialized professionals as pilots and owners as passengers. However, mid-sized helicopters are capable of numerous missions, including ambulance, law enforcement, utility, and passenger flights.

The larger the aircraft, the more experience a pilot will need. A moderately-trained beginner can fly any type of Robinson helicopter. If you are interested in larger models, all of those companies have several other units with sophisticated avionics.

If you plan on getting a piloting license, find a right flying school. Most schools will issue a Private Pilot License, so just ask around for the best one from references.

If the school is local to you, that's even better. The costs vary by school, but the average prices are about $25,000. This will cover your hours, medicals, equipment, tests, exams, airfield fees.

After qualifying, you will need annual reviews to renew your license. You can improve your qualification by taking night flying and other advanced classes.

Helicopter Appraisals for You

Now that you know the answer to the question of - "How much does it cost to buy a helicopter?" you are well on your way to determining if it's a worthwhile investment or liability for your needs.

In any case, if you have an eye on a helicopter that you like, you should employ the services of a qualified third-party appraiser who will be able to evaluate and determine the value and condition of a helicopter. Coincidentally, we provide such services, so if you're interested - get in touch with us now, and we will happily accommodate your needs. Jason Zilberbrand is an Accredited Appraiser with the ASA.