Helicopters are not cheap. There, we said it. Very often when considering learning to fly, it can be the elephant in the room. Given that you’re obviously considering learning to fly, you’ve probably gathered together a few very rough figures on how much this costs, once you’re addicted to helicopters.
And you’ve possibly been surprised that helicopters are significantly more expensive than fixed wing.
What you’re probably asking is firstly, why is there such a difference and secondly, how much will it really cost to fly? You know, not just a lesson here and there, but really, how much will it cost to reach that end goal.
The difference on cost is principally down to the capital cost of the helicopter and the running costs.
The average fixed wing flying club can acquire a used Cessna or Piper for less than £60,000, ready to go. A good used Robinson R44 of the type that we fly will be around £230,000 upwards, depending on the marketplace.
Then the cost of maintenance is higher. We use only the highest standards of helicopter maintenance from our friends at Aero Maintenance Ltd, plus helicopters have more moving parts that are of critical importance. Maintenance is never skimped on in aviation. So it costs more.
So given that it costs more than fixed wing and you haven’t stopped reading yet, it can be accepted that the costs is something we have to live with as part of helicopter pilot life.
So how much?
Many training organisations try and dodge the issue of cost, however we credit you with enough intelligence to figure out the difference between an hourly rate and the total cost. At least, we hope you can because we are going to be teaching you and hope that you can use a calculator as a base setting to start with…..
Our blog post on flying the Robinson R22 vs R44 gives a good breakdown of the costs. However for the purpose of this discussion, we can assume that over a 6 to 12 month period, it will cost you in the region of £20,000
And the reason why there is no definitive figure is because we are all different. We all learn at different rates and some people can dedicate more time to it that others. Sometimes people have to take a break of several months and come back to it. That will probably use up an hour or so just getting back into your stride.
It doesn’t mean you are a bad pilot, almost everyone takes longer than the legal 45 hours to pass.
Above all, consider the cost not as a fee to be paid to obtain a piece of paper. Instead, enjoy the process of learning. For many people adjusting your mindset to learning mode, often after many years away from a learning environment, is a stimulating and refreshing thing.
Don’t consider obtaining your licence as the end of the process. It’s simply a waypoint in your career as a pilot, professional or otherwise.
Once qualified, the cost doesn’t stop of course. However there are many ways to contain that and bring down the costs of flying once qualified.
As we said at the start of this article, the cost of learning to fly helicopters is often the elephant in the room that nobody likes to discuss. Don’t consider that cost as simply an invoice, a bill to be paid to join a club or whatever. Think of it as part of a journey you’re undertaking. And above all, enjoy the process of learning how to fly helicopters.
The article is part of a series that aim to answer all of the questions you’ve ever had if you’re thinking of learning to fly helicopters. You can read the first post here, or click the links below for the rest of the series