In terms of sheer coolness, most would say that private helicopters lag behind private jets. The amazing speed of private jets makes them the best option for most long-range flights. This is why private jet charter costs a lot of money and people are more than willing to pay for it. However, a private helicopter charter is also a very good option as well. Think of a live gig of your favorite rock band. If they are a truly popular band (Metallica for example), they would probably be descending onto the concert stage that is surrounded by thousands of people to a reception that could be heard for miles. However, the most important detail is that they would be using a helicopter for that job.
When considering situations where you do not have the luxury of a runway, the only viable option is a helicopter. If it’s good enough for Rock Gods, then it’s good enough for the vast majority of people. Interestingly enough, the charter cost of helicopters is much cheaper than jet charter costs as well. Before we dive into the details of private helicopter charter cost, it is important to first put in perspective the relative cost of this venture when comparing it to private jet charter.
Private Jet Charter Cost
The cost of chartering a jet is completely dependent on the type of jet that you are trying to charter as well as the type of additional services that you are subscribing to. For example, the cost of an Embraer Phenom 300 charter is about $3500 per hour. Considered to be one of the finest light jets for private jet charter, the Phenom 300 is extremely well-equipped. It can also take 11 passengers at once to their desired destination.
What is one of the unique selling points of the Embraer Phenom 300 is the fact that it even has flatbed options as well. This is a feature that is mostly available in midsize jets that are made for long-range traveling. The presence of this feature in a light jet is one of the most amazing features of the Phenom 300. In fact, it is one of the largest jets that can be piloted by a single person. The range which is about 1800 nautical miles offers a lot of options in terms of non-stop flight. You can go from New York to Cancun in the short stretch of a few hours with no stops in between. The interior is simply beautiful, taking inspiration from Embraer’s commitment to excellence. The success of the Phenom 300 has helped Embraer reach production numbers that are simply staggering. Today, the Phenom 300 is one of the most frequently chartered aircraft in the world.
Now, in order to shed light on this matter, let’s move on to the other side of the spectrum. The Gulfstream G650 is a large business jet that is considered to be one of the most premium private jets that you can find on the market. A jet that costs nearly $70 million new, it has the support of numbers that are hard for even the mind to wrap itself around. If you want to charter this jet, be prepared to pay around $17,000 in charter costs per hour. It is well worth it, however.
The range of the jet stands at over 7000 nautical miles, with the G650ER variant being able to add a further 500 miles of range to that. That means that it can reach basically all corners of the earth. If you are stationed in New York, you can go on non-stop flights to anywhere in the world except Australia. It is exactly that sort of power that the Gulfstream G650 provides you that makes it one of the favorites of billionaires, corporations, and charter companies the world over. It is a jet that is so exclusive that there have only been 200 examples that have been delivered. Most of these are stationed in the US but they have a healthy spread across the world, showing the deep trust that the international business community places on this aircraft in order to get its executives across continents to do business deals worth billions.
The technical ability of this aircraft stands next to none. It is one of the first fly-by-wire business jets in the world. Fly-by-wire is a computer-regulated system that has autonomous functions making it much safer by reducing human error.
There are 26-inch widescreen televisions with high-definition screens littered throughout the cabin. The iconic oval Gulfstream windows make it instantly recognizable. They are also very useful since they let a lot of natural light in. Imagining flying above the clouds and seeing the sun lend its light to the cabin, elevating it to a level of beauty that is seldom seen. The G650 is a temple of design, technology, and performance all coming together in complete harmony.
Reasons For Chartering a Helicopter
Before getting into the cost structure of helicopter charter, one needs to understand the reasons why chartering a helicopter is a good option. The first simple reason is the fact that helicopters can go places where private jets cannot. They can land in places where all they need is a bit of flat land to land. Most of these places would be completely inaccessible to helicopters.
They are also great for shorter distances. You wouldn’t want to be chartering an aircraft in order to bypass a crowded city, will you? They are also great for special occasions. They are a favorite of people who are getting married, thus allowing you to show your spouse a special time on their special day as well as getting some aerial shots that will be to die for.
The last and the biggest reason is the fact that they are much cheaper than private jet charter. A Bell 206 Jet Ranger will cost around $1000 an hour with 4 passengers in addition to the pilot. Since helicopter flights are much shorter on average, the overall bill would be much more reasonable.
Chartering A Helicopter Cost
As is the case with private jets, the cost of chartering a private helicopter completely depends on the model of the helicopter itself. The Sikorsky S-76 for example will cost you a whopping $4700 per hour. This is on par with one of the more expensive light jets which are already previously mentioned. The Sikorsky S-76 is one of the most capable helicopters available in the entire world. It has a range that extends to 404 nautical miles. This particular helicopter can seat 14 people at once and travel at a top speed of 287 km/h.
There is a simple way in which the flight cost is charged. The timer starts when the helicopter takes off into the air and only stops when it’s back on the ground. You are charged based on the amount of time you spend in flight. This is known as your airtime. So, if your airtime is 2 hours and you are being charged at $800 an hour, this means that your total bill will be $1600. However, the process is not as simple as that. If you are planning to stay at your destination for some time and then be hauled out by the same helicopter, there will be some other associated costs as well. The helicopter company will charge a fee corresponding to the time that the helicopter will be out of action for them.
The charges will be even more if you decide to stay overnight. There will be additional charges as well such as the fact that you will have to pay for overnight lodgings of the pilot as well as any other cost that is associated with living costs.
One Engine or Two
This is one of the most important factors when it comes to chartering a helicopter. A single-engine helicopter is much cheaper than one with two engines. The fuel combustion rate of a single-engine helicopter is much lesser than the double-engine variants. And so, it is also that much better for the environment. However, a twin-engine helicopter would prove to be the only option for you if your point of landing happens to be a busy city area, downtown, etc, or a helipad up top. This combined with the added benefit of being much safer than a single-engine helicopter may make the twin-engine counterpart a no-brainer.
One Pilot or two
The larger twin-engined helicopters require two pilots which hugely decreases the ‘crashability’ (if you will) of the said helicopter. A most well-known example would be that of the tragedy of Kobe Bryant whose helicopter may not have perished had there been two pilots aboard the vehicle. This added benefit along with the capability of the helicopter to continue its flight in the event of failure of one of the engines makes it the number one choice for people who can afford to fly in both. However, the safety of the single-engined brother may have been overshadowed by its larger sibling, it is still one of the safest modes of transport that the modern world of technology has to offer and for anyone on a budget, it is the natural choice.
Dry rate vs Wet Rate
Dry rate is the hourly rental rate of a helicopter without fuel included and the Wet rate is the hourly rental rate of a helicopter with fuel included. If a company has pricing that seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. The fuel can cost you around 400 dollars an hour on top of the dry rate so be wary of such companies looking to manipulate people who have had no experience with chartering before.
Airtime vs flight time
Another common misconception that gets to many customers is the difference between air time and flight time. Air time is when the billing is for the time spent in the air while flight time billing starts from the time the engine is started to the time it is stopped. This is an important detail that you need to keep in mind.
Chartering a helicopter is one of the most precious experiences that one can have. Piloting a humble single-engine helicopter will put images in your mind that will never really be replaced.