Flying your own helicopter will cost you because they tend to be pricey. On average, helicopters are more expensive than private planes. These models are some of the cheapest in the world. Maybe you can squeeze one into your garage?
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Helicopters are more expensive than planes because they are more complex machines. Starting with the rotors, they have more complex parts and have to follow stringent safety standards to ensure that they stay upright.
Once you buy a helicopter, owning it doesn’t get any cheaper. Maintenance and fueling up are often expensive as well, and that’s before you get into the often eye-watering costs of insuring helicopters, which have higher crash rates than private planes. However, it’s all worth it to get into the sky.
Recent innovations, such as lighter helicopters and DIY kits, are driving down the overall price of helicopters. The lighter the machine and the fewer seats it has, the more affordable it will be. This list has a mix of factory-ready and kit helicopters. Most of the aircraft are civilian, although a few are military machines.
15. Bell 206
The Bell 206 helicopter series is available new from around $900,000 if you buy directly from the manufacturer, although you can find models on used aviation sites across the globe for cheaper.
Bell originally developed the 206 series for the U.S. Army, but the Army eventually nixed the design. The Army’s loss was the gain of civilians all over the world as the Bell 206 quickly became popular for all sorts of uses. Today, people use it for news crews, law enforcement, search and rescue, and more, including regular transportation.
The Bell 206 has a light, sleek design, which helps keep the price low. However, it doesn’t sacrifice performance for sleekness. It flies very fast and has a great range. It also has some of the best capacity of helicopters on this list. It can fit five people: four passengers and one pilot.
14. Sikorsky Schweizer 333
The Sikorsky Schweizer S333 is a bit more affordable than the Bell 206 series. This helicopter costs around $698,000.
Sikorsky is actually the company that built the first helicopter. This flying contraption was invented in 1939 by Igor Sikorsky, a Ukraine-born Russian American inventor. However, the Sikorsky company has not rested on its historical laurels and is continuing to innovate in the field of helicopters.
The Sikorsky Schweizer S333 was actually first designed by the Schweizer company, an aviation firm that Sikorsky bought in the early 21st century. Besides adding its name, Sikorsky innovated on the design. The result was a speedy, light helicopter used for civilian and military purposes. It is easy to fly, making it a popular aircraft for flight schools.
13. Robinson R44 Raven II
Robinson Helicopter Company is one of the most popular civil and personal helicopter manufacturers. It makes models that are perfect for civilian use, including personal travel and aviation sports. One of the most popular is the affordable Robinson R44 Raven II, which only costs about $500,000 when purchased new.
The R44 Raven II is lightweight and affordable, but it is still large enough to carry four people (two in the cockpit, two as passengers). The R44 is easy enough to fly with just a one-person pilot crew. This efficiency means that the R44 is popular among law enforcement agencies as well as civilian flight enthusiasts.
The R44 is one of the most popular helicopters in the world among aviation enthusiasts. That means that you can often find it for less than $500,000 if you go through a broker or buy used.
12. Enstrom TH180
Enstrom is one of the most innovative companies in the helicopter design space. It is most famous for its lightweight, single-engine designs that still push the envelope in terms of capacity. One of the most popular models, the Enstrom TH180, is also one of the most affordable at $400,000 a unit.
The TH180 is one of Enstrom’s newest models, with a lighter and sleeker design than older versions. It has a decent range and speed given its small stature. Anticipation around this model was so great many flight schools pre-ordered it before all the specs were even released!
Like many of Enstrom’s helicopters, the two-seater TH180 is very popular in flight schools. It is easy for newcomers to the industry to learn how to fly.
11. Enstrom F-28
Another classic from Enstrom, the F-28, costs only $360,000 when purchasing a factory-assembled model that is brand new.
While the TH180 is one of Enstrom’s newest models, the F-28 is one of the oldest and most reliable, dating back to the early 1960s. It is light and versatile, with many civilian and military uses. Flight instructors use it to teach new pilots, law enforcement uses it for surveillance, and even militaries use it for transport.
Since Enstrom F-28s are so popular, finding a used model is pretty easy, and you can knock even more off of the price when buying a used one.
10. Guimbal Cabri G2
Hélicoptères Guimbal is a French company that does one thing, but it does that one thing very well—produce a lightweight, affordable helicopter. Calling it “the little big helicopter,” Guimbal makes the Cabri G2, which only costs about $350,000.
When cutting costs and excess weight, Guimbal did not cut corners. The Cabri G2 has much of the power of larger helicopters thanks to a main rotor that provides the stability of a larger helicopter, crash-resistant features, and a sleek cabin.
This two-seater aircraft is a favorite among sport flyers and those just learning how to fly. It’s also beloved among design lovers who adore the sleek cabin.
9. Robinson R22
Another favorite from California-based Robinson, the R22 Beta II, costs about $318,000.
The R22 was one of the first civilian helicopters in the world. Before the 1970s, helicopters were mostly owned and operated by the military. They were seen as too dangerous and unsteady for civilians. However, with the rise of TV news, news crews wanted a new way to film events. The R22 was small and light enough for civilians to buy but still had enough space to fit a whole crew.
Today, the R22 is popular among sports flyers as well thanks to its proven reputation as a reliable machine.
8. Hummingbird 300L
For aviation enthusiasts who want to assemble their own machines, many manufacturers make helicopter kits. Helicopter kits require plenty of time to assemble, but not that much in the way of specialized skills, making them accessible to the average flight enthusiast. The Hummingbird 300L is one of the most high-end of these kits, costing about $227,000.
This kit from Vertical Aviation Technologies is one of the few helicopter kits that has four seats (most have only one or two seats). Because it is bigger than other kits, it is also more expensive than other DIY helicopters but not by much.
This kit is a great family helicopter kit thanks to the larger capacity but also the stringent safety standards (the model was originally supposed to be a commercial helicopter).
7. Safari 400
The Safari 400 is another DIY helicopter kit, although this one is from Safari Helicopters. It is slightly more affordable than the Hummingbird 300L at $142,800 for the whole kit.
The Safari 400 is one of the friendliest kits for relative beginners. Most of the complex assembly gets done in the factory, including a wiring harness that makes it even easier for beginners to assemble electrical wiring. You can even order the kit in four separate parts if you don’t have enough space to hold everything at once.
The Safari 400 doesn’t sacrifice power in its convenience with a great Lycoming O-360 piston engine, one of the best helicopter engines.
6. HeliWhale Afalina
If you prefer not to assemble your helicopter yourself, then the HeliWhale Afalina is one of the most affordable helicopters that you can buy. It costs about $120,000 to purchase.
The Afalina, named after the Russian word for “bottlenose dolphin,” was created by HeliWhale in a deliberate attempt to bring the prices of helicopters closer to the average aviation enthusiast. The helicopter drives down costs thanks to an ultralight cabin and frame. It fits two people.
Besides having one of the lowest sticker prices in the industry, the HeliWhale Afalina is one of the cheapest to operate. You don’t need specialized fuel—it runs on car fuel! Thanks to its accessibility and great design, the Afalina revolutionized the helicopter industry when it came out in 2016.
5. Phoenix A600 Turbo
The Phoenix A600 Turbo from Rotor X is one of the world’s newest and most popular helicopter kits. Released in 2021, it is based on the older A600 kit manufactured by RotorWay, which Rotor X purchased just a few years ago. This kit can be yours for the relatively low price of $108,550.
There are several reasons why this helicopter kit is so popular. One is the superior design, which looks like a factory-made helicopter instead of one built from a kit (many kit helicopters unfortunately look like matchstick model helicopters).
The superior performance of the Rotor X A600 Turbo also helps its popularity. It has FADEC controls and an excellent piston engine. The ease of the build, which only requires basic hand tools and has a supportive community on hand to help when customers get stuck, is another draw. The fuel tank is not as great as some other models, but you can buy an Aux tank to extend the range.
4. Brantly B-2
The Brantly B-2 is one of the most affordable factory-ready helicopters ever produced. Its sticker price is a neat $100,000.
However, you’re not likely to see a Brantly B-2 at your next gathering of casual flyers. That’s because only 330 helicopters were sold since the model entered production in 1958. Beneath the sticker price, there are several issues that expose why this helicopter is so cheap. It is complex to use, doesn’t have great specs, and is not that safe either.
The Army developed it then didn’t want it, and it isn’t terribly popular among civilians either. Nonetheless, the Brantly B-2 is an important part of aviation history and one of the first attempts to bring helicopters closer to the general public.
The HeliCycle is one of the most affordable helicopters out there, costing only $67,000. The DIY kit is perfect for a DIY and aviation enthusiast on a budget.
The HeliCycle is so affordable because it is much smaller than other helicopters. It fits only one person, so it’s only good for lone wolf flyers. It uses a gas turbine engine which saves on space while still providing power.
Keep in mind that you will have to spend extra money to buy crucial add-ons such as a radio and electronics system once you’re done with your build. The HeliCycle leaves these out of the original because many pilots like to customize them.
2. Composite-FX XE 290
The most affordable factory-built helicopter that you can get is the Composite-FX XE 290, which only costs $55,000 as a kit, or $70,000 factory finished.
Helicopters in Composite’s FX series are affectionately called Mosquitos because they are so tiny. These helicopters are single-seaters, so they are not ideal if you are planning on taking the family somewhere. However, the smaller capacity and ultra-light cabin save money on assembly.
The Composite-FX XE 290 is a small but mighty machine with a 800cc 90HP fuel-injected piston engine. Its top speed is 95 mph (152 kph). It can cruise at 80 mph (128 kph) for 2 hours.
Empty, the XE 290 weighs 390 lbs (177 Kg) and it has a max gross weight limit of 720lbs (362Kg).
1. Composite-FX XE
The cheapest helicopter on the market is the Composite-FX XE, an even lighter version of the popular Composite-FX XE 290. When you buy this helicopter as a kit, you will only have to pay $46,000. You also have the option to buy it factory finished for $59,000.
The XE only weighs 298 pounds (135Kg), which is less than most cars. Its max gross weight including pilot is 610 lbs (275Kg) It has an MZ202 carbureted engine.
There is also the XEL model which comes with floats, so you can land on water.
Since the Composite-FX XE is so small, the FAA classifies it as Part 103 ultra-light aircraft. You can buy and assemble the kit without a pilot’s license! However, it is strongly recommended you have specific training and a license before taking it out for a spin.