Although they aren’t exactly known for speed, helicopters can fly at higher speeds than most people realize. If you’re flying in a helicopter, you might be surprised by how fast it is going, especially if you compare it to driving a car or train. In this article we’ll lay out some average speeds for common civil helicopters.
How Fast Do Helicopters Fly?
As a general rule, most helicopters fly at an average speed of around 140 knots. This equals to about 160 mph or 260 km/h. The helicopter’s average speed is affected by many things including the size of the chopper and what or who is on board at the time.
The Fastest Civil Helicopters
Different sources quote different numbers when it comes to helicopter speed but below are some choppers of different sizes that offer impressive speeds and other characteristics:
- Agusta 109: This helicopter flies up to 180 miles per hour and can go for roughly 500 miles before stopping. It also accommodates up to five passengers comfortably.
- Airbus AS350: With a top speed of 150 miles per hour, the AS350 accommodates six passengers and can fly for 400 miles. It is often used for VIP flights and air ambulance purposes.
- Airbus AS355: Carrying up to five passengers, this helicopter can go as fast as 150 miles per hour for a total of 400 miles, making it a great chopper for sightseeing, aerial photography, and much more.
- Airbus H120 / Eurocopter EC120 : This is a smaller helicopter that flies at around 140 miles per hour and can travel roughly 440 miles at a time.
- Airbus H135 / Eurocopter EC135: You see these helicopters everywhere. They can hold up to six passengers and fly at speeds of 155 miles per hour for a maximum of 395 miles.
- Airbus H155 / Eurocopter EC155: Known as a mid-sized chopper, this helicopter is great for long journeys because it can fly up to 530 miles at a time. It also flies at a speed of 170 miles per hour and accommodates six passengers.
- Robinson R44: This is a smaller helicopter that has three seats for passengers and flies at roughly 130 miles per hour, covering up to 400 miles at a time.
- Sikorsky S76: Widely used in the charter world, this helicopter has a total of eight seats, flies at up to 180 miles per hour, and can travel roughly 400 miles on a tank of gas.
- Sikorsky S92: Accommodating up to 16 passengers, this helicopter is one of the largest private choppers available today. It can accommodate more than 26,000 pounds of items and can fly at 160 miles per hour for more than 600 miles.
Helicopter speed is also affected by the type of chopper it is, which includes both civilian and military helicopters.
If you’re curious about the fastest civil helicopters, below is a list of their model names and their speeds (note that these speeds are rounded up or down to the nearest whole number):
- Airbus H175 / Eurocopter EC175: 180 miles per hour
- HAL Dhruv: 180 miles per hour
- MIL Mi-26T: 180 miles per hour
- AgustaWestland AW109 Power: 190 miles per hour
- AgustaWestland AW139: 190 miles per hour
- Ka-62: 190 miles per hour
- Sikorsky H92: 190 miles per hour
- AgustaWestland AW189: 195 miles per hour
- Airbus H155 / Eurocopter EC155: 200 miles per hour
- Airbus H225 / Eurocopter EC225: 200 miles per hour
These are truly some of the fastest helicopters in the world today but keep in mind that they do not include some of the helicopters used by the military, which often have the capability to go much faster.
Different Type of Helicopter, Different Average Speeds
There are many different ways to compare the average speeds of the helicopters being used today but suffice it to say that average two-seaters with smaller engines can fly at 90 to 105 knots while a four-seater can usually go at around 130 to 145 knots.
As of 2014, the fastest helicopter on the planet is the X3 Eurocopter, which has a speed of 300 miles per hour.
Of course, it isn’t just the fact that helicopters are smaller than airplanes that keeps their speeds lower than that of planes; it is also the way they are made.
Helicopters are able to fly due to the lift that the rotating blades produce. It is these rotating blades that keep the average helicopter speed relatively low. Advancing blades also produce more lift than receding ones.
Because military helicopters are used for a variety of purposes, including transport and battle uses, they can be quite large, which means that their speeds can be a lot faster than many people realize.
In fact, many of these helicopters resemble small airplanes complete with more fuel space and larger engines that allow them to fly at speeds that are quite fast.
When you think about it, it just makes sense that the smaller the helicopter, the slower the helicopter speed and vice versa. This is also why the speeds of these choppers vary so much from one model to another and why you can always find one that accommodates your needs.