Getting to charter a helicopter can be a costly endeavor if you aren’t equipped with the right tools. The helicopter charter market is less transparent than its fixed-wing equivalent, with traditional brokers often charging nearly 50% markups on last-minute quotes. Such flight requests are also more prone to end up with unlicensed air carriers, carrying increased risks to business aviation travelers.
As member of NBAA and Wyvern Safety, Flapper is committed to transparent and safe helicopter booking process. In the below post we will shed light on how much does it cost to charter a helicopter, using our Uber-like platform as a reference.
The minimum cost of chartering a helicopter
The cost to charter a helicopter, together with the flight crew, varies based on a number of factors, among which the most frequently used ones include:
- Revenue flight fee per hour travelled;
- Extra time needed to start the engines;
- The cost of helipad landing fees or airport landing fees;
- FBO (Fixed Base Operator) costs related to handling and utilization of the private jet terminal (for airports only);
- Parking fees – for requests where the helicopter has to wait for the passengers at the destination;
- The minimum flying or minimum trip fee.
To derive at an hourly cost (the so called “revenue flight fee”), an air carrier would typically calculate their fixed- and variable costs and impose a small margin on top of that. As of May 10 2020, an hourly cost to rent an AS350 helicopter for a short-haul transfer in São Paulo costs R$4.400 (around US$ 800/h). An hourly fee for a large twin-engine helicopter, such as Airbus EC145 T2 can be as steep as R$10.500 (~US$ 1.920/h). Of course these aren’t the end prices (yet), but they constitute the main cost component of any helicopter charter flight.
There are two main differences between the prices of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft charters:
First, helicopter charter platforms don’t impose a flight distance coefficient. This means that the distance between the two points corresponds to the mileage considered on the quotation. Exceptions typically apply to flights in mountains or large urban areas. That’s because in cities helicopters might follow special corridors during the mission and your flight might take a few extra minutes to complete, eventually resulting in a small detour comparing to a flight time estimate computed using a straight line. But don’t worry, the modern quotation systems take into consideration such deviations beforehand and you will be informed in advance the total estimated time of the mission.
Secondly, you can’t expect an operator to have the helicopter waiting for you if your trip involves multi-night stays. The helicopter flights tend to be shorter and air carriers put preference on volume, instead of blocking slots for the waiting time.
The prices of helipad landing fees and airport fees depend on the location and the passenger’s “relationship” to the heliport. The helipad at São Paulo’s Faria Lima Hotel charges R$385 for a single landing of a light helicopter and the spot is open to public. Landing at the nearby Emiliano Hotel costs R$800 and you have to be a guest to be allowed to land at the property. Helipads might also distinguish between the following variables:
- Member vs non-member price;
- Night fees vs day fees;
- Helicopter weight.
As if it wasn’t enough, some helipads impose restrictions for heavy helicopters, either due to the class of a heliport or its internal noise policies. Accordingly, you will be allowed to land in an Airbus EC 145 helicopter at Faria Lima Financial Center [SIJF], but not at Faria Lima Blue Tree Hotel [SSOA].
Equipped with a knowledge about the hourly rates, landing fees and flight times, we are now ready to calculate the exact cost of chartering a helicopter.
How much does it really cost to charter a helicopter
The minimum cost of chartering a helicopter in Brazil is R$3.620 (around US$ 660 as of 10/5/2020) during an urban transfer São Paulo – Guarulhos Airport, flying an affordable piston helicopter Robinson 44. The cost of chartering the same helicopter to a seaside resort of Angra dos Reis amounts to almost R$9.000 (~ US$1.640), considering a maximum capacity of 3 passengers.
One of the most expensive charter flights possible involves renting a twin-engine helicopter on a long-haul flight São Paulo – Rio de Janeiro. A luxury Airbus EC 155 helicopter boasts 9 seats and can be chartered on the above route for roughly R$50.000 (~ US$ 9.120).
The below compilation includes the Top 10 helicopter routes quoted by our passengers using Flapper charter platform. You can quote any flight, with real-time price estimates, by going to our home page and typing in a helipad or airport you wish to travel to.
Helicopter charter São Paulo Campo de Marte [SBMT] – Angra dos Reis Frade [SNFD]
Suggested aircraft: AS350 B2 / B3, with prices starting at R$11.700.
Helicopter charter São Paulo Faria Lima [SSOA] – Guarulhos Airport [SBGR]
Suggested aircraft: Robinson 44, with prices starting at R$4.060.
Helicopter charter São Paulo Campo de Marte [SBMT] – Paraty Laranjeiras [SDLA]
Suggested aircraft: AS350 B2/B3, with prices starting at R$10.050.
Helicopter charter São Paulo Campo de Marte [SBMT] – Ilhabela Maroum [SJDO]
Suggested aircraft: AS350 B2/B3, with prices starting at R$7.670.
Helicopter charter Rio de Janeiro Jacarepaguá [SBJR] – Angra dos Reis Frade [SNFD]
Suggested aircraft: Bell Jet Ranger, with prices starting at: R$6.380.
Helicopter charter Rio de Janeiro Lagoa [SDRJ] – Búzios Hotel Insolito [SIHH]
Recommended aircraft: Robinson 44 Raven II, with prices starting at: R$5610
Helicopter charter Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont [SBRJ] – Galeão Airport [SBGL]
Recommended aircraft: Robinson 44 Raven II, with prices starting at R$2.990
Helicopter charter Curitiba Bacacheri [SBBI] – Balneário Camboriú BC [SNTJ]
Suggested aircraft: Bell Jet Ranger, with prices starting at: R$9.930.
Helicopter charter Fortaleza [SBFZ] – Jericoacoara Essenza Hotel
Suggested aircraft: AS350 B, with prices starting at: R$17.250.
Helicopter charter Porto Alegre [SBPA] – Gramado / Canela [SSCN]
Suggested aircraft: AS350 B2, with prices starting at: R$4.140.
Flapper is Brazil’s first boutique private airline, and a regional leader in charter services. Our partner fleet counts 350 ANAC-certified aircraft in Brazil and more than 4000 overseas. We excel at executive flights, cargo transportation and ambulance flights.
On-demand charter of jets, turbo-props and helicopters in Latin America.
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