The age-old question when it comes to learning to fly: should you pursue an airplane or helicopter certification? While each has their own unique requirements and challenges, one thing that’s certain is that helicopter lessons cost much more than learning to fly an airplane. In today’s post, we’re taking a look at why that is – let’s get started! Why Airplane Lessons are More Affordable than Helicopter Lessons.
Helicopter Flying Lessons Cost
The cost of helicopter flight school will vary depending upon which level of certification you want to achieve. For beginners pursuing a private pilot rotary certification, where you are able to pilot a small helicopter under VFR, you can expect to pay approximately $20,000 – $30,000 to reach the FAA minimum of 40 hours flight time. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a helicopter pilot, you’ll need to obtain further certification, including instrument, commercial and (most likely) instructor. Added together, these will total well over $100,000, with the cost of commercial flight instruction being approximately $60,000 alone. Unless you’re coming from the military, you likely won’t have built up the necessary time required by companies that hire “tier one” commercial helicopter pilots — normally 1,200 – 1,500 hours, which is dictated by their liability insurance. With the added expense of building these numbers up, you have a big hill to climb ahead in order to make a significant return on your investment.
How Much Does it Cost to Get Your Private Pilot License?
Learning to fly an airplane carries significantly lower costs when compared to learning to fly a helicopter. In general, you can expect to pay between $7,000 – $15,000 for a private pilot’s license on a traditional fixed-wing plane. The student can break up the payments in chunks as they progress through flight school over the course of training. Becoming a professional airplane pilot is also much more affordable for those students with lower budgets, with both instrument and commercial certifications hovering around $5,000 each. Plus, the chance of getting a fixed-wing pilot job are significantly higher while also being more affordable, so there’s a much higher return on the student’s investment. While it certainly isn’t chump change to many people – if you love to travel, enjoy fun hobbies and want to be a part of a thriving community atmosphere, then getting your private pilot license is something that is well worth the cost – plus an investment in your education and something you love is never wasted money.
Why is Helicopter Flight Training More Expensive Than Fixed-Wing Training?
Overall, the requirements to gain both fixed-wing and rotary licenses are the same, but we know that obtaining a rotary certification is more expensive than a fixed-wing certification. And you may be wondering just why that is. Well, the answer is pretty simple: it’s more expensive to learn to fly helicopters because of the cost of helicopter rental and flight instructor fees. Rental rates on a plane are significantly less than rates on a helicopter and, given the lower supply of helicopter instructors, their teaching fees are also higher. For example, one of the cheapest single-engine helicopters that’s commonly rented is the Robinson R22, which hovers around $300 an hour—pretty expensive for a quick take-off and landing (not to mention any heavy air traffic to take into account).
Comparing that to the airplane rental rates at Inflight Pilot Training, where prices are much more affordable. Our private pilot training program provides a Cessna 152 for just $100 an hour or a Cessna 172 for $130 an hour. Instructor fees can see an even higher difference in prices. Inflight provides a certified flight instructor for just $80 an hour for private pilot programs, whereas helicopter flight instructors can charge double or even triple that amount. What this essentially boils down to is that learning to fly an airplane is significantly more affordable than learning to fly a helicopter. It’s generally recommended to start with a fixed-wing private pilot license, as both programs will focus on teaching a student many of the same lessons – navigation, weather, flight rules, planning and safety procedures, for example. This lets them learn the basics, while still keeping the option to add helicopter ratings down the road.
Ready to take to the skies?
If learning to fly has been a lifelong dream for you, the team at Inflight Pilot Training can help make it a reality. We have a superior reputation among flight schools in the Twin Cities, with a track record of producing the best and safest pilots in the state of Minnesota. We’re committed to keeping our programs fun and affordable for all and will help put you on the right path when it comes to learning to fly.
For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.