WHY ARE HELICOPTERS SO EXPENSIVE?
The helicopter is a very complex aircraft with many moving parts. Also, it requires a great deal of engineering and research to design a helicopter. There is a very strict maintainence schedule to assure maximum safety and reliability. The production rate of a helicopter is low due to it's complexity, which keeps the price of each aircraft much higher than that of a mass produced vehicle such as the automobile.
WHAT TYPE OF ENGINE DOES A HELICOPTER HAVE?
Generally there are two types of helicopter engines:
PISTON ENGINES - These are simmilar to automobile engines and small-airplane engines, and run on high quality Gasoline which is refined and filtered to be much cleaner than automotive gasoline. This type of fuel is called "Avgas" and is typically 100 octane (Low Lead).
TURBINE ENGINES - This type of engine is usually called a Jet Engine, and by design is simmilar to the engines on a commercial airliner (but just a TAD smalller). A turbine engine is preferred by medium to large helicopters because it can produce a large amount of power and is light weight (But Quite Costly). Turbines use a type of fuel known as "Jet A", which is simillar to very clean Kerosene.
HOW MUCH FUEL DOES A HELICOPTER USE?
A small two seat training helicopter with a piston engine typically burns about 9 to 16 gallons per hour. A larger five seat turbine helicopter typically burns about 25 to 30 gallons per hour.
HOW FAST CAN A HELICOPTER GO?
The normal cruising speed of a helicopter varies on the amount of power available and the type of rotor system, but the typical CRUISE speed of the formentioned two seat trainer style is about 90-105Mph. and the five seat turbine is about 130-145Mph. (as far as MAX speed, I have been to about 155Mph in a Bell 206).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A HELICOPTER?
Because helicopters can take off and land vertically, hover in one place or fly at very low speeds and rotate 360 degrees while hovering, it's passengers can get a panoramic view of remote or confined areas virtually inaccessible by fixed-wing aircraft. Helicopters are often called upon in medical emergencies and search/rescue because of there versatility and many law enforcement agencies use them to track down stolon vehicles or chase criminals. Helicopters are also extremely valuble for fighting forrest fires that are sometimes inacessable by the ground.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO LEARN TO FLY A HELICOPTER?
To rent a training helicopter with an instructor, the average rental rate is approxamately $175 to $250 per hour depending on the model of helicopter, where you are located. The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time for the "Private" rating, but it is typically 45-55 hours. Once you add in the books, the ground school, and supplies, the average cost is about $10,000 - $12,000.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ENGINE FAILS?
To many people, there is a misconseption that the main rotor blades will stop turning.... THEN WHAT???
NO - the main rotor does not stop turning
YES - a helicopter can be safely landed if the engine quits.
During an engine failure, the engine will automatically disengage from the rotor system. With the proper control inputs by the pilot, The rotor blades will continue to turn at NORMAL operating speeds, allowing the pilot to make a Fully Controlled landing. This procedure is called an Autorotation. Unlike a conventional airplane, which can't fly at much below 50 Mph, a helicopter that has had an engine failure is able to touch down with little or no forward movement, and in a relatively small amount of space. Usually, a parking lot or a side street should be able to do just fine.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A HELICOPTER?
Because helicopters can take off and land vertically, hover or fly at slow speeds and rotate 360 degrees while hovering, helicopters are the aircraft of choice for search and rescue, sightseeing, and police patrol.
A helicopter is capable of getting into remote areas that are virtually inaccessible by fixed-wing aircraft.