This is one of the first questions we are asked and one of a few we find it hard to answer (along with "which helicopter should I train in?").
Why? Well it's primarily because as human beings we're all different. If you asked a driving instructor how long it takes an individual to learn to drive, they too can't answer the question. Just like student drivers, ab initio pilots vary in age, ability, application, their grasp of the theoretical elements and how often they can fly (recentcy is very important when it comes to helicopters). Because of this there is no absolute figure.
Also, if you're learning for pleasure, what's the rush? To have a flight instructor with you will be costing you less per hour than having a plumber sitting beside you!
The CAA require a minimum flight time of 45 hours before a licence can be issued. This does not mean that taking more than 45 hours is some form of failure. What's critically important here is that when you pass you are a safe pilot who understands the machine they fly, is confident but knows their limitations and makes the right decisions at the right times. If it takes you 80 hours to achieve this, so what? The experience gained in those extra hours just might save your life one day!
So how to answer this all important question? Well, we could do what a lot of other helicopter schools do and quote you the minimum realistic amount you can get away with. This is generally based on the legal minimum of only 45 hours of flying, assumes you pass everything first time and often ignores costs related your medical etc. These costs (2015) in a Robinson R22 are given as between £18K and £19K, and these are realistic if you can achieve everything in 45 hours.
Be very aware of misleading prices though. One local flight school advertises a price under £13K! They do mention that this does not include VAT and landing fees, but fail to also point out that it also does not include a test fee, medical fee, study material costs, radio licence cost etc etc. In our opinion these figures are deliberately unrealistic and are given to tempt in the unwary. Once "suckered in" and in awe of their instructor there's little likelihood of the student moving away to another school as the hours mount up.
Here at HeliFly we ignore the cries of “don't tell 'em that, you'll scare 'em off!” and give a price that is more realistic of the abilities of the majority of helicopter students we meet. The costs in the table below are based on typical training rates at Shoreham Airport for Q1 2015 and include VAT. For a breakdown of the costs in this table click here.
HeliFly believe the subject of cost is more complex than just numbers though. We believe the cost is intrinsically tied into the future plans you have for your flying. For example, a young lad who wants to become a commercial pilot should probably fly the cheapest helicopter he can get his licence on, because his eventual employer will decide what they need him to fly.
However, someone learning to fly for pleasure needs to think about their long term objectives. If they want to fly with friends and family to country hotels etc, they may be better off learning in the Robinson R44 so that they are very familiar with the machine and can cope when the weather unexpectedly changes or a warning light comes on. Without your instructor beside you and with your loved ones in the back, the cockpit can quickly become a lonely place when things are not going to plan!
You may (if you've read this far) be thinking that you should train with another flight school that is quoting cheaper prices. We'd encourage you to click the print button at the top of the page and take this information (and the breakdown) along to your prospective training organisation. Work through it with them and you'll get an idea of the assumptions they use to derive their figures. Don't be bamboozled. If they're claiming you'll pass in 45 hours ask to speak to their last 3 PPL(H) graduates or ask for a 45 hour fixed price (you may get the former, you won't get the latter!).
Above all remember: THIS IS YOUR MONEY!
This document has, we hope, shown you that the question of cost is extremely difficult to answer. Why not give us a call, let us know your plans and we'll advise as fairly as we can.