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Why I Charge $545/Hour to Fly Passengers in My Helicopter

Maria writes in her blog: " one seems to understand the full cost of operating a helicopter charter business. I touched on operating costs in a very popular blog post I wrote back in 2010. It’s so much more than the cost of fuel." ( Plus d'info...

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Frank Singer 2
OK here are my two cents. First of all you are going at it the wrong way. You must separate fixed and marginal costs. Fixed costs such as insurance, hanger rent, annual inspections, and the cost of the copter etc. are there regardless how much you use the copter. Marginal costs are tied to usage. That is simply fuel, engine reserve, and maintenance (tires, brakes, etc.).

The cost of the copter is actually very simple whether you paid cash or financed it. You should figure the total cost of the machine ($400,000) as the basis. If you paid cash you are losing the interest you could be getting. If you financed it you know what your costs are. Either was the cost is the same. I use 5% as the cost of money (I used to use 10% before the economy crashed).

So your hourly cost is the sum of your marginal cost per hour plus your fixed costs divided by how many hours a year you fly your helicopter.
PhotoFinish 1
You explained it well. She considered both fixed and marginal costs and divided them appropriately over the time flown.

Considering fixed and marginal costs can lead one to different business strategy. But as far as accoubting for her costs and figuring out the cost to fly per hour, what the blogger/business owner wrote and what you wrote should arrive at the same figure.
Jason Feldman 1
Look at all the areas we must be proficient at to be pilots. This kind of knowledge does not come overnight. Sure a newbie Private SEL has no idea of all the intricacies - but a pilot learns so much over their career - especially if they get into aircraft ownership.

I have several aircraft myself, they are all Gemini scale aircraft, but those aren't cheap you know! At least the fuel costs are low
ken young 1
I am not seeing a problem with that rate.
Besides, anyone with the ability to afford such a luxury, does not really care.
$545 is what these people use for kindling in their fireplace.
Scott Campbell 1
This is why only fleets can make money at this, her other costs are 127 an hour,
and where a fleet can manage more aircraft and remove the profit from operating more efficientl. I believe all you can do with one helicopter or Jet , is cut your losses and lower the cost of personal use.
CyranoSmith 1
On a similar note, we had a heckuva time trying to make people understand why, if the Wi-Fi is free at Five-Bucks, it isn't free on an aircraft.
(yeah,I'm one of 'those' guys)

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Mark Lansdell 1
Who is assuming all the risk of ownership? Did the pilot, "who does all the work" personally guarantee any of the loans? Did the pilot sell the next charter or job? Did the pilot guarantee payroll? Did the pilot secure hanger space or mechanical services?

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Mark Lansdell 1
I think in this case, at least, the pilot is the owner from what I've read. It's a similar delema faced by Walmart in in Wash.DC. To pay the employees more changes the pay scale for the entire store and affects pricing and margins as well.
That's right!!!
AWAAlum 0
I've no clue, but is it your theory that the employee should make more than the owner of a business? If that's the case, there'd be more indians than chiefs (forgive me if that old saying is politically incorrect) and if that IS the case, there wouldn't be any companies, hence no jobs at all. Or am I misunderstanding entirely?
The public needs to pay more. Raise the price, pay the pilot more, and the owner still makes money. The public needs to pay $200 each way from NY to FL, not $29...

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AWAAlum 1
I think that had you said it that way, rather than sounding like you thought the pilot should earn more than the owner, more would have understood sooner. Talker plainer. It's difficult to know what you're thinking when you don't tell us.
PhotoFinish 3
The Real Cost of Helicopter Ownership:
Steven Thomas 1
Nice article on the Robinson, I recently wrote one on the Bell 47:

Hint: results are the same. Helicopters are astoundingly expensive.
joel wiley 1
Thanks for that link & the original post. From reading those and a few others on the subject, I am reminded of the old commercials featuring 'Joe Isuzu'.
The owner of any business sometimes must laugh to keep from crying.

Thanks for keeping going anyway.

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