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What is the fastest speed a private helicopter can fly?

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One of the most common questions that all helicopter pilots are asked is how fast the helicopter can fly. Because a helicopter is typically much smaller than a fixed wing aircraft, flight speeds can often appear different to what they actually are. To answer the question accurately, however, we need to examine the different helicopter models, as maximum speeds vary significantly, depending on several factors. These include the size of each model and their passenger capacity, as well as their range, size, weight and maximum speeds amongst other factors. Regardless of which model you’re looking to fly with, there’s something guaranteed to meet your needs.

Sikorsky S92 helicopter
The Sikorsky S92 can accommodate up to 16 passengers, making it one of the largest private charter helicopters available. It has a maximum weight of 12020 kgs, a range of 625 miles, and a top speed of 160mph. This is a very large helicopter that suits larger corporate groups perfectly.

Sikorsky S76 helicopter
This helicopter was launched way back in 1977 and is still one of the most widely-used helicopters in the charter world. It is fitted out with 8 seats and has a maximum weight limit of 5307kg. Travelling at a top speed of 180mph gives it a range of 400 miles to the tank.

Agusta 109 helicopter
Agusta 109 is another design that has a long history in the charter market. It also flies at a maximum speed of 180mph, but has just five passenger seats, and a maximum weight limit of 3175kg. It can reach a very respectable range of 500 miles.

Robinson R44 helicopter
One of the smaller helicopters used for charter flights, the Robinson R44 has three passenger seats and a maximum weight of 1134kg. Cruising speeds for this helicopter are a little lower, at 130mph, but the range is still exceptional, at 400 miles to get you where you need to go.

Airbus H155 helicopter
Considered a mid-sized helicopter, the Airbus is perfect for longer journeys, as it has a range of 530 miles. With space for 6 passengers, this helicopter has a maximum weight limit of 4850kg. It flies at a maximum speed of 170mph.

Airbus H135 helicopter
One of the most popular charter helicopters available, the H135 is well used everywhere. Capable of carrying up to six passengers in style, it has a weight limit of 2910kg. The H1 flies at a maximum speed of 155mph and has a maximum range of 395 miles.

Airbus AS355 helicopter
Comfortably carrying up to five passengers, this twin-engine helicopter is another firm favourite with charter clients. It can cruise at up to 150mph and can fly for up to 440 miles. Confined spaces are easily dealt with by the AS3, and can fly in most weather conditions at a weight of 2540kg.

Airbus AS350 helicopter
This make can carry up to six passengers and has a maximum weight limit of 2250kg. With a top cruise speed of 150mph and a range of 400 miles, this is a popular choice for sightseeing, VIP flights, aerial photography and air ambulance duties.

Airbus H120 helicopter
One of the smaller choices in the charter sector, the Airbus H120 offers 4 passenger seats and has a maximum weight limit of 1715kg. Whilst it is one of the smaller helicopters available for charter flights, it still has an impressive range of up to 440 miles, and it can fly at up to 140mph. This is just as popular as the larger makes and makes for just as impressive an experience.

Why is luxury air travel by helicopter popular?

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Regardless of where you are in the world or what language you speak, someone making an entrance via a helicopter indicates that he or she is a big deal. Once considered the preserve of the rich and famous, things have changed dramatically in recent years as private helicopters have become more accessible than ever, whilst losing none of their excitement or efficiency.

A taste of the high-life
Whilst it’s true that more and more people are choosing to travel by helicopter, it still retains a sense of luxury and sophistication. A flight on a commercial airline involves tedious journeys to crowded airports, waiting in line for security checks and regular flight delays. Flying by helicopter, however, is an altogether more refined experience. Helicopters usually operate from private airfields, so there are no crowds to contend with, and no delays for security clearance. Passengers are treated courteously at all times, and there are often luxurious extras, such as elegant waiting lounges, personal assistants and gourmet snacks.

Fast journey times
Getting anywhere in the UK by road, rail or commercial flight can be a frustrating experience. With helicopter travel, it’s fast and easy to get to where you need to be. Travelling by car from London to Oxford, for example, would take at least two hours and that’s assuming a lack of traffic. In contrast, if you were to travel by helicopter, the journey would take just 30 minutes.

Comfort and style
There’s no denying that travelling by helicopter offers a high degree of comfort and style. The cramped seats offered by the budget airlines are nowhere to be seen, and passengers can sit back and relax in spacious and comfortable surroundings. Luxury and star treatment sits at the heart of the entire experience and extends beyond the flight itself. It’s undeniably a pleasure to stroll through the terminal building after a helicopter trip, with no crowds or hustle and bustle.

Access all areas
Since helicopters don’t need a fixed runway to land, they can go almost anywhere within legal boundaries. Chartering a private helicopter is an ideal way of visiting out of the way locations, such as country estates, vineyards, golf courses and luxury hotels. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, flying directly to your venue by helicopter is the most impactful way to arrive!

Combine business and pleasure
One of the beauties of private helicopter travel is that the flight path really is up to you. If you want to take in some sightseeing on the way to an important business meeting, all you need to do is arrange it beforehand with your charter company. Therefore instead of your usual boring commute, even the most routine of trips become infinitely more memorable. Little can compete with flying over the London skyline, spotting familiar tourist destinations and looking out for lesser known places that are usually hidden from view. How many people, for example, can say that they’ve seen the gardens of Buckingham Palace from the air? That frequent business journey along the M4 will be even less appealing after you’ve flown by helicopter, following the winding path of the River Thames instead. No matter where you are travelling to, flying by helicopter makes every journey an adventure.

Where Can a Private Helicopter Land?

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If you’re looking to buy a helicopter or are interested in utilising helicopter charter services, one of the main considerations you might have is where you might be allowed to land. Aside from the obvious things like capacity, engine size and the distance you might be able to travel, this is the one other thing that could restrict your travel options in a chartered helicopter. Generally speaking, the requirements for a landing site are a flat area of ground about the size of 2 tennis courts, with no obstructions.

But what happens when you have different helicopters of different sizes and speeds? The law states it is the responsibility of the pilot to ensure that the layout of the landing site is within the performance capability of his or her helicopter. One of the key things to remember is that, unless a helicopter is taking off or landing in accordance with normal practice, it is not allowed to fly within 500 feet of a person, vehicle or structure. This is something worth considering if you live in an urban area or are planning to fly to built-up places. If you’re hoping to land on an elevated site within a city, such as a rooftop landing pad, you’ll need a twin helicopter.

There’s also a key rule pilots use when navigating over busy, urban areas, often referred to as the “1,000 Foot Rule”. This means that if you’re above an urban area, you must stay at a height of at least 1,000 feet above the highest fixed object within 600 meters of the helicopter. Therefore when approaching a particularly high landmark, such as a cathedral or office tower, your helicopter will need to increase its altitude before it gets within 600 meters.

If you’re considering buying your own helicopter, or having a chartered helicopter service land on private property that you own, there are obvious exceptions to the general rules. Helicopters that are landing in the confines of private property are exempt from planning consent, making personal travel for work or leisure somewhat easier.

As expected, the penalties for deviating from proper landing protocol are quite severe. As recently as 2015, a pilot was fined £1,700 for illegal airspace entry and landing at Heathrow.

The rules outlined above may seem stringent, but they work. In almost 20 years there have only been 33 fatal incidents reported nationwide. Private helicopters are fast, efficient and safe when handled correctly and there are many places to land outside of urban zones. If you’re hoping to make use of this service to fly into urban zones that are built up, helicopter hire companies or charter helicopters will often have special arrangements in place that allow them to touch down as near to your destination as possible. For example, London has its own heliport in Battersea, and there’s even a pub with its own helipad in Oxfordshire. The majority of chartered helicopter services will own designated spots at given airports too, but if you have any particular specifications it’s always worth checking to see if they can get you closer to where you need to be.

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