Heli cost : Canada vs US

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This question may be directed at readers in Canada ..

I'm curious to understand why the huge cost differential between R22/R44 time in the US vs Canada (Typical example: R22 US$250/hr vs US$450/hr in Canada).

The purchase cost seems the same, other costs hangerage etc seems on a par. Does it comes down to insurance?

Regards, Alan

-- Alan Course, October 2, 2007


Weather may be a factor. Insurance is priced per year, not per hour. If you can't fly many hours per year, the per-hour insurance cost goes up. So you raise the rate on the helicopter and fewer people fly and the per-hour cost goes up even more. So you raise the rate... and eventually you find yourself at $450/hour when the same machine can be rented in Florida for $200.

You guys have GST on the helicopter, no? That would explain about 15% of the cost difference (most U.S. states do not tax aircraft rental, e.g., in Massachusetts we do not have to collect tax).

Finally there is the fact that people will pay it! We have the cheapest R44 in the world at US$299/hour and we have never had a single Canadian customer!

-- Philip Greenspun, October 3, 2007

To answer Alan's question below: I have never flown a Schweizer. The guys who have and get into a Robinson say that they never want to fly a Schweizer again. If you just want a helicopter rating the Schweizer has the advantage over the R22, I think, in being supposedly a bit more stable. The R44, I think, is better in every way than a Schweizer.

Probably finding a great instructor is more important than Robinson versus Schweizer. A great versus average instructor will probably save you 15-20 hours.

-- Philip Greenspun, October 3, 2007

You may be getting the two models of helicopter confused. In your question you refer to the "R22/R44" times. These are two different helicopters and I wonder if you are mixing up the hourly prices with the different machines. e.g. an R22 will rent for about $200 to $250 per hour and the R44 will rent in the $450 range. There isn't normally a very large of a price break between USA and Canada helicopter rentals, not that I am aware of.

-- Mark Dalton, October 2, 2007


Thanks for your reply.

I guess I meant for both the R22 and the R44 models - both seem significantly more expensive in Canada. An R22 typically costing $450/hr and R44 $750/hr and that's seems pretty even across the various provinces. And let's not forget the Loonie is at parity with the dollar.

Some examples:
Great Lakes Helicopters
Big Horn Helicopters

-- Alan Course, October 2, 2007

Wow. I wasn't aware of such a huge price difference! Maybe a call to Vertical Magazine (based in Canada) would get an answer.

-- Mark Dalton, October 3, 2007

I figured insurance must be an overriding factor here. We do have GST at 6% and in Alberta there is no PST (state tax equiv). Weather obviously varies but Alberta is pretty stable allowing a high number of flying days. Canadian cities do have smaller catchments therefore less (wealthy) people. But I assumed lower demand would lead to fewer helicopters being worked just as hard.

The few operators I've spoken to (understandably) don't handle the 'Why are you so expensive?' question very well. They certainly don't appear to be living it up, any 'Mercs in the car park belong to their clients, rarely the owners.

I'm surprised that no fellow Canucks have taken advantage of Philip's bargain R44. It has given me sleepless nights knowing what a bargain was on offer and trying to work out the math of relocating the family to Boston for 6 months. But anywhere in the States is a bargin in comparision, so I'm focusing on companies just over the border likely in Kalispell or Spokane.

Which starts the next great debate: 300C/CBi in Kalispell or the Robinsons in Spokane? ;-)

Philip - have you flown a 300C?.

-- Alan Course, October 3, 2007