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Helicopter vs. Plane: Which is Better for Charter?

There’s nothing quite like private aviation. Once you swap the lengthy line-ups and cramped seats of flying commercially for the superior convenience and comfort of flying privately, it’s highly unlikely you’ll purchase a seat on a commercial airliner again. And with so many private aircraft charter options to choose from, you may find yourself wondering which is better: helicopter vs plane?

Let’s compare and contrast airplanes and helicopters so you can make an informed decision when booking a charter flight.

The Benefits of Helicopter Charters

It’s no secret that helicopters can be more versatile than fixed-wing aircraft. Without the need of a runway, a helicopter can drop you down into some of the hardest to reach areas around the globe, including the tops of buildings in the most crowded cities.

pilot and passenger on helicopter

Other benefits include:

  • Saving time by skipping the ground transportation portion of traveling to and from and airport
  • The flexibility of arriving at more than one location in a day
  • Being able to land nearly anywhere at any time

When should I charter a helicopter vs a plane?

You may want to consider a helicopter charter if you plan on making multiple stops in a short period of time, like popping into a meeting in a busy downtown core and then heading to a ski resort, private residence or yacht equipped with a helipad shortly afterward. It’s also a solid option if you need to touch down in a remote location that isn’t serviced by jets or turboprop aircraft.

The Benefits of Fixed-wing Charters

Hiring a private jet is ideal for longer trips. Since they can reach further destinations and provide more amenities, like bathrooms, galleys, and bedrooms than helicopters, they’re the idea choice in those situations.

private jet charter and attendant

Other notable benefits include:

  • The ability to fly further distances than helicopters
  • The reduction of layovers found when travelling via commercial airline
  • Less time spent in an airport as opposed to commercial travel
  • The ability to travel with furry companions
  • The flexibility to arrive and depart on your own personal schedule

To summarize, helicopters are great when you’re hopping around a city or remote location and need to make multiple stops in a single day, but jets are preferable for longer distances.

Which is Safer: Helicopter or Airplane?

No matter which aircraft you plan to charter, the goal of every operator and broker should be to provide the safest flight possible. Before you book a charter flight, you must always look at their safety policies and history of flights. Not all brokers are created equal, and it’s important that the broker you choose to hire is reputable and professional.

In terms of helicopter vs. planes, both methods of transportation are extremely safe when all regulations are adhered to.

Helicopter Safety and Regulations

Statistically, helicopter charters carry a little more risk than private jets and commercial airliners and they’re governed by fewer regulations. The FAA’s Helicopter Flying Handbook states that the bulk of the helicopter maintenance responsibility, in-flight decision-making and pre-flight weather conditions lie with the pilot. They’re also not required to come equipped with a black box the same way commercial aircraft are.

Before you book a helicopter charter, it’s important to have a candid conversation with the pilot and aircraft owner. You should consider asking questions like:

  • How old is the helicopter?
  • Has the aircraft been properly maintained?
  • Are there maintenance records available?
  • Are there any open discrepancies on the helicopter?
  • How long have you been a helicopter pilot for?

Fixed-wing Aircraft Safety and Regulations

For aircraft based in the United States, there are certain regulations in place to ensure air charter safety. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees and regulates all non-commercial flying. Charter companies booking on-demand flights as regulated under Part 135, which applies to aircraft with 10 or fewer passengers. Major airlines must adhere to Part 121 regulations.

Many of these charter companies also employee in-house safety

Helicopter vs Plane: A Brief Summary

How the aircraft generates lift Rotor blades mounted on top (or in some cases, sides) generate lift. Fixed wings generate lift once they are in motion and enough air is flowing over them
Stability Helicopters are less stable in the air. They require a second rotor to keep the body from spinning, and this makes them harder to operate. Airplanes are fairly stable and easily return to a balanced position if all control inputs are neutralized.
Safety Helicopters can be safer than general aviation, but aren’t as rigorously monitored as commercial aviation. Commercial jets have a fatality rate of one death per 2.7 million flights, so that makes them one of the safest method of transportation currently available.
Service Ceiling The majority of helicopters have a service ceiling ranging from 10,000 feet to 20,000 feet. For commercial jet airliners, the service ceiling is around 40,000ft whereas many military fighter jets and aircraft used in private aviation often have a service ceiling around 41,000 to 50,000 feet.
Speed and Range Helicopters are slower and have a shorter range than fixed-wing aircraft. This is compensated by their maneuverability. Jets can cruise at high speeds, using much less fuel than helicopters. This makes them the ideal choice for long -haul flights.
Uses Helicopters are the aircraft of choice for short distances when a runway is not available. Airplanes are typically used for longer flights
Costs Helicopters are much more expensive to operate and purchase than fixed-wing aircraft and are generally produced in smaller quantities. Because they have so many moving parts, servicing them can be expensive. They also require a lot of fuel to keep aloft. Private jets are much cheaper to buy and operate than helicopters. They are also produced in larger quantities and are more economical than helicopters.


Ready to book a charter aircraft for your upcoming trip? Lean on the aviation experts at Stratos Jet Charters. We only work with the best operators in the industry, so you can rest assured your charter flight will be safe, comfortable, and luxurious. Request a free quote today!

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