Robinson R22 Aircraft Cost Calculations

Robinson Delivery AreaA lot of you have been emailing me and are interested in my Robinson R22 cost calculations that I mentioned in this post. I came up with this spreadsheet (posted as a JPEG file below) after looking at lots of new and used Robinson R22s and concluded that if you have the appropriate cash flow, it can be cheaper to buy a new Robinson R22 for initial helicopter training and fly it for 5 years vs renting. I’d welcome your comments on my cost estimations.

Find out all the details after the jump.


  1. 10% down payment
  2. Pathfinder insurance
  3. You have desire to administer (paperwork, etc) all aspects of owning your own aircraft
  4. You are okay with flying your own (brand new) helicopter for your initial training
  5. Acquisition January 1 of year 1 and sale of aircraft on December 31 of year 5
  6. Flight time of at least 100 hours per year
  7. Inculdes some cost for a CFI in year 1 and recurrent training (you may need more or less)

Robinson R22 Ownership Cost Calculation

Robinson R22 Ownership Cost Calculation

Disclaimer: This information is strictly hypothetical and should not be relied upon as advice to help you with your specific situation. Each aircraft purchase situation is unique and must be analyzed by professionals including, but not limited to, an attorney and tax professional licensed to practice in your area.

If you are interested in the actual spreadsheet so you can customize your own figures, you can download it here.

Let me know what you think!

12 thoughts on “Robinson R22 Aircraft Cost Calculations

  1. Great breakdown! Anyone prepared to shell out $50-60k into their training should take a look at this possibility. I’ll do some more research on it myself. I’d much rather have some of that $250/hour go back into my pocket!

  2. Whoa.

    First of all, why would you buy a brand new one? Right now, the market is flooded with perfectly good used R22s from failed flight schools (think Silver State) and over-extended “rich guys.” I think you can get a fine used one for around $100-$120K. When I bought mine in 2000, it was a 1999 model with only 168 hours on it; it looked brand new — and it only cost $132K. (I sold it for $105K in 2004 with 1068 hours on it.)

    Don’t buy used from a broker. Use Trade-a-Plane.

    Second, anyone who finances anything over 20 years is throwing away huge amounts of money paid in interest. Why would you do that unless you could get a tax deduction on interest paid? (Like for a business?) I borrowed $100K on my R22 and financed it over 6 years. Payments came in around $2000/month. I borrowed $160K on my R44 and financed over 7 years for the same monthly payment (interest was lower; about 7.5% now). I want to OWN the aircraft one day. I don’t want to pay for it until I sell it. And I don’t want to give more of my hard earned money to a bank than I have to — even though I CAN deduct the interest since the helicopter is a business expense.

    But maybe that’s just me.

    As I mentioned in your original post on this topic(, I think you can work the numbers a little better and, with a partner or two, can make it quite affordable.

    Another other option is to lease from someone like the Spitzers in California or Rich Carter in Seattle. Rich has at least a half dozen R22s sitting on the ramp at Boeing field; I bet he’d love to get one of them into the hands of a couple of folks who would fly it a dozen or more hours a month.

    There are a lot of options out there with so many helicopters not being flown. Work this idea a bit. If you’re serious about getting a helicopter rating, why not try to find a few local pilots like yourself who are willing to take the plunge with you?

  3. Maria, Mike,

    Interesting stuff here. I was indulging in the similar thoughts for ages.

    One of the suggestions (Maria) was to go with CFI directly. In that sense after gaining CPL for further hour building, would you offer your services? That would include dual as well solo once confidence inthe client builds after some time.
    This would require you to hold a CFI rating but would bring in cash for your flying time and same time wouold be reasonably cheaper to an individual client?

    Its assuming that ownership of helo by single individual out of question.

    Please comment.

  4. Someone, like Maria, would probably known better the ins-and-outs of sharing time in a helicopter as my only experience with sharing time was when practicing for my instrument rating for ASEL.

    I would think that if your goal was to build time, I would certainly explore multiple options. I have seen where people will look for other pilots to share time when transporting an aircraft for maintenance, etc. A lot of it depends on what your goals are, how much flexibility you have in your timeline, and the quality of the time you want to put in.

    I highly recommend checking out Maria’s blog. She has a lot of experience with helicopters and has a lot of great posts on various helicopter – as well as other – topics.

  5. I am interested in buying a Silver State R-22 but the website is down. Maria mentioned “schools” plural; any help on where to buy a good used ac?

  6. Hey Guys, I know this is an old thread but just stumbled on it.

    +Maria’s comments here and also her blog!

    I just bought an R22 last year for personal use, and just to share a few thoughts here:

    1. Buying a used bird, with higher time bird is absolutely the way to go here. Even from an cost of capital perspective, loan, interest, or your money not being in the market. If you are flying less then 300 hours a year you have to get a high time bird. Otherwise the 12 yr’s will get you as well, and the risk exposure is a lot higher.

    2. I did end up buying silver state. but who hasn’t now.

    3. another idea is: Don’t buy hull insurance. If it is just a few folks flying, contract, escrow or something is better then insurance, and high time bird makes the risk here a lot lower. If you are doing personal use and not agg or training, risk to the hull I believe is manageable. knock on wood.

    4. finding CFI’s to use your bird I believe is actually more reasonable and have more flexibility.

    5. Even with all of this, annuals and hanger costs end up becoming major parts of the equation in my experience. If you end up dropping your yearly hours you will find your cost / hour flying through the roof.

    6. An active pilot is a safe pilot. A rusty pilot should not be in the sky. For your long term life viewpoint, owning an R22 or partnership for a few years might be a much better situation then renting and flying less but over a longer period of time.

    Just a few additions, I’m interested in hearing other’s thoughts on these points.


  7. I am glad you revived the thread Justin. I am in the middle of negotiating R22 leases for hour building. My only concern is that I have only seen 25+ hour minimums per month. That’s good but if I break a leg running or something comes up in my life then I eat $3000 for nothing. I also don’t want the bird for the long term. I want the helicopter for 4-6 months to finish my CFII training. I have several CFII friends who will gladly get me to my CFII. If I did buy a used one, who finances those? Thanks!

  8. If you buy a used higher hour R22 and don’t do hull insurance.
    – for financing… hmm, home equity loan?
    – no one will lien against a non insured bird.

    I would argue for any aircraft you are better with almost any other financing then a lien against the plane. You are better off with a loan against your retirement or market funds.

    who can justify 7-9% interest in this market?

  9. Any wisdom from you folks would be appreciated!.
    Within 18 months I’d like to buy a used R22 for personal use/pleasure.
    I’m an A&P mech that will have his I/A within a couple months.
    What would be the most hours on a bird that you would purchase (assuming that you’d own it for roughly 10 years)?
    My next move will be somewhere where I can park my aircraft at home, plus I can do my own annuals & maintenance, so that will be serious monthly savings.
    I know that there are lots of variables, but any input would be great.

  10. I know this is a realllllly old topic, but I’ve been researching the same costs all the rest of us interested in rotor training have been. Something important I noticed: you don’t include the loan payoff in your spreadsheet. After 5 years paying on a 20 year note that your example includes ($210,000, 7.5%, 240 month term), you’d still owe the bank $182,494.41. If you only sell the R22 for $126,000, you actually ending up costing yourself a net ($115,528.68) in the long run…. Lesson here: Don’t finance toys over 20 years and/or don’t buy a brand new helicopter.

  11. His numbers don’t add up. You can’t own one cheaper than renting. Can’t do it!!! The only person making money is the flight instructor….

  12. Thanks for stopping by. As you might have noticed this post was made in 2007 and is likely way off given the amount of time that has passed. You’re welcome to take the basic framework and rework this to your specific situation using current numbers. Best of luck and thanks again for stopping by.

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