There is a great difference between doc (direct operating costs) of home built vs. production helios. Robinson win's hands down for production units, and as far as I know the hummingbird is the only 4 place homebuilt unit on the market today. Rotorway doesn't have a 4 place unit but they do build a slick 2 seater. Even the Robinson rebuild rates for a helo you already own to be factory rebuilt to new specs is not expensive when you compare it to anyother piston 4 seater. How bout considering a 3 seater from Schwitzer? Have you considered that, or a well maintained Bell 47 for a two place. There's a lot of product out there so take your time and choose wisely, sometimes the retail price may be high but the doc might be less then others on the market, so compare apples with apples and not oranges, or ducks! Good luck and cheers!
There's no such thing as cheap aviation there is less expensive ways to approach it, homebuilt vs. factory is one way to significantly reduce the cost of operation, Robinson as opposed to Bell in the 4 seater catagory trubine vs piston, etc. Pistons are always less expensive to operate then pistons unless your talking about very old read expensive to insure helios and then its a close horse race. In the 4 seater catagory if you compare Bell Jetranger vs Robinson R44 the 44 is almost sooooo much less to operate and is as fast if not faster then the JetRanger, sure it does'nt have the smell or cool sound of the JetRanger, or a lot of the amenities included in the Bell, but its a significantly less money to own and operate. Sure the hangers are about the same price, but the insurance and fuel are sure a lot more money, as are all the other costs associated with operating and ownership. Inexpensive does not equal cheap in aviation. As I said previously choose wisely and do the math on each one you are considering before signing on the dotted line. P.S. There are a few companies that specilize in helping people acquire helicopters like Bowers and others, a very good investment when you consider how complex the purchase of any helicopter is, they handle the pre-purchase inspection and hold your hand thru title insurance, etc, as I said a very wise invenstment on anyone's behalf who's considering the purchase of a new or used helicopter. Try the following link.....
As you can see from some of the replies already, the question you have asked is being interpreted in a way you probably ( hopefully ) didn't anticipate .....
What 4 seater helicopter would be the cheapest to run for private use?
There will be those that will hope this isn't followed up with questions like :
"Where can I get the cheapest maintenance ?"
"Where can I get the cheapest / reconditioned / generic spares ?"
"Do I really need to carry out those time consuming pre-Flight checks every time ?"
The phrase "cheapest" in this context will often conjur up such thoughts...
Perhaps a better question would be :
"Which 4 seater helicopter would provide the best value for money, in terms of Purchase price, Depreciation, Maintenance costs, Running costs, Fuel efficiency etc. based on an estimated xxx hours per year - for private use, and can anyone provide an estimate of the approximate total annual direct operating costs ?"
Having said all that I am not in a position to offer any answers to your question ( however it is worded ), but there are plenty here that can
First things first- as coconutty has said, there's questions of maintenance/spares, etc in addition to insurance and way more.
Each operator has a set or develops an operating requirement(s). From there, likely candidates are cast and evaluated for selection based on all factors. There is very little subjectivity when all the chips are down- operators usually will fly Bell, S, or AW airframes because they already have spares, operators, and maintainers familiar with said family of airframes.
'tis all getting too far from the helicopter & wrenches, and too close to the offices for my taste though.
The $/£ rate has shifted significantly since i bought my 44. It cost me appx. £235k including a few bits n bobs, but the same ship would be almost £290k to buy new today.
Assume you do 100 hours as a PPL(H) p.a. Also assume a certain hull value after 12 years and take into account your likely usage over the period you will own the machine and you can easily work out the running costs per hour (if you look on Robinson's webshite, they attempt a similar thing but it's wildly optmistic, of course!).
If you assume an R44 is worth £40k as a timed out hull after 12 years and the cost of a 'standard spec' machine is say £275k to buy new today, the depreciation cost of owning one is (275-40)/2200 = £106 per hour. Add on maintenance, that's 1 x 50hrs plus 1 x 100 hr, an annual and ARC, say £6,500 plus £2,000 for ADs and other unscheduled maintenance, so that's another £85 per hour . Insurance, say £9,000 p.a. so £90 per hour. Finally, fuel (60 litres/hour) and oil, adds £90/hour.
Obviously the cost will vary according to your usage, the timing of scheduled maintenance and 'surprises', but in this case, you can expect a TCO of about £371 per hour. No doubt some people will disagree with my assumptions, but they're welcome to insert their own and do the maths