How Far Can a Helicopter Fly (Flight Range, Max Distance)

Updated on December 12, 2019 by

You might be curious how exciting it would be to ride in a helicopter and enjoy the view from above. If you have not experienced this yet, then I know you are wondering so many things about helicopters. You might also be thinking when helicopters fly, how far can it go? It’s pretty straightforward.

 So How Far Can Helicopters Fly?

Only a few people know that helicopters can fly for an extended period or a considerable far distance before they need to stop or to refuel. Typically, before helicopters can stop and refuel, it can actually fly for about 2.5 to 5 hours or travel for about 250 miles. But of course, not all helicopters can do that. The distance or the time a helicopter can fly will depend on many factors, such as the type and size, among others.

The Type Of Helicopter Determines How Far and High It Can Fly

Knowing the types of helicopters will be able to tell you how far they can go, how much weight they can carry, as well as the fuel tank size.These factors can determine how far do helicopters fly until they need to stop and refuel. Most of the helicopters can fly up to 5, 000 feet up in the air for about 600 miles when it runs out of fuel reserve.

There are different types of helicopters, such as the military, private, and even commercial ones. With these, no one can really tell what the exact distance or time a helicopter can travel continuously is. For instance, a military helicopter can travel faster than a civilian helicopter, which can only move between 150 to 175 miles an hour, The CH-47F Chinook helicopter, owned by the military, currently has the fastest speed to record. It can travel for about 170 knots or approximately 195 miles an hour.

The Airbus Helicopters’ H155 is the fastest civilian helicopter to date and can travel for as fast as 200 miles an hour or about 174 knots. With a speed of about 295 miles an hour or approximately 255 knots, the Eurocopter X3 is the fastest among all the helicopters combined.

How High Can A Helicopter Fly?

Taking safety into consideration, in general, an ideal range of 500 feet is considered standard height where helicopters can fly with flexibility. For special-purpose helicopters, it can go as high as 10,000 feet. If it exceeds that range up to 14,000 feet, an oxygen supply would be needed in order for passengers to survive.

For those who are curious, Fred North got the recordset of flying a helicopter in 2002 that reached a range of about 42,000 feet while he is inside the AS 350 B2 Squirrel helicopter.

To know the approximate distance a helicopter can fly, here are some fascinating information available

  • Hughes OH-6 Cayuse, chopper, has traveled the longest helicopter flight in the record which is about 2213 miles
  • Every 15 minutes, helicopters with a single rotor usually travel about 40 to 50 miles
  • Helicopters have a typical speed of about 150 to 200 miles every hour.
  • Usually, it costs about $200 up to $750 per hour for maintenance and fuel, among others, in order to operate a helicopter. The cost will much depend on gear and other factors.

The size of the fuel tank is one of the factors to consider in determining the ability of the helicopters to operate and fly, as well as the speed, the distance, and the range it can travel. Clearly, larger tanks can have more fuel, thus making them fly and travel for a long time before there is a need to refuel. It can also allow it to travel faster at a higher range.

Legal Requirements For Helicopters’ Flight Range

Helicopters are likewise required to follow specific government rules and regulations when flying, just like airplanes. These rules may not be applicable at all times and may change to suit a number of cases like:

  • Operation in commercial airports or populated areas.
  • Operation on a business area or a private property
  • Weather – either good or bad
  • Operation in state borders or from one country to the other
  • Standard or special customs licenses

These mean that helicopters can’t just simply fly anywhere they want. They are bonded by certain legalities and are obliged to conform to these laws.

Factors Affecting the Helicopter Range

As already mentioned, how far or how high helicopters can fly is based on so many factors like the amount of fuel needed and the cargo they need to carry.

Since it is expensive to refuel in-air, the majority of the pilots have to land and refuel. Again, the average time a helicopter can fly before it refuels is about 2 hours up to 5 hours. Others may travel more or less.

The EC155, aside from Sikorsky S92, can likewise possibly travel at about 600 miles before it requires refueling, while Apache Attack helicopter, a chopper, can go for as far as 1200 miles before it stops to refuel. With this information, you are now able to understand how far, how high or how fast helicopters to travel, depends on numerous factors.

Deborah Phillips

Deborah Phillips

A pilot, well-traveled consultant, businesswoman and international speaker who has collected countless pearls of travel wisdom over many years.

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