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Palaces in the sky: The world’s most expensive helicopters

There comes a point in every millionaire’s life when they need a change of perspective. After building your own island fortress and breeding a frenzy of mutant sharks, it becomes difficult to view the world the same way most people do. Even driving in a supercar may leave you feeling blasé. The average person sees the world from ground level, but wouldn’t it be grand to get the view from Mount Olympus?

Thankfully, through the power of engineering, you can cast side earthly tethers and survey the world from on high. All you need is enough money to buy your own private helicopter. Planes may be faster, but helicopters allow you to take in the surrounding view like nothing else. Besides, you can’t exactly land a plane on top of a building in the middle of a city. For those with a few million dollars and a helipad, a helicopter is the perfect way to travel, gliding over town and country like an executive Hermes. Of course, there are quite a few helicopter models in the world. Check out the list below for a closer look at some of the most expensive helicopters available for private use. If you need to save up for a few more years before buying one, might we recommend a drone instead?

Note: The exact sales figures for the helicopters featured below are based upon what various helicopter-enthusiast sites claim. Most manufacturers don’t even provide an exact price quote.

For the millionaire on a budget

The thrifty option: Bell 505 Jet Ranger X ($1.5 million)

Just want to fly without the need for a television, minibar, or pool table? For the maverick millionaire who just wants to jaunt around the skies, the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X is a relatively affordable option. Yes, the other members of SPECTRE may sneer at your peasant chopper, but they also have to deal with all their friends asking to ride along for aerial parties. It’s a modern reimagining of the classic 206 JetRanger. Although it might not be a flying Mercedes-Benz, the X still has a spacious cabin, and you can even get leather seats if you want luxury. It includes a Garmin 1000 avionics suite for easy piloting, and the Jet Ranger X handles well. The only drawback: The cabin apparently gets quite loud.

Range: 566 km
Cruise speed: 232 km/h

Airbus H155 ($10 million)

Formerly known as the Eurocopter EC155, the name may have changed but the luxury is the same. Part of the opulently-named Dauphin line of helicopters, the H155 is a sizeable vehicle for the millionaire-on-a-budget. Depending on the configuration, the cabin can hold anywhere between eight to 12 passengers, in addition to two pilots. Large windows lining the sides of the cabin provide passengers with a wide view, and amenities such as leather seats, air conditioning, and in-flight entertainment mean you will be flying in comfort.

Range: 857 km

Cruise speed: 281 km/h, Max speed: 324 km/h (per Airbus)

AgustaWestland AW139 ($12 million)

AW139

In the helicopter industry, AgustaWestland is a name synonymous with quality, and the AW139 solidifies that reputation. At $12 million, it’s on the modest side for helicopters on this list, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the interior. The AW139 has the largest cabin in its class and its spacious design allows for a variety of seating configurations. Energy-absorbing landing gear and fuselage ensure a smooth ride from takeoff to touchdown, so you can work or relax while flying.

Range: 1250 km

Cruise Speed: 206 km/h

Sikorsky S-76C ($12.95 million)

An exemplar of American engineering, the Sikorsky S-76 is equipped with two Turboméca Arriel 1S1 turboshaft engines and is constructed to be lighter and use fewer parts than a typical helicopter design. An executive seating arrangement can hold up to eight passengers. The S-76C is perfect for a millionaire with a fondness for machinery.

Range: 832 km

Cruise speed: 287 km/h

AgustaWestland AW609 ($14 million)

AW609 - Faster, Further, Higher

The AgustaWestland is a premier VTOL for those living the executive lifestyle. The ability to take off and land vertically means the AW609 can fly you straight to whatever location you want to go, yet it can also fly twice as fast and as far a typical helicopter. The AW609 is the future of helicopter-related luxury.

Range: 1389 km

Cruise speed: 510 km/h

Bell 525 Relentless ($15 million)

This one may be cheating as it’s not on the market just yet, but the Bell 525nicknamed “Relentless” — promises to be one of the most exciting helicopters available. One of the pioneering examples of the “super-medium” class of helicopters, the 525 can hold up to 20 passengers in comfort. At times the 525 seems less like a helicopter and more like a floating palace. The Relentless is also an engineering marvel, incorporating fly-by-wire technology and a Garmin G5000H touchscreen avionics system.

Range: 926 km

Cruise speed: 287 km/h

The (extremely) luxury choices

Airbus H215 Super Puma ($15.5 million)

Coming in on the heavier end of mid-sized helicopters is Airbus’s H215 (formerly AS332), which can hold a mighty load of 19 passengers. Its size does not make it sluggish, however. The H215’s top speed clocks in at 141 knots, in line with other medium-size helicopters. The massive cabin can accommodate arrangements including lounges, kitchens, and bathrooms. You can essentially fit a whole office floor in this goliath.

Range: 841 km

Cruise speed: 252 km/h

Sikorsky S-92 ($17.7 million)

Sikorsky S-92® helicopter | The Ultimate VIP Transportation

A common choice among heads-of-state worldwide, the S-92 offers less seating than some of the other helicopters on this list, only accommodating a maximum of 10 passengers. Those ten passengers will, however, will fly in sybaritic luxury. The S-92’s cabin provides leather seats and ample room for legs and storage, as well as hot and cold air to tailor the atmosphere to your liking. High-quality furnishings and facilities leave the inside of the S-92 looking like the Palace of Versailles. Thankfully, you’re unlikely to run into any Jacobins at 14,000 feet.

Range: 999km

Cruise speed: 280 km/h

AgustaWestland AW101 ($21 million)

AW101

And they just keep getting bigger! AgustaWestland’s premier executive chopper, the AW101 carries a jaw-dropping price tag along with some uplifting features. Boasting the largest cabin in its class, the AW101 can hold 24 passengers in a colossal cabin space.  Three turbine engines carry the floating fortress, which can cruise along at 278 km/h.

Range: 1360 km

Cruise speed: 278 km/h

Airbus H225 Super Puma ($27 million)

This 11-ton giant is a giant in Airbus’s Super Puma family of helicopters. In addition to carrying more than 20 passengers, the H225 can also handle heavy lifting and is popular among search-and-rescue teams, offshore drilling programs, and wealthy businessmen. All the features one would expect from a top-of-the-line helicopter are here: a spacious cabin, a soundproofed fuselage, high-speed and long-range capabilities, and accoutrements such as lounges and galleys. Although it is a little slower than the other helicopters on this list, the H225 makes up for it with gargantuan size and features. The H225 is an airborne flagship, well-suited to carrying elite passengers — as it should be, since only the biggest earners will be able to pay its exorbitant price.

Range: 857 km

Cruise speed: 275.5 km/h

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Will Nicol
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Nicol is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends. He covers a variety of subjects, particularly emerging technologies, movies…
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