The only way is up

More than just status symbols or big boys' toys, helicopters are increasingly being used as cost-effective commuter craft

WITH a top speed of 200km/h and the ability to traverse 600km - or journeys of three hours - on a single tank of fuel, helicopters eclipse motor vehicles as the ideal means of corporate transport.

"There are no traffic jams up there," says Troy Holloway of Helibiz, the
exclusive distributor of Robinson helicopters in Australia.

"It makes more sense than sitting in a car for half a day. Helicopters can travel at 200km/h as the crow flies, cutting down a road trip of several hours to about two in the air."

Maintenance for local owners is about to become even easier, thanks in part to a new service facility opening at Gold Coast Airport, at Coolangatta, in November.

There are currently 560 Robinson helicopters registered with the Civil Aircraft Registry.

Some of the advantages attracting droves of businesses and private owners to choppers include cost-effectiveness - at only $220 per hour - reliability and ease of travel.

"You don't need to get to the airport, wait in queues, suffer delays and lost baggage and you don't need a lot of space for a runway - just a tennis court-sized area," says Mr Holloway.

He says there are two kinds of licenses - private and commercial.

"Private requires 50 hours of training and commercial 105 hours plus theory."

Professionals needing to traverse great distances in the course of a day are taking to helicopters, among them tourism operators, cattle station and property owners, racing drivers who need to travel between events, engineers, miners and business people for whom time is money.

"When you consider a four-seater is about $425,000 plus GST, which is the cost of a luxury boat, it's very reasonable," says Mr Holloway.

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