Helicopter Airline History

Helicopterairlinehistory.com captures, organizes and presents the history of helicopter airlines that have operated around the world since 1947. This unique segment of aviation finds a place somewhere between traditional regional airlines and the rough and tumble helicopter industry. Over 200 examples of helicopter airlines have been documented as having operated in more than 30 countries where geography, economics, politics and need have aligned in just the right combination.

What is a Helicopter Airline?

For the purposes of helicopterairlinehistory.com, a helicopter airline is defined as: "A scheduled commercial passenger air service available to the public that serves at least two different locations utilizing rotorcraft."

Scheduled helicopter airlines are one of just a few places where the two solitudes of fixed wing and rotary wing worlds merge. The planned, controlled, and public world of fixed wing airlines is very different from the usually more reactive, remote, and often private environment that helicopters operate in. The transition of 'helicopter people' and practices into the world of traditional airlines is not often made successfully or easily. This is evidenced by many examples of failure documented on this site. In fact, a general observation could be made that a decidedly non-helicopter approach to operating a helicopter airline is a necessary attribute associated with the few surviving successful helicopter airlines. This low rate of success is despite countless proposals, dreams, and forecasts which were especially well publicized in the 1950s and 60s. This was the golden age of helicopter airlines, followed up by a limited resurgence in the USA from the late 1970s through mid-1980s.

Definition of success.

"Success" and "helicopter airline" are not often used in the same sentence for a variety of reasons, most of which involve noise, finance or safety. Reviewing the content of helicopterairlinehistory.com, it becomes clear that a number of helicopter airlines have played a significant role in the success of a specific project, city, or region. Although unable to sustain themselves financially, many of these helicopter airlines have not only solved a difficult transportation problem but have often played a crucial yet unrecognized role in initiating and sustaining the well-being of various communities around the world. In most instances they have provided a service that no fixed-wing aircraft could match.

This page was last modified on November 30, 2022.