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Helicopter Tour vs. Helicopter Charter

A common misconception is that any flight in a helicopter or airplane is called a charter. The fact is there are a few key differences especially as far as the FAA is concerned. The Federal Aviation Regulations (CFR 14 parts 91,119,121,135,etc) clearly define the differences between Air Carriers, Part 91 Tour operations, single seat Scheduled Flights, etc. Whether the flight takes place in a helicopter or airplane the rules apply the same for the most part.

Simply put a charter is the rental of an entire aircraft (helicopter, airplane, etc) typically going from point A to point B. Where as a tour under part 91 must land at the same place it took off from and not exceed a boundary of 25 statute miles from the point of departure (For this reason helicopter tours of Los Angeles are optimal from the Van Nuys airport) And scheduled service is when you buy a ticket on an airline.

The FAA requires certain maintenance, pilot experience, weather minimums, altitude minimums, and other safety measures to ensure the safety of all of these different types of flights. For example our helicopters go through frequent scheduled inspections. The helicopter inspections include a thorough examination of every single system on board. Our helicopter tour pilots must meet certification and helicopter flight experience as well as be enrolled in drug and alcohol testing program. The FAA does a great job in making sure that helicopter tours as well as every other type of flight are safe.

There is more information  on the FAA Website

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I've been on helicopter tours before but your flight was special. You managed to give us the feeling of thrills, comfort and safety-- I didn't ever want to land.”

D. Alexander

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