Luxury Helicopter Trends Of 2022 and 2023
Few modes of transport signify the loftiest ambitions, the headiest heights of wealth or a commitment to high living quite like a personal helicopter. Private jets may be roomier, replete with service staff, gilded conference rooms and full size beds… but as of yet, they can’t softly touch down on the bow of a superyacht, land trackside at the world’s greatest sporting events, or offer the sheer levels of freedom and spontaneity that helicopter pilots and passengers revel in.
Just like every other aspect of the world of luxury lifestyle and possessions, helicopters are subject to the whims of fashion and the changing tides of trends. From bold new designs to level up the sleekness and beauty of the chopper itself, to new brands and innovators joining the ever-evolving world of luxury helicopters, 2022 has been a dynamic year in this fast-moving field.
Let’s explore the latest helicopter trends in a little more depth, and uncover some of the factors influencing helicopter enthusiasts the world over today.
Taking Inspiration from Supercars
Fast, flashy and boasting the latest technological wonders, supercars and hypercars are a staple in the lifestyles of UNW individuals. However, it’s important to remember that the world’s greatest supercar brands aren’t merely designing toys for those lucky enough to afford them; they’re remarkable innovators and early adopters of next-gen technology.
It comes as no real surprise, therefore, that there’s a dynamic and symbiotic crossover between many of the most renowned supercar and helicopter brands. It’s an exciting and febrile scene, and some of the most successful collaborations have produced helicopters which are more than the sum of their composite parts; the supercar brands breathe new life into imagining what a luxury helicopter can be, how they can look, and – importantly – how they can handle the skies.
We’ve seen fantastic collaborations between mainstays of the luxury car and aerospace world, most notably Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz, which focus primarily on performance and dialling up the luxurious credentials of private helicopters. However, more recent years have heralded altogether more ambitious – and eye-wateringly beautiful – collaborative projects.
The one we’re most excited about? That will have to be the meeting of minds between Airbus Helicopters and Aston Martin. The iconic British luxury car manufacturer is no stranger from matching the utmost in luxury with absolutes of innovation, and the ACH130 Aston Martin Edition – the result of a one-year collaboration between the brands – has reimagined an Airbus helicopter through the lens of the DB11, arguably one of the most beautiful vehicles Aston Martin has imagineered.
Photo courtesy of: Airbus
The exterior of the helicopter showcases subtle flourishes of Aston Martin’s signature style, yet it’s the interior where the car brand has truly made its mark. With their instantly-recognisable ‘Pure Black’ ultra suede covering pretty much every surface, this is a luxury private helicopter that takes luxury and comfort to wholly new heights of ambition. Brogue detailing, custom plaques, and a striking attention to detail leaves pilots and their guests in no doubt whatsoever which brand is behind the wheel of this creation.
Has the Flying Car Arrived?
For decades, the idea of the flying car – something neatly between a private car and a lightweight helicopter – has felt like the stuff of sci-fi movies and childhood fantasies. However, 2022 has brought with it a flurry of concept creations and technological advances which suggest the flying car may well be within reach, at least for those whom money is no object.
Those with their finger on the pulse of motoring pioneers and innovators will know that Xpeng – a remarkably ambitious Chinese vehicle automaker – has been blazing new trails in the world of self-driving cars. However, they recently unveiled a secretive project to the world which is well worth getting excited about; a flying car.
Produced by Urban Air Mobility (Xpeng’s dedicated flying car wing), the HT Aero flying drone-car-helicopter crossover has supposedly been successfully tested across 15,000 flights, demonstrating just how ready manufacturers might be to take the plunge into a new age of helicopter design. Looking at the HT Aero, it’s impossible not to be impressed – it’s the stuff of James Bond’s wildest dreams, and manages to tread the line between being a vehicle unlike anything we’ve seen before… whilst also being a stunning road-capable electric supercar that wouldn’t look out of place in any luxury collection.
In spectacular sci-fi style, the rotor mechanisms which allow the flying car to take to the skies fold outwards from the chassis, meaning drivers can either speed down highways or helicopter their way out of the rush hour traffic. Beautiful, groundbreaking, and said to be ready for manufacture in 2024, we’re daring the dream that this is what the (near) future may just look like.
Luxury is a Super Lightweight Helicopter
The key appeal of owning a luxury private helicopter is surely the untethered sense of freedom they provide. However, the ability to land pretty much anywhere you desire comes down to a matter of weight… and the lighter and more agile the helicopter, the more options you have for where you can take them.
Photo courtesy of: Zefhir Helicopter
Enter the Zefhir, Curti Aerospace’s 2022 offering. This ultra lightweight release has been designed for discerning private pilots seeking high-quality two-seat single turbine choppers which match style with substance and an amazing opportunity for unlimited discovery. Built around a carbon fibre airframe (and boasting the biggest luggage space for a helicopter of its size category, making it ideal for opulent weekends away!), it’s as light, durable and efficient as it is elegant and stylish.
Zefhir wears its Italian design credentials on its impressive carbon fibre sleeves, and offers exclusive interiors to ensure absolute decadence alongside the freedom to explore the skies. It’s also impressively safe – the Zefhir is the first private helicopter to feature a ballistic parachute, which deploys in the (unlikely) event of an engine failure. Always the early adopters and pioneers of thrilling new features, this private helicopter is the first and only chopper in the world with a tried and tested parachute system… something we’re bound to see become more commonplace in the near future.
Where Style Meets Substance in the Skies
For the longest time, helicopters – while undeniably celebrated for their practicality, versatility and ingenuity – were far from considered beautiful. If 2022’s luxury sector proves anything, it’s that aesthetics need not interrupt innovation, and that beauty and excellence absolutely can go hand in hand for those who wouldn’t consider settling for anything but the best.
The HX50, crafted by the eminently impressive Hill Helicopters, has frequently been hailed as the world’s first truly luxurious private light helicopter. Designed to turn heads, capture hearts and introduce a pioneering new form to the helicopter scene, it’s unquestionably beautiful – both outside and in.
Indeed, while we could wax lyrical about the sleek lines and daring shapes of the HX50, it’s the Nappa leather and top-to-bottom Alcantara-line interior detailing that sets it clearly apart from all competitors. A thoroughly opulent experience from take off to landing, the five-seater helicopter has clearly been created for those used to life’s finest things. This includes climate control, full Bluetooth connectivity, iPad displays for live flight data delivered in style, and artfully-curated ambient lighting in the cockpit and seating area. Stunning!
The Future is Electric
As the world changes, the luxury sector often uncovers solutions which blaze trails for others to follow. In the fast-evolving world of electric vehicles, this has been very much the case from the beginning; while EV options are becoming more and more commonplace, it was those early pioneering (and most certainly not cheap) electric cars which laid the foundations for success, and it’s the growing fleets of electric supercars which continue to bring breathless ambition to the scene.
The same applies to the luxurious world of private helicopters. More and more members of the global elite wish to pay increasingly careful attention to their carbon footprint while globe-trotting from location to location, as well as there being a strong desire to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations. As such, electric helicopters are becoming increasingly de rigueur for collectors and enthusiasts, and their capabilities, hover potential and distance covered increase with every new generation.
Concept art by: Antonio Paglia Design
There has been speculation about a Tesla helicopter hitting the market for some time now; it would, after all, be a fitting addiction to Elon Musk’s arsenal of electric vehicles gradually taking over the world. While we haven’t seen a Tesla helicopter hit the open market, this may well change in 2022; EV news sites have been ablaze with the first images of H160 – the concept chopper by Antonio Paglia which has supposedly captured the imagination of Elon himself.
It’s a remarkable vehicle, featuring bold cutaway sections to assist with a lightweight body and a slick, dynamised design that’s both familiar yet utterly thrilling to look at. As such, it’s not beyond the realms of imagination to think that this helicopter – or at least something very much like it – may well be the next big thing.
Extreme Destinations for the Ultimate Getaway
With the freedom to travel pretty much anywhere with enough space to land, it’s unsurprising that helicopter owners are an intrepid and adventurous community, always with their finger on the pulse of the latest luxury hotspots. While until relatively recently, the helicopter set’s most popular haunts were the decadent party towns of Monaco, Dubai, Singapore and the like, the past couple of years have seen an interesting shift in places where helicopter owners are heading.
Photo by: John O’Nolan
Make no mistake, the luxurious bars of Cannes aren’t in any danger just yet. However, there has been a resurgence in more adventurous and unusual helicopter locations, particular among the global elite seeking to fill life with unforgettable adventures. Let’s take a quick look through 2022’s most sought-after locations for those with the freedom to take to the skies at will.
Photo by: Mario Karner
The Fox Glacier, New Zealand
New Zealand has long had a powerful allure for those in search of adventure. However, the spectacular Fox Glacier, located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, has recently rocketed up the bucket list charts, not least because it’s best viewed from a private helicopter.
Those flying over the 13km glacier will benefit from birds-eye views of all its peaks and crevasses as it winds its way down the valley, as well as the majestic Mount Cook on the horizon. No helicopter trip to Fox Glacier would be complete without touching down on the ice, where the otherworldly and tranquil surroundings truly have to be seen to be believed.
Photo by: JC Gellidon
Base Camp, Mount Everest
Of all the world’s extreme destinations, Mount Everest is surely right up there with the best of them. Everest’s base camp is nestled over 5,000 metres up the world’s mightiest mountain, and is accessible via helicopter – perfect for those in search of breathtaking Himalayan views, but without the time or inclination to take the trek on foot.
A truly remarkable location, surrounded by some of the most dramatic landscapes and deepest wildernesses on Earth… it isn’t hard to see the appeal.
Photo by: Sammy Wong
The world’s elite are fond of superlatives – the biggest, the longest, the most expensive, the rarest – so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the world’s largest waterfall has made it onto this list. Again, it’s an iconic wilderness location best viewed from the air, and a helicopter is (at present) the only way to view this awe-inspiring natural wonder in its entirety.
Even better, the 108 metre tall and 1,708 metre wide waterfall is an ideal location to view wild hippos, elephants and other examples of Zimbabwe’s incredible wildlife.
Luxury Helicopter Trends 2022: A Dynamic Scene Driven by Innovation
A potent signifier of wealth and luxury and a genuinely practical tool for getting around in style – it’s not hard to see why personal helicopters are hugely popular with those who can afford to own one.
As new technological advances take helicopters into a whole new age of excellence, new trends dictate new designs, and changing tastes drive new locations up the must-see lists of their owners, it’s undeniably fascinating to see helicopter trends shift and progress. In 2022, we crave freedom and the beauty of the great outdoors more than ever before – what better way to uncover its potential than from the cockpit of a personal chopper?