The question has always been there in the back of the minds of those looking to charter or purchase, which is better when you look at single-engine vs twin-engine helicopters? Both provide the lift you need, both have heavy-lifting capabilities, can carry multiple passengers and are some of the best options when it comes to accessing remote destinations but what is the difference?
One major difference in the two aircraft is pricing. Generally, single engine helicopters are smaller in size and as such require less fuel. This can be a huge factor in deciding to charter the aircraft themselves, however, several other differences may help you to decide which helicopter best suits your needs.
When comparing speed, most would think that the smaller body of the aircraft along with it’s lower lift capacity would make the single-engine helicopter the faster of the two. However, most people do not account for the additional thrust produced by the second engine in the twin. Generally, twin engine helicopters are slightly faster than singles, typically knocking off approximately 20 minutes or more on flight times and ranging from 40-50 to 100-120 knots.
Many believe there is safety in numbers and having two engines is no exception. However, that is not necessarily the case. While there is a 2% difference in safety rating for both single and twin-engine helicopters, the number of engines the aircraft operates on proves to make little to no difference. Yes, having an additional engine does allow for a small amount of extra time before making an emergency landing, however, despite popular belief that does not mean that power loss is 50% if one engine goes out on a twin.
When one engine goes out, the aircraft loses 80% power and the pilot would have to make emergency maneuvers to land the aircraft regardless. This can also prove to be very costly as well because once one engine goes, more work is put on to the other simply due to the size of the aircraft.
If you were to go looking for a twin-engine helicopter a few decades ago, you would be hard-pressed to find one. However, the times have changed that exponentially. Now, twin engine helicopters are not only more prevalent due to an increase in production but most companies have traded in their older single-engine helicopters for newer models to accommodate more lift and seating for executive or corporate passengers.
In terms of flight conditions, single-engine aircraft do not provide (standard) abilities to handle certain conditions such as night-time flights, the need for terrain awareness and weather radar.
A Final Note on Single Engine vs Twin Engine Helicopters
When it comes to deciding on whether to charter a single or twin-engine helicopter our final findings are if you are looking to transport many people, lift extremely heavy objects or are in the need to travel over mountainous terrain or water, your best choice is for a twin-engine. If you simply need a quick and easy executive charter to get you from point A to point B, time-efficient oil and gas pipeline inspections, or if you simply need smaller objects conveyed then it is much more economical to go with a single-engine. Overall, each aircraft will vary and the choice is always dependent upon the specific requirements of the job.