Helicopter design pioneers like Arthur Young and Stanley Hiller envisioned long ago that helicopters would be used as commonly as automobiles for personal transportation in the future. However, small and simple private aircraft gained more importance then helicopters, as they were not only cost-effective but also required low expenses for its maintenance. A propeller-driven small plane is much more popular than a small helicopter with complicated control mechanisms. Helicopters not only have high maintenance costs, but higher insurance costs as well.
Stanley Hiller, the biggest advocate of personal helicopters, built a prototype private helicopter using coaxial rotors, and also developed more conventional helicopters to reduce the cost of choppers for private citizens. Another aviation pioneer, Frank Robinson, engineered the most popular personal helicopter, the Robinson R22. The R22 has a simple design with a pod-like cabin and a boom tail mounting a conventional anti-torque propeller, and runs on a 124-horsepower Lycoming O-320 engine that drives the two bladed rotors. Although the R22 has a higher-than-average accident rate, it was still cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration as being safe. It is generally used for light utility work such as cattle herding, traffic monitoring, agricultural spraying and police observation. However, the R44, the upgraded version of the R22, has a larger engine and is much more reliable than the base model.
Just like private aircraft, some helicopters can also be built from kits, wherein a person can buy the kits and then assemble the parts himself, which reduces the cost of the helicopters considerably. The most popular amateur-built helicopter in the US sold to date is the Bensen B-8 Gyrocopter. Some of the other trendy helicopters commonly built from a kit are American Sportscopter's first ultralight helicopter Ultrasport 254, The RotorWay Scorpion133 and the Dragon Fly 333.
Although there are many small helicopters built by various manufacturers in the US, helicopters have not been able to compete with the cheaper light fixed-wing aircraft which are not only easier to fly but cheaper to maintain.