What are the typical facets of ownership costs, for a single engine aircraft?

kevin42
  • What are the typical facets of ownership costs, for a single engine aircraft? kevin42

    It's easy to go online and look at prices of a Cessna 172, but what are some examples of how to breakdown the real world costs of ownership?

    • how much other maintenance should you plan for?
    • How much does an engine overhaul cost?
    • Insurance
    • hangar
    • etc..

    It would be great to also get some typical costs and ranges, since some element are more predictable than others. Obviously the costs will vary based on individual aircraft and location, as well as over time, but I'm looking for information that would help someone make the buy/rent decision. Prices can also vary geographically.

    I'm asking for the structure of the costs to start making a plan for cost analysis and diligence. For example, with an IFR aircraft, what costs are involved with keeping it current?

  • You have listed some costs which relate to ownership of an airplane. In my opinion, you can contact a local airport or flying school which can give you a much more realistic cost.

    I think one thing for sure is that if you fly frequently, it is better to own an airplane than to rent every time.

  • I've heard it said that the break-even point for owning vs renting is 200 hours/year. I fly a lot less than that, but I don't like sharing my toys, so I own anyway.

    I make it a point to not actually count my cost of ownership, because it wouldn't be fun any more, but I'll give you some rough numbers.

    I bought a 1962 Mooney for \$30,000. That's about as cheap as it gets, and this was reflected in the condition of the plane and the high-time engine.

    In the first year had it, I spent \$18,000 on an engine rebuild, new prop, new carb, new magnetos, new oil pump, and all the other firewall-forward upgrades that were required when I got the new engine. Five years later, I spent \$14,000 on new paint. It still needs a new interior, but that can wait. I spent about \$3000 at West Texas Aero installing speed upgrades.

    Budget \$10/hour for your next engine rebuild.

    Annual inspection typically runs \$3000 to \$6000 depending on what they find wrong. I'm getting a tank resealed this year, so it's going to be an expensive one.

    Parking runs typically \$50-\$100/month, depending on where you are.

    Insurance for my old crate runs \$750/year. Expect to pay more for a nicer plane or if you have less experience. Note: get a commercial license; it will pay for itself in reduced insurance in the long run.

    I think gas will typically run \$5-6/gallon, depending on a lot of factors. My Mooney burns around 9.5gph, and flies 142 kts so it's really economical in that respect (and the main reason I don't upgrade).

    Light twins are cheap to buy, but that's because their cost of ownership is through the roof. A low-time pilot can expect to pay \$12,000/year for insurance and the annual inspection will also be a back-breaker.

    I used to have money. Now I have an airplane.

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