Over half a million people have a license to fly an aircraft. Nearly half of those licenses are private pilot’s licenses.
Private pilot’s licenses (PPL) are the entry-level step that aspiring pilots take to get up into the sky. They enable you to charter yourself and your friends on flights so long as you’re not doing so with the intent of making a profit off of your services.
If you have a PPL and are tired of having to rent a place every time that you want to fly, aircraft ownership might be for you. There are, however, a lot of ins and outs to purchasing an aircraft that you should be aware of before you pull out your checkbook.
Here are a few important things that you’ll want to keep in mind:
Table of Contents
- 1. Aircraft Are Expensive
- 2. Aircraft Ownership Carries Steep Fees
- 3. Private Aircraft Can Be Bought Online
- 4. Agencies Can Help You Buy Aircraft
- 5. Just Like Cars, a Used Aircraft Is Often a Better Buy
- 6. Test Flights Usually Cost Money
- 7. Co-Owning an Aircraft May Be the Way to Go
- Is Aircraft Ownership Right for You?
1. Aircraft Are Expensive
At a car dealership, you can pick up a decent used vehicle for about $10,000. Depending on your needs, you won’t likely find a plane for less than ten times that amount.
There are some exceptions to that rule in the way of recreational, open-cabin planes that are meant to be flown around a single area.
Understand your flying needs before hitting the plane market and educate yourself on what planes that fit your specifications run before getting too excited about buying. You may find with some research that buying an aircraft is not a financial possibility.
2. Aircraft Ownership Carries Steep Fees
The cost of aircraft ownership goes beyond what it costs to buy your plane. Keep in mind these additional expenses before purchasing your plane so you’re not caught off guard:
Most people that are flying pressurized cabin planes will need to rent space at a local airport hanger. These spaces can cost hundreds of dollars per month.
Airplanes need to be insured just like cars. Your insurance rates will vary based on your aircraft’s usage and value but will likely run you hundreds of dollars per month for small, recreational planes.
Fueling up your aircraft is a necessary part of flying. Plane fuel prices more or less mirror car fuel prices if you’re using Jet-A fuel. 100LL fuel will cost about double what you’re paying for your car’s fuel per gallon.
If you want to stay in the air, you’ll need to perform regular maintenance on your aircraft. Maintenance with aircraft, given the specialized nature of the work, can be expensive.
Landing at major airports may cost money. Consult with the airports that you’ll be landing at the most to see if they assess landing fees to private pilots.
3. Private Aircraft Can Be Bought Online
Believe it or not, private aircraft can be bought and sold online. That might be great news if you live in a small city where local aircraft sales don’t take place.
Popular online aircraft markets include aerotrader.com and controller.com.
4. Agencies Can Help You Buy Aircraft
Sometimes, no matter how good the airplane buyers guide is that you read, you’re still not sure how to proceed with your purchase. In these cases, it may be helpful to work with a buying agency.
An aircraft buying agency typically helps people buy expensive planes, but there may be some groups that assist with the purchase of economical ones. Be aware that by seeking the help of an agency, you’ll likely have to pay them a finder’s fee.
5. Just Like Cars, a Used Aircraft Is Often a Better Buy
Many private aircraft don’t get flown frequently. Because of that, even old model planes can still be in fantastic flying shape.
When you buy a new aircraft, just like cars, your plane will depreciate the second that you take it on its first flight. Used aircraft, with proper maintenance, retain their value and will save you thousands of dollars at the register and on insurance.
6. Test Flights Usually Cost Money
Many aspiring aircraft owners are surprised when they request a test flight of a plane and their seller asks for compensation. Be aware that charging for test flights is a common practice given the expense that’s involved with getting a plane in the sky.
If you’re a highly qualified buyer or one that has done business with a particular seller in the past, sellers will likely waive your test flight fees given their confidence that you’ll choose to buy.
7. Co-Owning an Aircraft May Be the Way to Go
Unless you plan on flying your plane a lot, co-owning an aircraft might be the way to go. When you co-own a plane, you and another pilot split all ownership costs down the middle and coordinate a flying schedule.
Not only does this arrangement save you tons of money but it won’t likely impede your flying ambitions.
Is Aircraft Ownership Right for You?
After reading about some of the ins and outs of aircraft ownership, ask yourself, is owning a personal plane right for you?
If you’re unsure, hit pause and take time to think. Buying an aircraft represents a large investment that shouldn’t be shouldered on a whim.
If you’re confident that owning an aircraft is not only financially feasible but will be additive to your life, go for it! After all, there’s nothing like being able to take to the skies whenever you want to get away from it all.
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