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Economics of owning a plane?

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:30 am
by hibby
I'm studying for my PPL at the National Flight Centre, and with 28 hours logged I'm expecting to be solo soon, and possibly doing exams this year. So far I have only ever flown a Cessna 150.

When I'm qualified I would like to buy a plane, and I'm wondering if this is realistic or if there are any obstacles I should be aware of.

- I am told that typical fixed costs for a single engine plane are in the region of EUR8,000 per year. Is this correct?

- I would be looking at the cheaper end of the second-hand market; my budget might be around EUR50,000. I see a lot of nice (but old) two- and four-seaters on sale in this range. Anything I should be aware of/looking out for?

- My purpose in having the plane would be touring and holidays, with the intention of being able to travel for example to the UK, France, Germany, and Denmark. Is this reasonable if I get, for example, a Cessna 172?

Note, I am not looking for detailed recommendations at this stage. I am really wondering if my dream is achievable or wholly unrealistic.

Of course I would be open to the option of shared ownership. But ideally my preference would be to own a plane outright, and I would welcome any advice you may have based on your own knowledge or experience.

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:34 am
by hibby
A follow-up question to my own post:

- If I buy a UK-registered plane and import it, what would be the implications? Does it have to be re-registered as EI-? Is this expensive? Are there Customs Duties or other import duties to pay?

I might be asking the wrong questions here, but what I really want to know is; are there any hidden costs that I am blissfully unaware of?

no fees

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 6:47 pm
by robertd
As far as i know if the plane is brand new and you're importing it to Ireland there will be vat added to the price and shipping costs but if the plane is second hand and in europe there is no vat to pay.
And you dont have to EI-REG the plane.

A little pointer, if you want your yearly fixed costs to be low, do not buy an avgas powered engine, avgas prices are extreme at the moment and you're far better off with a mogas engine e.g rotax, jabiru, verner, limbach or subaru. you can find some nice cheap mogas powered second hand planes if you shop around, e.g a tecnam for 35,000, lovely machine, very fast and mogas powered,
Thats my opinion.

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:04 pm
by hibby
Thanks very much for that tip, robert. I wasn't aware of that as a money issue. There's a Subaru at GT Aviation that caught my eye - looks like a nice plane... I'll look into tecnam, I'm not familiar with that manufacturer.

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:53 am
by Canacourse
We all dream of owning our own aircraft when learning to fly.

After 15 years of renting with loads of breaks in between, myself and some friends bought an home built aircraft privately from the UK in August last year without paying any VAT.

Costs are very reasonable, monthly fee is ?80 each & 15 per hour dry. The aircraft burns 12 LTRS an hours so our costs are around ?27 per hour. The aircraft does 90 MPH and is purely a VFR machine and has 3.5 hours endurance.

We don't have to worry about the plane being late or your name being tipexed out of the timetable either, So that's a bonus.

I would recommend aircraft ownership although not in a traditional aircraft like a C15x, go for a kit built or microlight. The performance of some of the microlights out right now there is staggering.

Keep reaching for that rainbow & Good luck with the PPL.


Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 8:27 am
by YoYo

My wife and I have been aircraft owners for the past 10 years and we have not regretted a moment of it. The pleasure of being able to pull the aircraft out of the hangar in the evening and go flying is immeasurable. Personal ownership is the ultimate as the plane is yours and will reflect your attitude to flying. With a syndicate the aircraft condition is kept to that of the 'lowest common denominator'. There are also good syndicates and bad syndicates.

Anyone asking me about ownership - I have basically 1 rule. Don't look at the purchase cost - Its the ongoing costs that will cripple you. Do your sums. Go talk to people who own planes - not people who want to own planes. Visit Kilrush airfield and talk to any of the pilots around there. All the aircraft in Kilrush are privately owned - there must be about 40 aircraft based there now.

I agree with previous threads - don't go for the traditional spancans - they are money pits. The new generation of Ultralights and VLA's are the only way to go. Unless you have a family go for a 2 seater - you can always rent a 4 seater on the very odd occassion you would need one.

Get your hands on some PFA magazines. they are a great source of information. There are also Pilot and Flyer magazines which are now starting to recognise the utility and versatility of the new VLA and ULA aircraft.

With 50k to spend you don't need to go second hand as most of the VLA/ULA fall into that price category. Have a look at - the CH601XL. You could have one of them flying in Ireland all paid up (including vat) for well under 50k. With a bit of luck you should be able to see one appearing in Kilrush over the next few weeks. This is a serious go places machine with a 120 knot cruise at 70% power burning about 14 litres of mogas per hour

There is also the Samba/Lambada which you can see at Abbeyshrule. The real problem you have is with the amount of money you have to spend your choice is almost limitless

Good luck - If you want any specific info you can either post on the site or PM me.

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 11:11 am
by Bearcat
just to add my bit...the day you buy is the day you sell.....looking at all these kit planes they look amazing but can you sell it a year after at close to the purchase price? I doubt it

the more tradional aircraft are not necessarily money gobblers if all the work has been done on them at purchase.....running costs maybe higher but they maynot drop 10k on the 1st yr of purchase.

pros and cons

best of luck in your future purchase.....just remember for micro lights and some kit planes they need to be hangared and this is a big cost at places like weston. Your trad spam can can be left out in the open.

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:36 pm
by hibby
I'm getting great advice here, and I'm very encouraged that nobody is saying "You'd be mad to buy a plane" or "you're forgetting about the ?1m per year plane-owner tax" or whatever.

About microlights/ultralights, I'm confused. The microlights you've pointed me to (tecnam, zenair, etc.) look very like the traditional single-engine aircraft, and their performance specs are at least comparable (or even better). What's the catch?

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:46 pm
by YoYo
No Catch - just a couple generations evolution.

Its all to do with weight. Ultralights are limited to around the 450kg limit. Traditional spamcans fall into the 2,500lb category which is around twice the weight of the UL/VLA limits Using new lighter metals and engines aircraft can now be built within the 450kg limit. Less weight equates to reduced burn rate and therefore lower operating costs. In the US with the advent of their new sports license a number of FBO's are trading down to the lighter cheaper aircraft. You will probably see the same thing happening in the UK for the NPPL once the UL aircraft start to become certified aircraft.


Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:33 pm
by robertd
Definetly agree with yo yo. Ultralights these days have excellent perofrmance.
Bearcat, ultralights these days sell particulalry well at this time, they fetch almost the full price they were bought for if there in good condition. whats the point in running an old spam can like a 150 (no offense) and paying extremely high running costs per hour when you can get a zodiac ch601xl thats even faster and much less to run. In my opinion, cessnas are getting wiped out nowadays by new economic microlights/ultralights.

YoYo, i do some flying in kilrush the odd time, looking forward to seeing the zodiac. great machine!

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 7:40 pm
by lazza
I'd agree with what everyones said, with a couple of provisos,

You can't fly IFR in a permit aircraft, and you can only get a two seater
Two things you can do in the states in experimental aircraft, spaceship one being the ultimate 'permit' aircraft!

That said the operating costs of CofA aircraft is unreal, allow about 4,000 pa for mainteance and another 5 for insurance, 2 for hangerage would be typical for a spam can.

If time is on your side you can reduce your mainteance costs by working with the engineers and doing the paperwork yourself, but it's always going to cost a shed load more.

The problem, as i see it, with lambadas and other 450kg aircraft is the restricted useful load, my 182 can lift 350ltrs of fuel, 4 heavy guys and two hundred pounds of luggage and still be off a grass runway in less than 350meters, course you need to be able to lift 350ltrs of fuel considering it burns at least 50 per hour!

If it were me, i'd start with a permit type, and as mentioned, if 4 seats etc. is required, rent it.


Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:21 pm
by sppl
Whats the possibility of me (16.5 Stone) and my 9stone wife and some fuel being able to go anywhere in a Lambada or similar?

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:30 pm
by willo
Sppl & all

The empty weight of the Lambada is about 260 kg, runs on mogas with a fuel tank cpacity of 57 ltrs, and an All-up-weight of 450 kg, as per all microlights. Howver, would suggest that you could bring its sistership, the Samba XXL in on a permit as a VLA, above figures the same, but AUW of 650kgs, and lots more room in the cabin. Would have to be brought in as kit, but assistance with assembly can be provided by Ultraflight.

Anyone want more info, send me a PM.


Posted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 9:58 am
by Cosmic
You can't fly IFR in a permit aircraft,

As has been mentioned before, the vast vast majority of GA in Ireland is VFR only. Its is incredibly expensive and difficult to get licenced to fly IFR and the whole set up in Ireland doesn't really favour it. So I think as Joey says, its a Moo point.

Posted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:57 pm
by YoYo

Just to make sure you have not got totally confused at this point re Samba and Lambada. The classification UltraLight and VLA are weight limit definitions. UltraLight being 450kg and VLA are (I believe) 560kg. An aircraft can then exist in more than 1 weight category if its certified MAUW is greater than 450kg.

Aircaft like the Eurostar and Zodiac empty weight can come in at under 300kg but have a certified MAUW weight of 560kg. This means that if the owners control their passenger and fuel weights they can always fly in the ultralight category of 450kg. This being the case the aircraft can be registered as an Ultralight with all the ensueing benefits. If an owner cannot keep under the 450kg take off weight then they need to register the aircraft as a VLA.

Hope this helps