- Cost is divided into fixed and variable.
- Separate costs that occur regardless of flight time from costs that occur only when flown.
- Do not include finance cost in the ultimate hourly calculation or the cost of the aircraft as this will inevitably skew the numbers.
There are two factors to consider in owning a Cessna Skyhawk: its purchase cost and the recurring fixed and variable costs that are associated with ownership.
While a used Cessna Skyhawk can cost $50,000, a new one can cost over $600,000. Add $5,000 a year in recurring fixed costs for things like insurance and parking. On top of that, variable costs are typically between $60 and $100 per hour based on flight time.
Being a proud (part) owner and operator of a Cessna Skyhawk, I am acutely aware of the costs involved in owning one of the most popular aircraft ever built.
Used Cessna Skyhawk Prices
The Cessna Skyhawk first took to the skies in 1955. If you look hard enough, you might still find one from back then that’s for sale today. Slightly later models, like one from the ’70s with nothing more than the modifications needed to keep them airworthy, can be purchased today for between $50,000 and $60,000.
However, the price of a Cessna Skyhawk is not just a function of its age and airworthiness. It is also a function of the avionics it has on board, its upholstery, paint job, engine condition, any modifications, rust, total time on the airframe, the time before the next overhaul, and accident history.
A Cessna Skyhawk from the mid-80s in average condition and that’s airworthy sells for about $180,000. A newer model from the naughts with similar bells and whistles would be priced more than $250,000. While models from the last decade will be in the four-hundred-thousand-dollar region.
Brand New Cessna Skyhawk Prices
What if it just rolled off the factory line? How much is a Cessna Skyhawk, then?
The six-hundred-thousand-dollar price tag is for something above the base model, but not yet fully decked out. The maintenance costs for the first year might also be a little higher for a brand-new aircraft since there are a few more things to consider when breaking the engine in.
Insurance premiums for a first-time owner or a new pilot could also exceed the estimate of five thousand dollars. Plus, you would want to hangar it with the factory wax still gleaming in the sun.
New or Used
The question at this point, regarding the cost of a Cessna Skyhawk, should come down to whether it's going to be new or used. And that, in turn, would depend on your budget and purpose. While the cost of a new or used aircraft differs greatly and is a quantitative measure, your purpose lends a more qualitative perspective to the equation.
Fixed Operating Costs
A prospective Cessna Skyhawk owner needs to crunch the numbers before taking the leap since most buyers who don’t do the math soon find that their hourly costs exceed that of what it would cost to rent a comparable Cessna Skyhawk from a local FBO.
Components of fixed operating costs are not set in stone. Some aircraft owners include overhauls, others don’t. Some include oil, others don’t. Some even include loan repayments while others don’t. What you chose to include should be based on the purposes of your ownership.
The costs to include that are not disputed are insurance and hangaring.
A typical Cessna Skyhawk owner who insures his plane for forty thousand dollars will have an average annual premium of $1400. You’d have to insert your quote in its place. AOPA insurance partners will give you a quote even if you are not purchasing the policy right away.
For a simple discussion, I will use $1200 a year. It’s what I pay for my private Cessna Skyhawk.
The next to add to this is your hangaring. If you put it in a hangar, it could cost about $50 a month, or if you tie it down, it would be about $150. This way, you can easily gauge if you give your local airport a call. For now, let’s leave my Skyhawk in the hangar. That adds up to $3600 a year.
The two combined set me back $4800 a year.
FAR 91.409 requires all aircraft to have annual inspections done and signed off by a mechanic with the Inspection Authority, or IA.
If you own the aircraft for personal use, you are not subject to the 100-hour inspection requirement like those who rent their aircraft out. The FAA also recommends a 50-hour check for an oil change and to replace the air filters.
Of the three inspections, only the Annual comes periodically and should be included in your annual cost calculations. Figure about $1800 for the annual.
So, how much is a Cessna Skyhawk going to set you back every year? Well, with just the three major items we are already up to $6,600.
Variable Operating Costs
Fixed costs occur whether or not you use the plane. Variable costs do the opposite. They occur when you use the plane. That’s the simplest way to look at it. A major component of variable costs is fuel.
The Cessna Skyhawk with no modifications done burns approximately 9 gallons per hour at cruise. With 100LLcurrently priced (my airport) at $6.50 translates to an hourly cost of $58.50. This is only figuring fuel. There are still a few more things to consider.
While my personal aircraft does not need a 100-hour inspection, the one I use for flight training does. You can assume this to be $1500.
However, I do conduct the FAA-recommended 50-hour inspections and do an oil change at that time as well. It costs approximately $500.
This is easy to calculate. Every fifty hours costs me $500 , which means it costs me ten dollars an hour.
So how much is a Cessna Skyhawk going to cost every hour of flight? For now, the hourly cost of flight is $58.50 + $10 = $68.50.
Most new aircraft owners forget to account for the overhaul that is coming. It’s not an ‘if’ but a ‘when.’ The only difference is the kind of engine you use. Cessnas come with either Lycoming or Continental engines.
Continental engines have a TBO (time between overhauls) of 1800 hours while the Lycoming engines have a TBO of 2000 hours.
An overhaul typically costs between $18,000 and $20,000. For the purpose of calculations, it's better to use the higher number to avoid surprises.
The Continental Engine then costs $11.11 per hour. This is what you want to set aside every time you run the aircraft so that when the time comes, the money is sitting there ready to pay for the overhaul. Otherwise, it can be quite painful.
The Lycoming engine will cost $10 per hour.
Taking into account the overhaul, how much is a Cessna Skyhawk?
Putting aside the difference in engine and just using the $11.11 cost per hour, the hourly cost to run a Cessna Skyhawk now stands at $79.61.
While I have already calculated oil changes when I included the cost of a 50-hour above. The aircraft tends to burn some engine oil when it is flown. Mine burns about one quart every three hours of flying. I pay $10 per quart. Which works out to be $3.33 per hour. My total cost now is $72.94 per hour.
Putting it Together
Now we have fixed and variable operating costs handy we can put these together to get a good idea of what it’s going to cost us to own a Cessna Skyhawk. But to do this we need to make a simple assumption of how much we are going to fly in a year.
1000 Hours Annually
So how much is a Cessna Skyhawk to fly if you fly a thousand hours a year?
If you flew a thousand hours a year, it would come down a little.
$6600 + (1000 x 72.94) = $79,540 or $79.54 per hour.
Some people will consider including the purchase cost of the aircraft while others will consider including the interest on the loan into the hourly cost of the aircraft.
Assuming a Cessna Skyhawk loses 20% of its value after ten years (and this is not the case, in the last twenty years, Cessna Skyhawks have gone up in price.) But for the purpose of illustration, let’s assume they lose value. So let’s say you purchase it for $50,000 and sell it ten years later for $40,000.
Your finance cost (which you can calculate at AOPA’s website) for a ten-year loan of $40,000 (assuming you put ten thousand down) is going to be $22,000. You should add this number back to your cost. It works out to be $2,200 per year or $3.66 per hour.
So how much is a Cessna Skyhawk if you bought it for $50,000, took a loan of $40,000, then flew it 1000 hours a year? The cost would be $83.20 per hour.
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood