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Owning an airplane involves much more than just the purchase price. In this expert guide, we’ll go over all of the fixed costs of owning your own plane.
If you’re thinking about buying a plane, then your chief concern right now is most likely the price of the plane itself. And for good reason, since they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. But buying the plane is only one piece of the puzzle. Owning your own airplane will incur regular costs other than just the purchase price. What other fixed costs are there?
Fixed costs are costs that you have to pay to own a plane no matter how often you fly it. The most common fixed costs of airplane ownership include the cost of the plane and any costs associated with financing, insuring the plane, storing it, and having it inspected every year.
Trust me, buying a plane is one of the best purchases you can make. So I understand your desire to buy one and I support that decision 100%! I’m just writing this article to make sure you know of all the other costs besides just the upfront purchase price of the plane. In this article, we’ll talk about all the other fixed costs and how much you can expect to pay for each one.
Since its inception under a year ago, SkyTough has skyrocketed to the top as one of the top aviation sites on the web. The reason for this is that we thoroughly vet all information and extensively research every topic before publishing anything. This way, our readers come to the site with the confidence that they’ll find what they’re looking for. With a topic like this, we can also use our own experience with plane ownership to really nail down the fixed costs.
What are Fixed Costs?
Fixed costs are ones that you incur no matter what and no matter how often you fly. Basically, these costs will be roughly the same regardless of if you fly your plane every single day or if you put it in a hangar and never touch it again. That’s why they’re fixed — no matter what you do or how many hours you spend flying it, you still have to pay these costs.
So if you’re considering buying a plane, fixed costs are the ones that you should think about first before getting into the other type (which we’ll touch on briefly at the end). Since these costs don’t depend on how much you fly, you need to be ready to pay them once you decide to pull the trigger and buy a plane.
What are the Fixed Costs of Owning an Airplane?
As you might have guessed by now, the single biggest cost of buying an airplane is the actual purchase price of the plane itself. Before you start incurring any other costs, you have to actually buy the plane first, right? Of course! It just so happens that the purchase price is a fixed cost, but it’s not the only one.
Let’s dig in a little deeper and take a look at each one of these so you know what to expect.
Purchase Price of the Plane
Ding ding ding! This is the single biggest cost involved in buying and owning an airplane — the purchase price of the plane itself. This can vary wildly depending on what type of plane you decide to buy, so it’s tough to get an idea of the average price. If you opt for one of the cheapest planes to buy, then you’re looking at around $20,000 to $30,000 or so.
But if you want to buy a brand new plane or you’re in the market for a private jet for yourself or your business, then the price tag jumps into millions of dollars rather quickly. The prices of used planes change from time to time depending on the market, just like the used car market (although planes are as volatile!). So try to take the time to find a good deal before signing any purchase papers!
Just like when you buy a car or house, you have the option to buy a plane in cash or through financing. This just means taking out a loan from a bank or lender and then paying the purchase price off over time, typically via monthly payments.
If you decide to finance an airplane purchase, there will almost certainly be financing costs associated with this. The biggest one is the interest rate on the loan, which can either be fixed itself or it can be variable where it changes depending on the market. In addition, there might be some other fees such as application fees, origination fees, and prepayment penalties.
If you own your own airplane, you’ll probably want to have it insured to protect against expensive repairs, theft, and liability. That said, there aren’t actually any laws forcing you to get insurance on your plane, but many airports will require you to have it before landing or taking off from there.
Airplane insurance is usually relatively affordable compared to the price of the plane, and you can opt for liability-only insurance or full coverage. For liability coverage on a cheap plane, you could pay as little as $50 per month. For full coverage on a newer, more expensive aircraft, you can expect to pay upwards of $300 to $400 per month, if not more.
Hangar Rental Fees or Tie-Down Costs
Having an airplane is one thing, but you also need a place to store it. At this point, you can choose to rent hangar space, buy a hangar for yourself or build one from scratch. We have a complete breakdown of which of these is best that you can check out here, but, for most people, renting is the option that makes the most sense.
Depending on where you are in the country, how big and busy the airport is where you want to store your plane, how big your plane is, and how much hangar space is available, the monthly price can vary from one place to another. In general, you can expect to pay around $50 to $300 per month to rent hangar space.
Annual Inspections & Regular Maintenance
To own your plane and ensure that it maintains airworthiness, you must have it inspected every year. These inspections typically cost around $600 to $1,200 for smaller planes, and the price goes up from there.
The last fixed cost to discuss here is regular maintenance, which really just includes the minimum number of oil changes. This is also a variable cost since you need to get more oil changes the more often you fly. But even if you don’t fly, you should still get your oil changed throughout the year so it stays fresh. This usually costs around $75 to $100 per oil change.
Are There Any Other Costs to Consider?
As alluded to above, fixed costs are not the only ones that you need to know about if you’re thinking about taking to the skies in your own plane. The other major types of costs are known as variable costs. Unlike fixed costs, variable costs typically increase proportionally to how often you fly the plane. The more you fly, the more you’ll have to pay for these costs.
Variable Costs of Owning an Airplane
Since the focus of this article is on fixed costs and we’ve gone into detail on the variable costs of airplane ownership in other articles on the site, I won’t dwell on the details here. But just so you’re aware, the most common variable costs of owning an airplane are:
- Extra oil changes
- Landing fees
- Maintenance and repairs
- Airplane cleaning
There you have it! If you understand all of the costs associated with airplane ownership, then you shouldn’t come across any surprises when you decide to buy a plane of your own. No matter the costs, having your own plane is something that I’m confident you won’t regret!