This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Owning your own plane is every person’s dream, but knowing the variable costs when owning a plane is an important factor to consider.

Since owning a plane costs a lot of money, it helps to get familiar with the various costs before you purchase a plane.

The variable costs of owning one’s own plane include fuel costs, maintenance costs, ongoing costs such as repairs, etc. These costs can vary depending on the plane size, engine, features, and usage.

While owning a plane is a significant investment, one should also be familiar with the various costs that come along with owning an aircraft, which also include variable costs.

If you’ve been wondering about the same thing, then you are at the right place. As aircraft owners, we are in an ideal position to guide you through the different variable costs of having your own plane.

Table of contents


Airplane Variable Costs

The expenses related to the operating of the aircraft are known as variable costs, and they are computed by the hour.

Fuel, maintenance, inspections, engine programs, crew motels and meals, landing fees, and parking are all examples of variable expenditures. These fees can vary from $1,000 per hour for a small jet like an Embraer Phenom 100 to more than $10,000 per hour for bigger planes like the Global 5000 or Gulfstream G650ER.

When you become an aircraft owner or operator, it's critical to understand (and budget for) both fixed and variable expenses. All too frequently, aircraft owners are taken aback by the unexpected expenditures that arise after acquiring a jet. Knowing the variable expenses of air travel, aircraft use, and aircraft maintenance can help you decide whether or not you can afford this activity and keep your budget in control.

Jet Fuel

Private planes do not operate on the same sort of gasoline as your vehicle or truck. They also don't utilize the same sort of gasoline as a little piston plane. Airplanes need a different fuel than conventional gasoline for a variety of reasons.

For starters, Jet Fuel freezes at a lower temperature than ordinary gasoline. This is critical when you're running your private plane. Some planes reach altitudes of 51,000 feet, and the air gets cooler as you fly higher.

Secondly, the flashpoint of Jet Fuel is greater than that of gasoline. As a result, when compared to ordinary gasoline, Jet Fuel can give more power and economy.

The viscosity of Jet Fuel is also lower than that of normal gasoline. Jet Fuel isn't as thick as conventional gasoline, and, as a result, it is less prone to clogging pipes, allowing for better fuel efficiency.

Finally, compared to conventional gasoline, Jet Fuel is less expensive. This is critical since private planes consume a lot of fuel. However, you should note that even a 10% rise in fuel prices may have a substantial impact on the cost per hour to operate the plane.

The Jet-A fuel is the one we're interested in for private jets. A piston aircraft, such as a Cessna 172, would utilize 100LL as its fuel.

In the United States, the average cost of Jet-A fuel is $4.77 a gallon. With an average Jet-A price of $6.25 a gallon, Alaska is the most costly region. On the other hand, the cheapest Jet-A fuel can be found at $4.20 per gallon.

It's worth noting that the cost of Jet Fuel varies from one airport to the next. Large international airports, on average, have greater costs than smaller airports. Keeping that in mind, the total fuel cost of owning an airplane varies, depending on its size.

For instance, the fuel needed for large jets will cost around $1,700, for medium jets around $1,100, and for light jets, the fuel cost is around $500 to $800 per hour. Of course, these amounts will vary, depending on the distance being traveled.


Apart from the cost of purchasing one, having your own airplane requires a great deal of calculation and knowledge. Having this knowledge will help you manage costs better so you can maximize the value of this priceless asset. Professional training and maintenance, software, and licenses are all included in the hangar and fuel costs.

The list continues on, and in order to better comprehend it, we decided to question individuals who own planes in the United States. It is clear that purchasing and maintaining a jet is neither straightforward nor inexpensive. The expenses of obtaining and maintaining the equipment are quite high, making this an unfeasible option for many.

As the aircraft's category and size increases, so does its value. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association suggests creating a maintenance escrow fund to cover airframe and engine etc., overhauls.

As an airplane owner, you're aware that some maintenance tasks take longer and require more parts than others. A large event, such as a D check, will, for example, require more resources to perform than an A check.

However, while you may be aware of the technical differences, you may not know the associated pricing variances. The two are inextricably linked. If one examination takes longer and requires more components to perform than another, the cost is going to be higher as well.

Scheduled and unplanned maintenance are two types of aircraft maintenance. Maintenance is scheduled based on flying hours, flight cycles, and the calendar month. Technical failures, reported flaws, and problems discovered during inspection trigger unscheduled maintenance.

You should also consider flight hours. The number of hours flown over a certain period, from the moment the wheels lift off the ground during take-off to the time the wheels contact the ground during landing, is referred to as flight hours.

Take-off and landing runs are included in Flight Cycles. It covers the complete duration from engine start to engine shutdown, regardless of flying conditions.

A-checks are done either biweekly or monthly. They require a visual inspection of the aircraft's interior and exterior. Checking and servicing oil, filter change, lubrication, operating testing, and inspection are all A-check chores.

A-check maintenance takes place overnight in the hangar for around 10 hours per aircraft. Functional and operational system checks, cleaning and servicing of aircraft systems, and minor structural inspections are all part of the C-check process. C-checks take place in the hangar every 12 to 20 months, depending on the kind of aircraft, flying cycles, flight hours, and calendar months.

For a single aircraft, C-checks take anything from 1 to 3 weeks.

D-check activities include peeling paint off aircraft exteriors, removing panels, inspecting the airframe structure, wings, landing gear, engines, and the majority of structurally critical elements, among others. Many of the aircraft's interior components are inspected, overhauled, and repaired during D-check. Every 6 to 12 years, D-checks are done in the hangar and are dependent on the aircraft type, combat cycles, flying hours, and calendar months.

On-Going Costs

Jet owners are confronted with significant recurring expenditures, beginning with basic maintenance and on-the-ground downtime. Then, there are the unanticipated repairs. The cost of replacing a blown tire can cost up to $3,000. There's also hangarage to consider, which refers to a hangar parking area, as well as crew salary and aircraft insurance. You, as the owner, are responsible for everything.

 As a general guideline, annual running expenditures should be in the range of $500,000 to $1 million. A variety of useful airplane cost calculators can be found online.

When deciding on whether or not to acquire a jet, the sort of travel you undertake may be more important to consider than the number of flight hours. If you routinely arrange one-way trips, for example, you will be responsible for the expense of returning the plane and its crew.

Alternatively, if you plan to stay at a certain location for a week or more, the pilots, crew, and plane must be accommodated for the duration of the trip or returned home. In both circumstances, the expenditures could surpass the advantages of purchasing your own plane in the first place.