What are the Real Costs of Aircraft Ownership in Australia?

Posted on Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 00:00

So you’re interested in buying an aircraft. Maybe a single or twin-engine prop? A very light jet? A helicopter? Whatever your aircraft might be, you have to consider there’s much more to buying a plane than signing off on a loan. Here’s what the real costs of aircraft ownership are in Australia.

1. Insurance

Much like car insurance, you wouldn’t go flying unless insured. You’ll have to take out hull and liability insurance to cover your plane from damage and damage to others. This cost may vary wildly between how many hours you have logged, where you’re keeping the plane and a myriad of other factors. This could range into the four or even five figures, depending on your aircraft and estimated flight hours you’ll be logging.

2. Maintenance

Cars can get by on a “roadworthy certificate” but a plane must adhere to much stricter standards. A plane requires annual checking from the electronics to the engines to the fuselage. Avionics equipment may deteriorate and need complete replacement and engines may require entire rebuilds. Some people finance the rebuilds separately to the plane!

3. Fuel

Fuel is a big expense. Even for a fixed-gear single-engine Cessna 172, fuel may cost you up to $30-40 an hour! If you are making cross-country trips (provided you are rated for it), this can add up quickly. If you want to share the cost with passengers as a Private Pilot, you have to make three take offs or landings within the last 90 days.

4. Equipment and maps

You’ll need to buy equipment to be flight ready. This might include a headset, engine covers, backup GPS and survival equipment. You’ll also have to subscribe to CASA’s visual flight guides with all the up to date maps before you can submit a flight plan.

5. Reviews, ratings and flight-training

If you’re a pilot already, you know how involved flight training can be. To obtain your Recreational Pilots Licence, you must have at least 30-40hrs of flight time with an instructor (whom you must also hire for his or her time.) Obtaining your Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) requires more time and dedication. Add to that any ratings, like IFR for example, you may want to have. You’ll also have to do a bi-annual review of your skills, which also means hiring an instructor. You will also have to undergo a medical test, too.

6. Hangar or tie-down fees

You have to keep your plane somewhere and your garage isn’t an option! You’ll have to pay for private hangar or tie-down fees just to keep your plane somewhere. Sometimes hangar fees offset your insurance costs, as your plane is more secure from the elements. It’s a significant cost to bear.

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