Renting vs. Buying an Aircraft

Posted on Friday, April 24, 2015 - 10:16

Are you sitting on the fence when it comes to buying an aircraft? Maybe you take a single prop Cessna out for a spin every so often, but wonder if you’re sinking money into renting. Perhaps you think you’d save that money to own an aircraft instead. Here are some of the factors to consider when weighing up whether to keep renting or buy.

Flight frequency

You have to ask yourself how many hours you already log with rental aircraft. If you think that you will fly more often if you bought an aircraft then a purchase might be justified. But many pilots fool themselves into thinking they will fly more than they already do. Read our guide on costs of aircraft ownership for more information.

Purpose of flights

Are you flying for business or pleasure? Can you make some measure of return, such as sharing the cost among friends or relatives? Would you save money on commercial air travel if you had your own plane?

What type of aircraft do you really want?

If your local airport only has a Piper Cherokee or Cessna 172 when what you really want is a Cessna 310, you’ll have to be prepared to take on the extra expense. This expense factors into two engine rebuilds, fuel and maintenance. Can you really afford the extra horsepower when it comes down to it? Or are you willing to pay more for extra piece of mind? Read our top 7 tips to choose the right aeroplane.

You pay for insurance – and everything else

If you’re renting, you won’t have to pay for insurance every year. Once that responsibility passes over to you, you’re the one who has to protect your investment with aircraft insurance. You’ll also have to pay for maintenance, overhauls, annual inspections and hangar or tie down costs. Don’t forget – you’ll have to pay for fuel every time you fly.

Time-sharing and joint ownership

Sometimes it makes sense to buy a plane with a fellow pilot or several pilots to spread out the costs, including ongoing costs such as hangar or tie-down costs or insurance. But if the whole point of ownership is to take the plane out whenever suits you, does joint ownership really make buying a plane all that attractive? 

Do the maths

At any rate, you should make a decision to buy with your head, not your heart. One good idea is to total up the hours you’ve logged in the last 36 months and multiply it by your usual hire cost. Then look at the cost of your desired aircraft plus interest on your loan and all the costs involved per flight, such as fuel. Then you’ll know if you’re making a good financial decision. Read the real costs of owning an aircraft here.

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