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Cheap airplanes to buy, own and fly thread

Luscombe Neil wrote:

Aircraft have a value for a reason, it may be popularity, rarity, you name it. But I believe in the market.

It’s an interesting point, and well taken, but psychology and fear are part of the market too. When you buy a plane that is a very unusual type but built with very common engine, brakes, instruments and so on, my experience is that you can get a very enjoyable and maintainable plane for a reasonable price. The reasons that types are unusual are varied, but very often it was a result of market and manufacturer issues when the plane was built, having no consequence today.

The remaining issue is type specific airframe parts and this can be a challenge… So buy a plane in good shape and learn where to find parts – if you look, you generally find them. In that context, Peter’s valid point about installing used, NOS, owner produced etc parts on EU-registered planes is solved by N-registration.

Going in other direction, there are also good deals in planes that are so common as to have an unexciting image, also an irrational market force. The archetype of this for me is the humble Cessna 150 (not 152), which is available for peanuts, very maintainable. I knew a guy who had a 1966 150F and he flew it everywhere. Another is the Piper Tri-Pacer, which has better performance than most people know.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Jan 16:15

@Silvaire: A venerable C150 is a lot of fun to fly. As a 2-seater is has to compete with microlights and because people think of it as ‘outdated’, so you can get really good deals on them, agreed. Unfortunately it is slow and to cite old stories – it offer 50 percent of 172 value at 80 percent costs ;-). But, to start with, it is real nice!

Also on N-reg you can fabricate parts. We did that with the Cessna 140 we had – the prebuy showed an AD that hadn’t been complied with (it was a simple thing – a metal shield around the fuel line that ran down the firewall). Of course no one (let alone Cessna) still made this part – the AD was ancient – so we solved it by ‘airport hopping’ to find a C120/140 and look at how the AD was complied with. The first airfield we came to had a C140 with the engine off so we could easily photograph and carefully measure the part, bring the information back to our A&P/IA and fabricate the part at his shop.

Same thing on the LAA permit (I’m considering getting some new seats made up at some point, the ‘aerobatic type’ that will take a 4 point harness – all the drawings are available so I can have them made to the original specification).

One thing that has helped in keeping the headaches of running the Auster down is having a common Lycoming engine rather than the rarer Gipsy (classic the Gipsy may well be) and also Cleveland wheels and brakes. Parts for all of these things are easily available, and any light aircraft mechanic is familiar with an O-320.

Andreas IOM

dejwu wrote:

Talking EASA-reg you need a Part 145 shop capable to do work and able to sign off

No you don’t. But this OWT keeps sticking around for some reason.

Peter wrote:

N-reg is much easier because an A&P has the authority to inspect and declare airworthy (most things).

Don’t you need an IA for that?

Snoopy wrote:

It’s old so there might be gruesome maintenance surprises

You will never buy a new plane for that money, although if you pay 20+k€ for a MS880, you should be as close to a new plane as you can get. Most of the Morane coffin-planes are out of service by now and I haven’t seen to many really bad ones out there recently. There are very few items that can’t be repaired and you can always use AC43-13 to repair everything and the kitchen sink. Being on D-Reg, maintenance-wise you are as close to FAA regulations as you can get. There are subtle differences in who can do what, but in the end the bill is the same. I know some MS880 and MS883 that fly for way less money than some of the newer microlights.

You don’t need a BRS in these birds, but if you feel uncomfortable without a chute, you can take a backpack. The ATL does fit nicely, if you’re not too tall. You can egress very easy out of a Morane.

For further info on these aircraft, please read:

At the end of the day, the costs are very similar, if you have similar planes. So a MS880 will cost roughly the same to operate as a D120, a DR1050, a BO208, a SF23, a C150, DR400-120 and a PA28-140 will cost around the same as a C172, a MS885, a MS892, DR340, DR250-160 and a Piper Archer will cost around the same to operate than a TB10, GY80, DR400-180, DR253, etc.

With some uncertainty, based on around 70-120h/year and no self maintenance, a friend of mine came to the equation of €1/(h*HP) for flight prices. He did no maintenance himself, so there is room to reduce costs, if you maintain the aircraft yourself. Biggest price factors are usually hangerage and insurance (in that order).

But the real cheapos out there are motor gliders. If you just want to be in the air and not emphasise on cruise speed, you can own an SF25 for some 15 years excluding fuel and hangerage for the 20k you’d have spend on the Morane:

If you like to do some evening aerobatics, this would be a cheap aircraft. It cruises around 90 ktas:

Or if you like plastic aircraft, how about this one:
They also come with turbocharged engines:

Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

@dejwu I see decent 150s for $15-$20K in the US, which is about half the price of a similar 172. Running costs are probably 75% of a 172 per hour, but if flying here and there is what you want to do, they both do it in much the same way. The lack of space in a 150 would be motivation to say slim

As a very general rule, I’ve found its good to follow the market to make money, and find irrational counter-market niches when spending money.

mh wrote:

Peter wrote:
N-reg is much easier because an A&P has the authority to inspect and declare airworthy (most things).

Don’t you need an IA for that?

Any FAA A&P can install a used part, no IA is required. The logbook entry is something like “removed widget, installed used, serviceable widget part number xxx”. An A&P friend recently built up a Cub from a wreck his father had bought years ago, plus wings from two different planes and so on. It came out pretty well and he then sold it to a happy owner. It was a drawn out part of clearing his father’s estate.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Jan 15:47

Also on N-reg you can fabricate parts

Non structural, otherwise you need either original design data or need to generate such (usually done by a DER). One thread here.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

So… in the end the same as in EASA-reg…

Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

I’ve not seen a DER involved in owner produced parts. Typically it’s done by simple inspection and replication, sometimes with an associated sketch.

Original design data is typically only available for government funded designs, e.g, Boeing Stearman, but obviously when that data is available it makes life easy for the guy making the parts. That’s one reason why there are so many Stearmans flying, many of them have had scratch built wings and so on, produced in the field.

Then there is the ‘repair’ route, in which a completely unserviceable part is repaired by an A&P, who leaves one part untouched so that it’s not a newly built component. He makes a logbook entry for his repair work, and if it’s major repair he gets an IA signoff and files a 337 based on FAA AC 41.13.

Obviously for used, serviceable parts on an N-registered aircraft, even with minor repairs prior to installation, no data of any kind is required other than the A&Ps installation logbook entry.

“Antiquers” have been doing this stuff for decades, very often on their own aircraft with the A&P being an unpaid friend.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Jan 16:10

in the end the same as in EASA-reg

Not really – see the details posted.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

C150’s are not cheap these days. I know someone who paid 38K for an example with a zero timed engine.

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