Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

Am I insane? Anonymous Private Aircraft Owner Income Survey

Snoopy wrote:

I created this anonymous survey to check if I’m unrealistic and buying a plane, on my part, would be insanity or if I’m somehow financially in line with those that own a private plane.

IMHO, income is one thing, disposal income is quite something else …

I would think that just 2 simple questions would be far more realistic for gauging GA ownership cost: capital outlay and yearly spend.


@Snoopy: I think the topic is far more complex and highly non-linear, so almost no chance to inter/extra-polate anything. I alway tell people to write down their thought on how they want to be an airmen. After that, one can build a calculation sheet to play with the variables. I have found no general rules of thumb, yet, and I am in commercial consulting.

Some planes you just can’t rent, you have to buy. There are very very few outfits who rent out seaplanes and if you wan to fly high performance aerobatic aircraft, there are not many charter companies either. Same is true for historic aircraft.

Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

Assuming you don’t own a buisness (e.g. you can’t fly on weekdays as you are stuck with a boss), the easy way is to fix a budget and split it between two flying extreme A-B flying for travel and A-A flying for fun, that would maximise your self/others joy while clocking load of hours/currency.

If you are fixed on one of the extreme AA or AB bits then go ahead and own something on it, but still it has to be a share: if you can’t use it regularly on weekdays, not lot of owners are happy with a fresh new Cirrus sitting on the ground with 30h a year as not able to fly more than that due to time & family constraints (contrary to you can’t afford flying hour)

Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

In 2015, the last representative year due to time u/s, I payed £4614 for 60 tach hours in a (6 member) syndicate owned Jodel DR1050 hangared at Inverness EGPE. That includes everything except away landings, and the excess of away fuel over our standard local price.
I’m still in the syndicate, and now also in a Bolkow Junior syndicate, also at Inverness.
I’m an OAP, with no debts.

Last Edited by Maoraigh at 27 Jan 20:32
EGPE, United Kingdom

I’m a firm believer that anyone can afford to own an aircraft. I also think you need to be self employed if you want the upper echelons of aircraft types (unless you’re perhaps a CEO of a big multinational corporation), so you can channel the ownership through your corporation or company.

I’ve spent considerably more than 5% on my flying and aircraft – and I think most do. Some years it’s closer to 50%!

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 27 Jan 22:49

My total is about 3% on the hangar plus the rest, which is is almost ‘in the noise’… 1% on avgas. 5 or 6% is probably a reasonable estimate of the total, most years, plus a considerable amount of hands on effort. Obviously if you end up buying major engine work or a paint job, that puts a big bump in the total. So far (since 2003 or so) I’ve not seen big ticket expenses, largely by picking the plane carefully in the beginning, but every decade or so it’s probably reasonable to expect a substantial cash injection and the cash needs to be in hand. I’m not into installed avioncs, a single com and a transponder is all I want, plus relatively inexpensive portables, so I’ve avoided that endless money pit. Simple and manageable is what makes me smile.

Owning and flying go hand in hand for me, I wouldn’t be involved in flying aircraft without owning aircraft – that’s half the fun.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Jan 02:10

Peter wrote:

That’s probably because light GA has a low utility value in Norway, due to weather, icing conditions, etc.

Not exactly. It’s more what you are looking for, and how to get it without too much pain. Norway (and Sweden) is a phenomenal place to fly, as is evident by all the “tourist flyers” coming here every summer in all kinds of aircraft. In the winter it’s mostly the temperature and darkness (too few ours of light) that stops it. The temperature is no problem for the aircraft, but doing preflight, re-fueling, putting covers on and off etc in subzero and wind becomes “old” very fast Still, very doable when you are young, but how much hasle can you take when you have passed 40-50? To get something that works all year round requires something with a turbine and a heated hangar also at the “B” end of an A to B flight. It gets expensive.

Peter wrote:

Sole ownership has huge advantages

It depends. It certainly has no advantage if you want to go to South Africa for a week or two to fly, or to the States, or simply likes to fly different planes. Certainly no advantage when instructing or towing gliders and similar stuff. The only thing is does is to assure you have something to fly “locally” that’s as independent of others as much as possible. But as I said, one doesn’t exclude the other. Take it to the extreme. How do you fly the coolest planes possible, and fly them as much as you can? You have to become a professional pilot, and no pilot owns the Boeing or fighter jet he is flying. You can still own your own little private plane and fly in the spare time.

Peter wrote:

The same argument (you don’t care who else is doing what with it) can be made for women

With that comparison I wonder what you actually are doing with your plane

highflyer wrote:

I see it the other way around. It`s a big advantage to have an own plane. If you own a plane, you usually know every detail, you are familiar with the plane, you always know how much fuel is in the tanks, what`s the fuel burn, oil consumption, technical issues and so on. I know every scratch because I take care of it intensively. That increases security.
And I do not have to ask anyone if I can get the plane, it is always available to me. The only restrictions are weather and spare time.

That’s not the other way around. It’s only a list of reasons why you personally like to have your own plane. IMO it’s mostly stuff that has nothing to do with flying, but only stuff that’s caused by your affection with the plane and your personal level of safety (real or otherwise). Nothing wrong with that (seriously), but none of them are requirements to make you fly more, and it certainly will not broaden your horizons regarding flying.


My income has varied greatly over the last 30 years and is now a lot smaller than it was say 15 years ago. Accordingly I spend perhaps 30% of my net income on flying. But everything in the house is paid for (never borrowed money in my life) so, with a simple lifestyle, our total living expenses are of the order of 20k, so this works well.

However I am discovering that one can spend as much on ski holidays as on (simple) flying – unless you go to places like Bulgaria

People who got five figure surprises are mostly those who bought an old example, possibly with a misleading prebuy inspection, and then had to fix a lot of surprise stuff. This is why I strongly recommend anyone who is not a “maintenance management expert” to avoid buying some old wreck. You start off being100% reliant on a competent prebuy, and a lot of dodgy stuff can be concealed from even that. The engine condition cannot be established by inspection, unless you have an opportunity to take representative oil samples, etc.

Disasters can still happen: one pilot lost his plane via an disastrous avionics installation, another had his plane trashed via a disastrous refurbishment, and there is a string of such events… some of them get concealed and the plane gets sold on quietly.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

unless you go to places like Bulgaria

Pretty expensive there too for foreigners but the slopes are not all that bad… I’ve been to Pamporovo some years back, cheapest skiing I ever had but good slopes and not bad infrastructure. Places like Bansko have become rather upscale these days too. I hear it still is a good idea to get a Bulgarian to book the hotel and the ski pass for you as there are different rates.

But you are right, a simple holiday can outgrow the plane budget massively, particularly for a whole family. Stuff I used to do commercial I can’t dream of with 3 full seats to pay for. Particularly in the closer to home segment, using my airplane can actually save me money vs expensive airline tickets.

@LeSving, that discussion is a very old one and in the end mostly one of often strong opinion and how you actually value the freedom ownership gives you. Rent vs buying is something that finally boils down to how society sees wealth. I grew up in a society which shunned anyone who owned flats our houses as dirty rich bastards and to this day Switzerland has a huge amount of renters as opposed to owners when it comes to houses and flats and also to airplanes. The stigma is deeply rooted and takes some to overcome. In the last 15 years this has changed slightly in the living sector however as the younger generation have different ideas. Looking at poor countries like Bulgaria for instance, it is quite funny to see that there ownership of flats and even houses was the normal case even during communist times and today, renters are next to non-existent. There it is either you own it or you don’t do whatever it is you can’t obviously afford. Renting, credits, leasing e.t.c. are looked upon as a sign of weakness and is avoided.

Today I have to clearly say that owning the place I live in would be a total must in the area I do live in. I bought in 2001 and never looked back. Costs have gone down almost by 3/4 as opposed to rent. If I did not own, I would have to move away from my workplace at least 30 km or more in order to have halfways affordable rental flats and most probably all I could afford would be a 2-3 room flat. Where I live, a 3-4 room flat is in excess of 2000 Euros p.m, some in excess of 3000. I currently pay about 400 per month for my house. The same goes for cars, here care sharing is onthe way up but still a drop on a hot stone so to speak. Prices are sky high, with the use I have for my car, it is no qustion I could afford a rental.

With airplanes, we’ve been saying that for decades, owning makes sense if the usage is right. Break even between owning and renting is somewhere between 60 and 100 hours p.a (with 60 hours you save the 50 hour check, which is about 1500 Euros which translates into about 5-6 flying hours). That is if you take the same plane in a rental environment or in a ownership environment. A PA28-180 or similar costs somewhere in the region of 200-250 Euros per hour these days rental and as you can see, yearly cost of a plane like that is given by folks here as around 20k Euros, which btw is a wide average, not Swiss, where rentals are higher. If I look what I spend per year for my airplane, I could probably rent one for about 30 hours maximum, not considering that if I were to do that, I could not do mostly what I want to do, as chances that it is occupied when I want it are 80-90%. That is why here so many folks are getting by with a simple 12 hours per year or often every 2 years just to keep the license going.

The clear advantage of owning a plane over renting is the freedom of use. No minimum hours per day or week, no stress getting it home “at all cost” because the next renter is waiting (and the club will bill you for every hour you are late), no responsibility towards anyone but yourself if your plane gets stranded due to weather, mostly all that costs is a train ticket and parking as opposed to 2-3 hours daily you need to pay to the club. And, as others have said, you know your plane and what is going on. Now, while the “shagged rentals” are not a problem here, price definitly is.

I agree that income is one factor but not always the decisive one. Depending on you lead your life some folks may well be able to afford things which others can’t because they spend lots of money on rental flats and similarly uneconomic things as opposed to those who have made the step towards owning. With todays interest rates, owning is no longer for the “filthy rich” but can be achieved with a few years of austerity by everyone. The moment you have done it (and not overdone it) your costs collapse and money is there which was not before.

LSZH, Switzerland
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top