Ok, so this topic has probably been done to death in other places, but so far as I am aware, it hasn't been done here.
The scenario: Newly minted PPL looking for an aircraft share in the hope of starting out on a long and fruitful flying "career". No doubt its a veritable minefield, especially with CofA aircraft, with the maxim of "A little knowledge is an exquisitely expensive thing" at the front of ones mind.
The usual considerations apply. Appraising the value of an aircraft share (not necessarily an easy thing to do), considering why the share is being sold, compatibility with other group members in terms of type of flying, financial perspectives etc apply and are well worth discussing.
But I suppose the interesting advice would come from the following question. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to a greenhorn looking to purchase an aircraft share? What are the things, through lack of experience you understandably overlooked, but would not overlook now?
Secondly, many of the types for share are Cessna's. There has been a few rumours on other forums which have suggested that virtually all Cessna owners (for the sake of this argument, on a G reg) are shortly due a potentially very expensive bill in the form of mandatory inspections.
In the context of this rumour, what would the learned EuroGA forumites advise regarding specifically Cessna aircraft? Is there substance to this rumour? If so, what is the likely bill for such an inspection?
If I have missed anything, feel free to fill in the gaps :o)
Look at the aircraft and the group finance. High engine life + high engine fund is good. Any surprise bill will be shared - and group finance might already cover it. Good plane + poor finance is risky. Poor plane + poor finance -----?????? It can still work - but expect to have to put up cash occasionally.
Groups live or die on the basis of the quality of their members. The usual way to get into a group is to buy a share in an established group. I would stay away from start ups as there are too many unknowns. Stick with a group that has a simple supportable plane and and an operating history and then take a hard look at the other members. Ideally they have good jobs and stable lives and are passionate about flying.
Personally I would stay away from no equity groups as the members have no stake in the aircraft and will often treat it like they stole it.
Advice to a greenhorn? Go your own way.
I'm intolerant of owning anything in partnership with anybody. My choice would be (and is) to buy a simple, inexpensive aircraft (or perhaps two :-), find a way a way to store it in a hangar shared with as few others as possible, and establish relationships with mechanics/workshops that will get you the periodic signatures required for legality. I would focus on those issues like a laser, and understand that everything gets simpler when it is just you, your money, your paperwork, your aircraft and your mechanic. I strongly suspect that within that self imposed constraint the nonsensical government stuff tends to go away, anywhere, even in EASA/EU territory (my experience is and will remain outside of EASA's reach). People are helpful and things get things done when the situation is disciplined and simple.
In the UK, my observation would indicate that you should strongly consider minimizing any entanglement of you and your property/aircraft with EASA, through either N registration or selecting a 'non-EASA' aircraft. Plenty of them available for less than the price of a decent car.
Otherwise if the above seems like too much of a commitment find a way to fly somebody else's aircraft, through personal contacts that you will make and as far off the books as possible.
I don't know how easy this is to do in the UK, but if you're a newly minted PPL I'd also add: go fly a few different aircraft to broaden your experience and see what you really enjoy before committing to a share.
If you can afford it, sole ownership is absolutely the best.
And if it was anything remotely sophisticated or pricey I would go N-reg as Silvaire says - with the obvious caveats of probably having to maintain two sets of pilot papers.
BPF said:> I would stay away from start ups as there are too many unknowns.>
I was a member of a start-up Pa 28 group. There were no major problems. I already had the Jodel share, and I sold the Pa 28 share after a year. The group is still going. (16 to 20 members)
The original poster is a new PPL. I see no problems getting into a start up when you already have experience with an aircraft share and are an experienced pilot however if you are a new PPL and have no previous experience, I still think you would be better off buying a share in a well established group.
Looking back on my early flying days, it's obvious how little one knows, having merely been hanging out at the flying school.
The transition to whole or part ownership is a tough one, made tougher by a lack of support (for obvious business reasons) from the flying school.
The biggest thing is having a good community of owners where one can ask questions
I think it's true for most pilots that they learnt far more from the internet than from any flying school.
An established group is great but it is difficult to verify how well it is running. If there are issues (disagreements on maintenance, a member who is taking the micky in some way, etc) these are unlikely to be disclosed to a prospective share buyer - especially as the group has a strong incentive to get shot of the troublesome member whose share is up for sale
Here in the UK anyway, shares tend to be overpriced, presumably because they are more affordable than the whole plane, and perhaps because the group doesn't want to face the fall in market values which has taken place in recent years.
I am suprised nobody (especially from the USA) has yet commented on the threatened Cessna inspections... maybe they are not seen a problem for Part 91?
After renting for a few years, I bought a share in a very nice PA-28. Since then, I have done more flying than ever before - far more than I thought I would. Probably the best thing I have done for my flying as both my skills and confidence have improved significantly.
Before making the leap, I considered full ownership. I read everything I could get my hands on about the benefits and pitfalls of full ownership. Pretty much everyone, except Peter and Silvaire and a couple of others, advised extreme caution or outright avoidance of full ownership. I lacked experience, so I took heed of this advice, but now I really wish I hadn't let it scare me off.
Despite being in a great, small group with very good availability (on average the aircraft is flown on only 1.3 days/week), I find it restrictive. But not nearly as restrictive as renting. For the greater part, I think this has cropped up as result of how quickly my flying has progressed, thanks to cheaper flying and better availability.
Share ownership has allowed me to experience the non-flying parts of ownership, e.g. maintenance, record keeping, insurance, etc., without exposure to the full risk. If I knew then what I know now, I would have bought outright. This is the biggest lesson I have learned.
You know yourself better than anyone. Some people are happy sharing things with others, some are not. If finances only allow sharing or renting, then sharing is almost certainly cheaper and will give you greater accessibility.
If you are going to buy a share, think long-term. Give very serious consideration to what kind of flying you are likely to want when you have three or four times as much experience as you do now.