I think it’s great
This is one interesting observation:
It is true that the US forums are nearly all owners while the European ones (with the exception of the homebuilt and UL ones) are mostly renters. However that could be for other reasons e.g. some sites over here are a largely “pub” type with a lot of chatter (which would correlate with pilots who don’t fly anywhere) which I have not seen over there.
There’s also zero financing in Europe for the average GA pilot. In the US it’s a different ball game, very easy to get financing and live with very high levels of debt that you just keep rolling over. So all depends how you define “own”.
What % of US piston owners are borrowing money to buy their plane?
I also don’t see how borrowing money makes a rapidly depreciating asset more affordable, unless you buy only once and stop flying when it falls apart Certainly there appears to be more aircraft borrowing over there but I don’t think it is anywhere near universal.
I read the whole article and don’t think it was very relevant for the comparison of US and EU GA. He has trouble finding parts for a historic aircraft that are probably already uncommon in the US and much less common in Europe. Hence they often require shipping from the US which makes them more expensive here. Add VAT and customs and it’s easy to see why he pays 1.5 or 2 times of what it would cost in the US. Plus of course European shops wanting to make money out of it all.
A more relevant comparison would be from an owner of an aircraft that is common on both sides of the Atlantic, say a C172. The article also says nothing about how flying in Europe is like for a US pilot.
I’m not sure whether that is perception or reality. At the last count, our club had around 100 members for what we term ‘motor flight’. Of these, some are ‘passive’ members – older gentlemen who no longer have a medical, etc. The airfield has, if I recall correctly, 34 aircraft based there, of which 4 are club machines. So I wouldn’t deem 30% ownership to be low, that number increasing when you consider some aircraft have 2 or 3 owners who clubbed together to buy it. What is the American figure?
There could also be European variations – for example, let’s compare that to house ownership. When I left the UK, it was an aspiration to own your own home. When I arrived in Germany, no-one wanted the hassle of owning. A quick google search shows 62% of Brits owned the house they were living in back in 1985, that ratio increased to 70.9% in 2003 (although now in decline). In Germany, the average owner occupancy was around 35% and in 2002 it was still only just under 43%, the latest figures for 2014 show 45.5% owner occupancy for Germany. This was offset by the fact that most Germans drove brand new cars – I recall being amazed about the number of new BMWs and Mercedes on the road. Seems that banks would finance a house or a car – not both. And guess what the germans like most
General aviation is more important in the US because the distances are bigger. It will always play a different role there compared to Europe. Public intracontinental transport sucks, and cars are limited at these distances. Businesses are easier to set up, with >300m US customers with same language (ok, +hispanic). Airfield infrastructure is better. IR is easier to obtain. They’ve got an owner / equity culture for what they’re doing, as opposed to a rental / risk free culture in Europe. It’s much easier to a) argue, b) finance, and c) make use of a private plane in the US than over here.
This article parallels my experience. It is at least twice as expensive to fly in the UK and quite awkward for parts. I ordered a plastic trim piece for a Mooney, it took ages to be shipped, the shipping fees were high, then add on the taxes. This is nothing like the next day service from Aircraft Spruce when you are in North America.
I think an important aspect of operating an aircraft is the size of the market and the availability of local parts suppliers. As a consequence of the large market, in America every thing American is relatively easy to get a hold of (Piper, Cessna, et al). Further the market is so big that there are many ordinary part suppliers, e.g. Aircraft Spruce, Univair, etc. It is also easy to get spares from an aircraft breaking yard (my AME in Canada had an entire spare PA28 and a C172 just for airframe parts). Combined with the extensive experimental regimes and it all seems to go pretty smoothly.
A parallel to this situation it that it is easy to operate a Land Rover Defender in the UK; aftermarket parts suppliers are everywhere. It would obviously be difficult to operate one in America, you would be pay for parts in GBP and wait for them to be shipped from Britain. Same goes for operating a BMW or Mercedes in Germany… easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Similarly, I am guessing that it is somewhat easier if you operate a Robin in France…
Garrett used to post on this forum, last heard of he had moved to Spain near the Pyrenees? The PA-11 is quite rare in Europe but combines the J-3 flying qualities with a Super Cub enclosed cowling and wing tanks. It is held in great affection in the America’s both North and South.
I didn’t find it a particularly well written or argued article.
Yes parts shipped from the US cost more and customs duties apply. Aircraft parts for vintage US types are harder to source here.
The point is his parts adventure began because of German regulations. In the US, the plane was fine to begin with. What he says is true. I still find it astonishing that my CAMO has to send work orders to my maintenance shop. I can’t just ask them to do something. If you haven’t lived under a different regime, you don’t feel how senseless and intrusive much of this stuff is. It seems normal if you’re used to it, but it really isn’t,