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Why is it so hard to find a good place to rent from

I’m now planning my first aircraft rental outside the local ATO where I’ve done my training. It would be for a 4-day trip around (Southern) California plus BFR and checkout. I have been looking for flight schools / clubs in the LA area renting out Cessna 172s or Piper PA-28s.

I have sent out an e-mail to 15 of them based on the info on their websites, containing three simple questions:

  • Do they rent out a suitable aircraft for a multi-day trip?
  • Are there any special requirements (i.e. min hours) that would preclude me from renting?
  • Are they able to conduct the BFR?

Further questions were asked based on their answer (including eligibility for block discount, exact dates etc).

Results:

  • 1 appropriate initial response and follow-up, answering all the questions adequately
  • 2 appropriate initial response, no answer to my follow-up e-mail
  • 2 had no aircraft suitable for my needs
  • 7 no response
  • 3 complete garbage initial response, not answering any of my questions and not even a basis for further conversation

Am I doing something wrong? I have already spent 10+ hours trying to book a plane, and I have a single useable quotation. I have booked with them and will probably stay with them unless the two places in the second category come up with an answer and a much better deal than the one I’ve already booked with.

I can imagine the situation was actually worse in Europe with all the different languages. How do you find planes to rent at places not practically reachable by GA from your home airfield?

Hajdúszoboszló LHHO

I suspect that there simply isn’t much money in it for them for a once off rental for 4 days. Especially so, when you’re worried about minimum hours on the rental.

They’ll look at the hassle of verifying your licence, trying to organise an instructor for your BFR. The possibility of the aircraft going tech away from base and having to deal with that. And the likelihood that you’ll only be using it for 2-3 hours per day.

They’ll compare that with the likelihood that if you don’t take it, that they’ll probably have it used for more than that for training. And each training hour will probably involve an instructor payment too. There is little possibility of the aircraft stuck away from base. And they’ll conclude that it’s more profitable not to rent it to you.

They may also realise that you’ve probably emailed a whole load of places, and any time that they put into the response will probably be wasted as you end up using someone else.

If would be nice if there were a Hertz for aircraft, but unfortunately there isn’t.

You might be better off trying to call them. At least then they know that you’re serious about renting from them, and you have an opportunity to deal instantly with any issues that they bring up.

EIWT Weston

You do not typically rent a/c abroad in Europe, although you can take it abroad, no problem. It also looks like it would be easier to find the type of plane you are looking for for these time spans. At my airport there’s a maintenance shop that has three Cessnas for rent, and they really fly very little. Should be no problem to get one of these for 3 hours per day.

dublinpilot wrote:

I suspect that there simply isn’t much money in it for them for a once off rental for 4 days. Especially so, when you’re worried about minimum hours on the rental.

When I mentioned minimum hours I mean minimum experience (in my e-mail it was clear), since I’ll have ca. 70 hours in total by the time I commence this trip.

dublinpilot wrote:

They’ll look at the hassle of verifying your licence, trying to organise an instructor for your BFR. The possibility of the aircraft going tech away from base and having to deal with that. And the likelihood that you’ll only be using it for 2-3 hours per day.
They’ll compare that with the likelihood that if you don’t take it, that they’ll probably have it used for more than that for training. And each training hour will probably involve an instructor payment too. There is little possibility of the aircraft stuck away from base. And they’ll conclude that it’s more profitable not to rent it to you.

One of the places that answered actually sent me the very same answer, albeit formulated more politely. I’m however mainly looking for variants (RG) not used in primary training.

dublinpilot wrote:

They may also realise that you’ve probably emailed a whole load of places, and any time that they put into the response will probably be wasted as you end up using someone else.

I have tried to customise my e-mail as much as possible given the usually very limited information on their websites. But it is of course still possible that they guessed correctly the “mass” e-mailing from me and hence the lack of adequate response. I would’ve thought, however, that it is not hard to read a ten-line e-mail and give a proper reply. Answering prospective customers should be part of the business…

dublinpilot wrote:

If would be nice if there were a Hertz for aircraft, but unfortunately there isn’t.

That would be very nice indeed. I know about one such site for the USA: https://www.openairplane.com/
Does anyone here has experience with them?

dublinpilot wrote:

You might be better off trying to call them. At least then they know that you’re serious about renting from them, and you have an opportunity to deal instantly with any issues that they bring up.

Yes, I could do that, but I would like to have everything in writing, if possible.

Flyer59 wrote:

You do not typically rent a/c abroad in Europe, although you can take it abroad, no problem.

Maybe not if you are centrally located, but for places further away it would still make sense to fly with CAT and rent there. Especially with sunnier destinations, where the home/en-route weather may be much more restrictive than destination weather.

Last Edited by JnsV at 20 Dec 18:55
Hajdúszoboszló LHHO

JNSV… are you looking to rent in the USA (as per the start of your post) or perhaps in Europe too?

We have had many threads on rental restrictions. The ATO wants to get a certain minimum billing per day so if you want to take a plane away for say 4 days they like to bill you for say 8-12 hours’ flying (regardless of how much you actually flew it).

There are exceptions but school economics dictate they will not be that common. Low fleet utilisation has to be funded somehow. It will be less bad in the USA because their planes tend to be much higher utilised. The PA28s I flew in Arizona were doing 700hrs/year.

As to the lack of response from the US schools, well, this is probably a combination of the “illiterate Ipad generation” and people being too lazy to bother (bad management, ultimately). Europe has the same issue, on top of certain countries simply not replying to emails in a foreign language (Spain, France, Italy being the most common in that respect). And even without the language issue, I find, in my business, and elsewhere, that a lot of people read the first few lines only of an email and then they pursue some more profitable activity, or reply to some more “interesting” email. One can get comical situations where you send back repeated emails to extract answers to unanswered questions one by one but that is of course hard to do in a non-business context without appearing to be rude

@172driver here may have connections in southern California.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
JNSV… are you looking to rent in the USA (as per the start of your post) or in Europe?

Currently in the USA (LA area), but in the future probably also in Europe. I’m trying to get some generally useful info / tactic for renting away from the home base.Peter wrote:

Peter wrote:

We have had many threads on rental restrictions. The ATO wants to get a certain minimum billing per day so if you want to take a plane away for say 4 days they like to bill you for say 8-12 hours’ flying (regardless of how much you actually flew it).

I made clear in my e-mail to them that I’d plan to fly 10-15 hours in the course of 3.5 days + BFR and checkout.

Peter wrote:

There are exceptions but school economics dictate they will not be that common. Low fleet utilisation has to be funded somehow.

That’s something I can very much understand. What I do not understand is if aircraft rental is part of their business, as I think it is, why do they not treat prospective customers accordingly.

Peter wrote:

I find, in my business, and elsewhere, that a lot of people read the first few lines only of an email and then they pursue some more profitable activity, or reply to some more “interesting” email.

This is something I see as well. I have even had cases where I (as the head of product development) answered an e-mail to a customer, then some junior sales assistant sent out some complete bullshit answer being in complete disagreement with what I wrote. She was surprised when after a few such cases I politely, but firmly asked her to actually read e-mails before responding.

Last Edited by JnsV at 20 Dec 19:10
Hajdúszoboszló LHHO

I have found the best rentals from individuals who get to know you and put you on their insurance. Often they’re not flying enough and happy to have one or two guys keeping the plane in the air. Rentals from ATOs are difficult to take for more than a single overnight. I had decent access to planes without daily limits and for weeks at a time. Still shaking my head over my decision to buy. Makes no sense whatsoever.

Also, even at flight schools you kinda have to show up to be taken seriously if you’re discussing a rental of this nature. Very hard to set up long distance unless you have a local who can vouch for you.

Open Airplane gets good reviews. They are said to give very thorough check outs (tougher than most flight school rental checkouts) before “validating” you. This might well work for you in the US. I am registered with them but have never gotten validated or rented a plane from them. But many of the renters seem to be flight schools, so you may well wind up with problems mentioned before.

Last Edited by WhiskeyPapa at 20 Dec 19:34
Tököl LHTL

@WhiskeyPapa
Sure, that could be on option locally (not really here in Eastern Hungary, I guess, with the low number GA planes in general), but renting away from home can’t work like that.

Last Edited by JnsV at 20 Dec 19:41
Hajdúszoboszló LHHO

@JNSV

It worked for me. I rented from individuals in a country where I do not live (but visited 4-5 times a year). The contacts and leads built up over time. There are a lot of owners who dream about finding 2-3 reliable pilots they can “lend” their plane to on an informal basis. But you’re right in the sense that’s it’s hard to set up in a one-off trip. For me, it worked out over a couple years.

Last Edited by WhiskeyPapa at 20 Dec 19:42
Tököl LHTL

JNSV, the main problem you’ll have here in SoCal with your plan is a/c availability, especially as you intend to fly a basic trainer. As the US economy has picked up, lots more people are learning to fly and availability has become a real issue. I rent from Justice Aviation at KSMO and can recommend them, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a 172 that’s available for 4 days in a row. Simply won’t happen. Also, as others have said, sending a 172 out for 4 days with 10 hours on the Hobbs makes little or no commercial sense if the same a/c can do 20 hours in the same timeframe. It’s not quite clear to me where you currently are, but if you’re in L.A. I would suggest you drive down to KSMO and personally talk to some of the schools. There are some smaller outfits that may be able to accommodate you. Also, do you hold an FAA license? If not, you need to get your piggyback one sorted out before you can fly here.

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