COST OF OWNING AN AIRPLANE

A reality check on cost of ownership for a small airplane. Image
Most of us find air travel as most happening mode to travel.  Surely, aircraft is most fascinating engineering marvel that gets airborne against the law of gravity and takes you to your destination in shorter time. Many of us are curious about what is cost of owning one. Definitely, what can be more fulfilling than owning an airplane once in our lifespan. This blog focuses on owning a piston engine machines used for training and / or leisure flying. 

Cost of owning an aircraft includes below components:

1.       Cost of aircraft
2.       Documentation & approvals 
3.       Fixed costs
4.       Operating costs

Cost of Aircraft: 

SINGLE ENGINE PISTON LIGHT AIRCRAFT

Cost of new light aircraft like Cessna 172, Diamond DA 40 or Piper Archer range around ₹ 3 -3.75 Cr, The cost may vary slightly as per $ rate and addition of any optional equipment’s. Seating configuration of these aircraft are like passenger cars with 2+2 seats one behind other. These aircraft are single pilot certified. Therefore, they can accommodate up to 3 guests. The travel distance range of these aircraft are between 600-1000 Kms based on load on board and weather.  Cost of used aircraft of this type varies based on age of aircraft and condition. A good condition not so old used aircraft of these make may be procured in cost range of ₹ 1.25 – 2 Cr. 

A better performing aircraft like Cessna 182 or Cessna 206 or Beechcraft Bonanza costs higher. A new aircraft of this sort may cost between ₹ 3.75 – 5.5 Cr. Used aircraft in good condition of this category may costs between ₹ 1.5-2.5 Cr. This type of aircraft has better load carrying capacity and range. 

MULTI-ENGINE PISTON LIGHT AIRCRAFT 

A twin engine or commonly known in industry as multi-engine piston aircraft like DA42, Piper Seneca or P68C cost around ₹ 5-8 Cr. These aircraft give reliability of two engines. Due to two engines, these aircrafts are faster and have more load carrying capacity. DA42 can seat up to 1+3 whereas P68C or Piper Seneca can accommodate up to 6 people including Pilots. A good condition used multi-engine piston light aircraft can be procured in ₹ 2 – 3 Cr.

Documentation & Approvals

Owning an aircraft is an exciting affair. However, the same comes with few documentation and approvals. The Indian civil aviation regulator i.e. Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) mandates few documentation in respect of owner of aircraft and aircraft itself. Getting an aircraft in India from some other country requires import permissions and duties. This documentation & approvals can be done with assistance from Aviation consultants and take some time. On a safer side always account 3-6 months for such documentation & approvals.  

Fixed costs

There are certain costs associated to keep the aircraft in airworthy condition always. These costs vary from parking, staffing, regular maintenance, annual reviews, insurance, maintenance schedules and the like. These fixed costs may become a spoil sport if not accounted and managed well.

Operating Cost

Each time aircraft flies, it has a cost of operation. Such costs can be bucketed as operating cost. These costs include airport charges, fuel cost, crew expenses, ground handling charges, navigation charges and the like. Operating cost is usually a fraction of total cost of owning an airplane. This fact may sound little surprising. 

There are multiple ownership models in which one can be an owner of an aircraft in an efficient manner. India is still not mature when it comes to aircraft ownership market and plenty of opportunities are available to be an owner of a flying machine. 
 

*Author is an Indian Private Pilot and keen observer of Indian aviation market. He has flown with multiple flying training schools of India. He enjoys mentoring people who wish to be a commercial / hobby Pilot. He can be approached at info@jagaviation.in for consultation.

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