Annual expenses as a plane owner

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by 4RNB, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-Flight

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    My wife might just be ok with buying a plane but is VERY worried about ongoing expenses. Partnership possible, trying to learn about C 177 Cardinals. Can anyone shed light on actual expenses per year? Good and bad welcome please, Thank you.
     
  2. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It’s impossible to know. Could be a couple thousand, could be tens of thousands. My first two years all maintenance including annuals was probably around $2500 a year. I had a few minor things to deal with, but was pretty lucky. Year 3 I decided it was time for a firewall forward overhaul. That year I spent more than $30,000.
     
  3. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    There's fixed costs and variable costs.

    Fixed costs are:
    1. Storage (tie down or hanger)
    2. Taxes (if your county assesses property tax)
    3. Annual inspection
    4. Insurance
    5. Data subscriptions
    Variable costs are:
    1. Maintenance reserves
    2. Overhaul reserves (engine+prop)
    3. Oil
    4. Gas
     
  4. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    $2000 hangar
    $2000 insurance
    $2000 fuel
    $2000 annual
    $2000 misc
     
  5. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    I wish it were that cheap :(
     
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  6. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    10k a year all in is a nice round number that's not entirely wrong.

    That said, it's not about the average, it's about the error bars.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
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  7. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    I have usually figured about 150 hours per year was about the break even point, take the most reasonable rental rate you can find for a similar airplane. Multiply it by 150 and you will probably get your average annual cost. This likely includes things like Engine reserve, possibly interest on a loan and/or depreciation. Some might make this work at 100 hours but I bet over a few years it is closer to 150 hrs.

    Usually I tell people if they are planning on buying to save money they need to plan on flying at around 150 hours per year to break even with renting. But then there are many other reasons to buy other than saving money. Of course if you fly more the cost per hour goes down since the fixed cost don't change much.

    The 10K # above seems to be based on about 40 hours per year based on the fuel # and a 172/177 type aircraft. 40-50 hours per year is pretty typical for many owners. So if you can rent a 172 for about $120/hr (good price for around here) 40 hours = $5000 vs $10,000 for owning.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  8. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I use $12K per year as a budget number for a fixed gear, fixed pitch prop that is in excellent shape. That would include a minor stuff like a battery or ELT going gunny sack which you can absorb by buying less gas, etc. If your plane is not in excellent condition, then it can be a crap shoot. Most will tell you it can take up to 3 annuals to get it in the condition you like but YMMV. If you are looking at something that has ancient avionics, a history of engine issues, deferred maintenance or serious corrosion (If you are serious about a 177, need to get the spar inspected by someone who knows what to look for), you could be in for a sleigh ride.
     
  9. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    My first year of ownership was about $30k, but that included an avionics upgrade
     
  10. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    First year ownership is usually more expensive other than if you run into an overhaul. First annual with a new mechanic will uncover things the old mechanic or owner overlooked or put off. A new owner is usually a little more picky about fixing things than someone who's had it for years.
     
  11. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If cost is a concern, a two or three person partnership is great, if you can find the right partners and have a really really good exit clause.

    As others have said, the ongoing costs can vary greatly. In addition to that, my wife and I love traveling to distant places. That means lots of hotel rooms, restaurants, rental cars, museums and various other activities. Our Florida to Alaska round trip alone probably cost ~$20k.
     
  12. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    @asicer pretty much nailed what categories you will be spending money on. You can get very close to estimating insurance, storage and any applicable taxes. You can estimate how much flying you will do and you should know your local 100LL price and whatever your favorite oil is to figure operating costs. The rest, who knows? You should be prepared for an engine overhaul the day after purchase an aircraft. You likely won't have to, but sometimes it works out that way. You definitely don't want to be "plane poor", i.e. not having the funds available to pay for a major maintenance expense. I purchased my aircraft with a higher time engine and had it overhauled last fall, but I was expecting I would have to overhaul the engine within the first five years.

    While not an ongoing expense, be prepared for the expense of finding an aircraft. You will be lucky if you find one relatively close, otherwise you will be traveling to look at the aircraft and then you will want to have a good pre-buy inspection. Those costs can add up.

    I can offer one data point. I have owned a C172N for a little over three years and have flown about 70 hrs. a year. My hourly expense has been about $104/hr. Note: I'm not including any engine overhaul/reserve funding in that figure as I honestly don't see much point in it. But here is an example of how things can vary. After my first year of insurance I decided I wanted a $1MM smooth policy and that doubled my insurance cost. I also have opted for a shade hangar vs a tiedown. Had I not decided to do both of those items my hourly cost would be $86/hr.
     
  13. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I once totally up everything I'd spent on aviation one year. I promptly forgot it and have assiduously avoided ever doing it again.
     
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  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Runs between $10-$15k/year unless something major pops up - like replacing 6 cylinders - or new prop or something like that.
     
  15. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    We have consistently been about $12k/yr before the prop turns, so add gas to that number.
     
  16. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    That annual is quite variable, whilst the reserves should be a set amount.
     
  17. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I count the annual as a fixed cost. I think its ~$1,200 for the Bo. If he finds any problems to be fixed, I add that to my variable maintenance cost and if I also have him add any upgrades, then I add that to my variable upgrade costs. But the annual is fairly fixed.
     
  18. jbarrass

    jbarrass Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Like everything in aviation "it depends".

    For my Cherokee 180 and Grumman AA1A I set aside $600 per month and it easily covered everything but upgrades and an engine overhaul on the 180. The comanche was 2K per month and occasionally had to add more money. The Cherokee included a payment, the AA1A does not.

    Routine costs are pretty predictable. Upgrades are seemingly controllable, but as a practical matter "I have to have that new thing" becomes pretty compelling.

    Eventually you will have a major expense unless you're super lucky and have great timing. Think engine overhaul or new prop, though on a complex airplane you can find yourself spending multiple AMU on a gear overhaul or some weird AD that pops up. You can likely defer this by buying a plane with low time engine and excellent maintenance....but... Stuff happens when you least expect it. You have no control over the gremlins or goblins that inhabit old planes.

    Upgrades are the operational challenge. You may want a new G5, your spouse might want new seats & carpet. 5K or so each. You can say no to this expense, or maybe you can't, that is the question. IME the answer has always ends up being both, and that's where the budget blows up.

    I've usually found you can figure out the fixed expenses pretty precisely, then match that for variable expenses and it'll be ballpark.

    I don't believe in micro-budgeting for reserves. I have personal funds for major expenses like an engine or prop, but it's the same pool of funds as a new roof or AC at the house. I think this is a minority opinion though.

    Your first year costs will be much higher than others. A combination of reasons but it's true.

    Also, I believe the 3 most expensive words in aviation are "might as well". For example the mag died yesterday on the AA1A. For an AMU we could be good to go. But there is a deal out there for 2 new mags, a harness, and plugs for $2,900 (parts only). The other mag is sad, the harness is almost a half century old and showing it's age, and the plugs are OK, but are thinking about getting grumpy. So we "might as well" do it now. I don't know whether to code this as maintenance or upgrade. Preemptively replacing things that are not quite broke yet is it's own special thought war among plane owners. You'll need to take a position on it one way or the other.

    This almost always comes up at annual. Most shops have a fixed costs for an annual that covers the inspection and some basic services. This is a fixed cost. Repairing things they find is a variable cost. It's always a thing or three, sometimes a big thing or three. But the call from the IA often includes a discussion of things that are not strictly required for airworthiness but recommended "since it's already opened up" your philosophy on this has a financial impact. You can stop-drill a crack, or replace the skin....

    As said, like everything in aviation, "it depends".
     
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  19. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I'm just glad I was not required to spend as much money as you guys
     
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  20. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    do not ask me to look up my numbers.... especially this year
     
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  21. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    :eek:
    :eek:

    Before you put fuel in it? Holy crap.
     
  22. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    Hangar is 460
    Insurance is 2200/12 so lets call it 200. I havent seen this years quote yet though.
    Basic inspection is 2400, so another 200
    Foreflight, random stuff, cleaning supplies, hangar adult beverages are another easy 100 a month

    Does not include oil changes, fuel, any maintenance , hotel stays, ramp fees, etc. So a 1000 a month even without a payment or reserves is easy. Last annual total cost was $6500, and I still need to go back for mags and a tire sometime. 1959 Bo.
     
  23. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Adding your planes original value in new avionics by choice doesn't count for this question. ;)
     
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  24. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    Did we scare away the OP?
     
  25. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Hangar: 3000/yr
    Insurance: 3200/yr
    Annual (on average): 4000 (old bird, always something to fix)/yr

    Add in incidentals, GPS data base, oil changes, unexpected repairs.
     
  26. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    *whistles*
    I'm 2200/1100/2500
     
  27. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    Just convinced me to stay with my Tiger.
     
  28. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    That tracks my experience as well. Within 500 bucks of your numbers in all categories.

    Indeed, ditto for me (Arrow).
     
  29. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-Flight

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    Hell No, dream about this sheet!
     
  30. UglyElvis

    UglyElvis Filing Flight Plan

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    Doing the quick and dirty math my Bonanza, all in, runs about 20k per year to fly 150 hours. That is hangar, insurance, annual and maintenance (zero labor cost), and fuel. My insurance is as cheap as it can be and I live in a rural area. There was a point in time when I was adding $125 per hour to an engine and prop fund (thankfully fully funded now) in addition, which really upped the hourly cost.