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Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by MitchB, Apr 24, 2012.
Funny, according to many here that spot is occupied by tail draggers.
Good to know that cost is not really an object for you and that the airplane will be more like your baby than a tool. The 320 I flew was a working airplane and not kept up cosmetically although it was well-maintained mechanically. It would have been a good airplane for travel except that it had no deice. It also had no radar/stormscope. I guess that's not as much of a problem now with the advent of uplink weather in various forms. The only complaint I had about it was that it had a strange, wallowing ride in turbulence. It could have used yaw damp but, at the time, I didn't even know what yaw damp was. The weak link in the airplane is the gear. It's a complex system with many parts to break.
well, in that case the real man airplane is the wright brothers' Flyer.
Very true, and there is a lot of little stuff you can do to save money. I never pay for having the planes cleaned, I do it myself. I do participate in maintenance when it makes sense and my personal and family obligations allow it, and that saves some money as well. If my wife or I get our A&P and we are able to change our aircraft ownership situation a bit, we may get to the point where we end up doing all our own work. At the moment, it's not practical.
However, at the end of the day, it still does cost what it costs. Cost per hour for many ends up being a good way of looking at it. Obviously it doesn't work well in all cases, but it compares nicely with aircraft rental rates. Businesses like it because it tracks easily for figuring out value. No matter how you slice it, there's still a net amount of money going out.
Some of the caution from others has to do with the current market conditions. These days, there are a lot of people who have bought aircraft thinking they could afford the things, and were wrong. It's not just up in the realm of Gulfstreams, it goes all the way down to 172s and Cherokees. It doesn't help anyone to have more people making these mistakes. Henning's numbers have tended to be "optimistic" in the eyes of many other aircraft owners and operators on here, myself included (and I control all costs on a 310 that's flown 400 hours in the past year and a half). The nice part for those who can afford the operating costs, though, is that you can buy a lot of airplane for a lot of money, which makes now a great time to buy.
Well, there are a lot of things that an owner can do. There are also a lot of things that require supervision of an A&P. You can't sign off your own annual inspections, for instance. So even if you do 100% of the work, your A&P/IA will likely charge something for his signature. And chances are, he'll want to supervise to some level, not to mention the inspections that he's required to do.
If you wish to do all of your own maintenance and don't want to get your A&P/IA, then you may want to consider building an experimental. That's on my list. Depending on which route I choose (if I ever do it), it'll probably look a lot like a 310.
You are absolutely right, every ownership is different. But if you look at it as $/mile, that is still effectively $/hour - only it varies significantly based on your winds. And ultimately, there are typically a few major factors that contribute to what one's total costs are:
1) Can you do the maintenance yourself?
2) Do you run for speed or economy?
From what I've seen, most everything else kinda balances itself out.
You are correct, there's a lot of needless bickering which doesn't add to the thread.
I'll conclude saying that, as a cost-conscientious owner and operator with a budget to keep these planes flying and who can operate a 310 for less than anyone else I personally know who owns one, I don't think that Henning's cost representations are what another owner could expect without having similar unique circumstances. Caveat emptor.
At Sun N Fun there was an in progress Twin Velocity, the kit for which will be available next, or so they claim. A experimental twin that will likely be fast as all get out. Doesn't look much like a 310, though.
Looks like a mini-Beech Starship. Now that's a pretty cool-looking plane.
Back to the thread title,
Why not a 310/320?
1 you can't afford one
2 you don't want one
3 it' not enough airplane
If any of the above are true there is your why not.
If all the above are false, let's start shopping!
Exactly. I know a lot of people who had airplane dreams, or bigger airplane dreams, which didn't work out so well. Airplanes are now parked or sold. It's not just this recent downturn. It happened during the dot-com bust too, and during the first Gulf War.
You've been in this business much longer than I have, so I don't know the various other times it happened. But all of that makes sense.
I think these days, the low purchase cost allure is what is motivating many. I can buy a Cessna 421 for under $100k. Of course, I'll probably spent $100k in the first year of ownership on it.
Truth. The example was outfitted with O-320's, if I recall correctly. Sorry, I don't have any pix handy. I have doubts that a kit will emerge next year (these guys seemed particularly hand to mouth) but it did look really neat. They claim to have sold 800 kits (for their singles) thus far.
Sorry about the creep. Will happily return you to your 310 diatribes.
That's because I'm so much older.
Airplanes are almost always one of the first things to go when the owner tries to downsize his or her budget. This goes for private owners as well as companies. Very few owners make flying one of the main priorities, expense wise, but there are obviously exceptions, many of whom are on this board.
Not presumptuous on my part since I received an PM from him. Quite presumptuous of others though to believe him incompetent. You and Wayne aren't incorrect about cost of airplane operation and care in your limited view and base of experience. How many owner/mechanics do you hang around with? The people who have a hangar with tools and jacks and grease, the ones that have stained hands and clothes? What are their maint bills like?
You both argue from a point of mechanical incompetence and regardless the field of endeavor, if machines play a major part, if you are mechanically incompetent, your costs will be a minimum of 3x that for the mechanically competent.
That really isn't an issue either because most people are not mechanically competent. The issue for me is that you all consider everybody else as mechanically incompetent as yourselves and that is far from true. There are many mechanically minded people out there for whom an aircraft is the least complex thing they will work on. For someone with the mechanic gene, there isn't much work to be done on a plane that they hadn't learned to do by the time they were 12. Believe it or not, there are people who actually know how to work on things and enjoy it. Those people are going to operate planes for a hell of a lot less than people who pull up in front of a shop and say "It has a rattle".
Bah, that just means you're more experienced.
Agreed. I've just seen more of the phenomenon of people thinking they can afford something they can't, but that's probably because I got into aviation relatively recently and haven't seen as many of the ups and downs over several decades like you have. When I bought my Aztec, it would've cost me the same to buy a similarly-equipped 172. Of course, the 172 probably would've cost about half as much to operate for the number of hours I've flown it since.
Get both, get a Beech 18.
Not true, unless you're really overpaying for labor. Labor only makes up about 25% of my total operating costs.
Did you just pull that 3x number out of the air or what?
One of the best means yet to convert avgas to noise. It's not slow, it's stately.
Maybe it's because I'm old enough to have been glued in front of the TV when Sky King was on, but I don't think there's a more beautiful twin than a 310 with Tuna tanks.
More likely his ( ! )............
Songbird III is a pretty ship. No doubt.
(My photo taken at Oshkosh last year.)
Not true at all, you don't know what you're paying for because you didn't know what you needed to pay for. The amount of good parts that get changed out because the mechanic doesn't know how to diagnose is the main reason repair costs are as high as they are.
You don't pay a mechanic for labor, you pay a mechanic for knowledge of what labor needs to be done along with what parts. 80% of mechanics can't diagnose to save their lives, nor do they have the willingness or ability to repair a part. Here's a great example, my cowl flap motor on my BE95 went out. Mechanic told me they're $1200 and I can get a used one for $750. I removed it and disassembled it, cleaned it, located a set of new brushes for <$2, inserted, reassembled and installed.
$1200 repair went to $750 went to $2, a half a day, a few phone calls and a gallon of gas to go get the brushes which I could have reused the old ones. The only problem with it was that the motor was clogged up with carbon dust, that's all.
You pay for ignorance and you pay for time, the more ignorant and less time for the owner the more it will cost them, simple as that. It's all trading money for time is all it is. Trading the money for the labor time isn't a bad deal, but trading money for time and effort required to gain knowledge, now that is where you open yourself up to being a hostage to the mechanics. Now if you have one of the 20% that's good and honest, no sweat. The problem arises with the other 80% who aren't diagnostically competent and will just keep putting on new parts until the problem goes away. That starts to get expensive, but it's not as bad as it gets, there's a good 5% out there that are downright thieves, if your wife would take a car to them she'd leave with a new $300 high speed muffler bearing, and it's a good thing they caught it because "if you were going 60 when it let go, it could have killed you."
Henning, you are grouping me as the mechanically inept. You forget that I used to design the engines for a living. The airframe parts that need to be replaced are in need of replacement. I've managed about 3000 hours worth of engine time and 1500 hours worth of airframe time over multiple planes. Examples like your cowl flap motor are very rare, and end up washing out in the total MX costs.
If we are replacing a part, it is in need of replacement.
Now, you are absolutely making up numbers with no factual basis for it.
Sorry, wasn't specifying you, just the general situation, process, and problem that is faced by any owner in the industry and why costs can get so high. For all you've said about my claimed operating costs, yours are not much higher than mine, a percentage easily covered in the difference between the labor you farm out and the labor I do. Your fuel costs are slightly higher because you fly with more weight and have a draggier airframe and slightly less efficient engines, but we're within a couple gph for the same speed (you fly slow as well).
Begs the question - do you now regret owning the Aztec and wish you had bought the 172? Did the Aztec provide more enjoyment and or capability than a 172?
Realize, it's not linear. You don't get twice as much happiness for twice as much money in anything...
It's only been in this thread that I've seen you post more reasonable numbers. However, this does make me think I should revisit my numbers. I also think that your numbers are based on a number of assumptions, given the relatively low number of hours that you've put on the plane.
As far as my numbers go, I'll give you the fact that I do pay labor and you don't, plus our fuel burn (based on our respective claims). Also, I am open about the fact that my numbers are low because we work hard to cut costs where we can. Weight has nothing to do with fuel burn, fuel burn is based on a power setting that one chooses. I haven't run any 520s or 470s on a dyno, but at economy cruise I highly doubt they are significantly less efficient. They do make a bit more power. Your plane should be a hair more efficient due to lack of augmentors, lack of FIKI, and the tuna tanks vs. the aerodynamic tanks. So, I still think your numbers are a bit optimistic.
Edit: I will also be interested to see what this plane does after we put new engines on it. If we go with the 550s, it'll be an easy extra bit of speed. If we go with the 520s, it'll be interesting to see the before and after numbers. Although these still pass all tests just fine, they do have 2100 hours.
But now, let's revisit your statement that the mechanically inept will spend 3x more than the mechanically apt. So you say that a mechanically inept 310 owner will spend $750/hr on average vs. your $250/hr? Where does that come from? You may have saved $1,200 in one instance on your Travel Air, but those items are few and far between when you look at the total ownership life of an aircraft. Even if you figure how we run engines vs. someone who runs ROP and high CHTs, that's hardly going to add $500/hr to the cost, same for replacing items like landing light motors (of which I had one go out, and I replaced - $1,000). Even if they are paying more money for a mechanic to diagnose and try to repair problems vs. where I can tell my mechanics exactly what is wrong and save that time, that hardly will amount to 3x cost.
Unless you have a crooked mechanic, I just don't see it.
Oh, if I had bought the 172 I would have been thoroughly dissatisfied and unhappy. I don't like 172s as airplanes at all, and it is completely unsuitable for what I do with an aircraft. In reality, I was considering a Lancair 360 instead. What that came down to was what my mission was going to be (go wherever I felt like because it was fun, or actually try to get a job done). I am happy with my decision, and I think I would've been unhappy with another route.
However, that was also not my point. My point is that someone, who could easily afford a 172, might ask the question "Well, why not buy this Aztec that's the same cost?" And the answer may be "No reason, you should buy it." But the sum of money spent on operation, which very quickly equals if not surpasses the purchase cost, may not be affordable to some.
When I bought my Aztec, there were a good number of nay-sayers. Mainly saying that someone with 225 hours and 15 months total flying time didn't really have much business flying a FIKI twin, and that its capabilities didn't make sense for me. I saw past those folks because I knew where I was going with the plane - I wouldn't be there the next day, but I would before too long. Their comments were based on a misunderstanding of what I was going to do. The plane proved to be a superb fit for my capabilities and mission at the time, and has served me well for 900 hours of flight time in 3 years. Now it is no longer needed, and thus is for sale.
I also went into the purchase having a good understanding of what it was going to cost me, with a planned structure for how it was going to get paid for. I employed (and still employ) cost-saving measures where appropriate. I went into it thinking I would spend a lot more time assisting with maintenance than I have - although the reasons for not doing much MX myself now are different than when I first bought it.
Why do you keep combining separate issues? Maintenance and operation costs aren't the same. The mechanically inept will spend 3x(if not more) more on maintenance and repair on average because of all the work that gets done and parts that get replaced by equally inept mechanics that doesn't fix the problem yet gets billed for. If you (any owner) don't know what's wrong and your mechanic is guessing and pulls out the parts gun, you're on the road to the poorhouse. If you don't believe that happens, well, I'm done discussing it.
It's funny, thread after thread after thread about how to reduce the cost of aviation; try to show a solution that requires an effort and I get screamed down as some kind of heretic.
Where do you get this statistic from? Do you have evidence to back it up? Individual examples here and there don't count, because I can come up with lots of individual examples of items that would disprove things we both know to be true. Use actual numbers over a substantial number of hours of airframe use, not guesses. Same for the guesses that mechanics are inept at their jobs.
What do you figure your hourly MX cost is? How many hours have you computed that over? Then what do you figure is 3x?
I figure my hourly MX cost is about $150. Multiply by 3, that gets to $450. Let's say that it's $100 for you and you multiply by 3 to $300. Where does that extra money go besides labor?
I've yet to see any answers that have something believable behind them.
It might have to do with your details.
Nobody has ever disputed that assisting with MX can lower costs. The realities vary significantly.
Go back through all the maintenance thread archives here and on the red board and tell me the percentage of threads where owners were thousands of dollars into figuring out a problem with no solution.
With that, I'm done, this is getting to the point of being plain stupid.
And how do those instances mean 3x total cost? Have they given you costs that you can compare to?
Again, this is still hyperbole you're spouting.
No, you reached that point long ago.
Henning has a point. I recently wrote a $380 check for something I could have fixed myself for $100 in parts. If I owned the plane I would have done the work myself. Clean primer nozzles and replace 4 spark plugs.
As far as car ownership goes, I figure my operating cost is much much less your average owner. I replaced the radiator, water pump, all coolant hoses and tstat for $225. Took me 3 hours. what would that cost if my mom owned the car? Too much.
I've missed much of this thread but I completely believe Henning has a substantially lower cost than the average 310 owner. 3x less is a lot but it does not sound ridiculous. Many people haven't idea and would not notice something like an overheating engine, or oil pressure slowly dropping. I've seen many clueless people miss things like these on cars, boats and needlessly ruin them.
As many cfi's will tell you,there are many private pilots that are clueless about mechanical things, can't operate their planes withinPOH specs or fly to PTS.
At the local Cessna 300-400 shop (9 airplanes on the floor yesterday) shop labor rate is $75, or $20/hr cheaper than any car dealer's shop within 30 miles based on actual phone survey.
Maximum markup on parts and outside repair is 25% on shop's cost, not retail (on small stuff), big stuff like engines carry no markup. Customer has the option to buy any/all parts on the internet and save sales taxes if they choose.
The big gotcha's can be parts costs (presently a 414 with a history of engine problems as a result of a bad re-build popped a through-bolt and is being replaced with RAM) or torque rods or heated windshields, but if so those parts will be cheaper to the owner if he buys them from the shop rather than buying them himself.
More often, the big costs are labor intensive. In many cases they are due to corrosion repair in inaccessible areas that simply can't be done by a shade-tree. Nose gear tunnels, wing/flap/nacelle exhaust areas, nacelle locker tank bays, aft fuselage and vertical stab are common examples.
Good shops are skilled in diagnostics and trouble-shooting, and have the equipment and tooling to do so,and a facility in which to do it. Much of the equipment requires 220V that's not available in the post-war T-hangar ghettos. Pressurization carts, air-conditioning carts, hydraulic mules, testing equipment for cabin heaters, flight control rigging templates, dedicated wheel/tire tables, exahust test kits and many other specialized tools are required to maintain these planes properly, and certain licenses and training are required to sign them off.
To suggest that some wingnut with none of the above can achieve the same results at any price is ludicrous. I have personally observed more than 200 (by actual count) inspections of these airplanes during the past 5 years. Owners are welcome to assist if they choose to do so. Of those, the total owner assistance number currently stands at 2. I know many of them personally, and attribute the low number of particpants the fact that:
1. They have a life
2. They can afford to maintain their airplanes.
3. Their hourly billing/revenue rate is significantly more than the shop rate, and they're smart enough to understand the arithmetic.
4. If the decision is whether to play golf at Pine Valley, Hilton Head or Broadmoor or grub around in the hangar for a weekend, the hangar will always finish last.
I use a shop that specializes in twin Cessnas, they don other stuff as well, but the majority of their work is 400 series including a few Conquests. They aren't cheap, but they are fair and I think their experience probably saves me money over a cheaper shop trying to troubleshoot things they aren't familiar with. I am somewhere between mechanically inept and wanting to spend my time on other things. my costs might be somewhat lower if I did some stuff myself, but I don't have a hangar or the inclination.
Had Charlene washed and cleaned on Wednesday morning and flew her to the beach for a little fishing this weekend. I guess I could have changed the oil in the 182 instead.
With advanced aircraft boutique specialty shops are almost always going to save you money. They may quote higher walking in, but they're a lot closer to quote when the bill comes due because they know exactly what they need to do.
I don't think I've been surprised by a bill since I started using them in 2007! not they've all been cheap, but they do it on time and at the quoted price, if I get a quote in advance. I'm slays shocked at 2-4 week annuals people talk about, we figure a week start to finish and with the exception of having the torque tubes inspected and then replaced, it's always on time. Even with the torque tube replacement, they did the parts at cost to help me out. another shop quoted my buddy 55 hours labor to replace both windshields in his 421C, my shop charges 110 hours! after really pushing the cheaper shop, he found out the guy made a mistake and it was going to be 100+ hours too! he ended up using the shop I use, it was in and out in the a week or whatever they agreed on.
Holy necropost, Batman!
First post too!
Welcome to POA!
what is going on here?