You’ve done it. You’ve finally achieved that pilot’s license, and you’re ready to hit the open sky. Only one question remains: can you afford it?
If you’re wondering how much does a small plane cost, keep reading for a quick rundown.
How Much Does a Small Plane Cost?
Like buying a car, plane prices vary greatly.
A brand new plane is going to cost a lot more than a used one. The more feature-rich plane you get, the more money you can expect to drop.
If you go for something a little older and in need of updates, you can find a plane for $25,000 or less. In this case, though, you’ll need to spend a little to update the plane. You might need a new GPS, new radios, and other maintenance jobs to make the craft flight-worthy.
If you’re looking for an up-to-date single-engine plane, you can expect to spend about $50,000 or more. This might end up being a better option to avoid maintenance costs. Maintaining and updating an old plane can really add up.
Many pilots say that if you can afford to buy a car or boat, you can afford to buy a plane. This isn’t really a reliable guideline to follow, though. Everyone’s needs will vary, and it really depends on what you can find in your price range.
You also need to consider the price of fuel, insurance, operating costs, and storage when buying a plane.
A plane will typically use around $30 of fuel per hour. You can expect to spend around $1,000 a year on inspections, and $1,500-plus on insurance. Your operating costs come somewhere around $150 per flight all things considered.
When you’re not using your plane, you’ll have to store it at an airport. This can cost upwards of $300 per month.
These numbers vary greatly depending on the size of your plane. But they’re important to consider and try to estimate before making any purchase.
An ultralight aircraft is the way to go if you’re looking for something affordable.
Ultralight aircrafts are the most bare-bones, cheap options on the market. They’re single-seated, and single-engined crafts made specifically for recreation. If you just want to zip around the sky on your own, you can get an ultralight plane for $15,000 or lower.
You can even find two-seater and amphibious ultralight planes around this pricepoint.
Ultralight planes aren’t only cheaper to buy, but they’re cheaper on gas and storage. Oftentimes you can store an ultralight plane right on your property.
If you just want to hit the sky, go ultralight.
Multi-engine aircrafts will cost you the most.
These bad boys have the highest variable cost. They can come in anywhere between $80,000 to $300,000. They’re much faster, fancier, and well-equipped, but those upgrades come at a hefty cost.
A new multi-engine plane will be at the higher end of the spectrum. A used one will still be expensive, and also require upgrades and maintenance in most cases. However, buying used might be worth it, as the upgrades and maintenance could equal a lower price than that of a brand new plane.
Most people won’t be able to buy a multi-engine plane straight from the get-go. For those people, there are financing options.
Buy or Finance?
Ideally, you’ll want to buy your plane outright. If you’re buying an expensive multi-engine plane, however, that’s probably not an option.
You can take out a loan for your plane as long as you can keep up with payments and interest. You can also finance a plane, much like a car. To do that, you’ll need:
- A good credit score
- A down payment
- To disclose how often you want to use the plane
- To disclose the condition of the plane (year, make, model)
- To figure out how much you’ll need to be loaned
Financing is often the best option for a new plane owner. It will help you keep up with all the other payments relating to a plane, including storage and insurance.
If you’re looking at ultralight or single-engine crafts, try and find one you can purchase outright. That takes away the stress of monthly payments, and lets you trade the plane if you find something better. You can read more about trading a plane here.
Getting the Most Affordable Plane
The best way to get an affordable plane is to use patience.
Shop around and keep your options open. Ask a lot of questions whether you’re going used or new. Make sure the plane requires minimal upgrades and maintenance from the get-go.
When looking for insurance, don’t just settle on the first offer. Go to a few companies and get a few quotes.
Storage is another area where you can save. If you have a lot of property, you might be able to store your plane at home. If your property is waterfront and your plane is amphibious, you’ll probably only need to store it in the winter.
You have two options when storing a plane at an airport: tie-down or hangar. Tie-down storage is much cheaper, and can come in as low as $900 per year. In contrast, hangar storage can be as expensive as $12,000 per year.
Tie-down means the plane is stored outside. Of course, this leaves your plane open to the elements. It might sustain damage and require more maintenance.
Depending on the weather in your area, though, tie-down may be worth it. The extra maintenance costs might come out cheaper than hangar storage costs.
Can I Afford a Plane?
Whether or not you can afford to buy a plane depends entirely on your budget. Now that you know how much does a small plane cost, you can more easily determine this.
You’ve gone through flight school, so you deserve to soar. If you can only afford an ultralight or single-engine, go for it. You don’t need to break the bank to get a high quality plane.
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