Is Buying a Private Plane Worth the Spend?

Have you ever dreamed of owning your very own private plane? If you have, you’re not the only one. In fact, buying a plane is a shared dream among many. And why not? Owning a plane means having the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want. What’s not to like about that? But, here’s the thing, owning a plane can be expensive and, for many, that might leave them questioning whether or not buying a private plane is actually worth the spend.

The benefits of owning a plane

Cessna 172 in flight
Cessna 172 | Getty Images

Perhaps the biggest benefit to owning a plane is that you’ll be able to save flight time and avoid the frustration that comes along with stepping inside of an airport, Avion Insurance reports. When flying commercial, you not only have to arrive at the airport several hours before departure but you also have to wait in line to check your bags, make your way through security, and then wait for your flight to actually take off. Own your very own plane and avoiding those common airport frustrations is an easy feat.

Owning a plane also gives you the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want, Avion Insurance reports. It gives you the opportunity to book last-minute trips to the travel destination of your choosing too and even makes it easier to bring family and friends along for the trip. In fact, if you decide to travel with friends and family, you really only have to worry about how much space your plane has to offer.

Fulfilling your lifelong dream to own a plane is another benefit worth mentioning. Just imagine yourself taking the wheel of your very own plane and getting that perfect view of the open sky. It sounds pretty fantastic, right? We think so too. 

How much does it cost to buy a private plane?

But before you go signing along that dotted line, let’s talk about how much it costs to actually buy a plane. According to Investopedia, the first thing you need to consider is what kind of plane you want to buy. While a new single-seat, single-engine recreational plane may cost you between $8,000 and $15,000, a single-engine plane with multiple seats will have you spending between $15,000 and $100,000. And if you’d prefer a multi-engine plane? Expect to spend between $75,000 and $300,000. 

Keep in mind that you can also forgo a new plane and, instead, buy a used plane. The bad news is that the cost of a used airplane does vary. In fact, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the resale value of a plane depends largely on the plane’s engine hours, installed equipment, safety features, damage history, and paint. The condition of the interior can impact the plane’s value too.

Plane maintenance and inspections will cost you

Now, buying a plane isn’t the only cost you’ll incur as a plane owner. You should also plan for plane maintenance costs. To make those costs a tad easier on your wallet, Investopedia suggests establishing an escrow fund. 

This type of escrow fund would cover costs related to engine, propeller, and avionics maintenance. It could also be used for airframe overhauls. Investopedia suggests contributing to your plane maintenance fund each time you take to the skies to ensure you save enough to cover plane maintenance costs.

Small planes must undergo annual inspections too. According to Investopedia, such an inspection can cost from $600 to $1,200. If you happen to own a more specialized plane, the cost of an annual inspection may be even higher, Investopedia added.

Is aviation insurance expensive?

You know that you need car insurance to own and drive a car. The same goes for planes. If you buy a private plane, you should expect to pay for aviation insurance coverage. But don’t worry, there are many benefits to having aviation insurance. It will not only cover aircraft damage but will also provide liability coverage for anything that your plane damages, Investopedia reports.

As for how much aviation insurance costs? According to Investopedia, the cost of aviation insurance varies by policy and what level of coverage you opt for. “When selecting small aircraft insurance, which runs between $1,200 and $2,000 per year, it’s best to consult with a licensed aviation insurance agent,” Investopedia added.

How you store your plane matters

Thomas B. Edelstein of Fleetwood, the airport's licensed airplane mechanic, closes the main hangar doors, hiding a yellow 1940's Piper Cub. When you own a plane, you will need a place to store it
Plane Hangar | Jeremy Drey via Getty Images

Most people don’t have a place at home to store their plane. That means having to find a place to store it, and, more often than not, that also means paying for a place to store it. Honeywell reports that you typically have two options: hangar rental space or tie-down when it comes to how you keep your plane.

“Since there are numerous elements to consider while making this choice, pilots should consider these things when they’re making their decision: the weather conditions the plane will experience; the proximity to the repair shop; the amount of money it will cost if damaged outdoors; and the importance of reselling the aircraft in the future,” says Honeywell.

And when it comes to costs? Based on data collected by Honeywell, plane owners can anticipate spending roughly $420 to $900 per year to tie down their plane and $1800 to $12,000 a year to store it in a hangar.

Is owning a plane worth it?

It all depends. If you aren’t put off by the costs of both buying and owning a plane, then owning one may be the right choice for you. But if you aren’t willing to pay for maintenance or storage fees? Then you might be better off chartering or renting a private plane instead.

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