GH3

Ownership costs

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Boats: I LOVE time spent in, on, and under water. But a stroll past our local marina is discouraging. So many, a vast majority, of nice trawlers and once-loved sailboats haven’t been out of the slip in a decade or more. Covered with mildew and barnacles,, tied with frayed lines, brightwork unvarnished in maybe ever. :(

Airplanes: At least a higher percentage of our local airport’s planes seem to be flown, inspected, and washed from time to time, than those bedraggled yachts.. Many of them actually leave the pattern, if only for pancakes or barbecue somewhere nearby. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Amelia said:

Boats: I LOVE time spent in, on, and under water.

I hope you're talking about submarines! ;)

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13 hours ago, jazztheglass said:

Shelter:  ....  But your own hangar is priceless.  Its like the treehouse you always wanted as a kid and the clubhouse you always wanted as an adolescent.  It is an escape.  I say that you could rent a hangar and not even have a plane and it would be worth it.

Haha - that made my day.  If anyone near Manhattan want to experience the joys of renting a hangar as a man-cave and would like a plane inside it to complete the look and feel - let me know. For lets say a mere $100 a month fee to you, I'll come park mine in there.

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51 minutes ago, bluehighwayflyer said:

SCUBA diving, more likely.  :)  It is a relative bargain, I might add, although getting to some of the better locations can be pricey.

Jim

I figured that's what @Amelia meant ;)  It just sort of sounded like she was talking about boats underwater, which I hope nobody experiences, unless they're on a sub.  Well, now that I think about it, I think underwater boat wrecks are popular SCUBA sites...

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My desire for airplane ownership is directly proportional to my sobriety and inversely proportional to how much I fly at work. It would be safe to plan on spending $7500-$10000 without ever moving a wheel; annual, insurance, taxes and tiedown/hangar. I didn't include any purchase price in the previous figure. As long as your rental bill is under $10K and you are happy with the arrangement, I wouldn't buy an airplane. BTW, there are several worksheets in the downloads section of this site, but you may not like what you see. 

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I think owners can be divided into two categories:

  • Professional pilots who fly company equipment for work
  • Amateur pilots who only get to fly if they're buying the fuel.

I can't speak for the Pro's other than my brother who is an SWA Captain. He loves to fly my Mooney, but spends his own money on BMW cars, and a massive motorhome bus conversion. While I'm sure he loves to fly as much as I do, the company scratches just about all of that itch for him.

For an amateur pilot who's only route to the left seat is to pay for it myself, there are many reasons for ownership that don't show up on the spreadsheet. In no particular order...

  • Safety - flying the same airplane all the time means I know what it sounds like, what is feels like, what it smells like, and when it doesn't. I also know the plane's performance and capability intimately. I always knew who flew it last... me.
  • Accessibility - the expensive activity that it is, flying has to take a back seat to my methods for funding life, i.e. the day job. Having to schedule flying around my schedule is one thing, scheduling it around a lot of other people's schedules, or a flight school's schedule, is just all too complicated and results in greatly reduced opportunity to fly. Even if I flew the same number of hours, as an owner, the hours are of higher quality as they fit perfectly/easily into MY schedule.
  • Destinations - I'd guess that most Mooney aficionados like cross country flying. And we're not talking about FAA cross countries of 50 miles, but Mooney cross countries where when you stop for fuel you're still outbound. This often requires multi-day access to the plane, nights tied down in interesting locations, and possibly insurance considerations for flights across the boarders or to the islands. All non-issues for the airplane I own, but all layers of additional complexity or barriers for rented aircraft.
  • Pride of ownership - granted not all owners actually fly as evidenced by the ramp queens slowly rotting into the ground, but for those owner flow aircraft that fly, they are typically in better shape than anything in the rental fleet. Ownership involves hanging out at the hangar, cleaning, upgrading, maintaining, etc. None of which we do for rental aircraft.
  • Better airplanes - I have to laugh every time someone posts the question on this forum about where can they find a Mooney to rent... in their local area... we know there might only be two Mooneys for rental purposes in the whole country. Complex, high-performance, turbo, high altitude, cross country machines like ours, just don't exist in the rental fleet. Much like if your passion are Porsche 911's, you're just gonna have to buy one. It's about the only way you'll ever drive one.

I'm sure others will come up with other reasons as well... But with the above considerations... if I can get within even 30% to 50% over the cost of renting, it's worth it for me to own. In my case, because I own, I fly a lot more. At just shy of 250 hours for 2018, I'm sure owning is cheaper than renting for me.

BTW - I consider the CapEx value of the airplane, $120K, and the hangar I own, $45K, to be investments, not costs. Even if I'm losing money because they are underperforming compared to other investment vehicles or inflation, I fully expect to get the $120K + $45K back if I sold out. The other money I've spent on CapEx such as glass panel, and other upgrades... I might get 25% of that back. But it's not calculated as such. It's just spent.

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You can listen to what other people are spending to get a ballpark figure, but you will need to do your own research once you get serious, as costs vary greatly depending on location, model, value, etc.  For instance, in my area enclosed hangars run $50 - $120 a month.  I pay $89 for nice T-hangar with electricity and a solid concrete floor.  For $120, I could have a private box hangar on a private grass strip, but that won't even pay tie down fees in some places. 

Insurance this year was $1,288, down from $1,508 my first year.  Annual inspection is $1200 flat plus whatever is found that needs addressed.  First year maintenance was $9,000 as I was getting neglected stuff fixed.  This year it's already $1900, but I expect that to continue to climb throughout the year.

As for variable costs, once you've already paid the fixed costs, just about the cheapest thing you can do with the plane is fly it!

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I was told there would be no math..............

also, @GH3 in order to NOT put any of us old guys into cardiac arrest....around these parts we refer to currency in AMU's and not dollars....

Having said that, I have attached an operating cost spreadsheet that Merl Perry (Mooney owner on this site and fellow Navy brother) generated.  Play around with the numbers as you do research in your area for hanger, insurance, etc.  You can add what you think your annual flight hours might be then compare your operating cost to renting for a relatively objective analysis. It also spits out nice graph if you need to generate a powerpoint for your wife....

However as stated already...subjectively there is nothing better than going out to your hanger and playing in your personal private club house - maybe do a quick flight, saturday afternoon lunch on a whim, stopping by after work to just give the cowl and prop a quick coat of polish or leaning over to your wife on Monday night and say..."hey, lets fly to Boston or Chicago this weekend to see a baseball game and our son"......non owners will never understand.....

Operating costs.xlsx

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2 hours ago, anthonydesmet said:

I was told there would be no math..............

...

Having said that, I have attached an operating cost spreadsheet

:lol::lol:!

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When I was contemplating my first airplane purchase many years ago, an airplane owner friend advised that, "The best part of airplane ownership is that the flying is free."

"Free?", I asked.

He replied, "When you rent, you think about the rental cost per hour. When you own, it's so damn expensive just to have the thing that to put some gas in it and go fly for an hour is essentially free."

My wife does't ask anymore. She lives by the belief that you shouldn't ask a question if you can't stand to hear the answer.

Skip

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20 hours ago, gsxrpilot said:

I separate CapEx and OpEx. 

CapEx is the price of the plane and any upgrades I make or money I spend on improvements.

OpEx are the recurring costs such as fuel, hangar rent, annual maintenance, other maintenance, nav subscriptions, etc.

I flew approximately 250 hours last year. I have no idea how much I spent in either of the two categories last year. But all the bills got paid, so I guess we're ok for another year of this.

Do you depreciate the CapX over the GAAP standard 3 year or a more aviation-realistic 3 minutes?

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I used to fly a gazillionair around in a Falcon 50. I once started talking about operating costs and he told me, “You never think about what it costs per hour or you will never do it.” If you want the plane and you can afford it, buy it. At the end of each year, add up the total cost to own it. If you can live with that, keep it. If you can’t live with that, sell it.”

Works for my Mooney. (Which my wife has christened The Mooney Pit!)

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Honestly it COST, I have no idea how much.

I keep every receipt but never bothered to look.  Next owner will think I was a most "meticulous" steward.

I will say, direct maintenance has been rather low.  Annuals, some baffles. 

if I were to guess, excluding "unnecessary" upgrades ( avionics, lights, and soon autopilot, speed mods, Monroy tanks, electronic ignition etc... ) i'd budget about 100 to 125 / hour for my M20E. 

 

to be clear ( avionics, lights, and soon autopilot, speed mods, Monroy tanks, electronic ignition etc... ) absolutely not necessary 

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I separate my costs into two buckets:

  • Cost to Own--hangar, tax, insurance, registration, GPS data, Annuals, Biennial Pitot-Static testing, MAPA Membership because I own a Mooney, etc.
  • Cost to Operate--fuel, oil changes (owner maintenance), fuel, parking fees away from home, fuel, occasional tires / tubes (one pair of mains and three nose tires in twelve years), etc.

The capital expenses and opportunity costs are simply ignored, as they would exist for doing anything at all with the money other than investing at maximum return, and who can really do that?

Then there us the general cost to just Be A Pilot--headsets for self and wife, flight bag, subscriptions to plates / charts (paper or electronic), medical, Flight Reviews, training and proficiency flights, AOPA, EAA, etc.

Still more fun than a boat, and loads more useful!!

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I think you should take into consideration, the memories you will get with this plane. A rental can only get you so far. Back when I rented the Cessna 172, I'm sure it was considerably cheaper than what the ovation is per hour, but the capabilities that a privately owned Mooney offer over a rental Cessna is massive. when I rented the Cessna, a good day was flying to an airport 80 to 100 miles away. I can take the Mooney any day I please 300 to 500 miles away in 2 to 3 and a half hours and not have to worry about not having a plane available. I also love the fact that ownership motivates me to travel. I can hear about a fly-in 3 days away and not be concerned that an aircraft is not available. The memories I've gotten with the plane are priceless and will be with me for life. Flying from So-cal to Canada to ride some of the best bike parks in whistler with one of my best friends over 2 weeks. Taking day trips to Oakland with my family or flying to Kernville to go camping. Flying the aircraft over 1500 miles from Kenosha to the southwest. A rental will give you 20% of those memories for 40% of the price. I can plan a trip from So-cal to Oshkosh next year. Ownership opens up new opportunities, but it comes at a price. A lot people open that door and most seem to like it since they still own a plane.

I'm sure a lot of people will back my opinion, that ownership has given the opportunities and memories that would never have been possible without consistent access to an aircraft and the desire to go anywhere when they feel like it.

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If you are just going to do day trips, rent.
If you are going cross country trips that span several days or more...buy.
When you rent, you’ll be charged a minimum per day (3-4 hours) whether you are flying or not. Makes renting for trips expensive.
Rentals aren’t as nice (interior, avionics..), having a nice, capable plane makes trips more enjoyable.


Tom

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You guys are funny.  The original poster said he's currently renting a Cirrus, which makes the avionics and plane itself newer than 90% of the Mooney fleet. :lol: 

Problem with that is this magical 10AMU threshold someone posted that nets about 35 hours a YEAR for an SR22 ($285 an hour at my local flight school for a 2014 model with A/C) or 40 hours a year in an SR20 ($250 an hour for a 2005 version).  Both of those are full up glass. 

Buying never makes sense from a financial perspective, unless you are using it for a business and can write it off as an expense.  I'm only going to live once and I can afford it, so I've been an owner for almost 10 years now.  Can't take the money with me and my kids can make their own... ;)

If you want to sell on the back end some day, just make sure you buy something that is a.) well taken care of, b.) not an orphan/odd type, and c.) has the bells and whistles you want already installed.  I'm working with my third plane and have gone up the ladder each time (M20E -> E33A -> BE95).  I've enjoyed the ride, but it hasn't been cheap by any stretch.  Simple avionics upgrades can quickly run north of 30AMU's.   Engine and prop overhaul on an IO520 = 45AMU's.  Ask me how I know.... :rolleyes:

But, I've been able to sell both of my previous planes in under 2 weeks from the time I listed them.   Finding something that is an odd duck or not up to par on maintenance and your looking at about 80% of the planes that are currently sitting on Controller. I advertised my E33A in one place and it sold within 24 hours.  Never hit the regular channels (Controller, TAP, ASO, Barnstormers, etc...).  A lot of really great aircraft are sold by word of mouth or through local channels.  My friend found his V35B that way after taking a tour of just about every V35B listed on Controller and getting really frustrated with the misrepresented condition of those airplanes.  That was 10 months ago and those planes are still listed today...unfortunately, Mooney's are the same way.  I've seen more than a few that are approaching 12 months advertising time.

If you need help or get overwhelmed with the decision, just reach out and you'll find this group is more than accommodating in helping steer you in the right direction. 

If you're looking for that absolute worst case maintenance cost (besides killer corrosion), that would be the engine and prop overhaul requirement.  You can use Air Power, Inc as a great resource for engine overhaul costs on Lycoming and Continental engines.  Factor in about 40 hours of labor for the pull and reinstall.  This is a ballpark and many boutique engine shops will come in lower than those figures, but it's a ballpark so you go in with your eyes wide open.  Engine failures are not predictable and can happen at any time.  Most prop overhaul's run anywhere from 2.5 - 4 AMU's depending on the number of blades.

Sorry for the long winded post, but hope it helps.

Cheers,

Brian

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15 hours ago, anthonydesmet said:

Having said that, I have attached an operating cost spreadsheet that Merl Perry (Mooney owner on this site and fellow Navy brother) generated.  Play around with the numbers as you do research in your area for hanger, insurance, etc.  You can add what you think your annual flight hours might be then compare your operating cost to renting for a relatively objective analysis. It also spits out nice graph if you need to generate a powerpoint for your wife....

Operating costs.xlsx

That spreadsheet is awesome.  Thanks for posting it.  :)

Brian

 

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Or as John D. Rockefeller, replied to a fellow partier aboard his huge magnificent yacht back in the 30"s:

  When queried about the cost, he replied,

"If you have to ask you can't afford it".

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First year of ownership 65' E:

Insurance $2300 (hull value 65k had no FW instrument at the time and all my RW stuff meant nothing apparently) 

Hanger $2000 (spent a month or 2 outside then sunshade now a $200 per/mo hanger)

First annual at start of ownership ~$5000 (new main shock disks, j bar lock, front gear work biggest items) 

Spent $1600 on upgrading engine monitor to G2 from a 602 and $5400 on 430w to 440 

Misc repairs in first 8 months:

Generator/starter/muffler $3500

Whelen power supply $200 (thank you MONARCH aviation in Defuniak!)

IFD east coast database $350

Fuel: I've flown >160 hours since June. Plan roughly 9 gals per hour @ ~$4.25

oil, filters, misc ~$1500 

Some of this is extrapolated out to a full year of what it will cost. 

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Like many above stated I don’t keep close track of my costs nor do I keep a fund for long term expected maintenance items such as new engine etc. being an accountant I’ve become anti-numerical outside of work, if I can keep making the  expenses I’ll keep flying if not I’ll sit in the corner and wither away. Having a pristine Bravo at least mechanically which is expensive to maintain I’d rather not keep track. Some years I’d guess on the low side of $30000+ on the high side like last year $60,000+ many of us are on our final plane just hoping for another year of flying. My wife mentioned yesterday to start planning for our flying season, last year was the best flying year we’ve had flying over 120 hours of long cross country ie vacationing...was awesome. Onward to 2019.  Have fun keep flying in you can, the years fly by.

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Just for kicks and grins, last night I added up all of my expenses and divided by the number of hours I've flown.  In the end $142 per hour (actual expenses, no reserves).  The Warrior I was renting was $120 per hour, so I could have rented for less on an hourly basis.  However, I usually don't fly for an hour and put the plane away, I go somewhere... and I get there faster with the Mooney.  When you factor in how far each plane flies in an hour, it came out to about $.98 per mile owning and $1.14 per mile renting.  Do you fly by the hour or from point A to B? 

The biggest difference though, the year before buying the plane I flew 25.9 hours.  Not enough to remain proficient.  The year after buying the plane, I flew 116.6 hrs. B)

As for scheduling the rental, YMMV.  I never had any problems and was only requested to put 1 hour on per day I had the plane.  No problem with  taking the plane on a 3.5 hour trip, staying there a week, and coming home.  Typically, there were only one or two other renters ever flying it and their schedules rarely conflicted with mine.

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It’s also about priorities.  I bought my Mooney when I probably shouldn’t have - second year in residency and pulled moonlighting shifts to be able to afford the fixed costs.  But owning the plane was a priority - we didn’t have children and fiancée and I were long distance.    

But the plane got me to see my fiancée/ wife on countless occasions, brought me safely to the hospital to be able to make it to both my daughter’s births (don’t ask), got me to be with my grandmother when she was critically ill and my grandfather when he was dying.  I wouldn’t have been able to get that type of utility or flexibility out of a rental.  The plane is now like a second dog - part of the family.  

If you’re flying more than 75-100 hours per year the costs usually work out in your favor to own.  Else get in on a partnership or a reasonably small flying club.  Now that I know what it takes to properly maintain an aircraft, I wouldn’t fly a rental unless I had a very good understanding about those concessions / deferrals were on the 100hrly.  Doubtful you’ll ever get to see that as a renter.  

Another perspective: single engine ownership costs are in line with having two kids in daycare.  A third kid in daycare and you’re probably in SETP/ high performance twin strata.  

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