Have you thought about one day owning your own small plane? As an aspiring pilot, or if you’re already a pilot, surely the thought has crossed your mind. The freedom to go wherever you want through the airways is one of the greatest forms of freedom imaginable. Having your own plane is also a status symbol to some. Aside from the convenience and recreational opportunities that come with owning a small plane, there’s a lot of economic consideration to consider. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the economics of owning a small plane.

Upfront Costs of Owning a Small Plane

The first thing to consider is what kind of plan you want to buy. The type of plan you buy will dramatically affect your upfront costs.

  • Ultralight Aircrafts – Single-seat, single-engine recreational planes. These planes can be purchased new for anywhere between $8,000 to $15,000.
  • Single-Engine Planes – These planes hold multiple passengers and are more economical to operate and maintain than multi-engine planes. They typically cost between $15,000 and $100,000.
  • Multi-Engine Planes – This small planes are top of the line and come in at $75,000 to $300,000.

Storage Costs

You can’t park your plane in the garage. You’ll need to store your plane at an airport in a hangar or outdoors. Outdoor storage is typically cheaper than hangars and other covered spaces. Urban airports typically charge more than rural airports.  The average hangar cost is $275 per month, plus $100 for tiedown gear.

Financing Your Small Plane

If you don’t have the cash, you’ll need to finance your plane purchase. Just like any other loan make sure to shop for the best interest rate and loan terms. The financing company will consider the following when determining if they’ll give you the loan:

  • Amount of your down payment
  • Your credit score
  • The overall amount of the loan you’re requesting
  • The usage of the plane and how often you intend to use it
  • The condition of the plane including the year, make, and model

Maintenance and Inspections

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) recommends establishing an escrow fund for maintenance to pay for the engine, propeller, avionics, and airframe overhauls. Adding to the fund every time you fly helps cover unexpected expenses that pop up. Small aircraft are required to undergo annual inspections, which range from $600 to $1,200.

Insurance Costs for Small Planes

Aviation insurance covers aircraft damage and provides liability for anything your plane damages. Your coverage will vary by policy. Aircraft damage will be categorized either as in-flight damage or external damage. Small aircraft insurance runs between $1,200 and $2,000 per year.

Gas and Oil

Small planes should have oil changes every four months or 50 hours – whichever comes first. For the average owner, this represents three oil changes per year. The average small plane fuel burn rate is five to 10 gallons per hour. Aviation fuel is significantly more expensive than car fuel, coming in at around $5 per gallon.


The bottom line is there are many economic responsibilities to consider before purchasing a small plane. On average, a $75,000 financed Cessna ends up costing $200 per hour, if flown 100 hours per year, with $80 going towards fuel, oil, and maintenance. You may get away with renting a similar aircraft for about $125 per hour.

Thinking about getting a pilot certificate or starting a career in aviation? The demand for pilots is high, and the rewards are big. Book your discovery flight today and find out how CTI can get you started in aviation.

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