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6 Answers

Real Cost of Flying a plane?

Asked by: 3093 views General Aviation, Light Sport Aircraft, Private Pilot, Student Pilot


I am planning to learn flying. I know to get a private pilot certification cost anywhere from 5k to 9k.

What I am trying to figure out is the real cost of flying a plane after I get my certification. I see online where Cessena rents for $100-$125/hr WET.


What are other cost associated with flying everytime? Do i need to buy insurance coverage when I fly, what are added cost? do i need to pay landing fees at airports I land? Do i need to be a flying club member? Any FAA fees? Additional passenger charges etc


Would appreciate if you can please throw some light on real actual cost of flying and various fees associated with it.




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6 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Dec 28, 2012

    Renter insurance is a personal matter, if you are young and have no assets of consequence to protect, it is a waste IMHO. On the other hand, if you have substantial assets, insurance is a good idea. There are a few airports that have established landing fees, but most GA pilots learn to avoid using these facilities. Some of the larger FBO’s have a handling fee that can run around $25 for a single engine airplane. Most airports have an over night fee that ranges between $5 and $20 per night, with $10 being the most common. FBO’s often waive one night of landing fee if you purchase a minimum amount of gas.

    A flying club is a good way of sharing the fixed expenses of ownership that include maintenance, tie-down, property taxes, and insurance. Typically about 20% of the membership do most of the flying and it is a good deal for them. Most clubs require a buy in and monthly dues along with a minimum number of flight hours, whether you fly or not.

    I own a Bonanza and it costs me approximately $3,000 per year for maintenance, $1200 for insurance, $1100 for hangar taxes and $600 for the hangar condo fees. Fuel is currently around $6 a gallon and I average about 15 gallons per flight hour and I use my airplane about 50 hours per year, for another $4500. My total comes to $10,400 per year, or about $210 per hour. I would estimate that a C172 would be half that value.

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  2. Aggieflyer on Dec 28, 2012

    So if I understand correct, for a starter like me, it would be a good idea to join a flying club. Hence my flight cost would be soemthing like this
    Aircraft rental ($100-125/hr)+insurance (if I buy)+ Misc fees ( landing/overnight $10-25)

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  3. Jim F. on Dec 29, 2012

    5K for entire private?!? What planet are you planning on doing these lessons on? I’d plan on being closer to 10K.

    Not sure where you are located, but I’d venture that the average rental cost of a wet 172 will be at least $120/hr. If possible, it may be worth it to get checked out in a 150/152, or get your tail-wheel and find a Cub or similar. In my area, the average 2-place like those go for about $90, versus the $130-140 for a 4-place, which for me is hardly ever occupied by more than two people . If you’re solo or one pax, it can be very beneficial in the long run. Really, it all depends on what that flight in particular is for.

    As for insurance, I was advised by our family lawyers that even though I didn’t have many, if any assets, that I should get renters insurance anyway. For about $250 a year, it’s a relatively small cost for the benefit, IMO.

    Don’t forget other equipment, such as a headset, charts, books, good flashlight for night flying, ect… That stuff alone can add close to $1,000 on top of your private costs, plus recurring costs for charts and such as they expire.

    All-in-all, I’d say the actual cost of flying (assuming you will rent, not buy) will be pretty close to the wet rate the rental place charges. Add a few hundred bucks for for fixed costs per year (insurance if you get it, charts, gas to drive to/from the airport, ect…). Assuming you fly 200 hours per year, that will add a couple bucks to your cost per hour. If you really want to be on safe side, add $5-10 to your hourly rental charge to help you anticipate those costs.

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  4. Bob Watson on Dec 29, 2012

    Since you mentioned that you’re planning to learn to fly, don’t forget to include the cost of the flight instructor while you’re a student pilot. Around these parts (pacific northwest) that can run anywhere from $40 to $70/hr and you can figure that you’ll need at least 20-30 hours of dual instruction in the plane plus about 10-15 hours outside of the plane (before and after each flight), adding about $2,000 (40 hrs * $50/hr) to the flight training costs that have already been mentioned.

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  5. aggieflyer on Dec 29, 2012

    Thanks a lot guys, this gives me a clear picture,,,

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  6. Brian on Dec 31, 2012

    The way I tell people to calculate cost is this: figure first if you’re a person that learns quickly or takes their time to learn. Based on that figure somewhere between 50 and 80 flight hours for your private. Find the cost to fly those hours with an instructor. Additionally, assume ground time equal to flight time and calculate that cost. Add the two together and that’s your ballpark.

    Example: Lets say I’m an average learner and think I will need 65 hours. A/C per hour = 100. Flight instructor per hour = 40.

    65 flight hours at 140/hr = 9,100
    65 additional ground hours at 40/hr = 2,600
    Total = 11,700

    This is likely a bit more than 65 hours would cost. But then again, when investing, isn’t it better to overestimate and have left overs than under estimate and fall short?

    Good luck, it’s worth the investment.

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