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#4553845 - 10/25/17 07:08 AM Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership?
LoneRanger Offline


Registered: 07/02/07
Posts: 4055
Loc: Midwest USA
Way I see it, the only way to justify getting into a piston single again would be retire and take on some sort of job that requires travel w/ stays from overnight to a week or so every month roughly, where you're either your own boss in a consulting capacity or on contract as consultant under an LLC or other firm. Only then does the capability of a solid single like a Mooney M20K 252 or better start to be justifiable financially, and even then it's still a close contest against an airline boarding pass, with the boarding pass winning most of the time. And then there's winter climate and the more complex wx beyond capabilities and boom you're buying an airline ticket while your expensive to operate bird sits snug in the hangar...
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#4553857 - 10/25/17 07:32 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
wings&wheels Offline


Registered: 12/05/03
Posts: 581
Loc: New England, USA
Just say 'No"... grin

Commuting in a small GA aircraft can be a challenge, certainly in my neck of the woods but the Midwest is probably quite a bit better for this. That said, if you are not commuting somewhere daily and have some flexibility with your departure/arrival times it is a viable solution and it can certainly get you to locations well away from the major airports. Always have a Plan B and it is doable.

Mooney's are nice, in my dream my commuter would be a Bonanza.

When I was just out of school auditing banks, I took my Uncle's Pa28 to a few audits around New England and it worked. I used it on week long trips where I could leave a day early and depart the next day if needed...and put in the corresponding auto mileage so no one was the wiser. Worked well until the VP found out I was using a 'little plane' on company business and that ended, quickly...something about risk and not compatible with a bank's image and me deciding if I was a good fit for the industry:-)....good times
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#4553863 - 10/25/17 07:47 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
Cujet Online   content


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7145
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
OK, I was just discussing aircraft ownership with an exceedingly wealthy individual the other day. They (the family) does not own any aircraft, instead relying on airlines and justifying the cost of first class as "cheap" by comparison. They've always known they could put a runway on their 10,800 acre ranch and simply fly in and out, with what ever equipment they wanted.

Then I started describing my week, flying back and forth PBI-SAV in my piston single. 2.3 hours each way, 26 gal gas, each leg. Depart in the AM, work all day, come home in the evening. Makes the day productive. The alternative is 6.5 hours airline, TSA hassles, rental car and bag-drag hassles and a set (less than ideal) schedule that consumes the best part of the day. What I do in one day, takes 3 full days any other way. Or a 7 hour drive, with regular traffic jam risk.

There is no question weather, and maybe more importantly "weather patterns" will curtail piston single operations. There is no question the airlines may be cheaper. But short of routes the airlines serve direct, a fast GA aircraft will match or beat the speed of the airline up to half way across the continent, leaving anytime. All while carrying any manner of TSA non compliant cargo.

I can't justify owning my 177RG financially. However, the time saved, schedule flexibility and productivity increase is nothing short remarkable. It works well for me (or should I say, my boss) and my (his) needs. I make no claim it will work for everyone.

Also a well purchased Mooney 252 is, in my opinion, the finest example of speed vs. cost. A 252 consumes 20%-25% less fuel than my 177RG on cross country trips.


Edited by Cujet (10/25/17 07:53 AM)
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#4553873 - 10/25/17 07:57 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
Astro14 Offline


Registered: 10/10/10
Posts: 8533
Loc: Virginia Beach
The sweet spot for piston single is roughly 200 - 700 miles.

Shorter than that, and driving is faster and cheaper.

Longer than that, and the airlines are faster and cheaper, even with parking, checking in, and TSA included.

In that zone, however, the time savings is considerable, and could, perhaps be used to justify the cost...
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#4554031 - 10/25/17 10:38 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
CT8 Offline


Registered: 10/09/14
Posts: 10934
Loc: Idaho
I would like a 747 but I can't afford one. Can you afford the plane and operating costs with out it ruining you financial life? If so get one. Enjoy it. business wise spend some $$$ and talk to a tax guy with experience with plane business taxes.
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#4554053 - 10/25/17 10:57 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
LoneRanger Offline


Registered: 07/02/07
Posts: 4055
Loc: Midwest USA
I could afford to lay out the low six figures for a decent 252 but would have to find a good income 2nd job after retiring preferably with the aforementioned travel. Figuring operational cost of 25K/yr for a 252 (raw guess including maintenance reserve). I could do it, but I am also the type to lose sleep over big squawks and etc. I'll talk a big stick about it, but likely never do it. Brutal honesty...
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#4554110 - 10/25/17 11:56 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
jaj Offline


Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 1060
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
I don't know if you have it in the USA but here in western Canada, we have local scheduled commuter airlines that operate in the gap between private ownership and major airlines. I had a job recently where my office was about 50 miles over water from my home. I did a lot of work from home and so I only commuted once, maybe twice a week. What made it work was that I had three "light" scheduled carriers to choose from - two fixed-wing (one on wheels and one on floats) and a scheduled helicopter service. Between them, flights were leaving every half hour for most of the day, and the helicopters were IFR so they were pretty reliable. The major airlines also fly the route with Q400's, but it's more time-consuming. I usually left home around 7:00 and I'd be on my second cup of coffee in my office when my first meeting started at 9:00.

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#4554162 - 10/25/17 12:56 PM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: Astro14]
Cujet Online   content


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7145
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
Originally Posted By: Astro14
The sweet spot for piston single is roughly 200 - 700 miles.

Shorter than that, and driving is faster and cheaper. Longer than that, and the airlines are faster and cheaper, even with parking, checking in, and TSA included. In that zone, however, the time savings is considerable, and could, perhaps be used to justify the cost...


That's generally true, speed and altitude capability also play a large role. My "magic" number is anything above 180 Kts, a speed high enough to be competitive with the airlines over shorter distances, and high enough to combat typical heaedwinds. (sadly, my airplane falls far short of that speed)

We can't forget departure time related issues. Airlines are sometimes full, and may not have favorable departure times. A 2:00 PM out of Savannah, GA may reach PBI by 8PM. Wastes the entire day, when an early AM piston single departure could have one home by 10AM.

Few piston singles are as fast as our PC-12 single engine turboprop, at 265Kts. That's enough speed to fly PBI-SJC (FL to CA) and beat the airlines, as there are no direct flights between those city pairs.

We find that most flights are fairly short. FL to NY, or GA, or NC, etc. We don't regularly go FL-WA.
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#4554235 - 10/25/17 02:24 PM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
Yah-Tah-Hey Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 3396
Loc: Columbus,Nebraska
NOTICE: Do NOT let a Spartan grad within a hundred yards of your airplane. banana

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#4554287 - 10/25/17 03:28 PM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
Cujet Online   content


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7145
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
Originally Posted By: LoneRanger
I could afford to lay out the low six figures for a decent 252 but would have to find a good income 2nd job after retiring preferably with the aforementioned travel. Figuring operational cost of 25K/yr for a 252 (raw guess including maintenance reserve). I could do it, but I am also the type to lose sleep over big squawks and etc. I'll talk a big stick about it, but likely never do it. Brutal honesty...


From a personal philosophy perspective, I don't get wrapped around the axle with "what if's" . What if I need a new engine? What if they find corrosion on the prop blade root?

Some of that is going to happen. However, a well purchased aircraft can easily give good service for many years, at worst will retain much of it's value, to be re-sold without significant loss. I suspect operating costs would be less than $25K/yr if you fly a typical 50 hrs year. (again remember the faster the plane, the fewer hours per trip) I budget $5K/yr for fuel, which was about 1000 gallons last year, or roughly 100 hours flight time. Sometimes I find a good price on fuel, sometimes not. Remember, most people fly 50 hours/yr and a fast Mooney gets better MPG. So while GPH is up, MPH is far better. A 210HP 252 FL to TN uses considerably less fuel than the 200HP Cardinal.

One thing to consider instead of a retirement job is to purchase the airplanes you like on the cheap, buff them up a bit and resell them to fund your hobby. Done correctly, it can cover some of the costs.

Consider a Mooney 305 rocket. 210Kts all day long @ 16gph. Put another way, about 240 MPH at 15 MPG. Or roughly the same fuel economy as my F150.


Edited by Cujet (10/25/17 03:32 PM)
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#4554397 - 10/25/17 05:42 PM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: Yah-Tah-Hey]
Mr Nice Offline


Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 21182
Loc: Orlando, FL
Originally Posted By: HosteenJorje
NOTICE: Do NOT let a Spartan grad within a hundred yards of your airplane. banana


Why do you keep mentioning that aviation school ?

Only wealthy folks can afford the cost, maintenance , fuel and insurance of a private plane.

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#4554755 - 10/26/17 12:21 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: Cujet]
Linctex Offline


Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 6148
Loc: Waco, TX
Originally Posted By: Cujet
However, a well purchased aircraft can easily give good service for many years, at worst will retain much of it's value, to be re-sold without significant loss.


Loss?

Most GA airplanes go up in value.
I'm an old fahrt, I remember when Cessna 150's with 1200 hours on them were only $6,000.
You can't buy a wrecked one for that.

I have a lot of time in a Mooney M20S with a 550 Continental. It's an amazing airplane, but I do not like the landing gear one bit. Not all that well designed (durability-wise... it's just not that strong and I don't like the rubber biscuits)

I love the 177 Cardinal RG (Not sure why yours is so slow?) but it has the worst retractable gear Cessna ever built. (unreliable, I have witnessed first hand THREE landing gear failures in 177RGs in my life)
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#4555125 - 10/26/17 12:55 PM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: Linctex]
Cujet Online   content


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7145
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
Originally Posted By: Linctex
Originally Posted By: Cujet
However, a well purchased aircraft can easily give good service for many years, at worst will retain much of it's value, to be re-sold without significant loss.


Loss?

Most GA airplanes go up in value.
I'm an old fahrt, I remember when Cessna 150's with 1200 hours on them were only $6,000.
You can't buy a wrecked one for that.

I have a lot of time in a Mooney M20S with a 550 Continental. It's an amazing airplane, but I do not like the landing gear one bit. Not all that well designed (durability-wise... it's just not that strong and I don't like the rubber biscuits)

I love the 177 Cardinal RG (Not sure why yours is so slow?) but it has the worst retractable gear Cessna ever built. (unreliable, I have witnessed first hand THREE landing gear failures in 177RGs in my life)


My 177 makes book speed, so it's not necessarily "slow". The '71 Cardinal RG is a 143Kt airplane at any reasonable altitude. Sure, it will do 155Kts top speed, but only at low altitudes and full power.

The landing gear certainly is a goofy setup. However, the various upgrades and service bulletins have addressed the major modes of failure. I overhauled 100% of my landing gear after purchase. So far, so good. I certainly can't say it will be the most reliable setup. But it's taken all the abuse I've given it.

I don't know that one can count on GA airplanes appreciating. It's certainly been the case in recent decades. However, it would not be hard to "use up" an engine's hours, leave it outside for 5 years, and have to sell it for less. Otherwise, you are correct, well cared for older airplanes often appreciate in value.
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#4556160 - 10/27/17 10:50 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
DeepFriar Offline


Registered: 10/31/13
Posts: 1367
Loc: Georgia
Economics would seem to be driving the small aircraft pilot out of the market over time. In order to keep flying the sort of planes we grew up in is going to, just my opinion, push us into flying clubs where many of the costs can be spread and averaged. LSA's continue to improve but are still hamstrung by the regs for distance travel. I haven't heard what the uptake rate has been on some of the other manufacturer programs like Bristell Shares for instance which I thought looked very attractive. I'm very encouraged at how the FAA has been approching certification lately which is putting a firmer foundation under both older aircraft and LSA's. I hope that continues. We all know the drawbacks with clubs but it could be that the advantages are starting to stack up.

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#4556876 - 10/28/17 07:11 AM Re: Best Way to "Justify" Piston Single Ownership? [Re: LoneRanger]
billt460 Online   content


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4386
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
There is no way to "justify" airplane ownership. It is an extremely expensive hobby for wealthy people. There is no way around that economic fact. Most middle class private pilots are a lot like people who get into horse ownership. They get out after just a couple of years, because the expense is simply too great to maintain for what they are getting out of it. Aircraft ownership was expensive 50 years ago, and it's expensive today. It's all relative to inflation.

Back when I was a kid in the late 50's and early 60's when my father was flying, the airport he flew out of was also a Piper dealer. I remember back then a new Piper Apache light twin had a base price of $40,000.00. And new aircraft, (especially light twins), rarely if ever sold for base price. A nice suburban lakefront home in the Chicago area suburbs during that time was around $24,000.00. (I know because my parents bought one). So to get into light twin ownership back then was approximately the same cost as 2 nice houses. It's not much different today. (That same Chicago suburban home sells today for around $550,000.00). And then there is the fact the expense doesn't stop with the purchase..... It only begins.

If anything was more affordable back then it was fuel. And you didn't have all the, "lawyer lunacy" with law suits that pushed up the purchase price of new aircraft to cover the manufacturers liability. Today, a sizeable portion of the purchase price of a new light aircraft is insurance to cover the manufacturer. Just the same as a large portion of a doctors visit today is to cover his malpractice insurance. In either case, that didn't exist 50 years ago. We have the legal industry to thank for both.

The bottom line is if you have a lot of money, and want to fly, you can do it without much, if any sacrifice. Few fit into that category. And for the rest who make big financial sacrifices to own a light aircraft, it's only a matter of time before the cost takes it's toll. There will always be other things in life that become more financially important.

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