Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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FastEddieB
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Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby FastEddieB » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:39 pm

I just took a few moments to go over my 2017 expenses related to my ELSA Sky Arrow.

Good news: Total for the year was about $5,500.

More good news: It only cost me about $35/hour to fly the plane, excluding fixed costs.

Bad news: factor in those fixed costs, and it works out to just over $200/hr.(!)

The whole story:

Image

Some notes and observations:

1) I think this was the fewest hours I've ever flown in a year. Over 10 years I've accrued 500 hours in the Sky Arrow, so you do the math. No real reason for the low hours this year, just other priorities getting in the way and no long trips at all this year - we generally do at least one.

2) I assigned no value to my time - several days spent on the Annual Condition Inspection plus other minor maintenance over the year.

3) I did not factor in "Opportunity Cost". Sure, $75k could have been invested and earned a return, but those funds were always flagged for fun, not investment.

4) I also did not factor in depreciation. Hard to know exactly what my plane is worth, but it may not be much less than I paid for it, with new ones going for about double that now.

5) Nothing in there for overhaul reserve. Plus every fifth year there's added expense for rubber parts replacement for the ROTAX.

6) Our hangar serves double duty as a storage unit. If we did not have it for the plane, we would certainly need to rent a storage facility, so there would be some expense regardless.


So, lots of other things that could have been factored in and weren't. Still, being an airplane owner for about what some people make in car payments makes it worthwhile. For me, anyway.

Hope someone finds the above useful.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
CFI, CFII, CFIME
FastEddieB@mac.com

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:06 pm

I know you don't agree with me on this, but your opportunity cost is at least $2250 per year or $82.42 per hour. I doubt you took $75,000 out of your sock drawer to buy the airplane, but maybe you did.

I don't know the overhaul cost, but using $20,000 per 2000 hours, that adds $10 per hour. That's a real cost you will realize when you sell or die.

So, you can add approximately $92.42 per hour if you want the real cost per hour from an MBA in finance perspective.

But, even including that, you have a great situation for aircraft ownership including cost and convenience and fun. I envy your situation.
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:42 pm

As an aside, I have a spreadsheet I use to calculate our net worth each month to age 100. I'm trying to leave each kid $1,000,000. If I add one dollar of spending per month, that reduces our age 100 net worth by $763. Yikes! Kinda makes me not want to buy anything. And, I'm invested very conservatively.
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

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David
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby David » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:09 pm

Eddie my calculations are very close to your costs. I did have an additional big item the Sprag Clutch that I did. I wish I could have got another 20 hours in, but like you things got in the way.

Image

Bottom line like the Master Card commercial should say "still priceless flying your own plane" :D
David
EAA 1434 Belfast ME
RV12 EAB - Maiden flight 8/30/12
David's RV12 http://www.rv12pilot.com

Nomore767
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:41 pm

For comparison: RV-12 SLSA

Flew 90 hours. Down this year due trips to see family in UK and frustrating weeks down
waiting for slow ass maintenance shop on field for what turned out to be
loose wire. My Rotax guy much more reliable.

Hangar $165 month including electric
Gas :premium auto either free using credit card points on gas cards or discount program at
grocery store for 20% discount which was pretty sweet. Use 5 gal gas cans and plane is
easy to refuel
Insurance is about $1300 year for full coverage and new plane replacement

I change oil every 50 hours including once at annual. Annual usually $325 plus parts which has been filter and plugs.
Had brakes done and bought 2020 Dynon GPS upgrade yet to be installed. Bought vernier throttle kit for $145 yet to be installed.
New main tire due uneven wear.

Engine starts right up close to 100% time including during this cold snap in SC.

Plan on 5.2 gph but actually get 4.8 based on fuel added.

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:58 pm

I flew 29.7 hours.

Fixed cost $29 X 12 = $348
Variable cost $120 X 29.7 = $3564
Total cost = $3912
Cost per hour = $131.72
Cost per month = $326.00
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:04 pm

TimTaylor wrote:I flew 29.7 hours.

Fixed cost $29 X 12 = $348
Variable cost $120 X 29.7 = $3564
Total cost = $3912
Cost per hour = $131.72
Cost per month = $326.00


I forgot to include the following fixed cost:

Renter insurance = $373.00
iFly GPS (VFR, IFR, Multi-Platform) = $129.97
AOPA Membership = $65.00


Fixed Cost = $915.97, $76.33/month, $30.84/hour
Variable Cost = $3564.00, $297.00/month, $120.00/hour
Total Cost = $4479.97, $373.33/month, $150.84/hour
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

Warmi
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Warmi » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:07 pm

The bottom line is ... if you own a plane , fly it as much as possible and you will make your numbers look good :-)
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:24 pm

If I owned a plane, I think I would probably fly twice as much, around 60 hours per year. If my flying budget ever approaches $1,000 per month, I would consider buying another plane. I have owned 3 over the years.
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:53 pm

FastEddie, why don't you build a fuel trailer equal to your plane's fuel capacity? Top off your plane before pushing back into the hanger. Refuel the trailer on the way home from the airport and park it in the back yard, ready for next time.
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

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FastEddieB
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby FastEddieB » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:27 pm

TimTaylor wrote:FastEddie, why don't you build a fuel trailer equal to your plane's fuel capacity? Top off your plane before pushing back into the hanger. Refuel the trailer on the way home from the airport and park it in the back yard, ready for next time.


I try to leave my plane at or under half tanks. As you can see below, that gives me the flexibility to fly with a friend up to 220lbs or so.

Image

I’m very fortunate to have a gas station on the way to the airport that has 93 octane ethanol-free gas. My needs are easily met with 2 5gal cans and 3 2.5 gal cans. Just top off to suit my flight, then take them home to fill next trip to the airport. Remember, I only hold 18 gals, so I rarely need more than 10 or 14 gals at a time.

So, a fuel trailer would not really provide much benefit.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
CFI, CFII, CFIME
FastEddieB@mac.com

Nomore767
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:45 pm

I’m the same as Eddie. I have several discount 93 ethanol stations near me and on the way to the field. The supply of non-ethanol dried up last year.

I have 3 x 5 gallon cans and a 2.5 gL. I typically refuel to full after every flight. The empty weight of 760 allows for full fuel and two 210 lb passengers.
I’ll refill the cans usually right before I go to fly again mainly to avoid the gas losing octane. I’ve used Stabil when a longer down time is anticipated.
17.5 gallons gives me about 4 hours of flying so typically that’s two sorties. Anything more and I’m just storing fuel as it possibly degrades in octane. My fuel capacity is 20 gallons so I’m already able to tanker that amount with cans in my truck.
The RV-12s fuel filler allows me to easily fill the tank from 5 gal cans and I modified the filler spout with a kit from Tractor Supply along with an included vent cap. This allows refueling within just a couple of minutes.
Having a towable fuel trailer doesn’t help me much. I function dry well for now and it’s very economical. I can’t store a fuel trailer at the field and the extra expense of acquiring or constructing one isn’t worth it. Nor is dragging it behind my pick up truck.
Last edited by Nomore767 on Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Warmi
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Warmi » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:51 pm

Whoa ... Eddie's Sky Arrow is quite porky at 855 lbs , and that's without a chute right ?

It certainly doesn't look like a porky plane :D
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:08 pm

The only real benefit for FastEddie would be to avoid climbing up a ladder with a 30 pound gas can.
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

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FastEddieB
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby FastEddieB » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:20 pm

Warmi wrote:Whoa ... Eddie's Sky Arrow is quite porky at 855 lbs , and that's without a chute right ?

It certainly doesn't look like a porky plane :D


No chute.

And it started out even porkier!

Image

I saved about 12 or 13 lbs by going to a lithium iron battery, but then added back in a fire extinguisher.

Not sure why it’s so heavy. Everything seems light. But the elevator and ailerons use rods instead of cables, and it was not originally designed as a Light Sport. But with planning and modest legs, it’s not hard to work within those limits.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
CFI, CFII, CFIME
FastEddieB@mac.com


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