Cost of ownership

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NCPilot
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Cost of ownership

Postby NCPilot » Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:15 pm

I wonder what the cost of Ownership would be if you were to build a kit LSA, get the repairman certificate (so you can do annuals) and basically do all the maintenance & Annuals yourselves while using car fuel instead of 100LL.

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Re: Cost Of Ownership

Postby drseti » Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:04 am

There are actually three separate aspects to your question: acquisition costs saved by building a kit vs. buying a completed product, maintenance savings from doing your own repairs and inspections, and operating cost savings from using auto fuel instead of avgas. So, let's tackle those one at a time.

Labor accounts for about 1/3 the cost of producing an aircraft. Thus, a kitplane should typically cost about 2/3 of the cost of a finished product. However, to assemble the kit, you're likely going to be investing quite a bit in tools and machining equipment, so unless you have a local EAA chapter that can lend you the costliest of the specialized tools, you may not actually achieve all the hoped-for savings. Add to this the fact that you will likely be installing into the plane a bit of equipment not included in the kit, and since there are no economies of scale, you'll probably be paying retail for accessories, instruments, and avionics. So, your actual savings will probably be more like 20 to 25%.

Since you need the same periodic replacement parts no matter who maintains the aircraft, the only part of maintenance and inspection costs you will save with self-maintenance are labor costs. Let's say a shop charges typically $65 per hour. You should figure one hour of maintenance and inspections for each ten hours of flight. So, you can probably knock off $6.50 per flight hour in operating costs (but only lafter having amortized the specialized tools and instruments you will need to do an annual inspection).

Fuel savings with mogas should probably not enter into your calculations, because you can just as easily find a production aircraft that uses 91UL as you can find a kit that uses the same fuel.

Bear in mind that the two dominant costs of aircraft ownership are insurance and hangar rental, and going the kitplane route will do nothing to reduce these costs. So, it is my opinion that folks shouldn't build a plane from kit merely to save money - there's just not that much savings to be achieved. Unless you simply want to build your own plane for the fun of it, or educational benefit, or perceived safety benefit, or pride in customization, or bragging rights, you're probably just better off buying an assembled aircraft.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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Re: Cost Of Ownership

Postby NCPilot » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:32 am

Well my #1 reason for building an aircraft is I like working with my hands and I loved the SportAir workshop I did last January. I may do another SportAir workshop after the major holidays, learn what it takes to cover an aircraft in fabric. :D My #2 reason is that I want a customized aircraft, which was one of my biggest complaint about the RV-12, Vans really didn't allow much in the way of customization of that aircraft as they did in the past. I also think they kinda botched the whole "removable wings" thing and could've made it folding wings like the Corsair or Onex.

But anyways my two biggest reasons for a kit aircraft is I like working with my hands and I want a customized aircraft.

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Re: Cost Of Ownership

Postby drseti » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:05 am

Well, that is IMHO the right reason for building a plane. :D

Don't be too quick to dismiss the RV12. If you build it as an ELSA, you are constrained (at least initially) to building it exactly according to plans. But building it as an E-AB would give you considerable latitude to modify things. Just stay within the LSA parameters.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby drseti » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:21 am

Note: I split the above four posts into a new thread under Experimenter's Corner.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby Merlinspop » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:48 am

drseti wrote:Note: I split the above four posts into a new thread under Experimenter's Corner.

I thought I was having a deja vu senior moment for a moment there. Whew!
- Bruce

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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby CTLSi » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:55 am

......
Last edited by CTLSi on Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby MrMorden » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:56 am

Build if you love to build. Don't do it to save money, you probably won't. Or at least not enough to justify *years* of labor.
Andy Walker
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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby drseti » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:06 pm

CTLSi wrote:The avionics is a major cost, unless you just settle for steam gauges.


This is a common misconception. In fact, steam gauges end up costing more (and weighing far more) than current glass panels. You don't have to go with the costly Garmin 1000 type of certified panels. Look instead at the Dynon D6 or similar. Full AHARS capability for about the price of one mechanical gyro.

When I had a full panel of steam gauges, I would end up replacing or overhauling, on average, one gyro or vacuum pump per year. Solid state panels are maintenance-free.

If you go with an Aerotrek,

Great plane, BTW. I've both flown and maintained them. It's derived from the Avid Flyer from 30 years ago. Current price as an SLSA is around $85k in the US. Don't know the kit cost.

you can save on hangar costs by storing your plane in a trailer that can be brought home. That is probably the biggest way to save money..


These savings may also be elusive, depending on where you live, the local hangar situation, etc. The cost of a suitable trailer (and the vehicle to tow it) must also be considered. The best reason to go with a folding wing is that the plane can often be stored in the corner of a hangar, along with one or two other aircraft. That approach will indeed save you money.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
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AvSport.org
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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby NCPilot » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:33 pm

Well I already decided upon a Kitfox Super Sport, and as for the panel it'll have two Dynon Skyview panels and Dynon audio panel and radio. Basically it'll be 100% Dynon.

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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby Nomore767 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:35 pm

"If you go with an Aerotrek, you can save on hangar costs by storing your plane in a trailer that can be brought home. That is probably the biggest way to save money. Hangar costs are recurring and are a big cost factor, true."

This one of the Sport Flying myths that is spouted frequently without thinking it through. These are some of the things I've discovered:-

Firstly, the trailer will be about $8000 plus, configured to accommodate your type of plane. How long will it take to recoup the savings in not renting a hangar? In the trailer you need to think about a powered winch to pull the fuselage onto the trailer and a good ramp. Space for tools, oil, gas cans etc plus a light and electrical hook-ups are great to have. Is the trailer open to the elements? If it is, consider cleaning the plane frequently from the combo of rain and dust. Ever seen the spray of crud from a short drive in rain?
You then need to make sure you have a vehicle capable of hauling the trailer. BTW...do you need an extra person capable of helping you remove/attach the wings and set the plane each time you need to get it on/off the trailer?

Storing the plane at home means having the space to park the trailer with airplane on it (not so bad if it's an enclosed trailer big enough to give you a mini-shop/storage space and keep the plane clean and dry). If not then you have to take plane off the trailer into a suitable sized garage, and then back on the trailer going to the airport (that's twice you move the plane on/off the trailer in order to fly it). Check with the local HOA, if appropriate, to see if you're allowed.
If you can't store it at home can you keep it at a local storage lot ($$) and are you allowed to place it amongst other vehicles and RVs there? With fuel in it?
I found that in order to operate from the local airport I'd have to rent a tie-down anyway. That's $65 per month. For that I could either park the plane, or (maybe) park the trailer whilst flying, but not overnight. That means having to extract the plane, assemble it for flight, then go off and find parking for the trailer. In some cases I'd need to rent at least tie-down in order to get the code to open the
fence gate to get air-side.

From the dollars 'saved' point of view, I think you'd have to go through it carefully. The cost of trailer, tie-down fees, storage fees alone may make it moot versus renting a hangar.
From the ease of use aspect, can you really do it alone or will you always need help? Is your wife/partner able to help you here or will you still need a stronger pair of hands.

Just pointing out the reality of some of the statements trotted out in Sport Flying!

Cheers, Howard.
Last edited by Nomore767 on Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby drseti » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:46 pm

NCPilot wrote: Basically it'll be 100% Dynon.


The Skyview systems are great, though a bit pricey. I found similar functionality in the Dynon 100/120 combo, at much lower cost.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
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fly@AvSport.org
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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby FlyingForFun » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:46 pm

Delete
Last edited by FlyingForFun on Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby Nomore767 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:53 pm

Here's another 'cost of ownership' detail that I was looking at today.

Consider the statement "this engine/plane just sips autogas".

Without going through the auto gas(ethanol and non-ethanol) v 100LL debate that we've had elsewhere on this forum, I've been looking at the reality of getting the gas to the airplane.

I found a place not too far from me that is the ONLY place that has 93 octane non-ethanol auto-gas. The drive is 22 miles round trip. They have BP 93 octane non-ethanol for $3.99 gal. I tested it for clarity and ethanol and it was good. Used 2 gals for my leaf blower.

I considered buying 3 five gallon containers to transport to the airport. Good quality metal cans are available for $40 each and I can buy a grounding cable to use use whilst fueling. Each can weighs 10lbs so that's 40lbs to hoist to refuel the plane, three times. I can buy cheaper and lighter plastic cans with a neat filler cap for about $35. Don't have grounding cable but being careful and grounding out on the ground prior I can try and avoid static discharge. I figure 3 x 5 gallon containers for a 20 gallon tank assuming there's the reserve of say 5 gals from the prior flight still in the tank.
For local flying that's not so bad. I can still just use 10% Ethanol blend (subject to manufacturer) and just accept the potential damage to rubber from the ethanol.

On a cross country I can either accept the use of 100LL and realise the temporary mix with auto-gas won't do much harm OR carry empty containers and borrow the FBO car to go get local auto-gas?

Local non-ethanol 93 octane was $3.99. 100LL at the airport is $5.18. $1.18 difference. The 0-200D Continental burns about 5.5 gph versus Rotax 5 gph in cruise.
The Rotax needs carbs balanced periodically and gearbox overhauls. Whilst not especially expensive when factored into the cost of ownership it would seem to offset the presumed savings from 'sipping auto-gas', and the $1.18 difference with 100LL) and is certainly not as convenient as using the self-serve 100LL pump at the airport.

In the end, we all have to decide the mission and it's personal value, cost or physical toll. My point is that this is another one of the Sport Flying myths that is tossed out there, but when thought through...isn't what it first seems. Your personal mileage may vary!

Cheers, Howard
Last edited by Nomore767 on Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cost of ownership

Postby Nomore767 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:00 pm

FlyingForFun wrote:The best way to kill the joy of flying is to make it difficult.


Not neccessarily MAKING it difficult so much as realizing all the ins and outs before deciding to move forward.

There is little joy in sitting in your truck unable to get your plane off the trailer by yourself, or attaching the wings on your own, or in trying to find a local shop that has a properly qualified Rotax (for example) mechanic, or in finding out that the plane you chose (because everyone said it was SO cheap to operate and refuel) isn't really and that an experienced mechanic says the cost to maintain the Rotax (for example) is 50% higher than the 0-200D Continental that everyone poo-poohed!
This is just one of the things I've discovered in my self-education of Sport Flying.

Just saying!
Cheers, Howard
Last edited by Nomore767 on Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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