Private air travel opens new doors, literally. Private aircraft in the US have access to over 4,000 airports across the country, more than ten times than those used by commercial aircraft. With the COVID-19 virus leaving commercial aircraft grounded and a 97% drop in service, a small plane might be your only choice for safe travel today.

Ready to avoid the crowds, forge your trail, and hit the skies? Good news – private aircraft ownership can be easier than you might think, once you have a basic understanding of the industry.

If you’re eager to make your dream into reality by buying a plane, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about buying an aircraft in 2020. Aircraft ownership includes aircraft values, financing, and appraisals, so let’s make sure you understand the lingo.

Advantages of Private Plane Ownership

Commercial air travel is crowded, stressful, and subject to the limits of the airlines’ schedules. In 2020, buying planes for personal use gives you the massive advantage of traveling as you decide when and where to go. You can fly free from crowds, and in the comfort of your private aircraft. What better way to practice social distancing than from the cockpit of your plane?

Individuals, families, or small businesses can fly where they need to go, without the hassle of unwanted layovers or limited airline routes, even at short notice. Avoid the frustrations of airport security checkpoints, conduct business onboard in confidence, travel comfortably with your pet, or just relax in style. The pros of private plane ownership are many, for both individuals and businesses.

New or Pre-Owned?

A brand new aircraft capable of seating 4 to 6 passengers plus pilots can be expensive. Numerous manufacturers offer models that service this mission profile, and it comes with a price. Most new aircraft are going to be substantially higher in cost than their pre-owned counterpart.  Many pre-owned planes are like-new, only a few years old, and immaculately maintained and serviced. Used aircraft with excellent records makes them terrific options for buyers. In some cases, they are under factory warranty and enrolled in programs to assist you in sticking to your operating budget.

Although purchasing new does give you the option to customize your plane precisely as needed, but for the majority of buyers, pre-owned planes offer exceptional value and allow you to buy into the private aviation market at a much more affordable cost. Keep in mind; interiors can be redone on used planes, so updating and modernizing an older aircraft or is easily possible after purchase.

Although jet leasing or sharing can be a popular alternative to outright ownership, it does limit your flexibility to travel on your schedule.

Operating Costs

Beyond the initial purchase price of the aircraft, you’ll need to include ongoing operating and maintenance costs in your budget. Your monthly budget can vary massively depending on the size, age, and location of your aircraft. Make sure to research costs associated with the specific model aircraft you plan to purchase.

Operating costs will include essentials such as aviation insurance (including both in-flight and public liability).  Routine and unscheduled Maintenance, such as cracked windshields or replacement tires, should be included, along with hangar and storage fees, fuel, regular servicing.

What Trips Will You Use Your Plane?

There are several important factors to consider when buying a plane, beyond just the financial aspect.

Think hard about what your aviation needs are, as this will determine what sort of plane you’ll need. A few considerations include:

How many passengers are likely to fly with you? Generally, small private planes will seat anywhere from 4-8 people, although more extensive options are available. Larger planes are expected to use more fuel and have a higher purchase cost, so don’t buy a bigger aircraft than you need.

How much cargo will you need to transport? Often, passenger seating and fancy galleys means less additional room for storage, so consider what you’ll need to carry.

Where will you be flying? The flight ranges of private planes can vary from under 1,000 nautical miles to over 4,000. Consider what will be your most common flight routes to ensure you select an aircraft with a range long enough to get you there without needing to stop to refuel.

Where will you keep your plane when not in use? Hangar fees can differ from airport to airport but average around $3,000 per month. If there are several airports near you, shop around before committing, as an airport slightly further away from home, but with a lower monthly fee, could be a better option.

Pre-Owned Aircraft Value

With so many planes on the market, it can be hard to figure out what a fair price is, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.

To better understand the current market rates for particular aircraft models, the Aircraft Value Reference Guide is a great starting point. Research is always crucial before committing to such a large purchase. It’s worth investing in the current market knowledge to ensure you’re paying a fair price.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a small number of planes, it’s vital to undertake a VREF Verified value report on the history for each plane, as you would if purchasing a second-hand car.

Value reports can uncover things you might notice otherwise. Verified Reports include accidents and damage history, ownership history, the current market demand, and any modifications that have been made by previous owners.

Finalize the Sale

Once you’re satisfied with the reports, have had multiple opportunities to inspect the plane, and both parties have agreed on a sale price- congratulations! You can now finish the sale and take ownership of your new plane.

Learn More

Ready to make your dream of buying a plane in 2020 a reality? Although it can seem overwhelming if you’re just getting started, it doesn’t need to be. Contact us with any questions on plane values or for help. We can help with all of your purchasing needs, including appraisals, pricing guides, and more.