Want to know the cost of owning a small plane? 100 hour inspection cost: Aircraft owners have an ongoing burden of ownership; there are maintenance fees, fuel fees, tie-down fees, insurance, etc. The list is long, and to some, it may seem never ending. So let’s get to the aircraft cost per hour calculator?
FSE simulates most of these ownership costs. There are fixed costs, such as insurance, registration, hangar fees. There are inspections required every 100 hours. Engine replacement is required every 1500 or 2000 hours, depending on the type of engine. Planes occasionally break unexpectedly and must be repaired. There are the daily operating costs of using fuel. Planning in advance for these costs helps alleviate the impact on your bank account when it comes time to pay for them.
cost of owning a small plane
Ask any aircraft owner, and they will tell you what it costs per hour to fly their own plane. They aren’t just talking about fuel and oil, but all of the other costs that come later. This “cost” is usually figured by adding up all of the known expenses that will occur at given times, and dividing that sum by the number of hours it takes to reach that point.
Here’s an example “cost of ownership” for a brand new, single engine piston plane, such as a Cessna 172: multiply the average cost (found in the tables below) of the 100hr inspection by 14 (the number of inspections you will complete), and then add the engine replacement cost at the 1500th hour. Divide that by the 1500 hours you will fly it, and you will get the “operating cost per hour” for that first engine.
– Example: $2,198 x 14 = $30,772 + $22,000 = $52,772 / 1500 = $35.18/hr
You can see that it “costs” the owner $35 in maintenance expenses each hour to fly the plane that he owns. A smart owner will “rent his own plane” by setting aside $35 for every flight hour in a separate maintenance account. Of course, that’s just for known maintenance; you will most likely experience unexpected maintenance expenses from time to time.
You’ll also need to calculate how much fuel the plane will use per hour of flight and add the fuel expenses onto this figure. The Cessna 172 uses, on average, about 10 gallons per hour. If current fuel costs are about $4 per gallon, that’s another $40 per hour to operate the plane.
There are also monthly fixed costs that you must pay whether you are flying the plane or not. Do you want better avionics packages? Those cost money, too. As you can see, owning an aircraft can be an expensive proposition.
In FSE there are 5 types of aircraft expenses other than fuel:
- Aircraft Ownership Fee
- 100 Hour Inspection
- Engine Replacement
- Random Maintenance
- Avionics Upgrades (see: Owning an Aircraft)
Aircraft Ownership Expenses Fee
There are many fixed costs that come with aircraft ownership – much more so in the commercial aviation environment of FSE than in private ownership for pleasure. These expenses must be paid whether the aircraft is flying or not. Expenses such as insurance, hanger or tie-down fees, registration, etc. FSE does not charge for each of these items individually, but rather in a single monthly payment that encompasses all possible fixed fees, called the Aircraft Ownership Expenses Fee. Each individual aircraft has its own fee assessed based on that particular aircraft’s value. The fee is set at 1% of the aircraft’s Buyback Value. This value can fluctuate daily, and the Ownership Expenses Fee is reassessed each month.
Payment Information:For each aircraft that you own outright (not leased), the Aircraft Ownership Expenses Fee will be deducted automatically from your Cash Account. If your aircraft is owned by a group, the fee will be deducted from the Group’s CASH account. If you, or a Group, are leasing the plane from another FSE player, the true owner (“lessor”) will pay the monthly fee. This payment is processed at approximately 1am or 2am UTC, on the first day of the month.
If you own multiple aircraft, the fee for each aircraft will be deducted from your CASH account one-by-one. In the event that your CASH balance is depleted after some aircraft’s fees are paid, but before all aircraft’s fees are paid, then each aircraft (whose fee was not paid) will be subject to the penalties described below. Those aircraft whose fees were paid before the CASH was depleted are not affected.
If your CASH balance is not sufficient to pay the fee, no fee will be deducted. Instead, the aircraft will be grounded from all operations, and the monthly fee will be listed as a debt against the aircraft. If you wish to use your aircraft, you must manually pay off the debt. If you do not pay the debt, another monthly fee will be added to the debt amount the following month. Failure to pay the debt for 36 consecutive months will result in the system repossessing the aircraft from your account
- The system will ignore any money in your BANK balance. You must have money in your CASH balance in order to auto-pay your fee and avoid the aircraft being grounded.
- When the aircraft is grounded with debt, the system will no longer attempt to automatically withdraw the fee from your account. During subsequent months, the aircraft will continue to be grounded and accumulate more debt, even if there is sufficient money in your CASH balance. You must manually pay the debt once debt has been accumulated.
Determining the Ownership Expenses Fee:
- Individual Aircraft you own: The Ownership Fee for each of your aircraft are listed in your Aircraft page. If the number is red, that aircraft is grounded and accumulating debt.
- Your entire fleet: The total monthly fee for all of your aircraft combined is listed at the top of your Aircraft page. This total is only for aircraft you own outright – aircraft you are leasing from another player is not counted in this total.
- Any aircraft: All players can see the details for every aircraft (including the Ownership Fee and any assessed debt), whether they own that aircraft or not, on the Aircraft Information page, accessed by clicking the Reg#.
- Aircraft for sale: Each aircraft listed on the sales page will have the Ownership Fee and the current Debt amount (if any) listed on the information sheet where you purchase it from. Additionally, any Debt amount will be highlighted in BOLD RED at the top of the information sheet.
Once an aircraft has accumulated debt, the debt must be paid manually. The system will NOT auto-withdraw CASH to pay the monthly Ownership Fee once the plane is in debt. To pay the debt, access the Aircraft Edit page, and click “Restore Aircraft Now”. Restoral Fees will be taken from your CASH account, so be sure your balance will cover the fee. Once the debt has been paid, the system will once again resume auto-withdrawing your fees each month.
If you are leasing your aircraft to someone else, and the plane is in debt, you will need to cancel the lease. At that point, you can pay the debt and re-lease the plane back to the lessor.
Buying and Selling Aircraft With Debt:
Grounded aircraft with accumulated debt can be bought and sold normally, except that the buyer will be paying to clear the debt at the time of purchase. If you have aircraft in debt that you cannot afford to restore, you may be able to sell the aircraft to another player.
- Seller: You can place your aircraft for sale through the normal Aircraft Edit screen. When another player buys the aircraft, you will receive your full asking price so you may want to lower your price to take the accumulated debt into account.
- Buyer: When you purchase an aircraft with accumulated debt, you will make two payments: 1. you will pay the seller the full asking price; and, 2. you will pay the full debt amount to the Bank of FSE. You will then receive a “clean” aircraft with no debt.
Selling Back to the System With Debt:If you choose to sell-back an aircraft that has accumulated debt, the Bank of FSE will withhold the Restoral Fee as part of it’s payment to you. For example, if the buy-back value is $100,000 and the aircraft has $2500 in debt, then the Bank of FSE will pay you $97,500.
cost of owning a small plane
An inspection of the engine is required for every 100 hours logged on that engine. Failure to complete this inspection renders the aircraft unavailable for commercial use. That means that you can still fly the plane, but you will not be able to carry passengers or cargo, including “group assignments” that have a $0 pay. You can chose to inspect your aircraft early, for example at 95 hours total time (TT); however, your second inspection will then be due at 195hrs TT, not 200hrs TT. In this example, you will have reached your next 100hrs logged at 195hrs.
The cost of 100 hr. inspections will vary with the engine type, the number of engines, and the age of the airframe. You can expect a base price for the 100hr. inspection on a single small piston engine to start at around $900 and increase from there with the age of the engine. For a large turbo-prop you can expect to start at around $7000 per engine. These are only examples of the starting base price; your actual experience may vary. In addition the cost of the inspection will be increased by the markup percentage charged by the FBO performing the work.
After replacing an engine at 1500 hours (for piston engines) or 2000 hours (turbine engines), the cost of the 100hr inspection will decrease somewhat, but not back to that of a 0-hr aircraft because the airframe now has thousands of hours on it, which adds to the cost. This same decrease in inspection costs will occur after replacing this second engine with a third engine, and so on. However, you can expect that the “average cost” of a 100hr inspection will be double for the second engine, triple (the cost of the 1st engine) for the third engine, and so on.
In addition to the base cost of the 100hr check you can expect to see additional costs based on the avionics that are installed and the condition of the engine. An engine that is run too lean or too rich will cost more at inspection time.
Here is an example of what you might see in your inspection report for an aircraft with a well-leaned, normally aspirated engine:
Aircraft Serviced: XY-123
Maintenance Handled By: Service-R-Us
100 hour check: $924.00
Additional Engine Repair: $196.00
Avionics inspection & repair: $183.00
Airframe inspection & repair: $176.00
Airworthiness Directives Compliance: $176.00
Engine running time: 539 hours.
The engine looks clean.
Compression test shows the worst cylinder at 92% compression.
Total Cost: $1,655.00For an aircraft with a normally aspirated engine that hasn’t been properly leaned during flight you will see something in the “Engine Information” section that looks like this:
A serious amount of carbon deposits was detected and
removed from the engine cylinders and exhaust valves. $640.00The leaning of the engine will have no effect on Turbo-prop and Jet engines.
In addition to the regular required maintenance you will occasionally have unexpected expenses. These maintenance requirements have nothing to do with how the plane is flown, so improper engine management or excessively hard landings will NOT cause a random maintenance issue to occur.
If your plane is “down for maintenance”, you will see this message on your “my-flight” page:
WARNING: This aircraft is prohibited from commercial operations until repairs have been made. Please fly to the nearest Repair Station and have your aircraft serviced.This means that the aircraft requires maintenance before you can carry passengers, cargo or even supplies or fuel to stock your FBO. You can imagine that this is caused by unexpected damage such as scrapes while moving the aircraft inside the hanger, known as “hangar-rash” or maybe the kid you hired to wash your plane used the pitot tube as a step to reach the wing.
This feature is completely random and you may go months without seeing it only to have it appear on the same plane twice in a short period of time.
For aircraft that you, or your group, own, you can see if any of them require repairs by looking on the Aircraft webpage. Any aircraft in need of maintenance will show a “wrench and screwdriver” icon next to the registration.
TBO (Time Between Overhaul) – Engine Replacement
Every 1500 hours or 2000 hours, depending on engine type, the aircraft owner will be responsible for a complete overhaul of your airplane, outfitting it with a newly refurbished engine (or two, or three, or four!).
Much like the 100-hour maintenance check, this milestone maintenance event is required and will prevent commercial service of your airplane if the milestone is missed. This maintenance may be performed at any location with repair facilities. The prices quoted are all-inclusive, and represent the replacement of all engines which your airplane is equipped with.
There are seven types of engines in FSE, and the maintenance prices are based on the aircraft’s engine type. Those engine types are as follows:
- Small Piston
- High Performance Piston
- Large Piston/Radial
- Turbine/Small T-Prop
- Large T-Prop
aircraft maintenance cost breakdown
In order for aircraft owners to project their “cost of ownership”, the following table provides the average cost for a 100hr inspection on the first engine or set of engines – that is, a new aircraft until it’s first engine replacement. This is the average cost over the lifespan of that first engiine… the first 100hr will be cheaper than this estimate, and the 14th (or 19th) 100hr will be more expensive. There is no 15th 100hr inspection cost for piston engines, and there is no 20th 100hr inspection for turbine engines, because this is the time interval at which you must completely overhaul the engine for the cost listed in the engine categories above. At TBO, you do not have to complete a 100-hr and and engine overhaul – only an engine overhaul. The average cost for a 100hr inspection on the second engine is roughly double that of the inspection costs for the 1st engine. The average 100hr cost for the third engine is roughly triple that of the 1st engine.
|EngineType||Required TBO||Engine Price||Average 100 Hr. Maintenance Cost|
|Large Piston or Radial||1500hrs||$66,000||$5,250|
* Prices are “per engine”. Double the cost estimate for a twin engine plane. *Avg 100hr cost assumes a 15% FBO markup fee.
These prices assume that the engine was replaced at the appropriate intervals. Replacing an engine early will skew the prices somewhat, because the airframe hours will no longer match the engine hours.
Used Aircraft Devaluation
In addition to all of the costs above, simply using an aircraft potentially decreases its value. This is also a Cost of Ownership consideration for factoring in the difference between what you paid for the aircraft when you purchased it, and what you might be able to get for it when you sell it. How quickly you need to sell your aircraft might also effect how much you can get for it.
When selling an aircraft, you have 3 options:
- List the aircraft for sale on the system’s for-sale page. Anyone choosing to buy your plane does so through the system interface, and the transaction is immediate. This could be the slowest option, but if and when it does sell, you will get exactly the price you were asking for.
- Advertise your plane for sale (or conduct an auction) in the Community Forums. This will probably be a little faster than the first option, but you will probably need to negotiate with other players and you may have to settle for selling your plane for less than you had planned on.
- Sell your plane back to the system for the system’s offered price, known as the “Buyback Price”. This is the fastest option if you need cash immediately. However, it will also result in the lowest possible amount for your plane, and the value will continue to decrease as you use your plane.
The system’s Buyback Price is NOT considered to be the “actual value of the aircraft”. Rather, this is the “panic button” – when you cannot negotiate a private sale, and/or you need to liquidate your assets for cash quickly, the System Buyback is an option available to you – however, it should be the “last resort” option. Although you can negotiate private sales with other players for whatever price you agree upon, the FSE system’s Buyback Price is considered to be the “lowest possible value” for an aircraft, and this is the value that declines with an aircraft’s age (in terms of airframe and engine hours).
You can see the system’s Buyback Price for your aircraft at any time by looking at the “Edit” screen. The system Buyback Price declines with each flight hour on both the airframe and the engines, and ranges from a highest-possible value of 60% of base price to a lowest-possible value of 25% of base price.
The Buyback Price starts at 60% of base price when there are zero hours on the airframe (and, therefore, zero hours on the engines), plus the base price of any installed avionics (see: Owning an Aircraft for a list of avionics base prices). Each hour on the airframe (up to 10,000 hours) AND each hour on the engine contributes to a lower buy-back price. Therefore, it should be obvious that replacing the engines will raise the buyback price. The “salvage” value – the absolute lowest that a buyback price will ever be – is 25% of base price plus avionics.
For example, let’s look at a brand new Cessna 152. There are zero hours on the airframe and the engine. According to the list of Aircraft Configurations on the FSE Game World website, the “base price” for a Cessna 152 is $18,600. If you find one of these for sale and purchase it, but then you immediately regret your decision, you can sell it back to the system for $11,160, which is 60% of the base price (assuming it was not flown at all). Since there are no avionics installed in a Cessna 152 by default, there is no added value for avionics.
But if you love the plane and you fly it for several years, eventually amassing 10,000 hours on the airframe, and there are currently 1400 hours on this engine, then you will most likely only be offered the “salvage value” of $4,650, which is 25% of the base price. If, over the course of those years, you’ve equipped your beloved Cessna 152 with all available avionics options, the system’s Buyback Price will be roughly $78,000 (25% + avionics).