Buying an aircraft is an expensive thing to do.
Most new pilots who have just suffered months of paying for lessons, exams and equipment will probably be a little out of pocket from the whole experience. But if your ultimate plan is to fly more and have access to your own plane, how do you go about it?
Buying a share in an aircraft is a good option. Doing so will give you experience of aircraft ownership and all of the aspects that go with it, such as maintenance and arranging hangarage, but without having to deal with it all on your own.
It also makes aircraft ownership much more affordable, as all costs are split between the number of people in the group.
How do Aircraft Shares Work
Typically a share is run by a group, which may be registered as a company, who own a single aircraft.
The group will make available a certain number of slots, or shares of ownership, which can be anything from 2 to 20, depending on how often they feel the aircraft will be used.
Anyone wishing to join will usually buy one of the shares; the price depends on the aircraft’s type and age, and the number of people in the group. You will often be able to recoup this money if you leave the group by selling your share.
Once you’re a member of the share group, you will usually pay a monthly fee which covers the costs of maintenance, annual checks, 50 hour checks, airport fees and hangarage.
You then also pay for any hours you fly, but this is significantly cheaper than the costs of hiring a plane from a flying club and is where owning a share becomes a useful money-saver. This hourly rate is usually ‘wet’ (includes fuel).
What are the Benefits of Buying an Aircraft Share
As already covered, the main benefit is the cost saving for any pilots who want to fly more than occasionally.
You will also have access to an aircraft that you can take away for extended periods, unlike club aircraft which are usually booked solid day after day. Share groups usually operate an online booking system where you can plan in advance and book to take the aircraft away for for a whole day at a time, allowing you to explore and travel.
With there only being a few people typically in a share group, the availability is naturally very good. Again, club aircraft can be booked solid.
Owning a share is also a good step to full ownership. You’ll learn the important aspects of looking after an aircraft, which flying clubs don’t teach you. You’ll also get a greater understanding of the mechanics of the aircraft, what can go wrong, how to fix it. It’ll make you a better all-round pilot.
Should I Buy an Aircraft Share
There are many things to consider before committing to buy a share in an aircraft.
First of all, do you intend to fly often enough to justify the costs? With the monthly fee, it is only cheaper if you fly enough to cover this. Otherwise, you may be better sticking with hiring flying club aircraft when you need them.
Also important is whether you can afford the buy-in fee, and the monthly fees. This get charged whether you fly or not, month after month. Once you’re in, it can take a while to find a buyer for your share if you want out.
Is it the right aircraft for you? If it’s something significantly different or more advanced to what you’ve been flying so far, you’ll need to consider taking some extra training to convert to it and get to grips with it before jumping in at the deep end.
Is the aircraft at a place you want to fly? Having to travel to an airfield can become onerous, so it may be best to make sure you buy into one at your nearest airfield.
Do you know and get on with the other owners? Make sure you meet them and decide whether you can enter into this financial agreement with them, otherwise if anything goes wrong or personalities clash, it will become a nightmare to live with.