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Home > Blog > Do You Need Your Own Plane To Be A Private Pilot

Do you need your own plane to be a private pilot?

Posted 06 May 2022


Do you need your own plane to be a private pilot?

In this article, we discuss different methods of accessing aircraft as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. This can help you decide which is best suited to your needs and best fits the kind of flying experience you wish to have.



When it comes to aviation, knowing how and where to access an aircraft is of the utmost importance. If you wish to pursue aviation as a hobby, then you will need to be able to access an aeroplane so that you can take to the skies to your heart’s content.

Many who dream of flying shy away from recreational aviation because they are fearful of the costs that this hobby may incur. While it is true that privately owning an aeroplane comes with a hefty price tag and one that many aviation lovers may not be able to afford, it does not mean those who wish to fly without investing too much money have to give up on aviation altogether.

There are many alternatives to owning your own aircraft privately, which means it is not necessary to own an aeroplane in order to fly as a hobby. These include fractional ownership as well as aircraft for hire. Many established pilots opt for either one of these options because of the convenience they afford.

Apart from the costs associated with acquiring a private aircraft, the hassle of maintenance and storage may also be deterrents when it comes to private ownership.

In this article, we discuss different methods of accessing aircraft as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. This can help you decide which is best suited to your needs and best fits the kind of flying experience you wish to have.

 

PRIVATELY OWNING AIRCRAFT

 Privately owning your own aircraft may feel like a dream for many. The idea of a private aeroplane seems like the epitome of luxury and an ideal situation for aviation enthusiasts. While it is true that the control and access that comes with private ownership of an aircraft is unparalleled, it is also true that this form of ownership comes with a few setbacks.

Privately owning aircraft may be a perfectly viable and, in fact, the preferred option for many pilots, but it is best to weigh out the pros and cons before diving headfirst into such a large investment.

Purchasing the aeroplane may be the easiest part of private ownership, with the true difficulty arising when the aircraft needs to be routinely maintained and looked after. If a pilot has the resources and dedication to do so, then this form of ownership is perfect for them.


HOW TO BUY YOUR OWN AEROPLANE?

 There are many aeroplanes on the market that are available for purchase. If you are a private pilot, you will probably be interested in purchasing a light aircraft with relatively less complex controls as compared to the large multi-engine variety.

Here at Sherburn Aero Club, we help connect buyers and sellers within our community of over 900 aviation enthusiasts. There is always someone looking to sell aircraft, and there is always someone looking to purchase one.

At Sherburn, through our dedicated engineering facility, we ensure that the aeroplane that you are purchasing is in excellent condition via pre-buy inspections. The engineering facility can also help manage the maintenance that will be part and parcel of buying your own aeroplane.  If you wish, you can also purchase an aircraft externally through a company that specialises in the buying and selling of aircraft.


BENEFITS OF PRIVATELY-OWNED AIRCRAFT

Full control

This is the biggest benefit of owning an aircraft and having it all to yourself. You can do as you wish with the aircraft, opting for whatever modifications and upgrades you like without having to consult any co-owners or shareholders.

Apart from this, you also have control over who you allow on your aircraft, which is something that you cannot do when getting aircraft for hire or purchasing an aeroplane with other co-owners.

Privacy

The fact that you can fly without having to inform anyone is a great option for those who fly frequently and fly long-distance. You can take to the sky in complete privacy. You can fly to whatever location you wish without having too many people on your tail.

This is a great option for relatively reclusive pilots who do not enjoy engaging too much with others. If you can afford it, you might as well enjoy the benefits of a completely private aeroplane!

Fly whenever you want

When it comes to privately-owned aircraft, you have the freedom to fly at absolutely any time you like, given that you provide a little time for aircraft preparation. It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day, if you have the needed ratings and certifications and can prepare your aeroplane for travel, you are free to take to the skies.

You also do not have to adhere to strict schedules, with the freedom to fly for as long as you like or as far away as you like (provided you deal with customs formalities if flying outside of the United Kingdom).

 

DRAWBACKS OF PRIVATELY-OWNED AIRCRAFT

Expensive

As discussed above, this is the greatest drawback of privately owning an aircraft. Aeroplanes do not come cheap, and it may be difficult to invest the kind of money required for private ownership. Apart from the costs related to initial acquisitions, private owners also have to keep in mind the ongoing maintenance costs that will be associated with owning an aeroplane.

These include fuel, storage, crew as well as general upkeep and inspections of the aircraft. While this financial burden is divided amongst shareholders in the case of fractional ownership, private aeroplane owners have to shoulder the entire cost of maintenance out of their own pocket.

Responsibility of maintenance

Apart from the financial aspect involved in maintaining an aircraft that you have invested money in, the fact that you are alone in shouldering the responsibility of upkeep adds to the stress of private ownership. If you do not have the funds to delegate the responsibility of maintenance to a third party, you may find that a lot of the fun of private ownership gets sucked out.

Storage

Aeroplanes are fairly massive machines, and it's fair to say that it isn't sustainable to park one in your backyard. You will need to find a hangar in which you can store your aircraft when it is not in use. An airfield may charge extra for hangar space, which adds to an already costly experience.

 

FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP OF AIRCRAFT

Fractional ownership is a great alternative to privately owning an aircraft, best suited to those who fly regularly but are not looking to make an investment as large as private ownership requires.

In fractional ownership, an aircraft’s total cost is divided into shares, which are then bought by different individuals. An aircraft is normally available for 800 hours of total flight time throughout the year. These 800 hours are divided among the shareholders, with the smallest share being equal to 1/16 of the total cost of the aeroplane.

This would total to 50 hours out of the total 800 hours of the aeroplane’s flight time. It is not recommended that pilots buy shares any smaller than 1/16 of the total cost since the cost would then outweigh the benefits. The shares do not have to be divided equally. If one person owns ½ of the aeroplane, then the two other members can own ¼ each. It is highly personalisable according to a pilot’s needs and wants.


HOW CAN YOU BUY AEROPLANE SHARES?

Sherburn Aero Club helps connect individual buyers and sellers from across the club’s community. Many shareholders advertise with Sherburn, which can then be noticed by other pilots looking to buy shares in an aircraft. Outside of flying clubs, individuals can also buy shares through companies that deal in the buying and selling of aircraft.

If bought through a company, a pilot may have access to a fleet of the same or similar aircraft that they have bought, ensuring availability to all members.


BENEFITS OF FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP

Cost-effective

The biggest benefit of fractional ownership is the ability to own an aeroplane without having to shoulder the massive cost that comes with privately purchasing one.

This option makes buying aircraft accessible to many people, with the personalisable aspect of the shares often leading to a deal that is financially viable and sustainable for the pilot. The cost of maintenance is also divided amongst the shareholders, with no one person having to pay the full cost of upkeep. If bought through a company, the responsibility of maintenance is delegated to a third party in exchange for a monthly fee.

The fee is also directly proportional to the pilot’s shares in the aircraft, and they only pay for the fraction that they use.

Readily available 

As mentioned above, when an aircraft is purchased via fractional ownership through a company, there is usually a fleet of the same or similar aircraft available. This means that even if you require the aircraft at the same time as another shareholder, you do not have to put your plans on hold.

Fly under the radar

This is a little known but highly useful benefit of flying a fractionally owned aircraft through a company! Usually, the details and route of the aircraft are available under the company name, which allows you to fly under the radar whenever you like.

If you are someone who values privacy and would like to get away without your vacation being public knowledge, fractional ownership is a great option.

 

DRAWBACKS OF FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP

 

Contractual payments

Fractional ownership of an aircraft is a long-term commitment, and even though the maintenance and upkeep payments aren’t nearly as high as in private ownership, they are still substantial.

Apart from the acquisition fee, the pilot is required to pay a set monthly maintenance fee, as well as the costs of operation. The latter includes things such as fuel, wages of the crew, as well as things such as in-flight catering for longer flights.

Limited variety

If you are a beginner or someone who enjoys trying out different aircraft every now and then, you may find fractional ownership rather limiting, much like private ownership. In fractional ownership, you are bound to the same aeroplane or ones similar to it. This means you cannot fly other types of aircraft without incurring an added cost.

AIRCRAFT FOR HIRE

For those who have no interest in buying an aeroplane or do not have the disposable income to invest in one, renting aeroplanes is a great way to access aircraft! An aeroplane can be rented out on an hourly basis, with the pilot only having to pay for the hours that they use it. For those who do not fly as often, this is a great option.

However, if you are someone who takes to the skies often, the costs can definitely pile up. 

HOW CAN YOU RENT AN AEROPLANE?

Here at Sherburn Aero Club, we have a dedicated fleet of well-maintained light aircraft available for members to hire and fly in exchange for a flat hourly rate. Our fleet includes Piper PA 28 Cadet, Piper PA 28 Warrior, Aero AT-3 and the Robin 2160.


BENEFITS OF RENTING AN AEROPLANE

 

Most affordable

Out of all the options listed so far, this one is the most affordable for beginners and those who fly occasionally. If you fly around quite often, you may want to consider investing in shares, but until you reach that point, renting is a perfectly good solution to your flying needs.

Variety of aircraft

You are not bound to fly any one aircraft, leaving open the possibilities of flying different types of aeroplanes that all offer unique experiences. Pilots can rent out different types of light aircraft or give microlights a try at Sherburn’s dedicated microlight training facility, Breeze Aviation.

No maintenance worries

Since you don’t own the aeroplane, maintenance isn’t your responsibility. It’s great to take to the skies for a while without having to worry about storage of your aircraft upon landing or maintenance costs. All you have to do is climb into the cockpit, take off and have a good time!


DRAWBACKS OF RENTING AN AEROPLANE

Limited availability

Since this is such as popular option amongst amateur and private pilots, and since there are a limited number of aircraft available, you may find the aeroplane you wish to fly is currently being rented out by another pilot.

This can feel like quite a hassle, which makes flying on a whim difficult. However, if you have a day in mind on which you would like to fly, it is always a good idea to book in advance.
 

Time restrictions

You can only fly a rented aircraft for so long. Eventually, you will have to land and hand it over to the next person on the waiting list!

 

WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AERO CLUB

 Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades. The fleet is available for hire for those who wish to rent out an aeroplane on an hourly basis.

Sherburn provides members with the option to advertise aircraft that they wish to sell through the club’s website, as well as options for aviation enthusiasts looking purchase aircraft or shares for fractional ownership.

The club’s dedicated engineering facility offers pre-buy inspections, with Sherburn helping guide members with regards to what kind of aircraft and mode of ownership is best-suited to their needs. We offer dedicated CPL training as well as comprehensive PPL (A) training and the required experience for operating aircraft at night. In addition to this, the club also offers simulators for various training needs and to help new pilots gain confidence before the real deal.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on buying and selling aircraft shares, and fractional ownership, private ownership, as well as aircraft for hire at Sherburn!

Photo by Cody Fitzgerald on Unsplash 


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