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Home > Blog > Fractional Ownership Of Small Aeroplanes

Fractional ownership of small aeroplanes

Posted 05 May 2022


Fractional ownership of small aeroplanes

Read on if you wish to find out more about fractional ownership, how it works, and whether it’s right for you.



If you want to pursue aviation as a hobby, chances are the first question on your mind is, “Will I have to buy my own aeroplane?” While that is entirely possible and something that many aviation enthusiasts opt for, you can actually have access to an aircraft whenever you like without privately owning one.


Another way of getting your hands on a particular aircraft without investing in the huge sum that is required to purchase an entire aeroplane privately is through buying shares of an aircraft. This leads to fractional ownership of the aeroplane, which, in simple words, means you share it with other people while reserving the right to lay claim to it for a set number of hours throughout the month.

For pilots who do not wish to make too large of a financial investment or those that do not wish to shoulder the complete responsibility of maintenance and upkeep, fractional ownership is a great, convenient option. Read on if you wish to find out more about fractional ownership, how it works, whether it’s right for you, as well as the facilities available at Sherburn through which you can purchase shares in an aircraft. 

 

WHAT IS FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP?

If you are someone who wishes to experience the luxury of owning a private aircraft but do not want to spend a large amount of money required to privately own one, fractional ownership should be the perfect fit for you. Fractional ownership, or co-ownership, is also a great way to get the most out of an aircraft without worrying about maintenance and additional costs related to upkeep and storage.

When you wish to enter a fractional ownership agreement, you buy shares of an aeroplane along with a few other people, each of whom has a specified number of hours that they can use the aircraft throughout the month.


HOW DOES FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP WORK?

Usually, the shares of an aircraft are multiples of 1/16. Anything less than that is not considered worth the costs involved. The total number of hours that an aeroplane is available for in a year is usually 800 hours, so a person who owns 1/16 of its shares will have access to the aircraft for 50 hours per year.

½ of the aircraft share will mean the pilot has access to the aeroplane for a total of 400 hours per year, with ¼ meaning the share is worth 200 hours.

Sometimes, shares are divided according to days as opposed to hours, depending on the shareholders and/or the company through which the aeroplane is purchased. 


BENEFITS OF FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP

There are many reasons that make fractional ownership of a small aircraft a great investment for aviation enthusiasts who are serious about pursuing aviation recreationally. If you are committed to flying, then here are some benefits of owning shares of an aircraft, as opposed to privately owning an aeroplane or renting one out.

Cost-effective

This is the most obvious of the benefits when it comes to fractional ownership. Splitting the cost with other aviation lovers is a great way to access aircraft and enjoy the perks of private ownership without making the relatively large financial investment required.

Not only is the initial cost split, but general and surprise maintenance costs are also covered collectively, easing the burden on any one individual.

With fractional ownership, the aircraft is usually bought through a company or flying club, which is where the aeroplane is then stored. This way, owners are spared the hassle of finding storage space and dealing with the high investment that comes with hangar rent.

Readily available

Unlike aeroplanes for hire, fractionally owned aircraft are readily available whenever a person wishes to fly. Since shareholders have access to a fleet of similar aircraft as opposed to just the one they have purchased, they can fly even when their own aeroplane is undergoing maintenance or is being used by someone else.


As long as you are within the limit of your flying hours, your aeroplane is just a short drive to the airfield away! Most fractional providers will have your aeroplane ready for take-off within a few short hours, so if you are someone who likes to fly on a whim or needs to fly on short notice, then this mode of ownership is perfect for you.

Personalised to your needs

The best part about fractional ownership is that you are able to buy shares that suit your own personal needs. You can buy ½ of the total 800 hours if you wish to fly frequently, or you can buy a smaller fraction of the share if you fly occasionally but like having an aircraft on standby.

Some contracts even allow shareholders to bank their unused hours over the length of their contracts. This way you can make full use of your flying hours with no wastage.

Greater privacy

Since, during your allotted hours, you are in full control of the aircraft, you are afforded much greater privacy. You can fly wherever whenever without having to abide by strict scheduling such as in the case of aircraft for hire.

The fact that the aeroplane is registered under the company through which you buy the shares means you can fly while staying under the radar. This is great for people who wish to fly without having their flight activity available on public aviation databases.

POSSIBLE DISADVANTAGES OF FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP

There are some factors that any person looking to opt for fractional ownership should be aware of before making an investment. This type of ownership is not for everybody and the following list of possible disadvantages is something to be wary of before signing the contractual agreement. 

Limited variety of aircraft

One of the drawbacks of owning an aircraft, either partially or completely, is that you are bound to fly the same aeroplane or ones that are similar in make and model. Compared to options such as renting, which provide access to a wide variety of aircraft as per your preference, you’ll have to fly the aircraft you have invested in.


For those who have a favourite type of aircraft and are satisfied with flying the same kind of aeroplane, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. However, if a pilot wishes to test out different kinds of aircraft every now and then, fractional or private ownership may not be the ideal route to take.

Long-term investment

Unlike renting out aircraft, buying your own aircraft will require a long-term investment.


While fractional ownership will require you to pay a standard monthly maintenance fee and private ownership will have you shouldering all the long-term costs associated with owning an aircraft, renting will allow you to pay only for the amount of time you use the aeroplane.

If you are someone who does not fly regularly, which would be less than 50 hours per year, then the costs of owning an aircraft, either fractionally or privately, may outweigh the benefits. However, if you are someone who flies 50 hours or more per year, then fractional ownership is the most affordable route to take, since renting out aircraft over and over again can cause fees to build up over time.


ASSOCIATED COSTS TO LOOK OUT FOR

When it comes to fractional ownership of aircraft, there are certain costs that you should be aware of before making the initial investment. Other than the amount you pay at the onset of your agreement with the company providing the aircraft or the other shareholders, there are certain associated costs that you may not be aware of.

Here is a breakdown of the investment that will be required if you wish to own shares of an aircraft.

Acquisition of shares

 This is the initial cost a pilot pays when acquiring shares of an aircraft. The amount will depend on the size of the share, as well as the make and model of the aircraft that is being purchased. This cost is highly variable. A pilot may observe that a small share, such as 1/16, of a large multi-engine aeroplane, is more expensive than a large share, such as ¼, of a smaller aircraft.

While the initial acquisition cost for a light aircraft can be as low as a few thousand pounds, larger and more complex aircraft can rake up fees that go up to a million pounds and more.

Maintenance

Apart from the initial acquisition cost, the pilot will be required to pay a monthly maintenance fee which is directly proportional to the size of their share in the aircraft.

A person who owns a 1/16 share will pay far less than a person who owns ¼ of an aircraft. The maintenance costs include things such as administrative fees, insurance, aircraft subscriptions, as well as hangar space.

Operational cost

This is the cost involved in actually flying the aircraft, and can vary from person to person. This includes things such as the salary of the aircraft crew, engine reserves, fuel, as well as other associated costs such as in-flight catering and the fees associated with other airfields.

Usually charged on an hourly basis, the operational cost will go up depending on the length of the flight. Those flying solo in a small aeroplane may be able to dodge costs associated with in-flight crew and catering, helping the operational cost go down. 

 

BUYING AIRCRAFT SHARES THROUGH SHERBURN

 Here at Sherburn Aero Club, we have several facilities that cater to the needs of members who wish to own their own aircraft. Several of our pilots go on to acquire their own aeroplanes, with Sherburn providing a reliable medium for them to purchase aircraft through.

Here are all the amenities available at Sherburn related to acquiring aircraft shares, as well as those looking to privately own an aeroplane.

Purchasing aircraft

Sherburn prides itself on its community of over 900 aviation enthusiasts. There are always member pilots looking to sell aircraft shares, with Sherburn providing a platform through which potential buyers can have a look at available aircraft.

A page on Sherburn’s website is dedicated to listing aircraft models for sale, either on a fractional basis or through private ownership.

Selling aircraft

Sherburn aids buyers by connecting them to sellers within the community and beyond. Advertising with Sherburn through the club’s website is a great way to get noticed since someone is always looking to purchase shares in an aircraft given the nature of the club.

Sherburn helps list the complete specifications of the aircraft available for purchase, helping sellers connect with the ideal buyers.

Types of light aircraft available

The website is routinely updated with new models of light aircraft available for purchase. These include aeroplanes such as the Slingsby Firefly T67M, as well as the Europa Tri-Gear.

The number of shares is advertised alongside the aircraft, as well as the airfield in which the aeroplane is located.

Apart from this, Sherburn also lists the estimated operational costs that may be involved following the purchase of shares, so that buyers have a good idea of what additional costs they have to keep in mind when signing the contract.

Engineering facility

At Sherburn, we are committed to making your buying experience as smooth as possible. Our dedicated engineering facility provides thorough pre-buy inspections so that buyers can be satisfied with the aircraft they are purchasing.

The engineering facility also provides maintenance services to members, which makes the upkeep of the aircraft convenient and easy.


OTHER WAYS TO ACCESS AIRCRAFT

As mentioned above, there are other ways to access an aircraft if you feel fractional ownership is not for you. You can privately own an aeroplane and enjoy the luxury of having an aircraft all to yourself, or you can opt for renting an aeroplane as per your requirements and needs.

 

Private ownership

Privately owning an aircraft is very similar to fractional ownership, but with a much larger price tag. This is perfect for pilots who fly a lot and regularly require an aeroplane. Unlike with fractional ownership, privately owning an aeroplane means shouldering the complete responsibility of storage and maintenance.

Private ownership is perfect for pilots who frequently fly long distances.

Aircraft for hire

For the beginner pilots, those who fly occasionally, as well as pilots who do not wish to spend too much money acquiring their own aircraft or shares of one, renting is a great option.

At Sherburn, we have a fleet of well-maintained light aircraft on standby for any pilot looking to book them. The fee is charged per hour, so you only pay for the hours that you fly.

There is also the option to explore a variety of models to figure out which aeroplane is the best fit for you before making a bigger investment.

 

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.

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, as well as the light aircraft fleet available for rent at Sherburn.

Photo by Jack Chung on Unsplash 


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