How much does it cost to rent a plane?
It is a simple question without an easy answer. The cost varies dramatically depending on the type of aircraft and how well equipped it is. Other than this: if the time used is Hobbs time or Tach time, wet / dry, how active the field is and the insurance rates can influence the final cost for you personally. Let’s look at these separately so you know what to expect.
It is clear that the Cirrus probably rents for more than one Cessna 152. The owner of the plane must recoup a minimum of the direct cost of flying the plane or else it is simply a charity. You should expect several old 150/152s to ring under $ 100, but that’s becoming increasingly scarce as of late as fuel rates go up. A decently equipped midway 172 typically costs between $ 120-150 depending on the market and avionics. Their pricier single piston jets like the Cirrus or Diamond start at around $ 200- $ 300 and range in price from there.
How well equipped is the aircraft?
Avionics can affect your cost, but not as much as the type of aircraft itself. Typically the best avionics will be in newer aircraft as well, so it is challenging to estimate exactly how much avionics alone has an effect on the cost of the rental. Overall, if you want amazing features, count on paying extra dollars.
Finding an older aircraft without a lot of avionics could be a great money saver. Many consumers require at least a GPS (multiple pilots may have difficulty finding a home without “Direct To”) and often an autopilot, so aircraft without these have low market demand and therefore , they have more affordable prices. If you have such an aircraft in close proximity, you can get your own yoke-mounted GPS unit and take it with you when you fly. It doesn’t take long for this to pay off either, so in case you fly a lot, you’ll get your money back very quickly.
Do you use Hobbs or Tach Time?
Almost all planes are now chartered in Hobbs, but there are probably a few scattered places that can offer you a Tach fare. Hobbs time means that the meter turns on once the propeller is turned off; “Tach time” means that the meter works after the RPM passes a selected point. In essence, this implies that you cover taxi time with Hobbs and only airtime with “Tach.” Naturally, “Tach” prices are generally a bit higher because of this.
If you’re one of the few who has a choice, you’ll need to do some math to determine the best deal. If you are based in a small airport with little traffic and only a 5 minute taxi take off from the ramp, then Hobb time is considered the lowest price. However, if you arrive at the base from a busier air port or one where the FBO is further from the most used runway and then you are taxiing and waiting for 20-30 minutes many times, then the “tach time” it could actually be considered a less expensive option, or at least more predictable.
Is it a very busy airport?
As mentioned recently, the busiest airports can be very time consuming if you are not vigilant. If there is a lot of commercial or government traffic, you can spend a great deal of your rental time sitting on the taxiway or taking an extra long finale. There is an airfield near where some of my family live that is shared with armed forces cargo planes and you will often fly half an hour off the beaten track while the big planes arrive. Of course, if that was your home airport, this would quickly cut finances.
Does it come with a good insurance plan?
I probably give an inordinate amount of lectures on this, but having said that, I feel like it’s really important. Most rental companies carry insurance, but be sure to ask for a copy of the insurance and what exactly it insures. If you find 2 comparable planes and the other one is more expensive, this could be the explanation.
Many of your typical non-aviation insurance products may have written conditions that basically cancel any type of incidents due to your use of general aviation. Most likely, your health insurance will not cover medical expenses for trauma from an accident in which you were a pilot or passenger on a GA plane. Your life insurance policies will undoubtedly have the fine print on it. If you are not cautious, you can leave your loved ones with much less than you think due to the fine print.
When the leasing company policy is adequate and provides adequate insurance coverage to help you stay safe, then that’s okay. But assuming they don’t, consider getting supplemental insurance yourself. This is generally quite inexpensive because your plan is add-on, and therefore doesn’t handle some of the high-value stuff that homeowner’s coverage does (cost of the helmet, liability, etc.). Just make sure you’re insured when it comes to health, life, and legal liability, and buy from an established business that’s been around for several years.