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Thread: What is the average cost of annual, maintenance, and hangar fees?

  1. #1
    WingsAloft's Avatar
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    What is the average cost of annual, maintenance, and hangar fees?

    Hello, I'm new to aviation, and was just wondering how much the average (or your) annual inspection costs. Does it vary depending on the kind of aircraft? How about for an LSA airplane? Also, what about hangar fees? How do those go? Do most people use tie-downs instead? How much do they cost? And what would you say the average maintenance fee is? That would vary, wouldn't it? Got a ball-park figure? I'm budgeting for lessons and maybe a plane, so I'd really appreciate some pointers. Thanks, and happy flying.
    *** Life is Lead Points and Habit Patterns ***

  2. #2
    CarlOrton's Avatar
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    Hi, Wings;

    No easy answers to your questions, since in most cases "it depends."

    When I had a C-172, my annual was about $700-800. That included the inspection and normal annual maintenance items like repacking the bearings, changing the oil, etc. A more complex aircraft and it goes up from there. I believe Bonanzas can run around $3000 - more because of the retractable gear, constant speed prop, more "systems" to inspect, etc. I know for a fact there are Bo's that run much less than that, but typically there will be *something* on an older plane that needs fixin'.

    Also, before I get raked for this, the annual inspection is one cost; annual maintenance and fixing stuff requiring attention are another. So, you *could* have just an inspection done by the A&P/IA, then have other things done by yourself (maintenance) or another A&P of your choosing.

    LSA's are another story; you the owner can take a class and pay a fee to enable you to do your annual "condition inspection" (different name). Similar with a homebuilt aircraft; if you built it, you can apply for a "repairman certificate" to allow you to do the annual condition inspection - for that plane only. Experimentals can have any work done by anyone - only the annual condition inspection requires an A&P (doesn't have to be an AI) or the repairman's certificate. Even if you didn't build it, you can do all maintenance, repairs, mods, etc. with no signoff required other than your personal log entry.

    Hangars are all over the place. In rural KS, I know of enclosed T-hangars that are $40/month at a decent field. Here in DFW, they run around $300. In higher-cost areas, I believe they can run closer to $500. Location location location. A lot of folks in milder climates can get away with outside tie-downs. Here in TX, we have a lot of hail, so no way am I using a tie-down! Place like Wisconsin, though, are probably a non-issue in that regard (just guessing).

    In summary, a basic airplane, like what you'll most likely train in (150 / 172) can have quite reasonable annual maintenance costs. Make sure you get a good pre-buy beforehand (better to spend a few hundred $$ beforehand to find out you may have bought a money pit). If you buy a tired-out old bird, you'll most likely have higher maintenance costs because stuff just plain and simple wears out, cracks develop, etc. IOW, it might be better to spend $40K on an older 172 with fewer hours, no corrosion, current avionics, etc., than spending $20K on a high-time beater. That $20K difference could be spent in just a few years of expensive repairs.

    Carl Orton
    Sonex #1170
    http://mykitlog.com/corton

  3. #3

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    Way too many variables to give you accurate costs. Just a few: Basing location, a/c model, previous maintenance history, how you take care of it, got your own A&P?, how much you fly and so on. Certain a/c are going to be more maintenance hungry compared to others. A well taken care of and regularly flown a/c is usually going to require less intense work at any one time compared to one that sits on a tie down or in the hangar without being flown very often.

    First thing that I would do, is define the typical mission for you. Once you have that nailed down, then start culling down a list of candidate models that will do yoru typical mission and also cover as many of the "like to's" as possible. At that point, you will have some definition as to whether you can go with a tie down, t-hangar or a group hangar slot. With that youi can start looking around for the requisite location. Be aware that in some locations, waiting lists for t's or group slots can be years and years long. With the general idea and costing info, you can start getting serious on finding an a/c from your cull list. Before you settle on a particular model, try to fly a couple different ones for a bit of time and invest some research time with the type/model group for what you think you want to buy. The groups generally have the collective knowledge to give you a good idea of the needs of what model you are looking at. All the while, be socking away dollars towards your purchase and tie down/hangar needs, as well as planning for and building a maintenance fund.

    Not to scare you off, but for most people, unless you fly something like more than 100 hours a year, you are better off just renting. I'm in the oddball position that my typical mission is outside of what is available to rent aroundwhere I live, so we are going to be buying instead.

  4. #4

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    Hello,

    I will offer an alternative answer to the question, but where you live, what you fly, and how mechanically inclined you are have a big affect on the numbers.

    First, the costs around larger urban areas are higher than at rural airports. You have been quoted some numbers that sound like they come from owners who are in higher cost areas and they treat their airplane like a luxury car. That is, for maintance they hand the keys to the shop and expect a pretty airplane and a bill back.

    Second, owning your own ship means that you always know that no one else has the airplane booked when you want to go to OSH or LAL for a week. You don't worry about how hard the last pilot landed the airplane or whether the Glide slope works. You know and if the airplane is landed hard you can chew out the guy in the mirror.

    Third, if you are trying to economically justify a recreational airplane you are a fool. A lot of folks before you have tried and failed. Take up golf. You either fly or you don't and the core reasons have nothing to do with $$. I know plenty of guys who fly and eat macaroni and cheese to free money for avgas.

    Annual costs - If you are willing to be humble and find an IA who will work with you, you will find that most mechanics are happy to have you do all of the low skill monkey work of taking the airplane apart and putting it back together. That saves you from paying for many $$ of shop time. And if you get to know the mechanic and demonstrate some competence, he or she will supervise larger tasks like your pulling propellers and cylinders. Your hands can do the work so long as the certificated individual is satisfied with the quality, conformance to accepted practice, and will enter the work in the log book with their signature. The time invested in this apprenticeship and the relationship translates into much lower maintenance bills. And the education is priceless. And you make friends who have the same genetic defects that you do. Plus you get quality time with the insides of your ship so when something goes bump in the night you can diagnose on the fly and make better decisions.

    So I live in the world of annuals that has an average cost of about $500 for a single engine fixed gear Cessna. And my mechanic never finds anything to fix because I get there first. I see hands off guys spend $2k for their annual in the same locale. But they never get their hands dirty. You pick.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS

  5. #5
    MickYoumans's Avatar
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    I'm not sure how our prices in Georgia will compare to Virginia, but a Cherokee annual base price runs between $600 to $700. You then have to add in all of the other miscellaneous items repaired or inspected. My last annual cost $3600 but included a carb replacement, new oil cooler hoses, elevator counter weight inspection and prop spinner repair. The mechanic broke one of the 'L' brackets off of my back spinner plate when he was removing the spinner. I also had the oil and filter changed plus other minor service items.

  6. #6

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    Does it depend on the type of plane? It sure does, the more complex a plane is, an to some extent the more rare it is, the cost of the annual can go up many times.

    Also, with something simple, common, and not expensive, there may just be less required to make it airworthy. As an extreme example on the high end, if you were going to ferry the P-38 across the Atlantic last year, how good would you want to annual to be? Or what if you were going to race at Reno, or if you had a DC-3 flying in the wilderness of Alaska?
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 07-09-2012 at 11:09 AM.

  7. #7

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    On the topic of hangar costs, in NH we see anywhere from $100/mo for a 42' T with a bifold door up to $700/mo at a big FBO that keeps their large hangar at 60 degrees all winter and provides valet service.

    At my place a 42' nested T with a bifold door goes for $350 - $400 per month. An outdoor tie down that has electricity goes for $60/month. The cheap tie downs are $40 per month.

    Hope this info helps.

    Wes
    N78PS

  8. #8
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Bonanzas run $3000 because they're used to getting fleeced by the Beech dealer. My plane which is arguably more complex than the Bonanza runs only $1200 for the annual. The retract takes more time than the fixed gear. There's not really much to be done to the constant speed prop.

    I pay $225 for a hangar which is a steal, not too much further up the road they go for $500.

    Maintenance is up and down over the years. Got off pretty clean this year. Only had some oil change and a blown nav light.

  9. #9

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    Don't assume you can find a hangar. In North Texas/Southern Oklahoma some airports have rules about what you can store there, but (I think) many end up as cheap boat and junk storage. When I bought my plane I checked with many small airports around North Texas, none had hanger space and all had a waiting list sometimes expected to go for years. In fact, I have yet to be called on some lists I was added to in 2008.

    Sure would be nice to see a bunch of beautiful airplanes at these small airports every Saturday morning in place of whatever is behind those hangar doors with rusty locks that haven't been opened in years.

  10. #10

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    Ron talks about his plane being more complex than a Bonanza and only costing $1200 for an annual, and of owners "being fleeced by the Beech dealer". As for as I know there aren't any Beech dealers in my state, like there used to be,and I don't know a single Bonanza owner who gets their annual at a dealer. There are two known experts on Beech in Colo, one in Boulder, one in Col Springs Meadowlake. I and others think it is worth it to go to these men.
    While some a&ps may charge less, particlarly at the smaller airports and FBOs, there are some items that are going to be costly etiher way in a complex plane. My last annual for instance required the replacement of both O2 tanks with brand new at about $1800, plus labor due to calender limits. If you skip this, or cheap it out, then the plane is not legal and in some cases not safe. No way to do that for $1200.

    There is a local a&p at a small airport that some people like because he is cheap, but I had him change a tire once and then I had to go to another shop to have it redone because he did not have a balance fixture and had not balanced the tire.

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