Monday, July 27, 2015

Aircraft Considerations

Selecting your next aircraft can be a challenging task.  Speed, fuel consumption, purchase price, insurance expense, maintenance costs, cabin size, range, vintage, avionics, light sport category, high wing vs. low wing, aluminum, fabric, or composite construction are just a few factors that enter into the equation. Most pilots seem to migrate to aircraft make and models that they initially trained in. It’s uncommon to find a pilot purchase a Piper Cherokee after completing all their training in a Cessna Skyhawk for example.

When considering speed issues, fuel consumption usually determines a buyer’s direction on aircraft selection. Mooney aircraft are well known for their speed and low fuel consumption but that comes with a compromise; small cabin and minimal baggage area.  A Cessna 182RG has a much larger, more comfortable cabin, but with a significantly higher fuel burn of 40 to 50% vs. a Mooney for similar speeds for example. 

Aircraft maintenance costs are usually higher on older aircraft, but their initial purchase cost is significantly lower that late model equivalents.  Composite aircraft are not prone to the adverse effects of corrosion when compared to aluminum manufactured aircraft but again, are much costlier to purchase.  Composite aircraft are more susceptible to UV ray damage over a long period of time if left out in the sun so a hangar is strongly recommended.

Avionics and flight instrumentation is another major consideration.  Aircraft produced prior to 2000 all have the industry prior standard “steam gauges” while newer aircraft have multi-function displays, touch screens, new generation GPS units with exceptional situation awareness.  To upgrade older aircraft to the latest avionics technology is a costly venture, in some instances, may cost more than the initial purchase price of the aircraft.

It is wise to speak with as many current and past aircraft owners to get their candid opinions and thoughts as to which aircraft they recommend or suggest to stay away from.  There are many quality general aviation magazines that also regularly have articles on various airplane performance and maintenance issues. Buyers can also spend time searching the internet for aircraft information.  Choosing the right aircraft to meet your piloting skill level, budget, and performance requirements may be time consuming but rewarding in the end!  The good news is, after you have determined which aircraft you want to purchase, the aircraft loan process is easy with Banterra Aircraft Finance.