How Much Does a Plane Cost?

Guides · 7 min read · Jul 14, 2022

Since you are here, you’ve probably considered buying your own small plane at some point and wondered how much does a plane cost. An aircraft is an icon of freedom because it allows you to travel whenever and wherever you want. Furthermore, you are not limited to using the highway only to get to your destination. But, let’s be honest: possessing your own aircraft, such as a Cessna, is also a sign of status. Only the wealthiest and most exclusive people own personal jets, so if you can put yourself in that bracket, you’re already one step ahead of the game. In addition to providing you with the desired level of comfort and leisure, owning an airplane entails a number of responsibilities. 

So, how much does a plane cost?

In a nutshell, the costs accumulate and may include the purchase price and down payment, as well as maintenance, parking fees, insurance, and fuel costs. The real cost of an airplane can range from a few thousand dollars for lightweight aircraft to several hundred million dollars for luxury jets, determined by the size and type you want. The high operating and maintenance costs of an aircraft can quickly add up. Commercial airliners cost tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. The most famous Boeing 737 commercial jet cost between $89.1 million and $112.6 million. The most popular commercial airliner in the Airbus A320 family costs between $89.6 million and $114.9 million.

Perhaps flying in an aircraft that you individually own has been a longtime ambition of yours. Owning a small aircraft could be an attainable dream with little preparation and knowledge. In this article, we will go through prices, things to consider, and the information that follows when buying a private airplane.

What are the types of airplanes I can own?

There are numerous sizes and types of airplanes, each one specifically designed to meet the needs of the market for which it is intended. If you intend to purchase an airplane, you must be aware of your intentional use. The following are some of the most popular aircraft types; you can select one that meets your requirements.

Ultra Light

These are purely recreational aircraft that are frequently used in sports. These typically have a capacity of one to two people. Ultralight aircraft in the United States are significantly smaller and lighter than ultralight aircraft in other countries. In the United States, ultralights are referred to as “ultralight vehicles” rather than “aircraft.” They are not licensed, regulated, or required to be registered. Ultralight aircraft can only be flown between sunrise and dusk. They can be flown in uncontrolled airspace only. The prices for various new and used ultra light aircraft range between $10,000 and $25,000.

Ultralight airplane parked on a grassy field.

Small Plane (Single Engine Piston)

Single engine planes powered by piston engine are sometimes regarded as the most affordable aircraft to own. These aircraft are propelled by low-cost piston propulsion systems, and their popularity stems in large part from their low operational and acquisition costs. They frequently have two to four seats available. In terms of fuel use, warehousing, maintenance, and service, piston engines are far more cost-effective than turbine engines. According to reports, over 45,000 Cessna 172 planes have been manufactured, making them the most prevalent civil aircraft in history.

Generation after generation of pilots have honed their skills on them because its primary function is as a training aircraft. A new Cessna 172 Skyhawk plane costs between $370,000 and $425,000 to acquire. However, the year, model, and store where the item is purchased can all have an impact on the price. 

A small airplane, Cessna 172, flying across the sky.

Twin engine: piston

Piston aircraft with multiple engines were very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. A gallon of avgas cost $1.50 back then. In the late 1970s, Piper, Cessna, and Beechcraft jointly produced thirteen twin-engine types. Piper now produces two, Beech produces one, and Cessna no longer manufactures twin-engine piston aircraft. The primary reason for the cuts is simple economics, but there are other considerations as well. Twins are no longer cost effective when avgas costs $6 per gallon and maintenance at a reputable shop costs $100 per hour.

The Beech G58 Baron from Teledyne Beechcraft is the pinnacle of the multi-engine planes. This piston twin is not only the most expensive production model available, but it also has the best performance and, possibly, the most maneuverability. The initial cost of this plane is $1,394,000. You can look for other models in this category.

Twin engine piston Piper Aztec plane parked on wet tarmac on a clear day.

Twin engine: turboprop

If you’re looking to buy a private plane, you might come across options for turboprops as well as jets. Even though most people associate private charters with jets, there are several obvious advantages to choosing a turboprop over a private jet.

The primary distinction between a turboprop and a jet is that a jet engine drives a propeller. Turboprops were formed as reliable and consistent alternative solutions to fill the gap between high-speed, high-altitude jets and low-flying small planes. Turbine engines, which power both turboprops and jets, are inherently the same and are considered extremely safe. The main difference between the two is that, whereas jet engines have fan blades within the engine cowling, turboprop engines have a propeller on the outside of the engine.

Turboprops could be allowed on shorter runways. Because of the drag created by the propellers, the aircraft can come to a stop much faster than a jet. This is critical if you plan to fly aircraft on shorter runways so that they can stop if something goes wrong before takeoff

If you are concerned about fuel efficiency as an airline passenger or aircraft owners, the difference between turboprop and jet performance may astound you. While jets become more efficient at higher speeds, turboprops are more efficient at lower speeds. Altitude is important because it affects the quality of the flight.

If you are looking to obtain a turboprop, you might be looking at prices between $2,000,000 to $5,000,000, depending on the make, configuration and other accessories. Of course, there always are options to buy a pre-owned turboprop, in which case the prices can be significantly lower, starting at $1,000,000 and going up to about $3,500,000, however you must keep in mind that aircraft at such prices are usually 5 to 10 years old.

Cessna Conquest twin engine turboprop with its pilot ready for take off on the runway.

Jet

Business jets are opulent and sophisticated aircraft. Business jets typically have twin jet engines, and the interior has been meticulously designed to accommodate all of the necessary equipment. Some of the most expensive planes are designed to travel faster and at higher altitudes than a commercial airliner. This allows private jet owners to travel in some of the busiest airspaces in comfort and at a reasonable cost. Your business jet can be tailored if you communicate your needs to the manufacturer.

Textron Aviation and Cessna are the two largest business aircraft manufacturers in the United States. They offer a large variety of configurations for business jets for you to choose from. Roughly speaking, a Cessna Citation, based on the set-up, could come at a price between $13,000,000 and $27,000,000. However, if you are on a budget, you could also look into the Honda HA-420 Honda Jet, a light business aircraft. This jet seats 5 to 6 people and can be flown by a single pilot. It gives you more freedom when planning a business trip or a family vacation. A Honda Jet could cost up to $5.3 million.

A private jet stationed at the airport on a cloudy day.

Which airplane is suitable for me?

Let’s face it, a jet’s innate sensuality frequently prompts customers to instinctively choose this option for their private aircraft. However, when weighing the advantages and disadvantages of turboprops vs jets, it becomes clear why the turboprop option is sometimes the more sensible one. It is a fact that most private trips in the US go under two hours, rendering the use of a jet unnecessary.

For trips longer than 1,000 kilometers, jets may be the most luxurious option. As you can see, there are numerous factors to consider when deciding between a turboprop and a jet, but in general, turboprops are often better and more affordable for shorter journeys, while jets are more comfortable for longer journeys.

However, it is crucial to comprehend your needs and appropriately match them with an airplane’s capabilities. Whether it be due to initial purchase price, annual inspections, aviation insurance, airports, average hangar cost, seating capacity, load capacity, or operational needs.

How much does an older plane cost?

Every type of private aircraft comes with the option to buy it second-hand. However, you should also keep in mind that such aircraft may have hidden defects that cost thousands of dollars to repair if they are left undetected, and a damage history may lower the resale value of the aircraft. If you buy a pre-owned plane, the paint job can be an additional expense. The price to paint an airplane will depend on its size and its type, with larger planes costing upwards of $200,000. Then on top of that, selecting small aircraft insurance will cost $1,000 a year, at a minimum for a cheap plane.

Are there additional costs for owning a plane?

Ownership of an aircraft can cost you a fortune if not handled carefully. Airplanes require regular maintenance and servicing which can only be done by authorized mechanics, which means you would have to pay a hefty amount for parts, storage, and payments for maintenance. Regular maintenance is mandatory to guarantee your and your passengers’ safety and it is virtually unavoidable. Depending on the aircraft you own, maintenance costs can amount to $5,000-$1,000,000 annually. Additionally, storage fees of your plane can also be up to a few hundred dollars a month or more. When you aren’t flying your own jet, you’ll still need to store it at the airport that you’re flying in and out of, either in a hangar or in outdoor storage. Moreover, you would need to comply with all regulations defined by the FAA and DOT. It can be time-consuming as well as costly to communicate with regulators and perform in-house maintenance. So, these are some options to ease the ownership and transform a liability into an asset or save money.

Aircraft management company

You can charter your own plane to a reliable aircraft management or charter operator to turn your private jet into an earning machine. Whenever you need it for personal use, you can simply tell your management company to prepare the jet for you and assign a suitable crew as well as arrange all the necessary permissions and documentation required for the flight.

Leasing

Leasing a jet could be another option if you have a good understanding of market dynamics. Although leasing a small aircraft or a private jet could be a risky business, if comprehended completely, it can help you make a fortune. 

Partial Aircraft Owners

If you are able to find a suitable partner for it, partial ownership could be one of the most reliable options for owning an airplane. Fractional ownership of private jets is an arrangement in which multiple aircraft owners share the use and typically cost of purchasing and operating an aircraft. Several management companies provide fractional ownership programs for private jets, including NetJets, Flexjet, PlaneSense, and AirSprint.

FAQs

How much does a plane cost?

In short, a modern pre-owned or new airplane can cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $27,000,000. If you have a general idea of the type of plane you want to purchase, you need to do research and check the market.

What is the cheapest private plane option?

Ultralight aircraft are the least expensive option. These single-seat, single-engine planes are ideal for leisure travel. A brand-new ultralight aircraft can often be purchased for between $8,000 and $15,000. Single-engine aircraft typically cost between $15,000 and $100,000.

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Eglė Bartaševičiūtė
A passionate traveler and an avid aviation enthusiast bringing you the most well-founded, accurate and up-to-date industry content.

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