Here’s what it cost to own and operate a 1979 Piper Warrior II in Ottawa, Canada in 2007 with 80 hours air time (a bit more flight time, of course). Since the US and Canadian dollars are basically at par now, there’s no need to convert:
These are real costs, including sales taxes, not the BS costs you hear people throwing around at the airport. Reserves are $20/hour for engine and paint. I also pay about $500/year for charts and recurrent training, but I’d pay the same as a renter, so I don’t count those as ownership costs.
2007 was by far the cheapest year I’ve had with C-FBJO, and also the fewest hours I’ve flown (I’m usually over 100). I was parked at a less expensive airport and used less gas (flying less), but the biggest difference was maintenance — annual maintenance for a small plane like mine can be $2,000 one year and $10,000 the next, depending on what goes wrong (and even the simplest plane has a lot that can go wrong). I’m keeping a nearly 30-year-old plane operating, so stuff wears out and has to be replaced all the time, just as it would with a 30-year-old car; unlike with cars, however, buying a new plane isn’t a solution — I read recently that routine inspection and maintenance for an SR-22 runs $8,000-$10,000, and that’s without any problems coming up.
Fees include tie-down (and required club membership) at my home airport, transient landing and parking fees during trips, and the compulsory $75/year Nav Canada and $27.50 US customs fees. Consumables are oil (mainly), filters, fluids, etc.
When so many of the costs — tie-down fees, insurance, and (most) maintenance — are fixed, I can see the logic in taking one or two partners. You’ll still pay just as much for fuel and engine/paint reserve, but you slash the other overheads. I don’t think I’ll take a partner in C-FBJO at this point, but if I move up to something bigger like a Cherokee Six, I probably won’t try it alone.
So where did this money take me and my passengers (besides the Ottawa area) in 2007? In chronological order, Maniwaki QC, New York City (Teterboro), Drummondville QC, Pembroke ON, Toronto ON (Buttonville), Sault Ste. Marie ON, Toronto ON (City Centre), Brockville ON, Waterloo ON, Toronto ON (Buttonville) again, Sundridge ON, Sault Ste. Marie ON again, Toronto ON (City Centre) again, Burlington VT, Boston MA (Norwood), Alexandria Bay NY (Maxson), New Jersey and New York City (Caldwell), Montreal QC (Trudeau), Baie Comeau QC, Maniwaki QC again, and Burlington VT again. Not all that exciting a year, but it kept the rust off the wings (mine and the plane’s).