How much Does it cost to own a Cessna 172?
There’s nothing quite like the freedom that comes with owning your own airplane. Whether it’s packing up the family and heading cross-country or spending the day exploring with fellow aviation enthusiasts.
The downside is that it can be quite expensive hobby to get into. In this article, we are going to break down the cost of ownership of an airplane and operating that airplane.
The aircraft we are going to use as an example in this article is the cessna 172. It is one of the most popular airplanes ever made.
Unfortunately, right now aircraft purchase prices have skyrocketed. This is mostly due to the pandemic and the travel freedom owning your own aircraft gives you no TSA lines or covid tests.
Owning your own airplane and cash buyers have gobbled up most of the available inventory. This has inflated prices by 30 or 40 percent sometimes more. For this article, we’ll estimate you can buy a mid
1970s cessna 172 pretty basic but with autopilot for about a hundred thousand dollars.
We’ll say that this airplane is in compliance with all its airworthiness
directives and has about a thousand hours on its motor.
We’ll also say that we fly this airplane about 150 hours per year. Your cost of ownership can be broken down into two major parts fixed cost and direct variable costs.
- 1975 Cessna 172 – $100k
- Airworthiness Compliant
- 1,000 hours since overhaul
- 150 hours per year
Fixed cost for owning Cessna 172
Fixed costs are just that they are fixed and do not change whether you fly one hour or 100 hours they’ll be the same cost.
Fixed costs: Costs that are constant and do not change
- Hangar Rental
- Annual inspection
Fixed costs are things like hangar rental and insurance we will put part of the annual inspection costs in this as well although those costs do vary and we will include those in the variable costs a lot of direct costs can vary depending on your location but a nice hanger in the DFW area is about 500 a month.
A fairly good insurance rate for a Cessna 172 would be about $1200 a year and your annual inspection assuming they don’t find anything major wrong is about fifteen hundred dollars a year.
We will add another five hundred dollars a year for miscellaneous costs such as charts and subscriptions.
This brings our total fixed costs per year to $9 200 and that’s before you fly a single hour.
- $500 Hangar per month
- $1,200 Insurance per year
- 1,500 Annual Inspection
- $500 Miscellaneous
- Fixed Cost Yearly Total: $9200
The direct cost for owning Cessna 172
Your direct costs are directly correlated to how much you fly. Your biggest direct cost will be your fuel burn. Fuel varies widely around the country but for this example, we use a cost of five dollars per gallon.
Direct costs: Costs directly tied to hourly operation.
The Cessna 172 averages about 9 gallons an hour so we’ll call it 45. We’ll throw in a couple of dollars more for oil and that brings us to 47 an hour in fuel and oil.
The other major variable cost will be your maintenance many components on the airplane are limited by hours and so we’ll say we need about 20 dollars in maintenance for every hour we fly.
- $45 Fuel per hour
- $2 Oil per hour
- $20 Maintenace per flight hour
There are plenty of other direct costs that can be associated with flying. These are things like landing fees or if you’re taking the airplane outside of the united states air traffic control fees.
Most airports in the united states do not charge a landing fee they build an extra tax into the fuel costs to help pay for the operation of the airport.
Some of the larger airports that mostly service airlines do build in a landing fee they do this to discourage the small aircraft from coming to the airport as they’re already fairly crowded with the airline traffic. Thankfully there are no air traffic control fees in the united states.
They’re already built into your regular taxes but if you venture outside the united states you will have to pay for that country’s air traffic control for this example today we will assume you are not going to any airports to charge landing fees and you are not taking the airplane outside of the united states so that takes our total direct operating cost to 67 an hour for the Cessna 172.
Direct Operating Costs: $67 per hour
So flying our airplane 150 hours a year brings our total direct operating costs to 10 050 dollars per year.
Total Direct Operation Costs 67 x 150: $10,050 per year
Adding that to our fixed costs that were $9200 a year brings our total just shy of twenty thousand dollars a year to nineteen thousand two hundred and fifty dollars.
$19,250 Total Cost per year
$19,250 / 150 hours: $128 Total Cost per hour
If we divide that by our 150 hours that gives us about a hundred and twenty-eight dollars per hour to operate our Cessna 172 that doesn’t sound too bad.
If we took our family of three on a round-trip flight from Dallas to Houston it would cost us about $435 and save us a lot of time and convenience as avoiding the airlines.
Three round-trip tickets on an airline would be about $900 so we’re saving about half the cost by flying our own airplane.
That sounds pretty good right but we’re not finished there. Remember how we said when we bought our airplane it already had a thousand hours on the motor well the TBO or the time before overhaul on our Lycoming engine is 2 000 hours.
$25,000 Engine Overhaul
$25,000 / 7 years: $3,500 per year
You don’t necessarily have to overhaul the engine at that time but it is recommended and you’ll probably have a tough time getting insurance for an engine going over that limit the cost to overhaul that engine can be about $25,000.
We already had a thousand hours on our engine when we bought it and we’re flying 150 hours a year so that gives us about seven years until we need an engine overhaul.
So 25 000 divided by that seven years gives us about thirty-five hundred dollars per year of extra cost.
So adding that thirty-five hundred dollars to our previous cost give us a total of twenty-two thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars per year.
That’s just over a hundred and fifty dollars per flight hour.
So that really only increases our round trip to Houston by about 50 dollars. This is still way less than paying for the airline and the good news is we won’t have to overhaul our engine for at least another 14 years which reduces our engine overhaul value to about seventeen hundred dollars a year instead of thirty-five hundred.
So that means from that point going forward we’ll be spending twenty thousand nine hundred dollars a year for our total ownership cost including 150 flight hours per year.
$3,500 Yearly Overhault Cost
$19,250 Fixed & Direct Costs
$22,750 Cost with Overhaul
Most classic Cessnas such as the one in this example are appreciating year over.
Year in 2001 our Cessna 172 might have been purchased for forty-five thousand dollars and we purchased it in this example for a hundred thousand dollars.
So our airplane is appreciating at twenty-seven hundred and fifty dollars per year so adjusting our cost of ownership adding value through our appreciation brings us to a total cost per year of eighteen thousand one hundred fifty dollars.
So there you have it now you have to decide is that in your budget and is it of value to own your own airplane.