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Hidden Costs of Aircraft Ownership

March 01, 20234 min read

Hidden Costs of Aircraft Ownership

So, you are searching around about your fantasy of owning a private aircraft? Great! We are happy you found this article, because the price of an aircraft on is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of cost. There is a pile of things to consider before getting in too deep, so allow us to expose some of the rude awakenings that our customers have witnessed over the past two decades of our experience in aircraft management, pilot training, and brokering.

Executive Overview - Hidden Costs

Aside from the direct operating cost (DOC) which includes the hourly reserve for maintenance, overhaul, and fuel, there are a multitude of other costs associated with owning and operating and aircraft.

  • Aircraft Insurance

  • Maintenance

  • Training and Pilot Services

Hidden Cost #1 Aircraft Insurance

One of the largest recurring expenses is aircraft insurance. Insurance companies had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims due to an increase in annual accidents such as the Kobe Bryant crash. They are upside-down in payouts and are recouping their funds industry-wide, with premiums double and triple historical averages in 2022. There is currently a pilot shortage which will not help the situation. Anticipate a massive influx of low-experienced pilots, and the current pilot force is overworked and experiencing burnout. A safe bet is to get a quote and then set aside double that amount for next year to anticipate the ongoing rate hikes.

Hidden Cost #2 Maintenance

You may be subject to hidden costs and overcharged aircraft maintenance if you are new to aviation. There are a few areas that you can save or burn hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Defective Parts

Scheduled and unscheduled maintenance will be inevitable. Scheduled maintenance is easier to predict. One standard service is the 100 hour; it is relatively easy to get a quote and compare that to the industry average for that specific airframe. However, when something breaks, things can get expensive quickly.

The inspections conducted on the routine service can often reveal out-of-tolerance problems, which will require refurbishing or replacement. Unless you have a manager monitoring the quality assurance of every item found defective, it is possible that the items may not need replacement. Make sure you don't give the maintenance facility a blank check and hold them to the original quote. At Avic Air, we require in writing that all additional work be approved before authorizing the repair to avoid surprises.

Efficient Planning

Building an inspection is tedious work that requires extreme attention to detail and years of experience to perfect.

For example, suppose you have two separate inspections due in the same area of the aircraft. In that case, it is possible to reduce the labor hours by batching the inspections together while the mechanic is in that location of the machine.

Following this methodology, future inspections can also be completed early or delayed so they can be grouped with other big jobs to reduce labor hours significantly.

Labor shortages are putting low-experienced mechanics in place of assessing maintenance plans and creating quotes, so it is more critical than ever to comb through your quotes with a fine-tooth comb.


Many facilities charge a markup for parts. Here is a story. We had a client that purchased a new H125 Airbus helicopter green from the factory. That means it needs paint, interior design, and an avionics package. We had a completion the customer's new aircraft quoted from three different maintenance facilities. The price was over $900,000.00. After analyzing the quote by comparing component retail against cost and batching a few items together, we reduced the final bill by $401,000.00!

Hidden Cost #3 Training and Pilot Services

Training and pilot services aren't the highest expense associated with owning an aircraft, but it is important to consider. Depending on your aircraft, there may be specific requirements by the FAA and/or insurance to fly your aircraft. If a type rating is required, you will need to attend an approved facility. Some insurance underwriters will require 12-month recurrent training, while others will require the training every 24 months.

Some maintenance inspections will require maintenance test flights, so you may need to hire a pilot for that as well. If your aircraft needs relocation, a ferry pilot would need to be hired who is current and proficient in the make/model/variant.

If you would like to chat about saving time and money managing your aircraft, please inquire.

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Avic Air

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A-V-I-C stands for Aviation Intelligence Community. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for aviators through shared experience. Be sure to join us on the social media sites @avicair, we love sharing ideas, experience, and intelligence to propel our industry forward.