How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Private Plane?


Flying a private plane gives you a wonderful sense of freedom and a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment. And there are pragmatic reasons to fly a private plane---you can get from here to there much faster in the air. But the costs add up. One private pilot who owns his own plane estimates it costs approximately $74 to $104 per hour of flight time to own and fly a private plane.


  • Many private pilots own their aircraft, and a private plane can be an expensive luxury. A pre-owned, single-engine plane will set you back anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000, depending on how fast you want to go and the number of hours on the plane's engine. A new single-engine Cessna may start around $125,000.


  • Before you can get off the ground, you must be licensed. This means you're going to need flying lessons of some sort. If you get your training at a public community college, you can expect to pay over $5,000 for a private pilot license; that does not include instrument rating (an additional $6,500) or multiple-engine rating (about $4,000 more). Then, of course, there's the cost of your physical and of the license itself, which is probably the cheapest part of the deal.

Time Frame

  • An "annual" (the plane's annual inspection) is required by the FAA. The inspection itself isn't so costly, about $1,500, but there is almost always something that needs to be fixed. The cost of those repairs can add up quickly, especially on an older machine.


  • Take into account the cost of taking a trip, including fuel, landing fees and tie-down fees. For example, if your small plane burns only 10 gallons per hour and you can go 100 miles in an hour, you're burning $50 in fuel to travel 100 miles when aviation fuel costs $5 a gallon.


  • All engines have a life span, called TBO (the total hours on the engine). A small plane can have approximately 1,800 to 2,000 hours on the engine before it must be overhauled. A complete overhaul of the engine only starts at around $25,000.


  • You can anticipate some regular, annual expenses related to flying a private plane if you own your machine. Insurance on a small plane may cost around $1,400, and you must include annual tie-down fees at your local airport in the cost. Overnight tie-down fees vary from airport to airport.

  • Photo Credit Piper PA28, courtesy
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